Unsurprisingly, Leicester and Tottenham players dominated the PFA Team of the Year, but we’ve selected an alternative XI.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Having kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this term, David de Gea deservedly took the number one shirt in the team of the year. However, Lloris has quietly gone about his business in continuing to establish his reputation as one of the best stoppers in the world.
Spurs have shipped fewer goals than any other team in the division this season, with Lloris imparting a sense of calm among the defenders in front of him. Furthermore, the Frenchman has captained the side in impressive fashion and could yet be lifting the title come the end of the campaign.
Defence: Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
In truth, it has hardly been a vintage year for right-backs. Chelsea stalwart Branislav Ivanovic has been largely woeful, while neither Bacary Sagna or Pablo Zabaleta have made the spot their own at Manchester City. Hector Bellerin won the vote after continuing his impressive emergence at Arsenal, although the Spaniard has struggled to match his early-season form in recent months.
It must be noted, however, that Walker has enjoyed somewhat of a ressurgence this term. After an injury-disrupted 2014/15, the 25-year-old has been a key component of Spurs’ stringent defence, and has also chipped in with a goal and three assists, which has also seen him regain his place in the England team.
Defence: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
While United supporters are going to struggle to recall many exciting attacking displays from this season, their defensive resolve cannot be called into question, and Smalling has been at the heart of that. After finally developing into the player many tipped him to become last year, the former Fulham man is now England’s leading centre-back.
Having received criticism in the past for being injury prone, Smalling has started 47 matches in all competition for United this term. Only Tottenham have conceded fewer league goals as a team, and Smalling is now deservedly considered England’s leading central defender.
Defence: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)
Many pundits questioned Southampton’s decision to pay Celtic £11.5 million to land Van Dijk, but the Saints’ gamble has more than paid dividends. Physical, combative, and uncomprimising, the Holland international has taken to English football like a duck to water and has been a huge factor in Southampton’s challenge for a European spot.
The 24-year-old’s main objective may be to stop Ronald Koeman’s men conceding, but he has also proved a handful in the opposition area, contributing three goals.
Defence: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)
Signed from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2014, Cresswell has made the transition from the Championship to the Premier League look easy, and after yet another stellar campaign for the Hammers, there are now calls for the enterprising left-back to be part of Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016.
The 26-year-old’s delivery is a huge weapon going forward, while his finishing ability was plain for all to see with a stunning volley in the 2-2 draw with Leicester last weekend.
Midfield: Marc Albrighton (Leicester City)
It seems that every Leicester player has been described as an unsung hero at some stage of the season, but the tag certainly applies to Albrighton. Signed on a free transfer from Aston Villa, where he appeared to have stagnated, the winger has appeared in every game for the Foxes this season.
Albrighton’s energy has been impresive, but he has also shown his quality by creating six goals. Villa fans were crying out for a player with such drive.
Midfield: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Arguably the one major surprise in the PFA Team of the Year was the failure to include Ozil. Arsenal may have flattered to deceive once more, but the World Cup winner has been a joy to watch, and often appears to be playing a different game to everyone else.
Ozil needs three more assists to break Thierry Henry’s record of 20 in a single season, and few would back against him doing just that. The Gunners need to tie him down to a new contract as soon as possible.
Midfield: Eric Dier (Tottenham)
Dele Alli and Harry Kane have received the majority of plaudits handed Tottenham’s way for their sparkling displays going forward, but Eric Dier’s transformation from promising defender to crucial holding midfielder has been nothing short of revelatory.
Dier has shown a maturity and discipline far beyond his 22 years and helps set the platform for the likes of Kane, Alli and Lamela to wreak havoc further upfield. After scoring the winner in the dramatic 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin, the former Sporting Lisbon starlet is also set to play a key role in England’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Midfield: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
There were suggestions that City had vastly overspent when they paid a whopping £55 million to land De Bruyne from VfL Wolfsburg last summer. After all the Belgian had failed to make an impact at Chelsea, was he really cut out for the Premier League?
Well the answer to that question has been a resounding yes. De Bruyne has been involved in 15 goals (6 goals and 9 assists) in only 20 starts, and has often produced when City have needed him most. Manuel Pellegrini will no doubt be thinking what could have been had the 24-year-old not missed a couple of months of the season through injury. City would likely still be in the title race.
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Another player who Pellegrini must be lamented just couldn’t stay injury free throughout the whole season. City’s manager recently lauded Aguero as the best striker in the league, and it is hard to argue otherwise.
The diminutive Argentinian has bagged only two goals less than the division’s top scorer, Harry Kane, despite playing almost a 1,000 minutes less than the Tottenham striker. If he stays fit next term then he will be favourite to win Player of the Year.
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) April 20, 2016
Striker: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Considering the talents at their disposal, it’s quite staggering how Everton have managed to have such a poor season.
No blame can be directed at Lukaku, who has scored 25 times in all competitions and also registered six assists. Arguably the most complete striker in the division, the Belgian is quite devestating on his day. The Toffees will do well to keep hold of him this summer.