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The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) Team of The Year for the Premier League 2016-17 season was announced on Thursday.
The line-up was largely dominated by the top two teams of the league, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. The London clubs had four representatives each in the Team of the Year.
Chelsea were represented by PFA Player of the Year Nominees Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante, along with centre-half duo David Luiz and Gary Cahill, while full-backs Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, midfield prodigy Dele Alli and striker Harry Kane made it from Tottenham.
The other three spots were taken up by David De Gea of Manchester United, Sadio Mane of Liverpool and fellow Merseysider Romelu Lukaku of Everton.
While the team does consist of some of the best players in the league this season, there are several players who have been surprisingly overlooked – Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham, Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal being the most notable ones.
Here we bring you an alternate Team of the Year with the players who were equally deserving of a spot in the team elected by the PFA, but did not make it:
The Tottenham Hotspur captain has been a wall in the goal this term. May have made a couple of errors, but has been extremely consistent and has just conceded 20 times in the league– the fewest by any keeper in the league (minimum 20 appearances). His 13 clean sheets are the joint best in the league with Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. Deserving of the spot between the sticks.
Arguably the second-best right-back in the league next to Kyle Walker. The Ecuadorian has come into his own under Jose Mourinho this season. Having scored once and set up three, Valencia has been a huge threat on the right-hand side throughout the season, while remaining solid at the back as well.
Has been Chelsea’s best defender by some distance, so it was a surprise not seeing him make it to the Team of the Year. The Spanish international has found himself at home in a new centre-back role under Antonio Conte. Excellent defensive awareness, equally adept at carrying the ball out or spraying passes from the back, Azpilicueta has played a huge hand in the Blues’ excellent season.
How did he not make it to the team of the year is really baffling! The Belgian international has been the proverbial rock at the back for Tottenham this season and has been the primary reason for the North Londoners holding the best defensive record in the league. His distribution from the back has been a big feature of Tottenham’s play this season. A definite inclusion.
The 26-year old was laughed off as a panic buy by many, but Alonso has silenced everyone with his brilliance. He has really thrived in the 3-4-3 system under Conte that has allowed him to make a huge impact in attack while remaining stable at the back. 5 goals and 2 assists for a wing-back are excellent returns.
Arguably the next best midfielder in the league next to N’Golo Kante. The Spaniard is another who has really thrived under Mourinho this season and has come a long way after a couple of disappointing seasons. Has scored once and has assisted 5 from his 25 league appearances, but it has been his work off the ball that has been highly impressive. His display against Chelsea last week summed up his brilliance this term.
The 29-year old is playing some of his best football and is by far, enjoying his best season in Tottenham colours. Dembele may have scored and assisted just one goal each, but he has developed into the engine-room of the Tottenham midfield that keeps them running. His pass accuracy of 92% (1221 successful passes) is the best in the league for any player to have played a minimum of 20 games this season.
31 games, 19 Goals, 9 Assists. Need one say more? Probably not. The Arsenal talisman has been by far one of the best attackers of the season. Having played in multiple positions over the course of the campaign, Sanchez has shown his class and has been the Gunners’ best player by some distance. He has been nominated for the PFA Player of The Year award as well, and deservedly so.
The Danish international often goes off the radar when compared to the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane. But Eriksen remains equally vital to Tottenham’s cause, just like the two English stars. The 25-year old started the season slowly, but has come into his own. Eriksen has created 92 chances this term – best by any player in the league, has set up 12 goals – only behind Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne; and has netted on 7 occasions. Clearly one of the best attacking midfielders in the league.
Might feel like a left-field choice for some, but the Icelandic international has been nothing short of exceptional for the struggling Swansea City this season. Sigurdsson had almost single-handedly kept them afloat until now, but it increasingly looks like they will be relegated. But take nothing away from the 27-year old who has scored 8 goals this season and has 11 assists – the third best tally in the Premier League, despite being played out of position on the left-flank.
There were plenty who were too quick to write off the 35-year old when he arrived at Old Trafford in the summer. Too old, they said. Will struggle to adapt to the English football, they said. But Zlatan did what he does best, proving every detractor wrong and did so in an emphatic manner. 17 goals and 5 assists in his debut campaign in England along with a nomination for the PFA Player of the Year award, at this point of his career, just goes on to exemplify his legendary status in the game of football.