May 27, 2024

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Premier League Workforce of the Season: OptaJoe’s XI

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Premier League Workforce of the Season: OptaJoe’s XI

The 2021-22 season has come to an finish, with Manchester Metropolis successful the Premier League title for the sixth time within the final 11 seasons – 4 of these coming within the final 5 seasons.

Pep Guardiola has now received the title in 10 of his 13 seasons as a top-flight supervisor throughout spells in command of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Metropolis, with Liverpool compelled to cope with second place with the second-highest factors tally to not win an English top-flight title (92).

With the curtain absolutely closed on the marketing campaign, our information specialists at OptaJoe have picked their Premier League finest XI for 2021-22 primarily based on the info.

José Sá – Wolves

Coming into the 2021-22 Premier League marketing campaign, José Sá had large gloves to fill after Rui Patrício’s three-season stint with Wolves got here to an finish. Between, 2018-19 and 2020-21, Patrício stored 30 clear sheets in 112 Premier League appearances, and made 288 saves – a tally solely three different goalkeepers might higher.

Nicely, a brand new, greater pair of gloves are so as as Sá defied all expectation and proved to be one of many signings of the season.

In conceding simply 39 targets from pictures price an anticipated targets on track (xGOT) complete of 47.5 (excluding personal targets), Sá led the Premier League rankings for targets prevented (8.5) and proved to be a cussed barrier for opposition strikers.

Based on our xGOT mannequin, José Sá prevented almost six targets (5.7) greater than the following finest performing Premier League goalkeeper this season – David de Gea (2.8).

Wolves might be delighted with Sá’s heroics in between the sticks this season, with the Portuguese stopper (75{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494}) posting the second highest save proportion ratio of any Premier League goalkeeper (min. 15 saves), behind solely Liverpool’s Alisson (76{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494}).

Premier League Workforce of the Season: OptaJoe’s XI

Joao Cancelo – Manchester Metropolis

Our left-back of selection is the right-footed João Cancelo; the Manchester Metropolis all-rounder who might in all probability slot in any place in each defence and midfield, as soon as once more in 2021-22 exhibiting us how integral he’s to the Metropolis machine.

In all competitions this season, Cancelo began in additional video games (51) and posted extra minutes on the pitch (4622) than every other participant on the membership, the human oxymoron to the yielding axe that’s Pep Roulette. In truth, throughout Guardiola’s managerial profession, solely three outfield gamers have began 50+ matches in the identical season, with Cancelo becoming a member of Lionel Messi (57 in 2011-12) and Dani Alves (50 in 2010-11) as the opposite two to take action.

Cancelo’s significance stems from his identified versatility; throughout his 36 Premier League appearances at full-back this season, the Portuguese worldwide began 22 instances on the left and 14 on the suitable, although it’s his venturing into midfield and attacking areas that highlights his capability finest.

He had extra touches within the Premier League this season than every other participant each total (3908), and within the opponent’s half (2461), tried extra dribbles (113) than every other listed defender, while solely Aymeric Laporte and Declan Rice boasted extra carries than Cancelo (716) within the division. On prime of this, 62{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} of his direct aim involvements within the English top-flight got here in 2021-22 (8/13), netting as soon as and delivering seven assists.

Joao Cancelo TOTS

Thiago Silva – Chelsea

Regardless of now being 37 years outdated, Thiago Silva proved as soon as once more this season why he’s an integral a part of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.

Solely Antonio Rudiger (34 begins and 3035 minutes) and Edouard Mendy (34 begins and 3060 minutes) made extra begins or performed extra minutes within the Premier League for the Blues this season than the Brazilian (28 and 2651), with him a pivotal a part of a aspect transport simply 33 league targets this time period – solely Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool conceded fewer (each 26).

An skilled campaigner on the coronary heart of their defence, it’s truly with the ball at his ft that Thiago Silva excelled for Chelsea in 2021-22. As a part of a again 5, he’s in a position to progress the ball – and his group – up the sector, to which he’s carried out to nice impact. Solely Aymeric Laporte (257), Joel Matip (227) and Ruben Dias (166) had extra progressive carries of 10 metres plus, amongst central defenders than he did (155), whereas no central defender began a sequence that resulted in a shot extra usually than the veteran (33).

