GK: David de Gea (Manchester United)
De Gea has once again minded United’s goal in marvellous fashion, earning his side multiple points with a range of remarkable stops. His standout performance came in the 3-1 win at Arsenal, when the Spaniard repelled opposition attackers time and time again to help Jose Mourinho’s men hold on for all three points.
A recent feature on FourFourTwo.com revealed that De Gea has the highest save percentage in the division, while he’s also kept a league-high 16 clean sheets. It would be a shock if the former Atletico Madrid man wasn’t voted into the PFA line-up for a fifth time.
RB: Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Eyebrows were raised when Manchester City parted with £50m in exchange for Walker last summer, but the ex-Tottenham man has been fundamental to Pep Guardiola’s side’s title tilt. The right-back’s powerful running has been important in both attack and defence, while he’s also showcased ability on the ball which many weren’t sure he possessed.
Walker has also been adept at underlapping and moving infield when required, so much so that Gareth Southgate felt confident enough to deploy him as a right-sided centre-back in England’s friendlies with the Netherlands and Italy last month.
CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)
It’s easily forgotten now, but City were a little shaky in the opening weeks of the campaign and Otamendi was rightly held up as a potential weak point. Since then, though, the Argentine has been magnificent, starting 30 of City’s 31 games and rarely putting a foot wrong after a testing first half against Mohamed Salah in September.
His controlled aggression routinely helps City regain possession quickly, and he’s also greatly improved his ability to pick out passes from the back. Otamendi is still prone to the occasional rash moment, but he should get enough votes for a spot in this year’s team.
CB: Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Toby Alderweireld was widely seen as Tottenham’s best defender at the start of this season, but many Tottenham fans will now feel they can cope without the former Atletico Madrid man should he seek pastures new this summer. That’s partly because of Davinson Sanchez’s tremendous potential, but it also has much to do with Vertonghen’s superb campaign.
The Belgian reads the game expertly and is difficult to beat in one-on-one situations, while he’s arguably the best in the Premier League when it comes to breaking opposition lines with penetrative passing from deep. There are other contenders at centre-half, but Vertonghen would be hugely unfortunate to miss out.
LB: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
It took a while for Robertson to make the left-back spot his own at Anfield – the Scotland international only started two Premier League matches before the beginning of December. He never looked back after an impressive performance in the 5-1 thrashing of Brighton, however, and the former Hull man has only improved since then.
A bundle of energy who incessantly pushes forward from full-back for 90 minutes, Robertson has provided four assists and created numerous more chances with his wicked deliveries from out wide. That his best form has come in the last few weeks – around the time when voting forms were disseminated – will only help his cause.
MF: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
It would be surprising if any Premier League player at all left De Bruyne out of their team of the year. The Manchester City man has been consistently brilliant in a slightly deeper role – his so-called dip in form earlier in 2018 was only labelled as such because of the sensational levels he reached earlier in the season – scoring seven goals and providing 15 assists for Guardiola’s champions-elect.
De Bruyne’s range of passing and crossing ability with both feet are among the best that the Premier League has ever seen. He’s nailed on for a place in this XI and favourite to win the player-of-the-year award too.
MF: Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Manchester City have several stars more likely to make headlines, but Fernandinho has been pivotal to their success this term. The Brazilian has anchored the midfield magnificently in 2017/18, breaking up opposition counter-attacks and helping City build their possession game from the back.
Fernandinho’s displays have been even more impressive when you consider he was previously a box-to-box operator. There can be no doubting his effectiveness for Guardiola’s men, but there’s a chance he could be left out of the PFA team in favour of a more glamorous alternative (namely his own team-mates or Tottenham's Christian Eriksen).
- NEW ISSUE Fernandinho: Being a defender in a Guardiola team is one of the toughest things you can do in football
MF: David Silva (Manchester City)
Silva hasn’t quite been ever-present for Manchester City this season, the Spanish schemer missing six games due to injury and personal issues. His understated brilliance has come to the fore whenever he's played, though, with 11 assists evidence of his enduring creative powers.
Perhaps the biggest difference between 2017/18 Silva and the versions which have gone before is his scoring rate: the 32-year-old has netted eight times so far this term, which is already his second-best tally since moving to England in 2010.
MF: Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
Hitting form at the right time can be crucial when it comes to voting for the team of the year, and Sane’s blistering performances in the last couple of months could mean he squeezes in. Sunday’s thumping volley against Everton was his ninth of the season, while the Germany international has also directly set up another 11 goals for his team-mates.
Sane in full flow is a wonderful sight, and his provision of pace, directness and width on the left have been vital to Guardiola’s game plan.
FW: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The consensus was that Liverpool had made an excellent signing when they captured Salah last summer, but no one would have envisaged the Egyptian wreaking such havoc on his return to the Premier League.
Twenty-nine goals in 31 Premier League games would be an astonishing return for a seasoned centre-forward, let alone a player who nominally starts out wide. Salah’s speed and footwork have also caught the eye, but it’s his lethal finishing and absurd scoring rate that have truly set him apart this season. He may yet add the PFA Player of the Year award to his mantelpiece on April 23 – even rival Kevin De Bruyne has voted for him.
FW: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Kane, incredibly, continues to improve and this season seems to have been the one in which he’s finally forced his way into conversations about the world’s best striker. The homegrown frontman has scored 24 times in 30 appearances to further underline his importance to Tottenham's cause, with his unerring finishing never failing to impress.
Kane is now taking more shots than ever before and Mauricio Pochettino has demonstrated a willingness to build the team around his centre-forward. That may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s testament to Kane’s quality when you consider some of the other fine players in Spurs' squad.
Unfortunate to miss out...
Manchester City’s Ederson has been sublime between the sticks, with his composure in possession and long-range distribution making him the perfect fit for Guardiola’s side. Burnley’s Nick Pope has also deputised superbly for Tom Heaton, while his team-mates Ben Mee and JamesTarkowski – as well as Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta – will no doubt each earn a few votes at centre-back.
Ben Davies and Ashley Young both had a claim for the left-back spot, which was the toughest position to predict. N’Golo Kante has been impressive in Chelsea’s midfield once more, and Raheem Sterling will consider himself unlucky if he misses out on a place – ditto Christian Eriksen. Sergio Aguero has been terrific but the Argentine’s wait for a place in a PFA Team of the Year could continue for another season.
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