VAVEL UK's Premier League editors came together to complete the following challenge:
Make your Premier League Team of the Season using only one player from each club.
Here's what they came up with.
Dean Henderson has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season. He has been simply remarkable and has developed over the course of the season. He has always had the potential and always stepped up this season to prove the doubters wrong.
Sheffield United have kept ten clean sheets this season and this is a great achievement for any team after 28 games but it is especially impressive for a newly-promoted side. Henderson has single-handedly earned the Blades points this season with jaw-dropping saves and a constant stream of Man of the match worthy performances. When the football season resumes he should be well in line for an England call up and probably should be knocking on Gareth Southgate's door to be the first choice keeper.
He has made a key mistake this season, letting the ball through his legs against Liverpool but the resilience and character he showed to bounce back from that in the next games was outstanding as well as denying Mon Salah in a one v one scenario just a few minutes after his mistake, not many goalkeepers have done that. He has been one of the most consistent players in the league, making crucial saves at crucial times but having the all-round game any modern-day goalkeeper should have. He is worshipped at Bramall Lane but due to being on loan from his boyhood club Manchester United, the future of the 23-year-old is very much up in the air.
The ex-Crystal Palace man's £50m price tag was worth questioning. But his defensive skill is breathtaking at times. Genuinely. And in a key area of weakness for Manchester United, Wan-Bissaka has offered quality.
The England man may be one of the beneficiaries of a delayed Euros. In defensive situations, Wan-Bissaka's tackling has been formidable. His spider-like legs and excellent reading of the game make for excellent timing in the tackle. In attack, though, many are unconvinced. Wan-Bissaka is not in the typical format of the modern full-back. He's improved a little in attack, but must do so more to become a contender for the right-back spot for England. But for United, he's a contender for Player of the Season, and he fits into this team well.
Tarkowski has always been a player with lots of potential but, this season, he has shown signs of properly fulfilling that.
The former Brentford man has always been a technically gifted defender. His passing is very good and his composure when coming out from the back is very much appreciated by team-mates.
Initially, that confidence seemed to be a little misguided. Tarkowski was prone to having lapses in concentration, similar to those of David Luiz, which would put the Clarets in trouble. These moments included spending too long on the ball, needlessly losing the ball with ambitious passes and clumsily bringing down strikers.
This season has shown maturity in Tarkowski’s game. His mistakes have been few and far between with the 27-year-old looking much more at home in the top flight. Defensively, Tarkowski has been excellent with his mix of speed and physique standing him in good stead for the challenges of the Premier League. Burnley may well keep hold of the centre-back for two key reasons. Firstly, he turns 28 in November and the bigger clubs traditionally want to bring in younger players. Secondly, the footballing economy will have suffered a steep decline since the coronavirus outbreak; this means that many clubs won’t be able to go spending in the same way that they once could.
This has been the toughest since Howe’s men earned promotion five years ago – particularly from a defensive point of view – but in the absence of a steady flow of goals as last term, Nathan Ake has again been – and remains - a shining beacon hope.
Forced to miss two months of the season in the middle stages, the Cherries felt the full brunt of the Dutch centre-back’s absence and successive consistency with runs of four and five successive defeats during the campaign.
Ake’s USP has always been his threat from set-pieces, and again has contributed twice more during an interrupted campaign. With Bournemouth finding themselves in 18th spot during the season hiatus brought on by coronavirus, Ake will be key to preventing the Cherries slipping back into the Championship in their fifth top flight season, and should the Howe’s men succumb to the drop will surely them be hot property in what could be a sizeably fractured transfer market in the coming months.
To use the commonly written cliché, Evans has matured like a fine wine at the King Power Stadium. Now 32, the former Manchester United centre-back is arguably playing the best football of his career with Champions League-chasing Leicester City and is possibly one of the lesser appreciated defenders in the Premier League.
A virtual ever-present in the heart of the Foxes’ backline, the Northern-Irishman has impeccably stepped into the role vacated by Robert Huth, representing a reliable and authoritative presence in defence. Whilst star performer Caglar Soyuncu has strived to replace Harry Maguire, who joined Manchester United in a world record deal last summer, Evans has consistently mentored the young Turk.
He has made 29 appearances in the Premier League this season, even getting on the scoresheet in the Foxes’ 4-1 humbling of Aston Villa away from home. His defensive intelligence, fantastic reading of the game and anticipation of danger have all helped Leicester to one of the best defensive records in the league. Meanwhile, his comfort on the ball and range of passing have been extremely potent weapons in a Leicester side who have developed an attractive possession-based style of play under Brendan Rodgers.
Playing at right-wing-back as punishment for his antics during the lockdown, Jack Grealish's future at Aston Villa could well be short. But his performances have been brilliant throughout the season.
A wizard on the ball. The Croatian’s signature body feints, lavish flicks and rottweiler-like tenacity. Mateo Kovacic has had a great season in the Premier League, following the appointment of Frank Lampard, and has earned a place in the VAVEL Premier League Team of the Season.
He cemented himself in the Blues midfield alongside the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante. His tireless work rate and drive to pull the team up the pitch has become ever more appreciated at Stamford Bridge.>
The 26-year-old has completed more successful dribbles this season than any other player from ‘a top seven’ club; his ’mazey’ runs, acceleration off the ball and intelligent quick passing earns him a prestigious place in the team.
Kevin de Bruyne
In an underwhelming league campaign for the reigning champions, Kevin De Bruyne has prevailed as the shining light for Pep Guardiola’s side. With cult legend, David Silva bowing out at the end of this campaign.
