It’s been a long Premier League season, with a thrilling FIFA World Cup crammed in the middle, but it is finally at an end after the last round of matches this past weekend. Manchester City are champions, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United are in the UEFA Champions League, Brighton, Liverpool and Aston Villa are in Europe and Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton are relegated.
It’s been a joy covering the league this season with plenty of twists and turns, an exciting title race and teams both relegated, in Europe and in the Champions League that many would have struggled to predict before the season began.
In my final Fotbollskanalen column of the season, here is my Premier League 2022/23 Team of the Season…
Goalkeeper – Ederson (Manchester City)
Perhaps the most underrated player in the Premier League in my opinion, Ederson is absolutely fundamental to Manchester City’s tactical set up and how Pep Guardiola likes to play football. Better on the ball than most midfielders, Ederson’s ability to draw players into the press and play in tight spaces in the box with men closing him down is outstanding.
His long range passing is also exceptional, a secret weapon City used often this season to break the high press with laser-like accurate long balls through to Erling Haaland. A top class goalkeeper.
Right Back – Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
A hugely important player in Newcastle’s revival into top four candidates. Kieran Trippier’s maturity, experience and coolness were valuable assets to a Newcastle defence that ended the season with the league’s joint best defensive record. The move to Atletico Madrid has clearly brought on a more rounded, sanguine Trippier who at 32 is as sturdy defensively as he’s ever been whilst remaining a big threat getting forward and on set pieces.
Centre Back – John Stones (Manchester City)
For me the best defender in the Premier League this season and a player with an argument for being one of the top defenders in Europe right now. And yet, the story of John Stones’s season is playing predominantly in a new midfield position he admits he had never played before.
Perhaps the key turning point in this season’s title race was Guardiola’s mid-season tactical switch to a three defender system with Stones sat in front of defence with Rodri, and despite never playing the role before Stones performed it excellently. A remarkable 94.3% pass accuracy and 75% aerial duel win percentage were both in the top five in the league.
Centre Back – William Saliba (Arsenal)
A crucial player for Arsenal and one of the best young players this season, William Saliba’s importance to the Gunners was summed up when he was no longer in the team due to a back injury. Arsenal’s win percentage dropped markedly once Saliba was ruled out for the season, while the number of goals they conceded per game without him also rose.
The Frenchman is emerging as one of the league’s top centre-backs.
Left Back – Pervis Estupinan (Brighton and Hove Albion)
In a sense a symbolic inclusion, in that Estupinan may not even be Brighton’s best player this season, but deserves recognition for a fine campaign and fits most readily into this team. The left-back has made everyone at Brighton forget the name Marc Cucurella, the club’s Player of the Season last year.
Estupinan is powerful, energetic, aggressive and a symbol of exactly what Brighton do well – a player who let’s not forget played in the Champions League semi-finals last season yet was signed for £15m, nearly £50m cheaper than Cucurella.
Midfield – Casemiro (Manchester United)
Despite a wild tendency to fly into challenges that he persists with even having racked up two red cards this season, it is impossible to ignore the impact Casemiro has had in driving Manchester United to a third place finish and Champions League football.
The Brazilian’s standards, hunger and winning mentality helped raise the bar at Old Trafford after a horrendous start to the season without him. In the games he missed through injury or suspension United looked a completely different team, without that midfield thrust and energy, and his ability to play incisive forward passes through teams with one touch is a huge asset in transitions. Casemiro also came up with some very clutch winning goals for Erik ten Hag’s team and he deserves recognition for his overall impact.
Midfield – Rodri (Manchester City)
Whilst wanting to balance up the representatives in this team to have a nice mix of clubs, there are certain players who simply have to be included. And Rodri is one of them.
Averaging an outrageous 80.9 passes per 90 minutes (second only to Ruben Dias) the Spaniard is the midfield metronome that keeps Manchester City ticking. With 12 recoveries per 90 on average and 5.7 of them in the opponents’ half, Rodri is so important to City recovering the ball and keeping things moving. Perhaps the best defensive midfielder in the league.
Midfield – Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
Honourable mentions could go to several players here – Bukayo Saka, Bruno Fernandes, Michael Olise and others – but Arsenal’s captain Odegaard deserves his spot in our team of the season. With 15 goals and seven assists the Norwegian midfielder enjoyed perhaps his best season yet in an Arsenal shirt, spearheading them in an impressive if ultimately unsuccessful push for the title.
Odegaard seemed to save his best form for the final third of the season, scoring vital goals against Chelsea (x2), Newcastle, West Ham and Southampton to help keep Arsenal’s title challenge alive. He seems to enjoy the responsibility of the captaincy and at 24 he still has potential to improve even further.
Attacking Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
The best player in the Premier League over the past five years, in my opinion, Kevin De Bruyne is the one true world class difference maker in the league. With seven goals and a league-high 16 assists – five clear of anybody else despite only playing in 32 games – the Belgian may be getting on in years but showed once again that when he is fit and firing nobody can live with him.
A delicious array of passing, a delightful touch, and ability to caress the ball into spaces and a provider and scorer of hugely important goals when his team need him, like in the two wins against Arsenal that ultimately won the league, De Bruyne is a dream footballer we should all enjoy watching for as long as we can. In this league, there is nobody better.
Forward – Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Spurs have had an extremely mediocre season all things told, and in truth I feel there are flaws in Harry Kane’s game that could be exposed playing in a bigger team where finishing fourth is not considered a success and winning trophies is seen as almost an afterthought. Kane gets an easy ride at times, both from the British media and pundits, and with his position at Spurs unquestionable he has not had to live with the scrutiny of being at a club where he has to win at all costs.
That said, 30 goals is still an excellent return, and without him Spurs may well have been flirting with relegation this season. He probably edges a place in this team ahead of Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Michael Olise, Kaoru Mitoma and others just through the sheer weight of goals he scored, even if many of them came in defeats or draws.
Forward – Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
The record breaker, the show stopper, the Player of the Season and the league’s undisputed superstar, Erling Haaland’s first season in English football was ‘not bad’ as he put it. 36 goals in 35 games tells its own story – the 22-year-old adapted to Premier League life immediately and ripped up the record books in his debut season. No player in Premier League history (i.e. since 1992) has scored more goals in a single season as Haaland broke Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s record of 34.
The fact he scored nine goals in his first five Premier League games and three hat-tricks in three consecutive home games just sums up the Norwegian’s dominance this season. A goalscoring machine who will surely only get better.