Beyond the big six: Premier League defense of the season 2018/19
The Premier League team of the season, like all Premier League team of the seasons, will be populated with players who have performed exceedingly well mostly from the top six. Rarely do players from the rest of the 14 teams receive a mention, unless they have had an extraordinary season.
Individual accolades are team dependent and therefore, players from seventh to 20th don't receive enough of a mention even if they have put up consistently great performances.
Here’s the Premier League defense of the season comprised of players from teams outside the top six.
GK: Neil Etheridge
The Cardiff City keeper has been sensational this season. Perhaps, he would be the single most important reason if they stay up. The chances of that are slim however they have some tasty six pointers ahead with games against West Ham, Brighton, Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace yet to go.
His 7 clean sheets and 3 penalty saves have been a major reason for them to be still in the running to not get relegated. If even Cardiff do sink, Etheridge may just stay afloat in the Premier League, courtesy his brilliant performances this season.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
What a sensational season the right-back is having. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has the highest successful tackle percentage considering all the players from the Big five leagues in Europe. He is referred to as the “Spider” at Crystal Palace due to his dangly long legs, which according to him, are the reasons for his tackling prowess which is the highest for a defender in the Premier League.
The youngster was converted from a winger to a full-back at Crystal Palace and what a decision that has been. The only problem Crystal Palace now have is that he’s a major transfer target for Manchester United and Arsenal in the summer and if the big boys are willing to splash the cash, Wan-Bissaka will most certainly be on his way out of Selhurst Park.
RCB: Michael Keane
With 8 clean sheets in 26 appearances for Everton, Michael Keane is reinstating his claim for a spot in the England national team. His resounding domination in the air is underscored by the fact that he has 90 headed clearances in 26 games and has won a total of 154 aerial duels.
The former Burnley centre-half endured a difficult start to life at Goodison Park but is finally showing the form that made Everton buy him for £30 million. His last-ditch block to deny Mohamed Salah in the Merseyside derby will remain the highlight of his season.
LCB: Harry Maguire
There can be no other choice as far as the rest of the league is concerned when it comes to partnering Micheal Keane in the center of defense. Brendan Rodgers must be licking his chops at the prospect of having a ball playing centre-half like Harry Maguire in his ranks.
The former Hull City defender has 3 goals, which is the 3rd highest by a defender in the league this season. Leicester City’s 7 clean sheets and Maguire’s 120 clearances in 24 appearances have been instrumental in saving a rather mediocre season for the Foxes which has been laden with issues on and off the field.
LB: José Holebas
In the 25 games he has played in this season, Jose Holebas has 6 assists and 3 goals; a fantastic return for left-back in the league. His 57 tackles stand 8th in the league, level with Marcos Alonso, but with having played 4 games lesser.
The Greek left-backs pinpoint accurate crosses and corners into the box have allowed Troy Deeney and his supporting cast to be 8th in the league, level on points with Wolves in 7th, and in the running for a Europa League spot.
At the start of the season, many had written off the full-back due to the signing of Adam Masina by Watford, but the veteran fullback has proved his doubters wrong and done it in style.