We’re now halfway through the season, and with the Premier League beginning to take shape, we thought we’d take a look at the standout players of the year so far.
Hugo Lloris? No. Diego Costa? Guess again. Alexis Sanchez? Nope.
These three, and several more of the league’s star names would undoubtedly make plenty of Ultimate XI’s so far this campaign. But not ours.
We’re looking elsewhere, at players who’ve really surprised us. Be it be rediscovering the kind of form that we’d once been so accustomed to, or simply performing above and beyond expectation.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at who made our teamsheet…
GK – Jordan Pickford
The 22-year-old Sunderland shotstopper is fast becoming one of the Premier League’s hottest properties, despite his side sitting dangerously in eighth place in the table.
It’s frightening to think in what dire straits the Black Cats would be without Pickford between the sticks. But we’ll find out just how important he is to the side over the next few weeks as he faces a lengthy spell out through injury.
LB – Allan Nyom
When Nyom arrived from Watford back in the summer, West Brom fans will have to admit that they were hardly filled with optimism about the season ahead.
But he’s played a vital role for the Baggies so far. And his impact has been even more impressive when you consider he arrived as a right-back, and has since been switched to the opposite flank.
RB – Antonio Valencia
Fair play to this man. When Jose Mourinho arrived at Manchester United, we expected a handful of signings, particularly in defensive areas.
But Valencia has since more-than proved his worth at Old Trafford, and is a key member of a side which are currently enjoying an 11-game unbeaten run.
CB – Virgil van Dijk & David Luiz
This pair would arguably be the first two names on any Ultimate Team of the season so far. But they make our Surprise XI simply because we had no idea how influential they’d be this season.
We know Van Dijk boasts bags of quality, but this season he’s taken his game to the next level and is proving to be one of the best centre-backs in the division.
And then there’s David Luiz.
Boy did we raise our eyebrows when Chelsea re-signed him back in August.
But, credit where it’s due, the Brazilian defender has been exceptional thus far, and is the main man in a defensive unit which have kept 10 clean sheets from their last 12 games.
DM – Nemanja Matic
N’Golo Kante’s arrival at Stamford Bridge has been perfect for Matic. The former Leicester City man’s athleticism, coupled with Matic’s reading of the game makes for one of the best partnerships in the league right now.
But we must remember that we’re talking about a man who was largely unnoticeable throughout the majority of last campaign.
His resurgence alone warrants him a place in our line-up.
CM – Adam Lallana & Joe Allen
We bet this pair never expected to be alongside each other again.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to sell Allen in the summer was perhaps the best thing which could have happened to the Wales international. He’s been in immense form at Stoke City, having scored more goals this year than he’s managed in any previous campaign.
Add three assists to that tally and you’d have to admit, Allen is well and truly in the form of his life.
And it looks as though Lallana has finally come into his own, too.
With seven goals and six assists to his name already, it’s fairly easy to see why he’s fast becoming an England regular.
LW – Pedro
We know this is our third Chelsea player, but who’d have thought Pedro would have been this important for the Blues?
He may have failed to live up to expectation last season, but he’s well and truly settled now. Four goals and six assists speak for themselves, but it’s his lightening pace which has stood out to us so far this season.
Chelsea spent £20m on the winger last season, and slowly but surely he’s beginning to prove he’s worth every penny.
RW – Michail Antonio
His West Ham United teammates may not be able to say the same, but Antonio has enjoyed a blistering start to this campaign.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the 26-year-old has already chipped in with eight league goals and one assist.
Whle the Hammers relied heavily on Dimitri Payet for much of last season, it looks very much like this year it’s Antonio’s turn in the limelight.
ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
If you genuinely believed Ibrahimovic would have had this much of an impact on Manchester United and the Premier League after arriving on a free transfer in the summer, then send us your CV – you can start tomorrow.
We knew he’d be good. But this good?
He’s scored nearly half of United’s goals in the top-flight so far this season, and for the neutral, he’s an absolute joy to watch.
So, they’ve all done the business in the first-half of the season. But can our overachieving XI maintain this kind of form throughout the rest of the campaign? Time will tell…
Do you agree with our team? Let us know who’d make your line-up in the comments section below!
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