It’s that time of the football season: trophies are being lifted, fates are being sealed at the bottom of the table and people are getting angry online about arbitrary end-of-season awards.
To round off this Premier League campaign, we’re adding to the noise and putting forward our first Betfred Team of the Season. Man City and Liverpool looked miles ahead of the chasing pack and so players from those clubs obviously feature heavily, but we think there’s still plenty of room for debate.
So, let’s get on with it…
GK – Alisson
There were plenty of solid options between the sticks.
Jose Sa has been an excellent addition to the league, David de Gea has kept a woeful Man Utd afloat at times and Aaron Ramsdale has improved Arsenal’s build-up play no end whilst making some spectacular saves.
We’ve opted for Alisson though – the Liverpool ‘keeper’s unparalleled 1v1 ability allows them to play their highline and dominate territory. They’ve beaten teams all season thanks largely to their suffocating pressing style, and they simply wouldn’t be able to do that without the Brazil international marshalling their defensive third.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold
We all know what Alexander-Arnold is good at – the Liverpool playmaker is statistically the division’s most efficient and frequent progressive passer and notched himself a record-extending number of assists this campaign.
He’s still adding to his game, though. This season saw him develop physically and put up more defensive actions than ever before, while his improved defensive positioning and body shape has been noted frequently by Jamie Carragher of late.
He’s also significantly more adept at using his weaker left foot than he used to be. The idea of him being a “poor” defender is quickly becoming dated and, for us, he was undisputedly the best right-back in the league this season.
CB – Marc Guehi
With the make-up of their backline moving forward unclear, Chelsea must already regret letting Marc Guehi go last summer.
The Cobham academy graduate had built a strong reputation in the Championship after a two-year stint at Swansea and has built on that in a big way in the Premier League.
Athletically gifted, super intelligent and strong in-possession, Guehi has all the tools to be a top-level defender and has put them to good use in his maiden top-flight campaign.
The 22-year-old has been dribbled past just 0.18 times per game, which is to say that he’s virtually impossible to get past. The office was divided on this one, with Antonio Rudiger being the preferred choice of many, but Guehi’s Palace actually have a better defensive record than Chelsea this year!
CB – Virgil van Dijk
It’d be an oversimplification to put Liverpool’s outstanding campaign down purely to the return of their imperious centre-half, but he has made a huge impact.
His ability to anticipate and intercept through balls is a significant factor in Liverpool’s ‘high-risk, high-reward’ style and – much like Alisson – it’s hard to imagine Jurgen Klopp’s side playing such a bold style so successfully with any other player in that role.
Additionally, VVD’s passing range and his signature big switch over from left-to-right is key to creating 1v1 situations for Mo Salah – and we saw just how much damage those situations can cause earlier on in the season.
Michael Owen’s “best of all-time” shout may have been a bit giddy, but van Dijk has certainly been one of the two best CBs in the league this season.
LB- Joao Cancelo
Joao Cancelo had more touches of the ball than any other player in the league in 2021/2022, and it’s safe to say he did plenty with it: no player passed the ball into the box more often than the Man City’s defender last season.
Left-back is nominally one of City’s weaker positions, but Cancelo’s ability to play on his weaker side has negated that massively.
The Portugal international is responsible for some of the most memorable moments at the Etihad this season and, frankly, he deserves his spot for the stunner against Newcastle United alone.
CM – Rodri
Man City don’t have a real superstar in their attack.
What they do have, though, is a talented rotation of attackers whose output is maximised by Pep Guardiola’s fluid system. That system doesn’t work – and those attackers don’t fire Man City to so many trophies – without Rodri.
The former Atletico Madrid man has anchored the midfield expertly all season, making 12 ball recoveries whilst playing the ball into the final third 7 times per game.
He certainly isn’t the most exciting player at the Etihad, but he is arguably the most influential.
CM – Declan Rice
Having taken big strides forward over the past 12 months or so, 21/22 was the season in which Declan Rice truly established himself as a top-level midfielder.
His ability to break lines with his ball-carrying has improved massively compared to last season and allowed him to operate as a well-rounded number eight.
He’s an infinitely more technical player than he was when he was first fast-tracked into West Ham’s first team as a central defender and, whilst he has always been an impressive player, it is this season which has seen him develop into a player who is genuinely a joy to watch.
CM – Kevin De Bruyne
What a season the Belgian has had.
Whilst he doesn’t boast the assists that he has in previous campaigns, he has still been creating chances at an elite rate – expect those assists to shoot up next season when a certain Norwegian rocks up in Manchester.
In the absence of those assists, though, KDB has morphed into an elite goalscorer.
He’s the top scoring midfielder in the league this season and is simply impossible to look past for this spot in our Team of the Season.
RW – Luis Diaz
Whilst Mo Salah’s early-season form will understandably see him make many teams, we’ve opted for Luis Diaz on the right-wing.
The Colombian has provided some of the most decisive moments of Liverpool’s year so far whilst also being an excellent entertainer.
At the time of writing, Diaz has more trophies than losses on his record at LFC and it’s easy to imagine how Jurgen Klopp’s side may have tailed off towards the end of their relentless campaign had it not been for the impact of the former Porto man.
ST- Cristiano Ronaldo
Where would Man Utd by without CR7?
Ronaldo has had to take the goal-scoring burden at MUFC almost exclusively, scoring twice as many as any of his teammates at Old Trafford and dragging a frankly dire Man Utd side into a European spot despite them looking nowhere near the required standard.
United’s number 7 has scored 2+ goals on four occasions in the league this season, the majority of which have come in narrow wins. It has been a season to forget for the club, but Cristiano Ronaldo can be proud of his individual campaign.
LW – Heung-min Son
Spurs have no right to be where they are in the league after the multiple points of crisis they had in 2021/2022, a major reason that their season didn’t completely fall away by Christmas was the goal-scoring prowess of Son.
The South Korean winger scored 7 goals between the start of the season and Boxing Day, 5 more than any of his teammates.
By the time Spurs began to find some level of consistency under Antonio Conte, they were only even in the conversation due to the consistent output of Son.