5 Premier League stars who have been unfairly criticized this season

Liverpool v Burnley - Premier League
Liverpool v Burnley - Premier League
Vishal Subramanian

The 2020-21 Premier League season has been one of the most eventful campaigns in recent history. Most games have been played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic and the grueling fixture list has caused more injuries than what would ideally be the case.

While players do get paid the big bucks to play the game regardless of the conditions, it is important to acknowledge that they are human beings too, at the end of the day. Football in the COVID-19 era has been a hard watch, with a handful of players suffering without having thousands of fans cheering them on in stadiums.

Aside from runaway leaders Manchester City, the rest of the teams have had their fair share of troubles to deal with this season and are unlikely to look back on the 2020-21 season fondly.

Due to a combination of reasons, a handful of players haven't been able to perform as consistently as they'd have liked. However, some footballers in the country have been unfairly slated this season, and here are five such players who do not deserve some of the animosity towards them.

#5 Granit Xhaka | Arsenal

Arsenal v Manchester City - Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester City - Premier League

Granit Xhaka is currently one of the most enigmatic figures in the Premier League and has divided opinion since joining Arsenal in 2016. However, the Swiss midfielder has been a reliable presence for the Gunners in what has been yet another underwhelming campaign in the Premier League.

Arsenal are languishing in 10th position and are unlikely to secure European football for the forthcoming season if they fail to win the UEFA Europa League. Xhaka, though, has quietly gone about his business in midfield and has also successfully deputized as a left-back in the absence of Kieran Tierney.

Xhaka isn't the most consistent player around and tends to be a bit of a loose cannon at times, but he is a born leader and never hides when things go south for Arsenal.

#4 Trent Alexander-Arnold | Liverpool

Watford FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Watford FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League

Liverpool have been ravaged by injuries this season, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip currently missing from the rearguard. Trent Alexander-Arnold, though, has managed to keep himself fit in what has been a tumultuous spell for the Reds and has performed admirably more often than not.

Often slated for his defensive frailties, the Englishman was even left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad during the most recent international break. However, it has been a tough season for Liverpool as a whole and Alexander-Arnold has been one of Jurgen Klopp's better performers since the turn of the year.

The boyhood scouser is just 22 years old and is still learning the trade, so most of the criticism that has been aimed towards him this season could be deemed unfair.

#3 Jorginho | Chelsea

Real Madrid v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: Leg One
Real Madrid v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: Leg One

Jorginho found himself in and out of the team under Frank Lampard and was slated for his lack of physicality in the center of the park. However, he has become a key player for the Blues under Thomas Tuchel and is enjoying arguably his best spell at Stamford Bridge since joining the club in 2018.

Jordinho is a deep-lying playmaker and is playing a 3-4-3 formation that suits his strengths. Alongside N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, the Italian has played teams off the park in the center of the park and also shown his leadership qualities.

Jorginho was criticized in the opening weeks of the season, but he has since silenced some of them with his performances under Tuchel.

#2 Thiago Alcantara | Liverpool

Newcastle United v Liverpool - Premier League
Newcastle United v Liverpool - Premier League

Thiago Alcantara was widely regarded as one of the signings of the season, as Liverpool snapped him up from Bayern Munich for a nominal fee. The classy midfielder made his debut against Chelsea as a second-half substitute and took the Premier League by storm with his passing range and ability on the ball.

However, he was on the wrong end of a horror challenge from Richarlison in the Merseyside derby and was ruled out for nearly three months. Upon his return, he took a while to get going, due to which questions were asked of his quality and his ability to adapt to the Premier League.

The truth is simple - Thiago Alcantara has not been bad this season by any stretch of the imagination. Liverpool have been hampered by injuries, so we may have to wait until the start of next season to see the best of him.

#1 Harry Maguire | Manchester United

Tranmere Rovers v Manchester United - FA Cup Fourth Round
Tranmere Rovers v Manchester United - FA Cup Fourth Round

The 2020-21 season started in disastrous fashion for Harry Maguire, as he was charged with assault while on holiday in Greece and didn't really perform well in the opening weeks of the season. However, the Manchester United captain got better as the season went on and is currently one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's most reliable players.

Maguire was slated by fans and pundits alike for his performances in his debut season at the club, as there was a feeling that he wasn't worth what the Red Devils paid for. While that might still be true, Maguire didn't have anything to do with his price tag, to begin with, and has performed consistently for the club since his move from Leicester City.

He is often scapegoated for Manchester United's failings, but since the turn of the year, his critics have been somewhat silenced.

Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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