PLNN’s Premier League Team of the Season 2022/23

Swapnil
By Swapnil
20 Min Read
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It’s that time of the year ladies and gentlemen, today we are going to see the PLNN‘s 2022/23 Premier League Team of the season. It is always going to be controversial as every fan feels that their best players should have made the cut and this one might be debatable too. So let’s get on with it.

Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

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We start with a punchy one! Liverpool’s Alisson Becker. This pick could have been Newcastle’s Nick Pope or Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale but we are going for Brazil’s Alisson Becker. Without Alisson in goal things for the Reds could have looked quite different and scary. Already hamstrung in midfield due to a lack of options, the backline also suffered as a result with players like Van Dijk and Trent looking like a shadow of themselves as compared to last season when this team was fighting for a historic and unprecedented quadruple.

The Reds have faced the sixth most shots in the league this campaign with teams like Everton, Wolves, and Leeds United facing more. But the Brazilian has still managed to save the sixth most shots with a save percentage of 71.4% and has kept the joint second-most clean sheets in the league. If we look at the post-shot excepted goals which is a metric that determines how many goals a team should have conceded then Liverpool should have conceded nearly 49.3 goals instead due to the heroics of their star keeper they have managed to let in 42 which gives Alisson a return of 9.3 in this metric which is the best in the league. By that same account, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope who play for the fourth and the best defense in the league have conceded nearly what the metric expected them to save.

Right Back: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)

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We had to include at least one player from the league’s best defensive team and it’s Kieran Trippier. Now 32, the right-back arguably is the most experienced player in terms of transitioning Newcastle United from a relegation-fighting side to one which plays on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Europe’s biggest stage having played a crucial role in Spurs’ going to the finals of this competition for the first time in their history and was a vital piece in Atletico Madrid securing a league title.

Adding to the vast experience, his ability to read the game has brought a sense of calm to this new look backline which often looked chaotic in the past seasons. His elite set piece-taking abilities have allowed Newcastle to become the best team in terms of threats from set pieces with more than 0.5 xG per 10 set pieces, followed by Everton & Arsenal who are on 0.45 and 0.38 resp. Whoscored.com have given Kieran Trippier a rating of 7.46 which ranks fourth amongst all the players in the Premier League. There has been no better right-back in this league than Trippier and the English international quite rightly deserves a place in our XI!

Centre-Back: William Saliba (Arsenal)

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The first of our five entries from Arsenal, William Saliba has been phenomenal this season. The Bondy-born centre-back despite killing it in the French league with Saint-Étienne at first and then at Nice, did not seem to faze Mikel Arteta. He was sent on another loan this time to Olympique de Marseille and Saliba impressed by making the team of the season and was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year: 2021–22. It seems that this was all but enough for Mikel and when Saliba was inserted into the starting XI, he never let off his place. Such has been the influence that without him, the Gunners have dropped points and looked leaky in defense. In 27 games with the Frenchmen in the lineup, the Gunners conceded 25 goals but after going off in the Europa League defeat at the hands of Sporting Lisbon, the North London side shipped 14 in the next eight matches and drew three games on the bounces to let Manchester City take control of the championship.

Centre-Back: Nathan Ake (Manchester City)

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Who would have thought that a team containing elite defenders like Ruben Dias, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte & Manuel Akanji would see Nathan Ake be the best player in the defense of the champions-elect? I am pretty sure that Manchester City fans at the start of this season were over the moon when Chelsea were willing to take away a player who was playing a bit part role in their squad for a hefty amount. The two parties even agreed personal terms but the Blues felt that City’s valuation of the Dutch defender of £45million was too high and Ake stayed in Manchester. Some would negatively take this failed move but Ake has risen high and above to be City’s best player behind Erling Haaland.

Nathan Ake has made major improvements this season. His ability to keep the opposition’s best player quiet for 90 by just keeping on winning his one on ones has been excellent this year. His touches in the final third and progressive passes have come in leaps and bounds from the previous campaign and it seems like after making temporary adjustments to his left-hand side of defense for years playing Fabian Delph, Zinchenko, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rico Lewis, Danilo, Sergio Gomez, and even Bernardo Silva, Pep Guardiola has found his man.

Left-Back: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)

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From a current Manchester City to an ex-Manchester City we welcome our second entry from Arsenal, Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Ukrainian born player has brought the qualities of leadership, fearlessness and technical guile have transformed Arsenal and what was supposed to be a season where Arsenal reach the Champions League spot easily has gone onto become a title chase for the club.

His role of tucking inside, helping to smother opponents and pick them apart has helped Arsenal become the third-best defense in the league compared to last season’s eighth best. Zinchenko has been important for Arsenal in build-up play leading the squad for touches per 90 minutes and passes in the opposition half and in the final third. His arrival at the club has managed to improve Granit Xhaka who at one point looked set to leave the club for AS Roma and Gabriel Martinelli who is a dangerous player when he picks up the ball out wide and then cuts into space on the inside which only possible if you a player like Zinchenko patrolling the area behind which helps remove the concern in the mind of the attacker of getting counter-attacked by the opposition.

Defensive Midfielder: Rodri (Manchester City)

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I know a lot of Manchester United fans would like to suggest Casemiro and as much as an improvement United have shown with his presence he simply can’t be a part of our XI as he has featured only 25 times with 4 of those coming as sub appearances. Rodri on the other hand has been arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world this season and he has continued his stellar form from the previous campaign. The Spanish midfielder did not transition very smoothly from his homeland to English shores, struggling in his first season but he has now come leaps and bounds to be the defensive midfielder in this league and in Europe.

