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Football

18th Dec 2018

JOE’s Premier League Team of the Season So Far

This is JOE's Premier League of the Season so far; apologies in advance for not including your favourite player, but there are only 11 slots

Reuben Pinder

Do not @ me

With Christmas approaching, it’s a time for family, friends, enjoyment and reflection. While the world crumbles around us, the festive period should be spent distracting yourself from the awfulness of the current global political situation and watching joyous films, and a shit tonne of football.

Having reached the half-way point of the season, we have taken a look back at the season so far, and created a combined XI of the best performers, for no other reason than because we wanted to.

GK: Alisson, Liverpool

Liverpool have needed a new goalkeeper for years, even more so after Loris Karius’ horror show in the Champions League final. Alisson has more than justified his €60m fee (despite his mistake against Man United), improving Liverpool’s play both with and without the ball. His impact on the team cannot be overstated – Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than any other team this season, which is no coincidence.

RB: Matt Doherty, Wolves

When Wolves were promoted to the Premier League in May, much was made of the expansive style of football that Nuno Espirito Santo has brought to the club. Everyone was eager to see what Ruben Neves would bring to the Premier League, but arguably their most consistent performer of the season has been Matt Doherty at right wing-back. The Irishman has been a constant threat in attack, chipping in with three goals to become every FPL manager’s bargain buy.

RCB: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool

Alisson isn’t the only factor in Liverpool’s significant improvement at the back. Since January, Van Dijk has brought the solidity and calmness in possession that Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip simply do not have. He has continued his form from the back end of last season, proving a leader in defence to carry Liverpool to the Premier League summit.

LCB: Aymeric Laporte, Man City

Another January signing who has kicked on this season, Laporte has become indispensable to Manchester City. Having dislodged Nicolas Otamendi from the starting line-up, the Frenchman has formed a strong partnership with John Stones. To underline his impressive impact, Laporte has only lost one Premier League game with City – against Chelsea in early December.

LB: Andy Robertson, Liverpool

It took a while before Jurgen Klopp trusted Robertson to start games for Liverpool, but since he broke into the first XI he hasn’t looked back. We all knew Robertson was decent from his time at Hull, but very few people foresaw this ascension to the top tier of Premier League full-backs. Stellar defensive performances and four assists to boot make him a nailed on starter in this combined team of the season so far.

DM: Fernandinho, Man City

“I think Fernandinho can play in 10 different positions, because he has the quality to play wherever,” Pep Guardiola said shortly after arriving at Man City. It’s hard to argue with Pep’s analysis, as Fernandinho continues to play at an incredible level at the age of 33. Still an underappreciated cog in City’s passing machine, the Brazilian’s defensive screening and forward passing is essential to the champions’ dominance.

RCM: Lucas Torreira, Arsenal

It’s no secret that Arsenal have needed a player in the mould of Torreira for years; ever since Patrick Vieira left, pretty much. Now that they’ve got him, the Gunners finally have a fully functioning midfield. A terrier off the ball and efficient with it, the Uruguay international has also improved those around him. Granit Xhaka makes fewer hospital passes, and the defenders look more secure with Torreira in front of them. Plus he even chipped in with a brilliant overhead kick to settle the game against Huddersfield.

LCM: David Silva, Man City

Silva has almost become a victim of his own consistency when it comes to his quality being recognised. So accustomed have we become to his outrageously high performance level, that a game in which he picks up two assists and completely runs the show no longer stands out. He continues to improve with age, which is a testament to Guardiola’s guidance as well as Silva’s willingness to learn and improve, even in the twilight of his career.

RM: Raheem Sterling, Man City

We don’t deserve Raheem Sterling. The 24-year-old has transformed into one of the world’s best wingers over the past two years, finding a lethal touch around the penalty area and continuing to improve his all round game in the face of constant, unjustified criticism from all angles. England are lucky to have a player of his quality, and he should be savoured.

LM: Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth

As is always the case for players in mid-table teams, Ryan Fraser’s form has gone slightly under the radar this season. The diminutive Scot has racked up seven assists at the time of writing – more than Christian Eriksen and Leroy Sané. Bournemouth continue to exceed expectations, largely due to Eddie Howe, but this season Fraser deserves an immense amount of credit, as does the Cherries’ No.9…

ST: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth

Apologies to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Agüero and Harry Kane, but there can only be one striker in this team, and it has to be Callum Wilson. With eight goals and five assists at the time of writing, the Bournemouth forward has done more than enough to earn his England call-up and, more prestigiously, his place in this team. You’d suspect he will keep his place in the national team squad if he maintains this rich vein of form in the coming months.