We’re a month into the 2019-20 Premier League season. Each club has played four games. While that’s still a relatively small sample size (9.5% of the schedule), there is enough data to go on and identify who has been the Premier League’s best XI so far.
First, the general criteria:
- Goals are rare events. So counting numbers on goals and assists matter.
- Overall ratings (WhoScored, Squawka, etc) will be considered heavily.
- Team success matters. As much as we want to name Teemu Pukki to the squad (we’re clearly #teamteemu), Norwich sits in the relegation zone. Sorry, Puks.
Premier League best XI so far
To ensure we get the most deserving players in, we’re going with a 4-3-2-1. Here are the picks.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Matchday 4 helped boost a few players onto this list. Hugo Lloris is one of them.
He’s statistically the best keeper in England so far this season. Against Arsenal and Manchester City, he met the eyeball test as well. Both of those matches Lloris deserved Man of the Match honors. He is the biggest reason Spurs drew City, outplaying Ederson and recording 8 saves.
Defenders: Emerson, Matip, van Dijk, Pereira
- Emerson: He’s been Chelsea’s statistical best player this year and is giving Andy Robertson a run for “best left-back” status in the Premier League this season. The 25 year-old Italian is smack dab in his prime and is playing with pace and confidence. He’s been solid defensively, leading the Blues in tackles and interceptions per game.
- Joel Matip: Liverpool’s best defender this season is obviously…Joel Matip? Believe it! Matip has thrived defensively since paired with Virgil van Dijk. He’s bumped promising Joe Gomez from starting XI consideration. His rangy limbs have disrupted many threats this campaign. And he’s added a goal to boot.
- Virgil van Dijk: VVD is another player whose strong matchday 4 bumped him into this spot. The UEFA Player of the Year and likely Ballon D’or winner hasn’t been quite as absurdly good this year, but he’s still a beast. Yeah, he was dribbled past, but he’s still winning 5 aerials a game, drawing 1.5 offsides per game, making 4.8 clearances and 1.8 interceptions. Liverpool isn’t clean sheeting every other game, but without Alisson, van Dijk has still helped ensure Liverpool remain at 100% this campaign.
- Ricardo Pereira: This almost went to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has been worth the price so far. However, the Manchester United record transferee only bests Pereira in one major defensive category (tackles, 6.5 to 5 per game). Leicester sits in third place right now, and Pereira has been a major reason for their success. Like Emerson on the left side, Pereira is 25 and thriving as he hits his prime. He’s a defensive machine, enthusiastic tackler, and a strong penetrator with the ball at his feet.
Midfielders: James Maddison, Kevin de Bruyne, Mo Salah
- Kevin de Bruyne: KdB is the no-brainer of no-brainers on this list. With Eden Hazard out-of-shape and in Spain, a healthy de Bruyne is looking like the best player in the EPL this season. He’s just absurd. He has a goal and 5 assists. He’s making 4 key passes a game (which almost feels low if you’ve watched City). He’s firing crosses, long passes, short passes (36.5 per game), all at a high percentage (82%).
- Mo Salah: Salah gets slotted into a midfield role here to make proper room for City’s prolific strikers. Salah looks in much finer form to start this season than last year. He’ll continue to climb the Golden Boot standings all season (he’s got 3 goals and 2 assists so far). He’s the center of gravity for Liverpool. His presence draws defenders away, creating space for Fimino and Mane to be brilliant. His work rate continues to improve as well.
- James Maddison: The Foxes’ midfielder was the toughest and final addition. Leicester deserves lots of credit around the pitch for their start. Maddison has been the engine propelling the offense though. He’s like KdB-light, always on or around the ball when good things happen. Expect all of the usual suspects to come calling for Maddison this summer with $100M+ offers.
Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Roberto Firmino, Sergio Aguero
- Roberto Firmino: This will be the best season of Roberto Firmino’s career. Enjoy it as much as he does. While Bobby is not the *best* player on Liverpool, but he’s their most important this season. Two goals, two assists, and creative flair unmatched on the squad. Has sometimes been their best offensive and defensive player at the same time. He’s also got the Liverpool fan’s belt as “favorite player” this year (it’s gone from Mo Salah to Robbo to Bobby).
- Raheem Sterling: Operating at a new level. He’s been clinical with 5 goals. While he could still improve his defensive contributions, he’s just lethal in the final third.
- Sergio Aguero: Still terrifying. Six goals and an assist. 86% successful pass rate. At 31, is this actually his best season?