English Premier League

Premier League Team of the Season Part 4: Honorable Mentions

A chance for me to cure my indecisiveness and recognize the players I was very close to putting into the main team…

Welcome back to the Premier League Team of the Season. This part will cover the “honorable mentions”. Each league will have eight honorable mentions, which include one goalkeeper and a somewhat even spread of defenders, midfielders, and forwards. These are the players who had very good seasons worthy of recognition, but not quite enough to earn a spot in the main starting team. Each segment for the player will be shorter, since there are eight of them, but will still highlight their season and talents.

It is also a good chance for me to earn some credit back with some of the fans I may have angered with my selections, so here we go…

Ederson (Manchester City)

The goalkeeper choice was difficult. While Ederson’s stats are quite impressive, many of them are boosted by the incredible talent in defense that is in front of him on a weekly basis. I felt that Emi Martínez was just the better goalkeeper.

But that does not mean Ederson is bad. He is actually quite good, world class at times. He is a solid shot stopper, very good with the ball at his feet, and seems to be the exact mold of goalkeeper that Guardiola wants in his team. He even registered an assist this season, being one of only two goalkeepers to do that this season. Ederson is a very good keeper in his own right, and while I chose to go with someone else in my team, he deserves some recognition for his strong season.

Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United)

Left back was a bit of a tough choice. As an Everton fan, I desperately tried to work Lucas Digne into this team or honorable mentions, but it just was not meant to happen. Shaw offered the most complete package of any left back in the league this season, and I have no problem with putting him in the starting team. Aaron Cresswell, however, certainly deserves an honorable mention. Yes, for any West Ham fans reading this, here is where I give your team the credit they deserve.

Aaron Cresswell, at least at the moment, is the most creative fullback in the league, registering more assists and goal-creating actions than any defensive player in the entire league. He has also taken a step forward as a competent defensive player, being a crucial part of a West Ham defense that has been surprisingly very strong. It is his creative talent that got him on this list, however. He is one of the many reasons why West Ham are in the hunt for the Champions League.

Vladimír Coufal (West Ham United)

And here is another West Ham player. They have had quite a season, to be fair.

Vladimír Coufal has also been outstanding and a crucial part of West Ham’s success, similar to Cresswell on the other side of the pitch. He has been important for a different reason than Cresswell, however. Yes, he is a talented attacking fullback, registering five assists this season, which is still among the creative leaders of Premier League defenders. His energy is limitless, and he is darting and rushing up and down the right side of the pitch all match. He is one of the hardest workers in a West Ham team full of hard workers.

His best attributes, however came defensively. His work rate and aggression created a suffocating defensive player, able to smother opposing wingers in one-on-one defensive scenarios and able to come up with crucial defensive blocks when needed. He is almost the inverse of Cresswell, being a solid attacker but great defender compared to Cresswell being a great attacker but only alright defender. Coufal will not be the final West Ham player we talk about, but he is again one of the main reasons why the Irons find themselves as high in the table as they are.

Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)

It is very harsh on many midfielders in the league that I only chose three. Ndidi is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the league, and he really could have earned a spot in the team had I decided to use four midfielders.

Ndidi has been among the league leaders in tackles and tackles won for nearly every season since he signed for Leicester, and this season was no different, despite missing a significant amount of games this season. He is a constant defensive presence, doing all of the hard work in midfield that allows Youri Tielemans and James Maddison to be the creative talents that we know that they are. Ndidi’s defensive presence also makes their back four better, providing more stability and protection for the center backs as well.

Aside from being a fantastic defensive player, he is also a very competent player on the ball. He is not just someone who needs to get the ball to better players, but he has the ability to be a part of the build up play and be a platform on which Leicester’s attacks can be built. He even added a goal and three assists to his stat line this season, which is solid for a primarily-defensive player. Had he not gotten injured, then maybe he puts together a season that makes it hard to keep him out of the starting team, but he still did enough to warrant an honorable mention.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Here is another player held back by injury. Had Grealish not dealt with injury issues and missed a significant number of games this season, I think it would have been impossible to keep him out of the main team, potentially going in over De Bruyne. Yeah, he has been that good.

