With Manchester City potentially running away with the Premier League title, it puts into sharp contrast the type of season other members of the top six are having. In previous years; Chelsea and Manchester United would have been considered as having made decent starts to the season; starts go enough to lead the table, but such is the immaculate nature of Pep Guardiola’s record breaking Cityzens side.
A lot this season has been about fixture congestion, to spend or not to spend, the sack race and who has out spent the other; whilst managers moan about issues that have more or less become second nature in today’s elite football leagues; it lays credence to the fact that the pressure these managers face needs to be contained by some level of excuse slinging here and there; my question now is how far can these managers go with these excuses? Well the six managers soon to be seven (Mark Hughes might just get the boot soon) that have gotten their pink slips definitely ran out of excuses; the clock is ticking.
Another great thing about this season has to be the sharp improvement in certain players performances; Harry Kane continues to push the boundaries to World Class; what’s amazing is that he is only 24 and has we all know a player’s peak is when he hits 27; so just imagine what Kane will be like at that age. Its imperative he stays fit for him to give us Ronaldo and Messi like numbers in the next few years. Special mention also to Raheem Sterling; the numbers don’t lie on this one, he has really stepped his game up and improved every facet of his game, now he looks close to the £50 Million player the Cityzens signed. His City team mate Leroy Sane is another one, who has grown in leaps and bounds; across town is Jesse Lingard, almost always the butt of many jokes amongst United and rival fans; but this season he has upped his game, contributing impressive numbers; which has led to certain senior members of the squad losing their place to him. Also, Harry Maguire formerly of Hull City and now of Leicester City has developed his game really well and is gradually looking like a Premier League defender.
Finally, to a more controversial topic; the team of the season so far, the thing is we will never agree on any eleven; if we run a poll today; all our readers would come up with a different combination of players in their eleven. However, special recognition and mention must go out to the likes of Eden Hazard, such a fine player, but what seems to be holding him back are his numbers. To be considered amongst the best is not just about dribbles per game; his goals and assist delivery has to improve significantly. Alvaro Morata has taken quite well to the Premier League, yes the occasional injuries have shown up, but he has done quite well. Nemanja Matic has also settled in quite well at Manchester United, providing a calming influence to United’s midfield.
To my selection proper; I have gone with a 4-1-3-2 formation as follows:
In Goal is Manchester United’s David De Gea; for many a times, he has been the saviour of Manchester United in many ways than one. Some even say he is the best in the world currently, it is quite difficult to argue with that really. The Spaniard has grown in leaps and bounds; just picture his first season at United where many in the English media and punditry had written him off; this season he has kept 11 clean sheets this season and is second in saves in the Premier League.
My defense has big money full back signing Karl Walker of leaders Manchester City; who contributes to the attacking play of the league leaders and also has shown some level of adaptability in Pep’s ever changing defensive shape and system. At left back is Marcos Alonso; the young man has come along way from his days at Bolton and Sunderland; now he is quite dependable in both a defensive and attacking sense; he also contributes his fair share of goals especially from free kicks. At Center Back is Burnley’s Ben Mee; an integral part of Sean Dyche’s success this season with the Turf Moor team conceding only 17 goals so far; the fourth best defense in the Premier League; Mee on his own is second in the league for blocks with 31 blocks so far. To conclude the defensive line up is Nicolas Otamendi who has been an ever present in the league leaders best defense in the league rating, only conceding 12 goals so far this season.
To anchor the midfield is Nigerian and Leicester City Midfielder; Wilfred Ndidi. Signed from Genk last season; the young man has settled quite well to the Premier League, leading the league in tackles and second in Europe’s top five leagues; there’s still much to improve in his game though. Kevin De Bruyne takes up the advance role with his superb all round brilliance so far this season. He is without a doubt the best player in the Premier League. He currently leads the assist ratings with 9 assists and contributes his fair share of goals too. The Belgian has to be a front runner of the PFA and Football Writers awards this season. In the wide areas are Manchester City duo of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling; both have been instrumental in all that has been good about City going forward this season. Take Sterling for instance, his numbers have grown significantly with 13 goals scored so far as the Cityzens top scorer so far and Sane has also contributed 8 assists this season; interestingly Manchester City have the top three assist providers in the league; it pains me to leave David Silva out.
Upfront we have a combination that is responsible for Thirty-Five goals between them; Harry Kane continues to push the envelope leading to increased speculation that some of Europe’s big teams might come calling. This calendar year he has scored 39 goals in the Premier league to erase Alan Shearer’s long standing record and also moving past Lionel Messi in goals scored for Club and country in 2017. The Englishman is joined by the darling of Merseyside, Mohamed Salah; who rejoined the Premier League with a huge point to prove after a less than impressive time at Stamford Bridge. The Egyptian is on the verge of adding the CAF African Footballer of the year to his BBC Prize after becoming the first Liverpool player to score 20 or more goals at this stage of the season since Ian Rush.
In the dugout is none other than Sean Dyche; yes Pep Guardiola is running away with the league; it is not enough for us to ignore what the Burnley manager has achieved so far at Turf Moor. The Clarets are seventh in the league at the moment, with one of the best rear guards and also their away record as been on an phenomenal upward trajectory from just recording seven points all through last season to getting wins at Stamford Bridge, stalemates at Old Trafford, Wembly and Anfield leading to a remarkable 17 points with just two losses away from home. Burnley and Dyche have been absolutely phenomenal.