Infogol’s Premier League Team of the Season
Using underlying player starts from over the course of the 2016/17 Premier League season, Infogol’s Analyst has selected its top XI.
Premier League Team of the Season
(When selecting players, Infogol looked at defensive (tackles, interceptions, clearances etc.) and attacking (attempts, shooting positions, xG etc.) involvement. Players had to have played more than 2000 minutes over the season).
Hugo Lloris is selected as Goalkeeper after a superb season in which he helped Tottenham achieve a second place finish and end the campaign with the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 26 goals. Lloris conceded just 22 non-penalty goals, which was a huge overachievement compared to the on-target chances he faced, which amounted to 34.6 expected goals (xG).
Adam Smith of Bournemouth and Christian Fuchs of Leicester are the two full-backs, with both performing well in both defensive and attacking metrics. They are both in the top 15 best full-backs from a defensive point of view, contributing to a high-proportion of their teams defensive actions, and are also in the top six best full-backs in total expected goals involvement (xGI) for having and creating chances.
A centre-back pairing of Garry Cahill (Chelsea) and Gareth McAuley (West Brom) combines defensive solidity with attacking threat. Both are a danger from attacking set-pieces and they scored six goals each. Title winning captain Cahill adapted well to playing on the left side of a central three and contributed to over 12% of Chelsea’s total defensive actions. McAuley was at the heart of West Brom’s achievements this season, mixing important goals with plenty of defensive actions to cap a good season at the Hawthorns.
PFA Player and Football Writers Player of the season N’Golo Kante was an obvious choice as the holding midfielder, with his performance levels having never dropped. He has the highest defensive actions percentage of any central midfielder in the league this season and provides great cover in front of the defence.
Ahead of Kante are a Manchester United pair; Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba.
Herrera has been one of United’s standout players in what has turned out to be a decent season, noticed for his tireless efforts and reading of the game. He ranked as the fourth best midfielder in defensive actions, and 15th best for attacking, contributing to 10% of Manchester United’s overall xG. Pogba has been the most creative central midfielder in the league this season, contributing to a fifth of Manchester United’s total xG – netting five and assisting four. His total xGI this season is 11.8, suggesting he was unlucky not to have contributed more goals, but his athleticism and skill on the ball perfectly complements Herrera’s graft and more defensive mind-set.
Wide left is Alexis Sanchez. The Arsenal talisman has been exceptional, ending the season with a staggering 24 goals and 10 assists. He finished the season with the highest total xGI of any player in the Premier League – 24.1 – which is 40% of Arsenal’s total xG. Sanchez also, rather unsurprisingly, shows as one of the forwards with the highest percentage of defensive actions for his team. Arsenal need to keep hold of him.
Kevin de Bruyne is wide right for his supply. The Belgian made 18 assists last season, comfortably the highest in the division. The Manchester City playmaker performed almost in line with his xG tally contributed to 30% of City’s xG total and became a key player, especially towards the end of the season when he was occupying a deeper role, maybe something to look forward to for next season.
Up top is Sergio Aguero, who fought off competition from the league’s top scorers Kane and Lukaku.
Aguero played less than 2500 minutes all season but still managed to score 20 goals and get three assists. His non-penalty xGI total was the highest of any striker in the Premier League, averaging 0.84 xGI per 90 minutes – a figure nearer Messi/Ronaldo standard.
After being ‘dropped’/rested, Aguero hasn’t let it affect him. Should he stay at City, he will be expected to have another good season scoring plenty of goals.