With the Premier League campaign now at its halfway point, vote on which players you think deserve to be included in the Team of the Season so far.
With 19 games gone, the Premier League table is starting to take shape – and a completely different one to which most people would have expected back in the summer.
Leicester City are joint top, Crystal Palace are fifth and Watford are in the top half, while reigning champions Chelsea are down in 14th and Swansea City are 17th after finishing eighth last season. Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Southampton have also so far failed to live up to pre-season expectations.
As far as players are concerned, Eden Hazard has suffered a remarkable fall from grace since winning the Player of the Season award, while Manchester City’s star trio of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero have all suffered at the hands of injuries.
Here are the players that have impressed in the first half of the season…
Our choice: Jack Butland (Stoke City)
With Stoke starting the season without the injured Ryan Shawcross and with several new players throughout the team, they struggled early on. Butland had to produce some sensational performances just to keep them in games, and he has continued to impress as the players in front of him have improved, keeping a league-high seven clean sheets.
Alternatives: Petr Cech (Arsenal), David De Gea (Manchester United), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Heurelho Gomes (Watford)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season?’ id=’765671′]
Our choice: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s defence was long seen as the main reason for their consistent failure to seriously challenge for the Premier League title, but those days have long gone, with only three teams conceding less goals in the first half of the season. Bellerin has established himself to such an extent at right-back that Mathieu Debuchy is looking to leave Emirates Stadium this month to protect his Euro 2016 chances. Bellerin’s speed at getting back into position when attacks break down make him a much better fit in this Arsenal side.
Alternatives: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best right-back in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766445′]
Our choices: Chris Smalling (Manchester United) and Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
This is one of the most competitive categories, but Smalling has been a rock for Manchester United as players around him have fallen foul of injury or form dips, while Alderweireld has made a huge impact for the only team to concede less goals than the Red Devils, Tottenham.
Alternatives: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Scott Dann (Crystal Palace), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best centre-back in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766481′]
Our choice: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
Outside of north London, Monreal rarely gets the same amount of credit as his opposite full-back, but the Spaniard’s consistency certainly doesn’t go unnoticed among those connected to Arsenal. Bellerin is much younger, of course, and so will improve, but Monreal has made more tackles, more interceptions and created more clear-cut chances this season, making him an easy pick at left-back after Luke Shaw’s promising start was curtailed by injury.
Alternatives: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Erik Pieters (Stoke City), Nathan Ake (Watford)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best left-back in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766478′]
Our choice: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy get most of the credit (more about them later), but Esteban Cambiasso is Leicester’s reigning Player of the Season, yet the Foxes have not missed him one bit. Kante, in fact, has improved them, making more tackles and interceptions combined than any other player in the Premier League. The Frenchman is not just a stopper, though: he boasts the best pass completion ratio of any player in Leicester’s squad and has created just short of one clear-cut chance per game.
Alternatives: Francis Coquelin (Arsenal), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best deep midfielder in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766487′]
Our choices: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Mahrez and Ozil were obvious picks for the team having contributed combined goals and assists tallies of 20 and 19 respectively, the best in the Premier League, but lots of players can lay claim to have been the best attacking midfielder behind those two. We opted for De Bruyne over Barkley, just, on the basis that his combined tally of 13 goals and assists was achieved in four less appearances. Dimitri Payet would likely have been a strong contender were it not for his injury.
Alternatives: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Willian (Chelsea), Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace), Ross Barkley (Everton), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766502′]
Our choices: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Realistically, this was a choice between the three leading goalscorers in the Premier League, with Harry Kane taking time to find his best form this season. Vardy has to be included on the back of that incredible goalscoring run, but we have opted for Ighalo over Lukaku on the basis that he is playing in the Premier League for the first time with a newly-promoted team.
Alternatives: Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham)
[of_poll name=’Who has been the best striker in the Premier League this season?’ id=’766511′]