The 2020/21 Premier League season is slowly drawing to a close.
I don’t know about you, but it only feels like yesterday that England’s top-flight kicked off again last September, delivering the most unprecedented campaign of all time with thrills and spills galore.
However, if there are ever any positives to draw from a season gradually wrapping up, it’s the chance to reflect and dish out awards to those who shined brightest over the course of the year.
2020/21 Premier League
Besides, if football fans love anything, it’s a debate, so the chance to go back and forth over the PFA Player of the Year nominees and Premier League Team of the Season always makes for fascinating viewing.
And although we’ve still got all of that to look forward to, we wanted to get ahead of the game and see which players stand the best chance of lifting individual silverware for their 2020/21 displays.
In order to achieve that, we’re using the average match ratings compiled by WhoScored.com to see who the statistics consider to be the Premier League’s best performers across the last six months.
Premier League’s top performers
And to eliminate goal-scorers inevitably performing better in the data, we’ve broken things down into the ten main positions on a football pitch and revealed the top five players for each of them.
Now, of course, there are a few ground rules: players must have featured in at least 10 matches, can’t appear in more than one section and we’re using WhoScored’s very own position definitions.
But we know you’re not here for the boring details and disclaimers, so be sure to see which Premier League players have performed the best in every position so far this season:
5. Karl Darlow (Newcastle United) – 6.79
4. Alphonse Areola (Fulham) – 6.81
3. Nick Pope (Burnley) – 6.83
2. Illan Meslier (Leeds United) – 6.92
1. Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) – 7.05
Woof. While it’s thoroughly justified that Martinez takes top spot, it’s staggering to think that Alisson Becker, Ederson, David de Gea, Hugo Lloris, Bernd Leno and Edouard Mendy have all missed out.
5. Serge Aurier (Tottenham Hotspur) – 7.03
4. Matthew Cash (Aston Villa) – 7.09
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 7.13
2. Reece James (Chelsea) – 7.18
1. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City) – 7.43
There might be no sign of Trent Alexander-Arnold, but there’s no shortage of English class in the right-back position this season, even if it’s not enough to claw away at Cancelo’s gargantuan lead.
5. Liam Cooper (Leeds United) – 7.09
4. Wesley Fofana (Leicester City) – 7.16
3. John Stones (Manchester City) – 7.18
2. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) – 7.22
1. Kurt Zouma (Chelsea) – 7.22
Chelsea are hoovering up clean sheets like they’re going out of fashion right now and that’s what it takes to outgun a resurgent Stones this season, while Ruben Dias shockingly ranks down in 13th.
5. Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – 7.07
4. James Justin (Leicester City) – 7.11
3. Solly March (Brighton & Hove Albion) – 7.13
2. Lucas Digne (Everton) – 7.17
1. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City) – 7.18
Slam the brakes on the Shaw hype train because the statistics don’t even think he’s Manchester’s best left-back this season, which feels a little generous on Zinchenko in our eyes.
5. Declan Rice (West Ham United) – 7.04
4. Scott McTominay (Manchester United) – 7.24
3. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – 7.27
2. Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) – 7.27
1. Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) – 7.38
Let’s face it, there’s good reason to think that Soucek has been the Premier League signing of the season with eight strikes from deep, while his Hammers teammate, Rice, has also been fantastic.
5. Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion) – 7.17
4. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – 7.56
3. Rodri (Manchester City) – 7.58
2. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) – 7.58
1. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) – 7.66
Could there possibly be a clearer indication of City’s omnipotence this season than this data set? When it comes to pulling the strings in the heart of midfield, the Citizens are simply unmatched.
5. Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal) – 6.76
4. Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) – 7.00
3. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur) – 7.03
2. James Maddison (Leicester City) – 7.29
1. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) – 7.50
Considering Fernandes could break Frank Lampard’s record for the most midfield goals in a Premier League season, it only makes sense that he’s blown the competition out of the water here.
5. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – 7.03
4. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – 7.36
3. Adama Traore (Wolverhampton Wanderers) – 7.37
2. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) – 7.54
1. James Rodriguez (Everton) – 7.63
One can’t help feeling that Salah has been hard done by here considering he’s leading the race for the Premier League Golden Boot, but the stats suggest that he’s not even the best right-winger on Merseyside.
5. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – 7.28
4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 7.36
3. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – 7.41
2. Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur) – 7.43
1. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – 7.49
Wowsers, there’s some serious quality here. But above everything else, let Sterling and Mane’s surprising finishes remind us all that they’re not having the disappointing season that some think.
5. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 7.24
4. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – 7.25
3. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) – 7.27
2. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) – 7.27
1. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) – 7.78
Benteke!? Yes, he’s actually rediscovered his goalscoring swagger at Selhurst Park, but something just doesn’t sir right about him finishing above Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, there can be no denying Kane’s status as not only the division’s best striker, but its best player overall, running away with the lead courtesy of his astonishing 29 goal contributions.
Premier League Team of the Season
Say what you like about the importance of statistics in football, I think we can all agree that the data has made some pretty great calls by rewarding Martinez, Grealish, Kane and many more.
We’d be lying if we claimed to understand why Benteke, Mane and Zinchenko have performed quite so well in the data, it must be said, but the numbers have largely aligned with fan perception.
However, at the end of the day, it’s not the data that decides the Premier League Team of the Season, so you’ll have to let us know who your picks would be across our social channels.