Premier League 2018/19: The non-top 6 Team of the Season
The 2018/19 Premier League season has been an interesting one, largely piqued by both the title race between Manchester City and Liverpool and also the race for the remaining Champions League spots between Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. But the best thing about the Premier League? It’s so much more than just the top six sides.
Sure, the ‘Big Six’ are head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of overall strength, but the Premier League’s other 14 sides still have some fantastic players, some of whom would probably make it into the first XI of the top six, and some of whom have had a tremendous time this season.
Here is the Premier League’s non-top six XI of the year for 2018/19.
Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio – Wolves
Despite some controversy over his €18m transfer from Sporting Lisbon to Wolves in the summer, Portugal’s #1 goalkeeper Rui Patricio has enjoyed a fantastic debut season in the Premier League and has almost certainly proven himself the best goalkeeper in the league outside of those playing for the top six.
Despite sides promoted from the Championship traditionally struggling to survive in the Premier League – Cardiff and Fulham have both been relegated this season – Wolves have instead thrived, and part of that has been down to their solid back-line, with Patricio being a key part of that defence.
The West Midlands side have conceded 44 goals this season – that’s less than Manchester United and Arsenal – and while Patricio has kept just 7 clean sheets in the 36 games he’s played, he’s also made a whopping 92 saves, giving him a save success rate of 67.65%, which is up there with the likes of David de Gea (69.82%) and higher than Chelsea’s highly rated Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Essentially, Wolves should be thankful to be able to call upon such a tremendous goalkeeper, and he’s definitely earned his spot in this side.
Left-Back: Lucas Digne – Everton
Everton have been one of the more consistently entertaining sides this season, as Marco Silva’s team have been involved in plenty of memorable games, including big wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
They’ve developed a stronger defence throughout the season but have also been a dangerous attacking force, and part of that strength in both areas has been down to their left-back Lucas Digne.
Digne has been excellent all season, as he scores highly in both defensive and offensive statistics. He averages 2 successful tackles, 1.8 interceptions and 2.7 clearances per game, but he’s also chipped in with 4 goals and 4 assists in his 34 appearances, and has completed a total of 67 key passes too.
The Frenchman was named as Man of the Match by WhoScored.com in Everton’s victories over Burnley, West Ham and Manchester United, as well as the Toffees’ draw with Watford, and it’s suddenly becoming clear why Barcelona were looking to sign him a few seasons back. How much longer Everton can keep hold of him is a big question mark.
Centre-Back: Michael Keane – Everton
As I mentioned when discussing Lucas Digne, Everton have developed one of the strongest defences outside of the top six, and the fact that Marco Silva’s side have conceded just 44 goals – 6 less than Arsenal and 8 less than Manchester United – shows how much they’ve come along since last season, when they let in a total of 58. Part of that improvement has been down to the form of Michael Keane.
Keane was signed by Everton from Burnley in a big-money £25m move in the summer of 2017, but following that he found himself on lists of the worst signings of the season, as he failed to gel with fellow central defender Ashley Williams and struggled for form throughout the term. This season however has been completely different.
Keane now resembles the player who was rated so highly prior to his move, and it’s no surprise he’s earned a recall into the England squad recently. His pass success rate is very high for a defender – 80.6% - and over his 32 appearances, all of his defensive statistics are impressive.
The arrival at Goodison Park of Colombian World Cup star Yerry Mina was supposed to signal the end of Keane, but instead he’s grown in strength and has been one of Everton’s most outstanding performers, completing a tremendous turnaround from last season.