So, the Premier League’s PFA team of the year is out and that always makes people angry. People like me. These nominations, as we saw last week with POTY, always create a lot of debate. Before we get into the details of who and why, I want to make something clear; the criteria for team of the year selection.
Team of the year is a collection of outstanding performing INDIVIDUALS across the season (Well till mid April anyways). What its not, is a perfectly balanced team, or a team that would win the league. Also, the fact that a club might win the league or might get relegated has no bearing on whether a player makes this team or not. Its purely based on individual performance over the recurring 90 minutes across a season. Or it should be anyways.
Here is the team they chose:
Here is why its wrong:
- David de Gea was not the best keeper in the league this season. Is he a fantastic player? Absolutely. Has he been outplayed by his colleagues? For sure. I understand that Manchester United have conceded the second fewest goals this season so far (24) but again, this is about individual outstanding performances. Lloris and Courtois in my books have had better personal seasons. Even Tom Heaton deserves a shout over De Gea. No goalkeeper has made more saves in the Premier League this season than Tom Heaton (126). David de Gea has made 62… Anyways, this is just the start.
- Gary Cahill. Lord have mercy. Cahill has played very very well in a perfectly drilled system that covers his flaws. But how can a player in a back three who was out-shined by BOTH his partners make team of the year. David Luiz has had some outstanding and quite surprising, individual performances this season while Azpilicueta has been individually on a different level to Cahill. If you want to put two Chelsea defenders then it should be Luiz and Azpilicueta. Now, another dilemma. Alderweireld. He’s been the best defender in the league this season and it shows with Tottenham boasting the best defense. He needs to be in there.
- I know a lot will disagree with me on this, but I think Moses has had a better season than Walker. I also know Moses has more of a license to roam forward in Chelsea’s back 5 but he’s just been incredible. Playing in a completely new position, making it his own, and becoming that menace that every wing back needs to be going forward. Again, if you’re arguing that the PFA team is set up in a 4-4-2 and Walker is more of a RB than Moses, please see the point in my second paragraph.
- The wide players. Mane and Hazard. So, Alexis Sanchez apparently wasn’t picked because hes a striker now. Again, this isn’t about formation. Individual outstanding performance must be recognized and if it that means portraying the team with a front three then so be it. Lets assume only two of the three aforementioned players can make this line up for arguments sake, who should miss out? Hazard.
*Women screaming and children crying in the background*
Hazard is only there because Chelsea are doing well as a team and might win the league. Sanchez and Mane are playing in inferior teams, with inferior team mates, in a far less stable team and system. And since you all love stats so much, here are some for you:
The first thing that clearly stands out is how amazing Sanchez’s stats are. Even when you take Lukaku and Kane into account, Sanchez is the player in the league with the highest total goals and assist contribution. Definitely making this team. Done. If you need any more convincing, look at his away stats. That’s where your big guns need to step up and he has. Arsenal’s obvious failures are not his fault and should not deter form his individual brilliance.
Now, Mane vs Hazard. Mane has started four less games for Liverpool but has only one less contribution than Hazard. So, its a coin toss. Mane for me edges it for playing in a very disjointed Liverpool team and at times, carrying them single handedly.
PS: Dele Alli has 21 contributions to Hazard’s 19 scoring two more goals. Chelsea fans cover your eyes in horror.
PSS: Hazard can’t be in this team without Herrera. They come as a combo.
Here’s what the team should’ve looked like:
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