Premier League

Worst Premier League Team of the Season so far

FT Desk
FT Desk

  • Updated: 28 Dec 2022 09:14 GMT
  • 6 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo against Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool have got off to their worst ever Premier start under Jurgen Klopp; Chelsea spent the most on a mixed bag of players, while Man Utd’s squad-building problems persist, even post-Cristiano Ronaldo…

Arsenal lead the way in the Premier League this season, with eight more points than champions Manchester City, who do at least have a game in hand. Accordingly, there aren’t many Gunners to be found in this XI.

But further down the table, Chelsea sit in eighth after spending €280 million during Todd Boehl’s first transfer window as owner; more than any other club in the world last summer.

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Liverpool are only a point and two places better off after their stuttering start to the season, while above them in fifth, Erik ten Hag is beginning to get Manchester United into his own image, but there are some casualties along the way.

Football Transfers picks out a worst XI of the Premier League season so far…

Chelsea and Man Utd have had more disappointments than most this season.

Chelsea and Man Utd have had more disappointments than most this season.

GK: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

Edouard Mendy kept 14 clean sheets in 34 Premier League games for Chelsea last season, but only managed one in nine this term before being dropped by Graham Potter, who had succeeded Thomas Tuchel as coach. Kepa Arrizabalaga is now ahead of him when fit, and the Blues remain in the market for a longer term No.1.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Second, just a single point off champions City last season, Liverpool find themselves 15 points adrift of leaders Arsenal this term. No Reds player has disappointed more than Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose defensive positioning and tenacity – or lack thereof – has seen Liverpool concede some silly goals. Snuck into England’s World Cup squad with Reece James injured.

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CB: Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)

Kalidou Koulibaly was regarded as one of the best centre-backs in world football owing to his imperious performances with Napoli, but he has looked a shell of that player since his €38m arrival at Stamford Bridge. At 31, he is an awkward fit for Boehly’s “Vision 2030” and Inter Milan are reportedly ready to offer him a path back to Italian football.

CB: Harry Maguire (Man Utd)

Harry Maguire deserves credit for his World Cup performances with England this winter, but let’s not forget that Manchester United – who he captains – started winning once he got dropped. The most expensive defender of all-time made a catalogue of errors in the early part of the season and is now firmly behind Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane in the central defensive pecking order.

LB: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham)

A lot was expected of Ivan Perisic when he was reunited with his former Inter boss Antonio Conte at the start of the season, but it hasn’t quite gone to plan so far. Perisic has contributed when he has played with four assists, mostly from set pieces, but a job-share with Ryan Sessegnon is not what the former World Cup finalist with Croatia would have hoped for.

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RW: Jadon Sancho (Man Utd)

Sancho can line up on either flank but is increasingly found on neither flank with Antony signed from Ajax for €100m and Alejandro Garnacho becoming a rising star on the opposite side. Sancho had two goals and an assist before missing England’s World Cup squad. He then didn’t even make it to his club’s mid-season tour of Spain. Sancho was not “physically or mentally ready” to play for Man Utd said Ten Hag.

CM: Kalvin Phillips (Man City)

It is hard to prove doubters wrong when shoulder surgery has restricted you to just one Premier League appearance with your new employers, but Kalvin Phillips, who joined Man City from Leeds for €49m, did get fit in time for the World Cup. Or so we thought. “He’s not injured, he arrived overweight,” Pep Guardiola said this week. Incumbent defensive midfielder Rodri isn’t exactly looking over his shoulder…

CM: Mason Mount (Chelsea)

Mason Mount remains a trusted Chelsea player, a product of the youth academy whom Tuchel and Potter have both used with equal abandon. But his production levels have gone off a cliff this season, his goal against Bournemouth on Tuesday his first at Stamford Bridge in more than a year.

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LW: Jack Grealish (Man City)

Jack Grealish, to his credit, has backpedalled on his Miguel Almiron slight at the end of last season, when he joked that Riyad Mahrez had played as badly as the Paraguayan. Almiron has been outscoring Grealish ever since, with eight goals for Newcastle to the Englishman’s one for Man City. Grealish can lift the crowd with his dribbling, but he needs more end product before he can even begin to justify his €118m price tag.

ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Chelsea)

Former Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked nonplussed about his arrival at Chelsea from Barcelona when it was announced on social media, and has played in the same vein too. Has scored just a single Premier League goal for the Blues and is now watching on as Kai Havertz, a former midfielder, has made it four strikes under Potter.

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)

Last, but by no means least, is Cristiano Ronaldo, whose second Man Utd spell ended in disaster. The Portuguese was dropped for Marcus Rashford and managed just a single league goal before giving an unsanctioned interview to Piers Morgan in which he slammed the club, its Glazer family ownership, and manager Ten Hag. Released by United on the eve of the World Cup, Ronaldo is reportedly on the cusp of a lucrative move to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia.

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