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23rd Nov 2015

JOE’s Premier League team of the season so far

Let us know your picks

Tom Victor

Now that we’re more than a third of the way into the Premier League season, the time has come to consider which players have stood out.

Plenty have impressed, some for longer periods than others, and it was tough to settle on a starting XI.

But these are the players who made the cut for us. Get in touch to let us know who we’ve missed out and why they should have been included.

Jack Butland

With Fraser Forster and Ben Foster both victims of long-term injuries, the start of the season has provided the perfect opportunity for someone to stake a claim for the role of England’s second choice goalkeeper at Euro 2016.

Butland has stepped up to the plate, marshalling a Stoke defence which has quietly become one of the stingiest in the top-flight.

Much of the talk pre-season was about the attacking threat of new flair players Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay, but Butland has become the real star with five clean sheets including back-to-back shut-outs against Chelsea and Southampton.

Héctor Bellerín

With Mathieu Debuchy returning from injury and Carl Jenkinson returning from an impressive loan spell with West Ham in the summer, Bellerín knew that he’d need to keep up last season’s high standards.

He looked comfortable enough in pre-season for Arsène Wenger to send Jenkinson back to East London, while Debuchy’s transformation from senior figure to clear second-choice is now complete.

Even a difficult 45 minutes up against Douglas Costa didn’t deter the Spaniard, who bounced back to deliver a fantastic attacking performance in the Champions League win over Bayern Munich.

Toby Alderweireld

Settling in to a new club can be tough, but not if your name is Toby Alderweireld.

The Belgian international played a big part in Southampton’s 2014/15 season while on loan at St Mary’s and has looked even better since being reunited with his former Ajax team-mate Jan Vertonghen at Tottenham.

Southampton haven’t looked quite the same in his absence, though replacement Virgil van Dijk has helped make a difference since arriving from Celtic on deadline day.

Chris Smalling

Smalling has been a revelation ever since manager Louis van Gaal started referring to him as ‘Mike’, so much so that some have begun to speculate that what we’re really seeing is a hitherto undiscovered twin who’s much better at football.

With Manchester United’s forwards struggling to contribute to the extent fans have come to expect, a solid back-line has been essential.

United have conceded just nine times, fewer than the other 19 teams in the league, and Smalling’s leadership and new-found calm have played a big part.

Nacho Monreal

Left-back has been a difficult position to assess, with some of last season’s better performers such as Aaron Cresswell and Aleksandr Kolarov struggling to replicate their consistency.

Luke Shaw was a contender for the spot up until his untimely injury against PSV Eindhoven, but the honour goes to the vastly improved Nacho Monreal.

The Spaniard has looked composed at the back, and found a balance to his game that some Arsenal fans were concerned he might not be able to bring to the table.


Manchester City’s struggles at home to Liverpool emphasised the importance of Fernandinho to their current squad.

The Brazilian started on the bench, with Fernando and Yaya Touré unable to contain the Reds’ fluid game, and it was a marked difference from earlier in the campaign.

Put simply, City look a much stronger all-round side when the former Shakhtar man is holding fort, allowing their attacking midfielders to flourish.

Dele Alli

Spurs might have been worried in August when Nabil Bentaleb suffered an ankle injury, but Alli has stepped into the Algerian’s central midfield role with little difficulty.

It’s hard to picture a Tottenham line-up that doesn’t include the 19-year-old – not bad for someone who only made his Premier League debut this season.

Combining brilliantly with Eric Dier, another unlikely name in the middle of the park, Alli has staked his claim for a place in England’s Euro 2016 squad and opened his account for his country in style.

Kevin de Bruyne

Some eyebrows were raised when Manchester City broke their transfer record for De Bruyne after his relative struggles with Chelsea.

But the Belgian is clearly a different prospect to the youngster who failed to make an impression at Stamford Bridge, scoring in each of his first four City games and adding a new threat to the 2014 champions’ front-line.

Considering how composed and polished a player he is, it’s easy to forget that the former Wolfsburg man is yet to turn 25.

Dimitri Payet

Over the summer, two French playmakers moved to the Premier League from Marseille after the Ligue 1 club fell just short of Champions League qualification.

But while Florian Thauvin has made more headlines for his dress sense than his football, Dimitri Payet has made himself a key part of the West Ham side that stunned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City away from home.

The Hammers will surely miss their new fan favourite after an industrial James McCarthy challenge left him sidelined for three months – even if he couldn’t have done much to stop the 4-1 defeat at Tottenham.

Riyad Mahrez

There have been a whole host of impressive attacking midfielders this season, with Arsenal’s Mesut Özil, Everton’s Gerard Deulofeu and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho all standing out.

But Leicester City sit top of the league 13 games in, and they couldn’t have done it without their Algerian superstar, who has reportedly attracted the attention of Manchester United and Barcelona.

Mahrez has scored and created at will, so much so that it’s tough to work out how the Foxes managed to secure his services while they were still a Championship club.

Jamie Vardy

It is impossible to overlook Vardy for the lone striker’s role, after the former non-league hotshot equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring record.

The England frontman has shown what a little confidence can do, finding the net in successive league games against Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Stoke, Arsenal, Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Watford and Newcastle.

Others have impressed, and in another season someone like Romelu Lukaku might be the stand-out performer, but Vardy’s achievement has been as breathtaking as it has been surprising.