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National Sport

Premier League: Team of the Year So Far

Don't worry - just the four Manchester City players in the team

GK – David De Gea – MP

The Spaniard has been in scintillating form yet again this year, keeping eight clean sheets for the Red Devils, the most of any goalkeeper in the Premier League at this point in the season. Despite constant transfer rumours around his future, De Gea has remained loyal to his current employers, and turned out some tremendous performances to keep them in games at times.

LB – Marcos Alonso – MP

Chelsea decided to splash the cash on left back Marcos Alonso last summer, paying £24 million to Italian club Fiorentina for his services after successes there. Alonso has cemented his place in Antonio Conte’s side with attacking flair and solid defensive work, contributing 3 goals and helping his team to six clean sheets so far this season.

CB – John Stones – MP

With one of the highest passing rates in the Premier League this season alongside players such as David Silva and Fernandinho, no-one quite expected Pep Guardiola to make use of John Stones in such a similar way to his previous teams like Barcelona. Whilst fans of Manchester City may largely talk of the attacking talent, Stones’s composure and ability to play from the back is testament to the faith Guardiola places in the young Englishman.

CB – James Tarkowski – MP

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have, on occasion, shown they are no pushovers in this unforgiving Premier League and at the heart of their defence this season has been James Tarkowksi. With 193 combined blocks and clearances this season, Tarkowski has been a stalwart at the back for Burnley, proving he’s willing to put his entire body on the line time and time again to aid his team.

RB – Cesar Azpilicueta – JO

It’s been fascinating watching Cesar Azpilicueta go about his work this season. In the past he has operated at mainly either full back position and occasionally at centre back, but this season he has excelled in the archaic sweeper position made famous by the eminent Franz Beckenbauer. With a newfound positional mentality, Azpilicueta has developed his defensive game further this season. However, he hasn’t neglected his attacking side either – his impressive delivery from the wings has seen him grab 5 assists, the majority of them for new signing Alvaro Morata.

CDM – Nemanja Matic – JO

What was Antonio Conte thinking? Even for a substantial £40m, you don’t let a holding midfielder of such prestige and stature move up the motorway to your title rivals and the performance. it must be painful watching for Conte; the steadfast Serbian Nemanja Matic has been even more impressive than he was at Chelsea. Out of the shadow of his Chelsea midfield partner N’Golo Kante, and currently outshining his replacement Tiemoue Bakayoko, Matic looks reborn at the base of Mourinho’s midfield diamond. This season, Matic looks strong and composed and crucially for his team, the more creative elements, such as Paul Pogba, are being given space to breathe in attack.

RCM – Kevin De Bruyne – JO

It seems that Kevin De Bruyne has finally settled into his new position. After impressing for Belgium in a deeper midfield role, Pep Guardiola took his chances on trying to develop De Bruyne in this deeper role in order to balance his star-studded midfield. Now that De Bruyne has had the summer to acclimatise, he’s thriving. Last season, De Bruyne’s contributions were limited by a strictly attacking position but in his new position, he has a greater scope to illustrate. The end result is six assists and 900 completed passes already this season as well as a few crucial goals – the winner at Chelsea will no doubt be his favourite. De Bruyne has grown exponentially this season – he’s not far off being a complete midfielder.

LCM – David Silva – MP

David Silva has long been a key part of this Manchester City squad, often boasting an outstanding pass completion rate, large numbers of assists, and a very sportsmanlike mentality on the field. The little Spaniard’s ability to find space where there is none, and to thread a pass through the eye of a needle has made him an invaluable part of Guardiola’s setup this season.

LF – Leroy Sane – JO

Even amongst Manchester City’s headline acts, Leroy Sane at just 21, is managing to make waves in just his second season. With six goals and six assists, Sane leads the way this season with most direct goal contributions. With his pace and acute ability for dribbling at speed, Sane offers something completely different to Silva and De Bruyne when he gallops down the left but he looks a far more complete player when compared to the similar Raheem Sterling on the opposite side. It’s been an impressive start from Sane and one that looks to get better assuming Guardiola utilises him more.

RF – Mohamed Salah – MP

One of the more redeeming qualities of Liverpool’s season thus far is the performance of Mohammed Salah, current leading goalscorer in the Premier League with nine goals in twelve appearances. With his electric pace, willingness to chase the ball, and ability to link up well with other Reds frontmen Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, Salah could have a tremendous season ahead if he can maintain this level of performance.

ST – Harry Kane – JO

It was always going to be hard to pick a centre forward after the season’s blockbuster bill of attacking play but Harry Kane looks to be the most consistently complete striker in the Premier League right now. With eight goals in eleven appearances this season, Kane has picked up where he left off after another Golden Boot last season. Fortified with strength and pace, Kane is one of the few strikers who looks capable of scoring any type of goal at the moment. Even when compared against an Aguero or a Lukaku, Kane looks like most fans’ first choice. But as good as Tottenham have been in the last few seasons, and such is the importance of Kane, you can’t help but feel that their results would drop off if their talismanic striker made the dreaded permanent holiday to the Bernabeu.

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