The best XI performers outside the top 6 so far | Premier League 2019-20
- A combined XI of best players currently outside top six in the table
In what's really an unfortunate circumstance, football has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak. All of Europe's top five leagues have been suspended until April 3, as well as the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.
With nothing much to look forward to in the sport, this rather serves as an opportunity for us fans to look back at what has unravelled this season. Let's begin that with the Premier League.
The table has offered a few surprises at the top, as Liverpool are finally closing in on the long-awaited title whereas Leicester City have punched well above their weights too.
However, little is talked about the scenario outside the top six. So, why not frame an XI of the best players? Here's how it would look.
Note: 'Outside top six' means teams ranked seventh and below, not the traditional 'top six'
Goalkeeper: Nick Pope (Burnley)
For a side languishing as low as 10th in the table and having conceded 40 goals so far, Nick Pope's return of 11 clean-sheets is an incredible feat. The English international has been at the top of his game for the Clarets, but more importantly, has brought calmness to an otherwise chaotic defence for Sean Dyche's side. What's more, he's also made 86 saves - ranking 6th in the league so far, and also saved a penalty.
Right-back: Djibril Sidibe (Everton)
Everton's rocky campaign has eclipsed some of the bright lights in the team, particularly Djibril Sidibe. The Frenchman joined the Toffees on loan from AS Monaco in a move that generated little to no traction, but his performances so far surely have created some. Sidibe has been a valuable addition to the side with his industry and intelligent movements. He's also laid four assists which are great numbers for a right-back despite playing his first 90 minutes only from matchday nine onwards, similarly with his average tackles of 3.7 per game.
Centre-back: James Tarkowski (Burnley)
With a stunning five man-of-the-match awards, the 27-year old has led by an example. He may have found his aggressive streak as his tally of eight yellow cards suggest, but James Tarkowski has been impeccably solid at the back for the Clarets, averaging 5.1 clearances per game. His encouraging performances might convince Gareth Southgate to include him again in the England squad for the Euro 2020, should the competition go ahead as scheduled.
Centre-back: Chris Basham (Sheffield United)
Believe this or not, but Sheffield United have the best defensive record in the Premier League after run-away leaders Liverpool with only 25 goals conceded. And a large portion of this resounding defensive record is down to Chris Basham, who's been a revelation this season. The Blades centre-back might be 31, but that hasn't hampered him from putting up great work ethic and maintaining a solid unit at the back.
Left-back: Lucas Digne (Everton)
The French star is among the more underrated players in the league. He has proved to be a terrific signing last season with an involvement in eight goals, and has carried on in the same vein in the 2019/20 campaign too. He's laid five assists so far, the most for a left-back, whilst also creating 52 chances which tops every other defender in the league. From supposedly being on the cusp of an axe from Carlo Ancelotti to turning into a vital cog in the Evertonian wheel, Digne has certainly come a long way in a very short time.
Central midfielder: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Danny Ings might have been taking all the plaudits with his blistering run, but James Ward-Prowse has been the maestro in the midfield. He's had a hand in seven goals (scored four and assisted three) whilst also keeping the midfield ticking with his pin-point passes. He's well-known for his accurate set-piece deliveries, but has also made a reputation for his buccaneering runs, covering every blade of grass. He also averages more key passes (1.6) and more shots (1.7) than any Southampton player!
Right-winger: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
The Ivory Coast international might not have had the best of the seasons so far, but he's still the best player at Crystal Palace, and that's saying something. Without him in the mix, the Eagles would've been much worse off than the 11th position they currently occupy. He's the chief creative force in Roy Hodgson's side, and also the most dangerous with three goals and five assists to his name so far. Wilfried Zaha's name has been linked to some of the biggest clubs in English football and might be plucked if he ends the season on a similarly resounding note.
Attacking midfielder: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
The Championship's best player last season, Jack Grealish has certainly taken the Premier League by storm too. The Aston Villa skipper is the only bright spot in the relegation-battling side, and also their biggest hope in staving off a drop. He is the most prolific midfielder in the league after Kevin De Bruyne with seven goals, and has also weighed in with another six assists. Grealish has also created the most chances behind the Belgian, and would certainly play a starring role for England at the Euros should that happen this year.
Left-winger: Heung-Min Son (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Lillywhites have had a turbulent campaign, even under Jose Mourinho, but that has done little to stop Heung-Min Son from having a stormer. The Korean sensation has racked up nine goals and eight assists, despite missing five games through red-card suspension. He has even upstaged Harry Kane as the best Tottenham player this season, and also scored one of the greatest ever goals of the league against Burnley when he slalomed past seven players after a stunning 90-yard sprint!
Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Arsenal's situation is tragic, to say the least. The Gunners languish ninth in the table and look certain to miss even Europa League football next season. And this is despite Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang going hell for leather up front and netting 17 times. The Gabonese international shared the Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane last season, but seems hell-bent on claiming the prize whole and sole this term. If only his monumental efforts were significantly complemented, Arsenal would've been among the Champions League places right now.
Striker: Danny Ings (Southampton)
In a Premier League season packed to the rafters with fairytale stories, that of Danny Ings ranks somewhere near the top. The 27-year old, who was largely a fringe player at Liverpool until 2018, has scripted a meteoric rise to prominence again this term with his highly impressive scoring exploits. His 15 strikes are bettered by only four players and account for 43% of Southampton's goals this season. Without him, the Saints would've been mired in relegation scramble, and need him to be at the top of his game for the final stretch of the campaign to consolidate survival.
Published 14 Mar 2020, 20:40 IST