The 26-year-old has played the most minutes in this Man City squad even ahead of the likes of Ederson. He has made the most passes in the Premier League this season, 189 more than Lewis Dunk in second, and 546 more than the closest midfielder, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. He also leads the league in touches. Pep’s teams in the past always have a central defender who is capable of putting out good performances which helps to provide consistency at the base of the midfield like Sergio Busquets and at Bayern Munich it was Xabi Alonso, even Fernandinho up until the last season.

Right Midfielder: Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal)

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Up next we have the second or the third-best player in the Premier League this season, Arsenal’s skipper Martin Odegaard. The Norwegian International not too long ago was considered to be a wonderkid when Real Madrid signed him for a fee of €4m rising to €8m in add-ons. A lot happened after that and when he finally landed at Arsenal few could have expected the remarkable rise Martin has shown this season. He was also awarded the captaincy by Mikel Arteta after the departures of  club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and interim captain Alexandre Lacazette. Some players shrink when they are given huge responsibilities but Odegaard has risen above and has led Arsenal from the front.

This season we have seen a major change in his game which is he has added goals to go along with his creativity. He has 15 non-penalty goals this year, the most an Arsenal midfielder has scored since Cesc Fabregas and even more than Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard ever managed in a single season. This also happens to be his first campaign where he has scored double-digit goals with nine being the most while playing in Dutch outfit Vitesse. He is attempting nearly twice as many shots as he was in his first campaign at Arsenal while tripling his xG in the same time span. If we look at his heat maps we can clearly see that he is pushing forward more and more with Oleksandr taking up his responsibilities while touches have gone up from 2.2 to 3.8 this season.

Left Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

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Are we even surprised at this point that KDB made our XI? 7 goals and 16 assists from the Belgian has helped Manchester City recover from a slow start to the season (by City’s standards) and now they sit in the driver’s seat to win the fifth title in the last six seasons. Kevin de Bruyne has been a constant in this machine that has produced some of the most brilliant football this league has ever witnessed. He has been in a league of his own since he arrived back in England from Wolfsburg.

KDB has contributed to an astonishing 105 assists since 2015/16, the next best on this list is Christian Eriksen with 64. He is also well on the way towards his journey to become the second highest assist maker in the history of this with Cesc Fabregas who is currently holding the position with 118.

Whether you are a fan or not, we truly blessed to watch the best midfielder in the history of this league play week in and week out and still astonish us with the genius he has in him.

Right-Winger: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

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Ever since Saka burst onto the scene as a 68th minute substitute for Aaron Ramsey in a Europa League fixture against Vorskla Poltava, the Hale academy graduate has been tipped for stardom and every year he has been making those steps to fulfill this prophecy. After scoring 11 and assisting 7 last season, Saka has improved this year with 13 goals and 11 assists making it the best year in terms of goals contributed to his team.

Saka has brought in a sense of ruthlessness to his game, a trait which helps him perform on some of the biggest stages like the World Cup where alongside Jude Bellingham he was England’s best player and has stepped against quality opposition when his team needed him the most. He is one of the most fouled players in this league and it would be easy for him to moan and groan about it but still Saka gets up and plays with the same intensity he does in every game.

Arsenal have had a great run this season and a lot of this great run could be attributed to the form of the English winger and the club needs to make sure to make the best moves this off-season in order to help Arteta and his team go to the next step and win the Premier League.

Left Winger: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

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I know this pick, while not controversial, does not see Harry Kane play in his conventional striker role instead we have picked him here in order to accommodate him in our XI & how could we not. 28 goals in possibly the worst Tottenham team that Harry Kane has been a part of is a remarkable achievement. 28 goals would have been enough to win the golden boot in 19 of the 30 Premier League seasons since the it’s reincarnation and also if he manages to hit a hattrick in the final game of the season then it will be a personal best for Premier League’s second highest goal-scorer of all time. Kane has managed to be consistent in a season when his team has been going through a lot of problems behind the scenes.

It looks very likely that the England skipper will leave the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium bringing an end to an association which lasted for 19 long years. His time at Spurs may not have yielded the silverware that a player of his quality should have, he will have very fond memories of the club he grew up supporting and fans of the club will remember Kane for all the great moments he has produced for the club for whom he is the record goal-scorer when he broke a record stood for 53 long years by Spurs icon Jimmy Greaves.

RD: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

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Probably the least obvious pick it’s the record breaker, goal-scoring FWA Footballer of the Year Erling Braut Haaland. Many tipped Haaland to win the golden boot and make a serious mark at Manchester City but few could have predicted the kind of domination the Leeds born centre forward has brought to the Premier League.

Haaland has now scored 37 goals in the Premier League which means he has broken Alan Shearer’s long standing 36 mark set in the 94/95 when Premier League used to have 42 games and contributed to a further 7 assists to a side which already was probably the best attacking team in Europe. He also tops Europe’s biggest competition’s scoring charts with 12 goals this season and the next best player remaining in the competition is Vini Jr. with 7 goals is highly unlikely to equal or break the 12 goals mark meaning Haaland will have won the Golden Boot for the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in his first season in Manchester.

A league which already looked like a competition where teams play to finish second due to Man City’s dominance looks like it might become tougher to win year after year.

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