Thiago Silva TOTS

Thiago Silva was equally nearly as good distributing the ball from the again, with solely Joachim Anderson (7.8) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (6.4) making extra profitable lengthy passes per 90 this season than him amongst defenders (5.8 – min. 1000 minutes), whereas solely Adam Webster (34.0) made extra ahead passes per 90 amongst central defenders than he did (31.4).

In what might be his 14th consecutive marketing campaign in a giant 5 European league, he’ll be a Chelsea participant for at the least another season, after signing a one-year extension in January, because the Blues look to bridge the hole on the prime within the subsequent marketing campaign.

Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

It comes as no shock that Liverpool’s upturn in 2021-22, following a disappointing final season, is available in tandem with the return to health of Virgil van Dijk, who missed the perfect a part of 10 months after sustaining a knee damage in October 2020.

Solely Alisson began extra video games (36) and performed extra minutes (3240) within the competitors this season than Van Dijk (34 and 3060), whose return to common motion, together with Joel Matip, helped certain up Liverpool’s defence this season.

Off the again of a marketing campaign that noticed the Reds concede 42 instances within the Premier League, this season the defence was breached simply 26 instances, the joint-best report alongside Man Metropolis, with Van Dijk serving to his aspect preserve 21 clear sheets, once more a joint-high with the Residents.

Van Dijk return was an enormous a part of that upturn, successful an even bigger proportion of his duels (74{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} – min. 100 duels) and aerial duels (77{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} – min. 80 aerial duels) than every other defender within the competitors this season.

Virgil van Dijk TOTS

The Dutchman’s return additionally helped the Reds in an attacking sense, with solely Joachim Anderson (253), Trent Alexander-Arnold (203) and Thiago Silva (171) enjoying extra profitable lengthy passes than Van Dijk this season (165), whereas the one centre-back with extra aim build-up involvements than Van Dijk (18) was Antonio Rudiger (19).

This season additionally noticed Van Dijk set a brand new Premier League report of 64 residence league video games for Liverpool with out shedding (W55 D9), as each he and the Reds confirmed they had been again to their finest.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

Trent Alexander-Arnold should be one of the vital nailed-on decisions for this 12 months’s group of the season. The ‘right-back’ supplied one other 12 assists within the Premier League this marketing campaign – he’s now answerable for three of the 4 events {that a} defender has assisted 12+ targets in a single season within the competitors (Andy Robertson in 2019-20, the opposite).

And he might arguably have had extra. His anticipated assists complete was 13.0 – one larger than the help complete he ended up with, whereas 9.9 of that was from open play, once more greater than his 9 open play assists. Unsurprisingly, his total and open play xA figures had been by far the perfect within the Premier League this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold TOTS

Alexander-Arnold additionally created extra probabilities (90) than every other participant this marketing campaign, and accomplished 203 lengthy passes, probably the most of any outfield participant.

“However he can’t defend” you cry. Suppose once more. He received possession extra instances than any Liverpool participant within the Premier League this season (235 instances), whereas solely Joel Matip (78) had extra possession-winning tackles and interceptions mixed than the right-back (66) for the Reds in 2021-22.

Defensive Midfield
Rodri – Manchester Metropolis

Rodri was Manchester Metropolis’s most constant participant this season. The central cog in probably the most effectively run group within the league.

When he was signed virtually three years in the past he served solely as a reminder of how irreplaceable Fernandinho was. He was too gradual on the flip. He took too lengthy to select his passes. He simply didn’t have that dawg in him.

However now he’s flipped that dialog on its head. The Fernandinho succession plan is a matter of the previous, now extra precisely described because the Rodri understudy plan. His place is safe inside the Manchester Metropolis XI for years to return.

A pivote in a Pep Guardiola group has nowhere to cover – all of your inadequacies are on show. However Rodri not has any. Or at the least he doesn’t allow you to see them.

