There have been lots of standout performances this year in the Premier League but here is my best team and I hope you agree
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Without the brilliance of David de Gea, Manchester United’s situation could have been much worse but with de Gea they are reassured they are in a safe place when it comes to defending the goal. De Gea has stepped up to the stage frequently against the ‘big’ teams when he was forced to produce a string of saves most notably against Chelsea and Liverpool but also against Arsenal and Tottenham. De Gea also established a regular place for Spain ahead of veteran Iker Casillas as he featured in all four of Spain’s Euro 2016 matches.
Defender (Centre Back): Laurent Koscielny
Solid as a rock, leader of the team, Laurent Koscielny has proved to everyone this season that he is, if not the best but one of the best defenders in the league. The Frenchman was a regular presence in the Arsenal team this year and scored their first goal of 2016, a controversial winner against Newcastle. He occasionally pops up with a goal and usually puts in a solid performance at the back.
Defender (Centre Back): Toby Alderweireld
Though Tottenham narrowly missed out on the title, there will still be plenty of praise for Toby Alderweireld who was at the heart of their defence to keep Tottenham going before suffering the heartbreak where they squandered a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge before ending up losing the title to Leicester. Alderweireld did also score for Tottenham twice in 2016 in the home matches against Arsenal and Manchester United
Defender (Left Back): Cesar Azpilicueta
After a horrific end to 2015, Chelsea seemed to get slightly back on track under interim manager Guus Hiddink as Diego Costa and co began to find their form. Azpilicueta was one of the players who had found their form again as he helped Chelsea slowly climb up the table in the early months of 2016 though the club still only finished 10th that season. The 2016-17 season saw a much improved Azpilicueta as he put in captivating performances at the back to help Chelsea storm to top of the Premier League before 2016 would conclude. Manager Antonio Conte believes the signature of Azpilicueta from Marseille a few years ago was a ‘bargain’ at just £7.5 million.
Defender (Right Back): Hector Bellerin
Well he was in the PFA Team of the Season for the 2015-16 season so why wouldn’t he be in my team of the year? At just the age of 21, Arsenal’s young Hector Bellerin has the potential to become one of the best right backs in the world after sealing a starting place in Arsene Wenger’s side. He is always trusted to provide for the team with his number of assists and chances created for the team. His lighting pace is always a trouble for the opposition and I think the talent and potential he has will make it increasingly difficult for Wenger to hold onto him, it happened to Fabregas but will it be Bellerin be next in line to Barcelona?
Midfielder (Defensive): N’Golo Kante
Perhaps the loss of Kante, is the reason why Leicester have struggled so badly this season but it is also a delight to see how the Frenchman has excelled at Chelsea and how he has sealed a regular starting place at Chelsea that quickly. It’s been an incredible year for Kante from winning the title to being selected in the PFA Team of the Season and also making his name for France in the Euros. A money-spinning move to Chelsea in the summer continued Kante’s perfect year before it ended in fashion with Chelsea top of the league though there was sympathy for his former club, who ended their year on 15th
Midfielder (Centre): Mesut Ozil
‘The Wizard of Oz’ as they all say following Mesut Ozil’s number of assists throughout the course of the year. The first half of the year was all about the assists but in the second half, Mesut Ozil turned his attention to scoring goals as he had already surpassed last season’s total of 8 with a header against Stoke as early as December. However, assists have dried up for the German as he has only managed four assists in the Premier league so far this season compared to last season at this stage when Ozil was on course to breaking Thierry Henry’s record with 15 assists in 18 games.
Midfielder (Centre Attacking): Philipe Coutinho
Often recognised as the master of the long-range goal following outstanding goals against Hull and Arsenal this season, Philipe Coutinho has done it all to be the fans’ favourite as his beautiful goals and excellent performances have caught the eyes of many fans around the world. Over the past two years, Coutinho has taken everyone off by storm as he has proved to be Liverpool’s ‘special one’ and of course their star player.
Midfielder (Left): Dimitri Payet
Always such a delight to see this player on the pitch and I guess that’s no different with the fans and manager Slaven Bilic. His free-kicks will ALWAYS give you that sensation and special feeling but so far this season, Payet has not replicated the form he showed us last season with only three goals to his name this season. Payet capped off a wonderful season by being selected in the PFA team of the year.
Midfielder (Right): Riyad Mahrez
One word to sum up Riyad Mahrez’s year. Unbelievable. It was stunning how Mahrez had finished 7th in the 2016 Ballon d’Or and how he earned both the BBC African Player of the Year and the Premier League player of the season. However, Mahrez hasn’t seemed to live up to the high expectations he set last season- scoring only three Premier League goals this season. That blip still isn’t enough to hamper Riyad Mahrez’s scintillating year for the Foxes.
Striker: Diego Costa
After a dip in form in the first half of the last season, Diego Costa turned fortunes around under Guus Hiddink to help Chelsea gradually climb up the table and help them to a 15-game unbeaten streak though Chelsea could still only manage a dreadful 10th place finish. But it was the striker’s performances in the second half of 2016 that earned him a place in my team as he scored 14 goals (league’s top scorer) to lift Chelsea to where they love to be- top of the league! It was no more than Chelsea and Costa deserved following their sheer hard-work and belief.