Jack Grealish has carried Aston Villa for a while now, but his important to the team has never been more clear than it has been this season. He is quite literally at the heart of everything Villa did in attack, being responsible for 35% of Villa’s goals even with missing nine league games. He is second and first in the league, respectively, in shot-creating actions and goal-creating actions per 90 minutes, creating a goal nearly every game. When Dean Smith’s team are at their best, he has been simply unstoppable, putting together a number of dazzling, impressive performances where defenders simply could not stop him. The best example of this was the Villains’ 7-2 win over Liverpool early in the season, where his two goals and three assists capped off a near-perfect individual performance. Had he not gotten injured, it is very likely these season totals would have been even higher. It is very harsh to keep him out of the starting 11, but he is clearly deserving of an honorable mention.

Tomáš Souček (West Ham United)

Here is our final West Ham inclusion, and he might be the best player to wear the Irons’ claret and blue this season.

Tomáš Souček, the tall and lanky Czech midfielder, put forward quite an interesting season, to say the least. David Moyes probably saw an Eastern European Marouane Fellaini when Souček arrived in East London, and he has basically played in that mold in the West Ham midfield. It has clearly worked, and he has provided the energy in midfield next to the primarily defensive Declan Rice and clearly attacking Jesse Lingard. He loves to make late runs forward, to score on set pieces and score scrappy goals, to win aerial duels. Yeah, he is basically Fellaini.

And that should not be an insulting comparison, because it shows that Souček is very good at a unique set of things, which makes him perfect for this West Ham team. While he is not a world-beating defensive player, he is at least solid enough to make the midfield double pivot work. He is a solid enough passer to help start attacking moves, though he will not attempt any very risky or creative passes. He gets moves started, usually getting the ball to the wings and getting forward to get on the end of the cross. He is unique, but it works, as he is one of the top scoring midfielders in the league this season. He is very good, and he deserves his credit as being one of the main reasons for West Ham’s success this season.

Mason Mount (Chelsea)

I long was resistant. I did not want to admit it. I would not buckle to the pressure. But now I must acknowledge what is clearly on display for all of us to see.

Mason Mount is really, really good.

Chelsea had a difficult season for sure, but even during the difficult times under Lampard, Mount was the one who was trying to pull Chelsea through. Almost as a modern regeneration of Lampard as a player, Mount’s attacking talent and incredible competitive desire drove Chelsea during their tough times, and when Tuchel arrived, Mount was able to ride that form into Chelsea’s re-emergence, becoming one of the best midfielders in the league during the second half of the season.

He is not a pure creative attacking midfielder, as he has also been deployed a little deeper in midfield, but the stats show just how good of a passer and creative player from deeper positions that Mount has become in only his first two years at Chelsea. Only four assists this season, but he is among the league leaders in key passes and shot-creating actions, showing just how involved he is in much of Chelsea’s attacks, even if he is not at the end of them. He is another of those “what if” players; had he kept this second half of the season form during the first half of the season, it is very possible he would have forced his way into the starting 11.

Patrick Bamford (Leeds United)

Bielsa’s newly-promoted Yorkshire boys get a representative in this team of the season, and it is absolutely not a player I expected to be here when Leeds went up. I think I specifically said Leeds needed to sign a striker last summer, questioning whether Patrick Bamford would be able to succeed in his umpteenth attempt at becoming a consistent Premier League striker. And they did end up signing a striker, bringing in Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia, and I did think he would succeed and Bamford would be largely meh.

Boy, was I wrong.

You could maybe make the argument for two, maybe three, players being as important, or more important, to Leeds’ success compared to Bamford. Those three, in my opinion, are Kalvin Phillips, Jack Harrison, and Illan Meslier. But man, I cannot make an argument against Bamford’s inclusion, because he is the focal point of that Leeds attack, the thing that makes it all work. For those who watched the Amazon documentary about Leeds, you know that Bielsa specifically chose Bamford to be the striker of his team, and it is clearly apparent why. He is suddenly a lethal goalscorer, putting up a respectable tally for this season and being by far the highest scoring player from a newly-promoted team this season.

It is his ability on the ball that really sets him apart, however, and that is likely what Bielsa really liked. Seven assists this season is honestly more shocking to me than the 14 goals, and it is very possible that he joins Harry Kane and (potentially) Jamie Vardy as the only strikers this season to have double digit goals and assists. And he is doing this on a newly-promoted team. Leeds definitely have something really good going for them.

And there you have it, that is our Premier League Team of the Season for the 2020/2021 season. It was a tough choice, but it shows just how many incredible players and breathtaking performances we have seen in the English top flight this season. Agree with my picks? Think that I left someone out? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to come back next week, as we move on to our next league team of the season: Spain’s La Liga!

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