Is he a ok passer of the ball? He accomplished 91.8{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} of his passes within the Premier League this season, whereas primarily based on the problem of his cross makes an attempt, he was solely anticipated to have accomplished 87{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} of them. His passer affect rating, which accumulatively measures his passes above expectation, was 135 for the marketing campaign. No different participant within the division reached three figures.

Rodri TOTS

Can he defend, and canopy the area left by the myriad attack-minded gamers that circle him? He made 17 ball recoveries per 1000 opposition touches this season, subsequent finest was Kalvin Phillips with 12.8.

What concerning the bodily calls for of the Premier League, is he athletic sufficient? Nicely, 164 gamers featured for at the least 2,000 minutes this season – of that group, Rodri ranked fifth for distance lined per 90 minutes (11.7 kilometres). His aerial win proportion of 72{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} was the best of any midfielder to contest at the least 50 aerial duels. In truth, he’s the one midfielder to rank inside the highest 17 locations league-wide for aerial win fee.

After which there have been the massive moments, the moments that may win titles. It wouldn’t be a problem if Rodri didn’t rating a single aim this season, it’s not related to his job description. However he scored seven, 4 of them coming within the closing six video games of the season, stepping up throughout an intense title run in.

It was Rodri who surged into the Arsenal field after 93 minutes again in January to squeeze in a last-minute winner. And true to kind for Manchester Metropolis’s unsung hero, it was Rodri who scored the aim which is sure to be the least remembered of the Aston Villa sport on the ultimate day, deftly passing the ball out of Robin Olsen’s attain to proceed the momentum instigated by İlkay Gündoğan minutes earlier.

His contributions usually go unnoticed, however they matter all the identical.

Defensive Midfield
Declan Rice – West Ham

In his fourth season as an undisputed starter for West Ham, Declan Rice made additional strides in rounding out his sport as a central midfielder. On the conclusion of the 2021-22 marketing campaign, there’s little doubting that the 23-year-old is now among the many better of the perfect within the Premier League in his place.

One would possibly keep in mind Sky Sports activities pundit Gary Neville suggesting, within the earlier a part of Rice’s profession, that he noticed a centre-back enjoying in midfield. It was a good assertion on the time, and Rice would agree with him in an interview carried out earlier this 12 months. Since then, nevertheless, each have aligned in direction of his finest use being within the centre of midfield, owing to the year-on-year progress he has made since 2017.

Rice’s rising authority as a midfielder this season was most clearly seen in how he ran with the ball. Alongside his pure defensive qualities and neat passing, the West Ham man added an actual drive to his sport in 2021-22, that includes frequent bursts although the centre of the pitch.

Amongst defensive/central midfielders who performed 1000+ minutes within the Premier League this season, Rice carried the ball additional than every other participant, averaging 256.7 metres of carry distance per 90. In the identical pool of gamers, Rice additionally averaged probably the most progressive carries over 10 metres per 90 (5.5), highlighting his capability to drive ahead over longer distances.

In-keeping along with his driving fashion of play, the West Ham captain performed 93{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} of all doable minutes within the Premier League this season. He has been the engine of the group in lots of senses. And within the absence of turning into an everyday aim contributor – which isn’t a necessity for his function – the West Ham captain is now swiftly working out of bins to tick.

Declan Rice TOTS

Attacking Midfield
Son Heung-Min – Spurs

Son Heung-min capped off a beautiful particular person marketing campaign for Tottenham Hotspur by netting twice on the ultimate day to jointly-clinch the Premier League Golden Boot award (shared with Mohamed Salah). In truth, Son Heung-Min grew to become the primary Asian participant to attain this feat, with the attacker netting 23 targets in 2021-22.

To additional spotlight Son’s spectacular goalscoring kind this time period, none of his 23 targets got here from the penalty spot – probably the most targets a Spurs participant has scored in a Premier League marketing campaign with out netting a penalty, overtaking Gareth Bale’s earlier report in 2012-13 (21).