De Bruyne has taken the reigns as the Blues midfield maestro and showed just why he is considered one of the best midfielders in world football. Known for his dynamic passing and vision, the Belgian has already broken two Premier League assists records this season, becoming the fastest player to reach 50 assists and the only player to rack up 15+ assists in three seasons. There is no doubt De Bruyne will also have a third record in his sights when the Premier League returns as he currently sits just four assists behind Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 20 in one campaign.
It is of course difficult to pick the one, outstanding Liverpool representative for this side, but Sadio Mane, one of the four leading Player of the Year contenders, might just embody their relentlessness. He is Liverpool’s second top-scorer with 14 goals, his longest drought when fit a mere three games. Many of these have been vital contributions. Back in August, against Southampton, he scored a dazzling opener on the stroke of half-time to set a side weary from a 120-minute Super Cup slog on their way to victory. When Manchester City and Leicester, the only teams who have threatened to spark a title race, visited Anfield in the autumn he was on target. He gave the lackluster Reds the lead at Crystal Palace in one of their ugliest but most satisfying triumphs and later scored winning goals against Wolves, Norwich and Bournemouth.
All that can split Mane and the man on the opposite flank is his fractionally better record for goal contributions. He has 23 to Salah’s 22. In fact, this is shaping up to be his most creative campaign yet, with nine assists under his belt after 29 matches, already tying his current best from 2015/16.
And that lends further weight to the argument that he has developed into a truly complete winger, among the world’s elite bracket. At his best, Mane is just as unstoppable as the Liverpool juggernaut.
On the back of a mightily successful debut campaign with Wolverhampton Wanderers last year. It comes as no surprise to see this man back amongst the conversation as one of the best forwards in the Premier League.
The mighty Mexican number nine has been pivotal to Wolves’ continued success again this season. Scoring 13 goals from just 29 appearances in the league, he has done more than just hit the back of the net for his side. His link up play has helped him rack up six assists, meaning that emerging talents such as Adama Traore, and Pedro Neto have also had a fantastic campaign playing alongside him.
There is no stopping Raúl Jiménez’ rise in the Premier League, only question now is, how far can he go?
It's a little difficult to choose between Calvert-Lewin, who cost Everton £1.5m, and his striking teammate Richarlison, who cost £50m. Both have worked off each other and had good campaigns.
But Calvert-Lewin leads the way for Everton with 15 goals this season, a respectable return for a young striker who isn't the sole striker in his side. His development under Carlo Ancelotti will be interesting to watch.
And some honourable mentions for the substitutes bench.
Simply put, Martin Dubravka has won and saved Newcastle multiple points this season and would be in the midst of a relegation battle it wasn’t for him.
He is, not even arguably, a top four goalkeeper without a doubt and Newcastle have got themselves a real star between the sticks.
Dubravka is a vocal player whom you can hear from the stands and loves ot come and collect crosses which relaxes his defence. He is probably one of the bets one-on-one shot stoppers in the league, you could look at pretty much any Newcastle highlights from this season and there would be examples of the Slovakian making ridiculous save after ridiculous save. After being linked with a move to PSG and Juventus during the summer, Dubravka has proved his worth and fully deserved the new contract that he received as he has proved since his debut against Manchester United how good he really is.
Dubravka has proved himself on multiple occasions why he is one of the top keepers in the league. Many times when it seems a certain goal, Dubravka comes up with the goods, Every keeper make a mistake, however, Dubravka rescues the Magpies that many times he is forgiven because of how many times he earns Newcastle a point or three.
Giovani Lo Celso
It’s a very difficult task to pick a player of the season for Spurs, with Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli both shining at times this season, albeit with a lack of consistency. January arrival Steven Bergwijn could have easily made the shortlist if the season did not come to a halt so early, as well as academy graduate Japhet Tanganga who has impressed in big games this season including against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City this season – but again only emerged onto the scene in January.
But the man most deserving of inclusion in this XI (or on its bench), and many Spurs fans would agree, is new fan favourite Giovani Lo Celso. The Argentine is the only player from the side that really can be classed as consistent based purely off this season – despite not scoring or assisting in the Premier League and only providing three goal contributions in all competitions. However, the attacking stats do not tell the whole picture, with Lo Celso constantly being deployed deeper for his side to retain some kind of control in the midfield area. The former PSG midfielder has oozed class consistently in a Spurs side that has not done his performances any kind of justice this season.
Emi Buendia has been a rare shining light in a Norwich City side that has flattered to deceive during their return to the Premier League. Only three players had registered more assists by the time the season was halted with the diminutive Argentine proving to be an invaluable creative source who is never afraid to get on the ball.
Not only was it striking how quickly the midfielder adapted to Premier League life, notching no less than four assists in the first five games of the campaign, against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, but just how well the 23-year old can manipulate the ball.
December proved to be a memorable month for Buendia, despite Norwich picking up just three points in six Premier League matches. With the number of chances created climbing to 29, Buendia’s tally was the most in a single month since Opta records began for Premier League statistics.
Confident gliding across the pitch and a master of the through ball, Buendia’s future with Norwich may well only be extended by the current delay to action. With the Canaries looking set for an instant return to the Championship, Buendia has proved he has the ability to play in many a Premier League side.
Words from: Harry Robinson, Dave Comerford, Aaron Hindhaugh, Will Laing, Josh Lees, Daniel Orme, Joel Roberts, Chris Lincoln, Neil Leverett, Jake Stokes, Jonny Bentley, Daniel Huggins.