The Premier League (February 2022)
The Premier League is returning after a brief international and cup hiatus of a couple of weeks. Many pundits are ready to hand the title to Manchester City right now. And while it’s hard to disagree with that assertion, there’s still plenty of football to be played between now and the end of the season. City have the form, but the likes of Liverpool and, possibly, Chelsea will believe they can catch them, should Guardiola’s men slip up.
The top performing players in the Premier League so far this season (and what it could mean for England’s World Cup chances)
Goalkeeper – Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Hold up… no Ederson or Alisson Becker? The City and Liverpool shot-stoppers are famed for their ability to play it out from the back, but we believe Ramsdale has shown his true quality this season. Indeed, Ramsdale’s distribution has been excellent, and he’d be exactly the type you’d want for unleashing devastatingly quick counter-attacks in a 5-a-side game. Moreover, some of the saves he has pulled off have been truly world-class. He’s a key reason for Arsenal’s growing stature as a Premier League force again. Ramsdale must also be pushing Jordan Pickford for England’s No. 1 jersey. Food for thought for Gareth Southgate going into the run up for the Football World Cup in Qatar in November – A tournament that could see the (usually unrealistically high!) expectations of the England fans matched by the team’s achievements, with England among the favourites.
Defender – Ruben Dias (Man City)
What a player. Some might opt for Virgil Van Dijk as the main defender in their 5aside team, but we think the City man has outshone the Dutch defender this season. Dias is now firmly considered one of the world’s best centre-backs, and at 24, he can get even better as he matures. He has everything in his locker, including a passing ability that makes him indispensable to City’s system. Anyone who has had him in their Fantasy Football team since the start of the season have been racking up points for clean sheets, goals, assists and bonuses all season thanks to Dias. If you are looking for a name for your FPL or DFF team check out our 20 best fantasy football names (if even you are not looking, we can guarantee that one of our names will induce a chuckle!)
Defender/Midfielder – Declan Rice (West Ham)
Like last season, West Ham have been one of the top performing teams outside the traditional big 5/6 Premier League teams. David Moyes is guiding his men into a position where they again have a fighting chance of a Champions League spot. It’s all the more impressive given the limited resources at Moyes’ disposal. Nevertheless, the jewel in the crown is clearly Rice. The defensive midfielder reads the game so astutely arguably outstripping N’Golo Kante in that respect. A more appropriate comparison would perhaps be to Manchester United legend Bryan Robson with both players not afraid to get stuck in and break up opposition attacks. Rice looks like he will boss both West Ham and England’s midfield for years to come and 5aside.com will make a prediction now that he will be next to wear the England captain’s armband. This old fashioned midfield battler would be perfect for your 5-a-side team.
Midfielder/Forward – Phil Foden (Man City)
Perhaps Conor Gallagher would deserve a mention here. He and Foden lead the Premier League betting odds for the Young Player of the Year, and they have both had wonderful seasons. However, our preference is for the incredible technical ability of Foden, who would shine in any 5-a-side team. Foden is still only 21, but the maturity he demonstrates on the pitch is remarkable. To think that he will get better with time should be a scary prospect for anyone who does not support Man City or England. More praise should be heaped on Pep Guardiola for nurturing young players, especially from an England perspective. Sterling, Stones, Walker, Foden and now Grealish have all benefited from Pep’s coaching and influence. The Premier League and England are as much beneficiaries of Pep’s work as City are.
Striker – Mo Salah (Liverpool)
Could we have picked anyone else? Salah has a legitimate claim to being the best player on the planet right now. His performances for Liverpool have kept them in the title race, and his goals and link-up play would be perfect in 5-a-side. Salah is a shoo-in for the Golden Boot award and the PFA Player of the year – Is he the most liked man in football? He deserves the recognition. It’s not typical for a stiker to be captain in most football teams, but we feel the likeable talisman would make a decent captain of our 5-a-side team of the season so far.