Son Heung-Min TOTS

Son Heung-min was a person possessed in entrance of aim within the 2021-22 league marketing campaign, scoring 23 targets from an anticipated targets complete of simply 15.8 – solely Kevin De Bruyne (+8.8) outperformed his xG complete by a bigger differential than the Spurs ahead (+7.2).

Son was additionally a artistic drive for Tottenham within the Premier League this time period, creating extra goalscoring probabilities (72) than every other participant on the membership.

With seven assists to go together with his 23 targets, Son grew to become simply the fourth completely different Tottenham participant to succeed in 30+ aim involvements in a single Premier League marketing campaign after Harry Kane, Teddy Sheringham and Jürgen Klinsmann.

Attacking Midfield
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester Metropolis

Kevin De Bruyne was named the Premier League Participant of the Season the day earlier than his Manchester Metropolis aspect got here from 2-0 right down to win the title, and it was Belgian maestro who arrange the successful aim with a sometimes exact ball throughout the field, leaving only a faucet in required from İlkay Gündoğan.

He’s now received the POTS award twice within the final three seasons (additionally in 2019-20), turning into the primary participant to take action since Nemanja Vidic between 2008-09 and 2010-11 (twice).

De Bruyne’s creativity is hardly a secret however stopping him affecting matches has as soon as once more proved virtually not possible, along with his excessive depth urgent off the ball simply as important to Man Metropolis’s group – he definitely has the knack of grabbing matches by the scruff of the neck and driving his group to victory. He’s the one participant to common over three pictures and over three probabilities created per 90 minutes this season within the Premier League.

Up till Leeds travelled to Man Metropolis in mid-December, De Bruyne had managed two targets and no assists within the Premier League, although he had solely began 5 matches. After doubling his tally in a 7-0 drubbing of the Whites, he would go on to web 15 instances in complete, his finest tally in a top-flight marketing campaign, with solely Sadio Mane (16), Mo Salah (18) and Son Heung-Min (23) scoring extra non-penalty league targets than the Belgian (15).

Kevin De Bruyne TOTS

Main on from that Leeds match, De Bruyne solely failed to attain or help in six of his 20 league appearances, while he both did web (eight targets) or set-up a teammate (six assists) in eight of his closing 10 video games within the division, proving to be the catalyst in a title race that went right down to the ultimate minutes of the marketing campaign.

A kind of matches was Metropolis’s 5-1 win at Wolves on Might 11, when the Belgian netted the third earliest hat-trick in Premier League historical past after simply 24 minutes – all of which got here along with his weaker left-foot – earlier than including a fourth along with his proper within the second half, which means Man Metropolis grew to become simply the third aspect to see two gamers rating 4+ targets in a Premier League sport in a single season (additionally Gabriel Jesus), after Man Utd in 1999-00 (Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) and Spurs in 2009-10 (Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe).

A Full Footballer.

Attacking Midfield
Bernardo Silva – Manchester Metropolis

Bernardo Silva is perhaps probably the most versatile participant within the Premier League.

Can anybody else play as a defensive midfielder, a box-to-box quantity eight, a proper winger, and as a false 9, all on the prime degree? What number of can be utilized as a urgent demon in a entrance two when defending, whereas additionally possessing the composure and press resistance to gather the ball from their goalkeeper in their very own field?

Bernardo Silva is all of these issues, however he’s a lot extra too. He lined 12 kilometres per 90 minutes this season within the Premier League, probably the most of any participant. When wanting on the 20 highest single-game distance lined totals by Manchester Metropolis gamers this season, 14 belong to Bernardo.

Bernardo Silva TOTS

That degree of business stays excessive whether or not he’s in possession of the ball or not. Bernardo led all Manchester Metropolis gamers for pressures utilized to opponents this season, whereas the one midfielder throughout the league with extra progressive carries was Declan Rice. He even made probably the most runs into the field of any midfielder within the league this season – irrespective of the place you look, his boundless vitality makes him stand out.

