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
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
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.