With fans mourning the international break throughout the world for various reasons, it’s only fair to look back on what’s happened in English football till the last weekend and try to find out who’s been good at their jobs and who’s not been. Although, the season as a whole has not quite been the most scintillating and nerve-wracking in recent times, it’s had its fair share of surprising victories and shocking defeats in these opening twelve weeks. So, as far as the traditional team of the season so far is concerned, the eleven I’ve managed to pick, are purely based on the fact that each and every single one of them has showed a level of consistency that’s quite unmatched and almost always been on the winning side in these first few weeks, which in my opinion, is vitally important for any player who is doing well.
Joe Hart – Manchester City
Is he the most underrated goalkeeper in the Premier League? Or is he just been overshadowed by the array of match-winners that Manchester City are blessed with, at this point in time? If you ask me, I’d say it’s a combination of both. Winner of the Golden Glove award in four of the last five seasons, the 28-year old is at his peak of his powers and has been the most reliable goalkeeper for England and certainly Manchester City in years. He’s well on his way towards adding to his enviable Golden Glove collection with 7 clean sheets in 12 games, conceding less than a goal (0.64) per game. The England international, who was given a taste of captaincy against Spain in the absence of Wayne Rooney, has made more punches (0.73) than anyone else and a save per goal statistic (2.88) only bettered by David De Gea (3.5) and Jack Butland (3.33) illustrates how important he is to the blue half of Manchester and their ambitions to wrestle the title back from Chelsea.
Hector Bellerin – Arsenal
Hector Bellerin has been the best right back in the league by a country mile this season. Ridiculously quick on and off the ball, he provides a different outlet for Arsenal to attack from, creating width and dragging center-backs out of position, thereby allowing players like Sanchez and Ozil to create goals from central areas. The Spaniard who is believed to be able to outstrip Usain Bolt in a 40-metre race is also adept at the back, has made the highest number of interceptions in the league for a right-back so far (2.1 per 90 minutes) coupled with a high duel success rate (56%) making him a real threat to whoever he comes up against.
Chris Smalling – Manchester United
One of Van Gaal’s great achievements since taking over from David Moyes is how he’s managed to considerably improve the level and quality of some of the players at his disposal, which, in fairness, a manager of his caliber is expected to do at a club like Manchester United. Chris Smalling has undeniably been the most improved footballer at Manchester United, his staggering upturn in form and consistency has been evident right from the disastrous derby at the Etihad stadium where he got himself sent off for two ugly, unnecessary incidents. But all that is forgotten as the 25-year old puts in his 110% in every game making sure the Red Devils are compact at the back, which they have been for most of 2015.
Scott Dann – Crystal Palace
Scott Dann has been one of the best defenders in the early months, rock-solid at the back with an air of command quite handy in set-pieces too. Averaging 6.36 clearances per game, the 28-year old has managed to win 61.5% of his duels, and his partnership with Damien Delaney particularly impressive as the team has collected 13 of their 18 points in the six matches they have played together. He’s been incredibly reliable and will continue to play a vital role for Alan Pardew’s bid to get Palace in the fight for one of the European spots.
Nacho Monreal – Arsenal
Another one from Arsenal to complete the back four and another Spaniard in fact, in Nacho Monreal, who has been quietly efficient in his job, shall we say? He may not possess the surge of pace that his teammate Bellerin does but then not many fullbacks have been able to strike the fine balance between defending and going forward as well as this man has done. With close to 3 interceptions per game (highest in the league for a left-back with at least 5 appearances), the partnership on the left with Alexis Sanchez that he’s forged will be key to establishing Arsenal’s credentials as serious title contenders in the long run.
Eric Dier – Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino has proved given the time, he could impose his style on any football club and raise the bar, which is exactly what he’s done with North London outfit Tottenham Hotspur, a considerable step up from Southampton. Nobody epitomizes the fact more than Eric Dier in this squad who has come leaps and bounds for Spurs playing an integral role in making them one of the best defensive sides in the league. His high-pressing style added to the positional awareness that is usually key for any defensive midfielder has shone almost throughout the opening weeks in that Spurs have only lost once in the league, a narrow defeat on the opening day at Old Trafford. The in-form midfielder who is equally good if not better at center-half, has won a high percentage of duels in the air (61%) and made more blocks per game (1) than any other that plays in front of the back four.
Fernandinho – Manchester City
Fernandinho has been in great form not just in England but also in the Champions League playing a pivotal role in City’s qualification to the knockouts with two games to spare. The Brazilian midfielder looks well settled in the squad, in English football, with his all-round ability making him one of the select bunch of players they can’t afford to lose at any point in the season. He’s scored twice in the league already, managed to maintain a high level of passing accuracy (90%) and usually sets the tempo of City’s attack by making timely distributions. Any title winning side should more or less have the best spine in the league and with Fernandinho in this kind of run, it’s hard to argue why they won’t reclaim the crown come May.
Dimitri Payet – West Ham United
Dimitri Payet, in my opinion, has been the best signing in the summer. West Ham United have picked up a jewel whose importance in the side can’t be overstated. Not many players can handle the transition from any league outside of England to playing week in week out in England, the way Dimitri Payet has done – made it look shockingly easy and all too seamless. The French international has created 4 chances per 90 minutes including 3 assists and 5 goals in 12 games whilst his directness and invention has completely changed the style West Ham used to play under Sam Allardyce in that they are one of the most attacking sides in the league now, if not the most attacking unit. The tackle on him in his most recent appearance and a subsequent lengthy injury lay-off is one of the low moments in these early weeks and will have an effect on Slaven Bilic’s giant killers.
Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
Unlike Dimitri Payet, Mesut Ozil did not really excite Arsenal fans and the league in general in his first two seasons, although he did show what he was all about in patches and usually non-existent in the big games. But this season, the German has turned it around and been literally unplayable at times, creating a bucket-load of chances every game, unlocking defences for fun, making the most number of assists in the league and in Europe in 2015. His performance in big games? Much better when he proved he can influence big games in favor of Arsenal in the demolition of Manchester United running rings of their midfield, creating openings for Sanchez and Walcott with a vicious ease.
Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City
7 goals scored and 5 created taking the tally to an impressive 12 (goals + assists) in 11 appearances. This has been the story of Mahrez this campaign who has been the central figure to the astounding rise of Leicester City football club who were tipped for relegation until the beginning of 2015, if my memory is right. Riyad Mahrez scored some important goals even in the back-end of last season that not only ensured survival but also the fact that they managed to finish well higher than 17th. With the appointment of Claudio Ranieri, who is my manager of the season so far, the Foxes have been outscoring opposition, scoring 25 goals in total, only second to league leaders Manchester City. Mahrez is one of our early contenders for player of the season and if Leicester City are to achieve a dream European finish, he should be staying fit and focused right through the whole campaign, which by the look of things, he could.
Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
No prizes for guessing. You just cannot argue with 12 goals in 12 games, can you? He’s been making history in the early weeks, scoring in ten consecutive games and it looks like the Jamie Vardy train wouldn’t stop anytime now. The numbers are staggering and his rise from playing in non-league football to topping the Premier League goal-scoring charts is something we don’t see very often but at the same time we would like to. If he continues in this vein, it is impossible for Leicester to keep hold of him for longer but then all that could change if his great form in the league can be translated to a top four/six finish for the Foxes, which woould be, a massive feat, not exaggerating.
So, this would be my team of the season far. Don’t agree with this? Then post yours in the comments and tell why you go with a different team.