With the season coming to a close we assess some of the season’s biggest disappointments, a ‘worst team of the season’ if you will.
In goal the previously impenetrable Hugo Lloris has endured a difficult season and has made a handful of costly errors, so too has North London counterpart Petr Cech, he broke the Premier League clean sheets record this term but has otherwise been poor, regularly appearing a weak link in Arsenal’s already soft looking defence.
Kaspar Schmeichel has been shaky, Fraser Forster atrocious, and Joe Hart probably the worst of them all, his and Adrian’s duel to be West Ham No.1 has come down to who can be slightly less comical than the other.
Danny Rose’s assault on the left-back slot started way back in the summer transfer window when he tried to pronounce himself to big for Spurs, since then he has been replaced by Ben Davies and looked ordinary when he has had the rare opportunity to stretch his legs.
Cuco Martina of Everton is arguably the worst player in the league, or at least the worst that regularly plays, given his previous standards though it’s difficult to classify him as a disappointment. Christian Fuchs has fallen a long way, but doesn’t threaten Rose’s place in the team.
If Skhodran Mustafi is a centre-back he is an automatic choice for this position, one of the worst defensive signings in history.
His partner will likely come from Chelsea; Gary Cahill has seen age and injuries take their toll resulting in a campaign to forget, David Luiz is by that logic more surprising, he should be at the peak of his powers, yet has looked a shadow of himself this season, he has almost become the forgotten man at Stamford Bridge.
Micheal Keane has really been a let down this season at Everton, it would be a middle finger to football fans the nation over if Southgate takes him to the World Cup now.
Lindelof has been Man United’s worst defender almost every time he has played this season. Jonny Evans’ decline has matched that of his club. Seb Prodl, a rock for Watford last season, has endured some tough moments during this one.
Stoke have a quartet of possible nominees in Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wimmer, Bruno Martins Indi and Ryan Shawcross; if I could only mention one I’d probably choose Wimmer whose defensive sins have been unforgivable.
At right-back, Cedric Soares would have been a solid choice, 2 assists against Arsenal though probably just edges him out of the side for now. Pablo Zabaleta is now perhaps in pole position, the veteran, as had been expected, has struggled in an aging overrun West Ham side.
Allan Nyom of West Brom completes the shortlist, he was a surprise package last season but has not built on it during this season and has seen his defensive unit massively underachieve.
He’s the first name on the team sheet and you can give him the captains armband whilst your at it, Tiemoune Bakayoko has been dreadful, he was a beast for Monaco, yet has spent most of his time this year wondering aimlessly around the spaces next to Kante without either helping him or offering any kind of outlet similar to the ones offered by other partners whether that be Drinkwater or Fabregas.
Grzegorz Krychowiak is a safe selection next to him as well, a Europa League winner with Seville, the Pole has been outshone by a 37-year-old Gareth Barry in midfield and isn’t even a constant in the leagues worst side at this point. Renato Sanches, with 12 games and no goal involvements is another easy pick to complete the midfielder, all the hype surrounding the youngster seems foolish now, he has regularly looked out of his depth and as if he is lacking almost all of the attributes required to make it the top division.
Yohan Cabeye, Jake Livermore, Granit Xhaka and Morgan Schneiderlin have all put in some shocking performances and remain on the radar. Gylfi Sigurdsson has flickered of late, but as a whole, given how hard Everton pushed to sign him and his price tag, he must go down as one of the flops of the season.
I’m not sure I can technically nominate Ross Barkley as he has only played 53 minutes this season, but what they were a terrible 53 minutes in which his Chelsea debut ended in a 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth, I’m not sure how ‘injured’ he has really been as well. I should find room for Davy Klaassen as well, he has been awful.
The two wide players I’d want to nominate are Jese, who like Sanches and Krychowiak, was dubbed a major coup, but the former Real Madrid man has been woeful, either anonymous or at times actually detrimental to his own team’s performances, that penalty episode is best forgotten about.
And secondly, Nathan Redmond. Redmond hasn’t scored yet this campaign in 25 appearances, he has epitomized his clubs season and if they go down, as with Jese, he will be looked at to shoulder a lot of the blame. Teammate Dusan Tadic has struggled throughout as well, though steers clear of selection here. Ramadan Sobhi was someone I touted for a big season, yet has delivered less regularly than before.
Alexis Sanchez deserves a discussion also, he grabbed some goals whilst at Arsenal, but they were rarely crucial and his displays were ineffective compared to years gone by, at United things haven’t really improved and the goals have dried up, his performance in the Manchester derby suggests he might pull away from this position, but if he goes through the last 6 games how he has the first 32 he may end up being the most high profile name in the team.
With so many center forwards to discuss it would be best just to place one of Jese or Redmond in with the midfield and switch to a 4-4-2.
Alvaro Morata and Alexander Lacazette make good places to start, both endured torrid debut campaign in England, they will admittedly both finish with double figures, yet given how much they both cost that should come as a given and some of the chances they have conspired to miss have been costly in their own right.
Lest we forget Christian Benteke is himself an expensive player, and he has just 2 goals this season, though that has come in a terrible Crystal Palace side. Islam Slimani cost a similar fee to Benteke, his second season in England has amounted to all of 1 goal. Andre Gray has had difficulties at Watford, likewise, Manolo Gabbiadini has seen the goals dry up at Southampton.
They have both done better than Saido Berahino and Dominic Solanke though, both of whom are yet to find the net, admittedly they aren’t regular starters, but that doesn’t excuse going a whole season without a goal when they’ve managed 15 and 18 appearances respectively.
Kelechi Iheanacho trumps them all at the moment, his big money transferred couple with minutes per goal ratio that was seeing him talked about with history’s greatest has seen him grab just a lone goal for Leicester. Fernando Llorente, Wilfred Bony, Joselu and to an extent Oliver Giroud are all in with a shout having endured wasteful periods.
I tried to avoid players that only joined in January, however, If Guido Carrillo finishes goalless and Southampton go down I think I’d pick him. For now the worst partner for Iheanacho would be Benteke, for strikers though the narrative can always change in heartbeat.
Danny Rose, Skhodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Tiemoune Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Lacazette