The Professional Football Association (PFA) announced its Top XI on Thursday and it leaves me scratching my head. I decided I needed to break down the flaws in their Team of the Year and create my own.
Well first let’s start with what they got right. And most of it was right. Harry Kane lead the league in scoring so he is a no-brainer. Jamie Vardy has played out of his mind as well, scoring 22 goals and adding six assists. His running mate Riyad Mahrez has been a stud as well, finishing fifth in goals and tied third in assists. Deli Alli’s number are impressive with 10 goals and nine assists.
David De Gea is the best keeper in the Premier League as United has allowed the second fewest goals in the EPL this season. De Gea only allowed 28 of them too. With Tottenham being the only team to allow fewer goals, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld are hard to argue with. Hector Bellerin has played deserving football as well to make this team. I can’t even argue with Wes Hoolahan, who has started and finished every game for Leicester this season. I could argue that Jose Fonte or Chris Smalling should have been included over him, but we will let that go.
That leaves only a few that I would leave off, but they really bother me. First, I am not a huge fan of Payet’s inclusion. He failed to register double digit goals or assists this season. That might be nitpicking, but everyone else in midfield or attack on this list, except Kante, has hit double digits in at least one of those two categories. In 27 games, he registered 18 points, which is very respectable, but with some of the other options out there, I would have changed the formation. I think I would’ve picked a third striker in place of Payet in the form of Sergio Aguero. He played the same number of games this season, often through some sort of injury and registered 24 points compared to Payet’s 18. That kind of performance is deserving of the designation Top XI.
The other issue I have is N’Golo Kante. That’s not to say that he isn’t a great player and hasn’t had a great season. And yes, I know he lacks the counting stats because he is a defensive-minded player, but when you have someone like Mesut Ozil lead the league in assists, by a sizable margin as well with 18 compared to Christian Eriksen’s 12, you cannot leave him off of the team of the year. He also knocked in six goals of his own. Ozil is on the shortlist for player of the year, so it is mind boggling that he could be left off of the team of the year.
If you want to argue with me that I cannot replace Payet with a striker then fine, but I would leave Kante on before I left Payet. His play defensively I think outweighs that of Payet offensively. Payet is making this mainly as an offensive playmaker, a role which Ozil has surpassed him in this season. I might even argue that Eriksen was more deserving of the spot than Payet was.
The PFA did alright on the whole, but some of the snubs make it a very questionable lineup. Adding Ozil probably would’ve saved them from me writing this. I still can’t figure out how the guy who is on the shortlist for player of the year gets left off the team of the year. Oh well. Now we all just get to sit back and watch if Leicester can hold onto the title.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Chris McGlynn