He’s not the masterful creator that Manchester Metropolis followers could have initially hoped he’d be when David Silva’s profession on the membership was drawing to an in depth, however he nonetheless manages to be a extremely efficient participant in contributing to harmful assaults.

Among the many Manchester Metropolis squad, he completed the season second solely to Kevin De Bruyne (87) for probabilities created within the league (59), and there’s no disgrace in that, however the place he stands out is for a way usually he passes to the participant who then goes on to create a aim scoring alternative.

We name this a secondary likelihood created, and he led all the league for such cases in 2021-22 with 44, with seven of these leading to an help for the participant he handed to. There may be after all some noise in these numbers, and intention can’t all the time be measured, however to complete prime for that statistic throughout a full marketing campaign isn’t any accident.

Manchester Metropolis can undergo phases of benefitting from the type of one excessive degree participant at a time, using the wave for just a few months till one other star steps as much as show their price.

For the second half of 2020-21 that participant was İlkay Gündoğan. For the second half of 2021-22 that participant was De Bruyne. However don’t let recency bias gloss over Bernardo’s equally essential performances in between these two phases.

From the beginning of the season up till the primary week of December, Bernardo was Metropolis’s prime scorer with seven targets, which was greater than double that of any teammate on the time. If De Bruyne acquired Man Metropolis throughout the end line, it was Bernardo Silva who began the engine.

Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

It was a stellar season for the FWA Footballer of the Yr. Mohamed Salah notched 23 targets and 13 assists in 35 Premier League appearances in 2021-22 – over a aim involvement per sport.

The Egyptian scored or assisted a aim each 77 minutes he performed within the Premier League this season, by far the perfect ratio of any participant to play at the least 300 minutes this time period.

Certainly, that fee was the perfect by a Premier League participant to play at the least 2,000 minutes in a marketing campaign since Salah himself in 2017-18 (one each 70).

There it’s once more. Solely Mo Salah.

Salah grew to become the fourth participant to complete a Premier League season prime (or joint-top) for each targets (23) and assists (13), after Andy Cole (1993-94), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (1998-99) & Harry Kane (2020-21). He shared the Golden Boot with Son Heung-min, the third time he has received that award within the Premier League (additionally 2017-18 and 2018-19), a tally solely bettered by Thierry Henry (4 instances).

And it wasn’t simply targets and assists he led the best way in. Salah topped the rankings for pictures (139), non-penalty anticipated targets (19.0) and touches within the opposition’s field (337). He was even within the prime three for open play probabilities created (62), large probabilities created (18) and anticipated assists (7.4) within the Premier League this season. All that regardless of lacking a bit of the marketing campaign to assist Egypt to the Africa Cup of Nations closing.

He spent nearly all of his season because the right-sided vast ahead in a three-man assault for Liverpool. You’ll little question discover that we’ve acquired him as our lone striker in our group of the season, however that’s as a result of he’s so good we are able to play him wherever alongside the front-line.

Mohamed Salah TOTS

Pep Guardiola – Manchester Metropolis

Manchester Metropolis – within the second tier on the flip of the century – grew to become Premier League champions for the sixth time in 2021-22, shifting outright second for many titles behind solely Manchester United (13). 4 of the final 5 titles have been received below Pep Guardiola’s management, with the Spaniard now the non-British supervisor with probably the most English top-flight titles in historical past.

From what was initially wanting like a cakewalk – Man Metropolis had been 13 factors clear in mid-January – the 2021-22 title race finally went right down to the ultimate day. And even then, Guardiola’s aspect determined to go the great distance spherical, going 2-0 down at residence to Aston Villa earlier than three targets in simply over 5 minutes safe them the crown.

Man Metropolis completed the season with the perfect attacking figures (99 targets) and joint-best defensive report (26 targets conceded, 21 clear sheets), with their aim distinction of 73 the second highest ever in a single top-flight marketing campaign.

It should come as no shock that the one group to higher it are Pep Guardiola’s Metropolis aspect themselves, ending with a distinction of 79 in 2017-18.

Premier League TOTS 2021-22

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