Non-‘Big Six’ Premier League Team of the Season: Rice, Raphinha, and GOAL

Although the majority of the division’s top players play for England’s biggest teams, many players this season shone lower down the standings.

Following the exciting conclusion of the season, the Premier League Team of the Season was announced.

As is typical for these teams, the players chosen were primarily from the same small group of clubs, with 10 of the 11 players chosen this year being from the so-called “Big Six” clubs: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester United.

Those six clubs finished in the top six spots for the first time since 2019 (and in exactly the same order, for what that is worth), which indicates that their monopoly on select XIs is likely to be even larger than in prior seasons.

In light of this, TIE NEWS has assembled a team that excludes members of the “Big Six” and offers individuals who performed well lower on the table their time in the spotlight.

GK: Jose Sa (Wolves)

Sa, a summer acquisition for Wolves, has been the team’s standout performance thus far. Thanks to Sa, Bruno Lage’s team has been able to win games even when they are not at their best.

Sa leads the statistics for save percentage and is fourth in the Premier League in terms of total saves (120). (79.3 percent ). The statistic that accurately determines how much a goalie has outperformed the average is the post-shot anticipated goals (how likely a goalkeeper is to save a shot) minus the total number of goals conceded. He also holds the top spot in this category.

Sa has a score of +9.32, which is much greater than the second-best goalkeeper, David de Gea, who has a score of +6.7. This metric can be thought of as an xG equivalent for goalkeepers. Sa thereby prevented Wolves from scoring more than nine goals.

As if that weren’t impressive enough, he also excels as a sweeper, coming in third with 40 total defensive actions outside of the penalty area (behind Alisson Becker and Ederson).

RB: Matty Cash (Aston Villa)

Although Cash, the Player of the Year at Aston Villa, received little attention outside of Birmingham, Cash has thrived under Steven Gerrard, a manager who expects a lot of his full-backs playing forward.

If Cash does well at the World Cup in Qatar, he could see his standing as a regular for Poland increase significantly the following year.

Cash is a very powerful defender despite being well recognized for his energy in overlapping and his superb crossing ability (he made the fifth most crosses in the division with 94). He is second in Premier League for pressures applied to opponents (268), third for total blocks, and fifth overall for tackles made (90). (91).

In his first Premier League season in 2020–21, he only managed to contribute to two goals, both of which were assists. His four goals and three assists in 2021–22 show that Cash hasn’t reached his potential.

CB: Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Patrick Vieira, who brought a ball-playing style of football and put the centre-back duo of Joachim Anderson and Guehi under a lot of pressure to initiate assaults, led Crystal Palace to a fantastic season.

Only three of the top 20 players for total touches played for clubs in the bottom half, including Guehi and Anderson, who were ranked 10th and 14th, respectively.

Guehi personifies Selhurst Park’s lightning-quick transformation under Vieira. The majority of observers believed Palace would find it difficult to adjust their tactical approach so fast following the Roy Hodgson era, but with to wise acquisitions like Guehi, they made it appear simple.

The former Chelsea defender has shown tremendous defensive poise and leadership qualities, and there is no doubt that the 21-year-old, who has long been considered one of the best of his generation, is on the right track to realizing his full potential.

CB: Craig Dawson (West Ham)

A cult favorite at the London Stadium, Dawson is a rock-solid center back whose valiant challenges and blocks are essential to David Moyes’ aggressive defensive alignment.

And he has been more crucial than ever this season, as fellow centre-backs Kurt Zouma, Issa Diop, and Angelo Ogbonna all alternated in and out of the team due to injuries and off-field concerns.

The absurdity of the tale is what makes Dawson so adored at West Ham. Nobody anticipated him to be much more than a squad player when he arrived in east London in 2020 after a season in the Championship with West Brom was followed by relegation from the Premier League at Watford.

Dawson has become one of Moyes’ most crucial players thanks to his unexpected skill with the ball and old-fashioned, valiant defending in his own third.

LB: Marc Cucurella (Brighton)

It’s not surprising that Brighton’s left wingback was recently chosen as the team’s Player of the Year.

He is one of the most dexterous and clever players in the non-“Big Six” clubs, equally adept at playing left-back and left center-back.

Cucurella, 23, best represents Graham Potter’s hybrid formations and positional rotations because he frequently overlaps as a centre-back or transitions into midfield spaces when used as a wing-back. His excellent effort is also well-represented in the metrics.

With 175, Cucurella ranks ninth in his division for progressive passes, and fifth with 327 passes completed under pressure from the opposition.

The fact that no player outside of the “Big Six” touched the ball more times than his 2,691 touches this season best captures his influence overall. Both stats demonstrate his attack-mindedness and exceptional possession skills.

Dawson has become one of Moyes’ most crucial players thanks to his unexpected skill with the ball and old-fashioned, valiant defending in his own third.

CM: Declan Rice (West Ham)

West Ham’s talismanic center midfielder, a No. 6 and a No. 8 all in one who is already on the verge of “world-class” status, is the only player to appear in both TIE NEWS Premier League Teams of the Season lineups.

Anyone who sees Rice for the entire 90 minutes is amazed by his talent because he is so frequently mistakenly classified as a solely defensive player (yet he is joint first this season with 95 blocks).

Behind Bernardo Silva and ahead of Kevin De Bruyne, he is third in terms of carries into the final third. He has also completed the third-most passes into the final third. Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo, who are also defenders, are the two players above him.

Rice is a fantastic ball-player in the middle of the field who appears to be in all places at once.

CM: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Some people were surprised to see Ward-Prowse on the list of finalists for the Premier League Player of the Season award, but Southampton’s disappointing season should not overshadow his individual accomplishments — quite the contrary.

It is even more astonishing that Ward-Prowse has accumulated 10 goals and 5 assists while playing for a struggling team.

Ward-Prowse is much more than just a dead-ball specialist; he is an all-around midfielder. He is third in his division for throws completed that span more than 40 yards of the pitch’s width (116), third-best overall for recovering fumbles (414), and eighth overall for important passes made per game (2.0).

In other words, he controls every aspect of games, even though the Saints are rarely in charge.

CM: Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)

Midfielder Gallagher, who is on loan from Chelsea, made headlines throughout the first half of the season but less so during the second. To date in 2022, he has only managed to contribute to two goals.

However, Gallagher’s eight goals and three assists for the season give him a spot in our lineup, as his contributions for Crystal Palace reach well beyond the final third.

The England international’s ability to quickly engage in challenges in the middle of the park is essential to Patrick Vieira’s tactical scheme, which is centered on maintaining a compact midblock and utilizing the attacking transitions. The success of Palace has been greatly aided by Gallagher’s dynamism.

In terms of statistics, Gallagher leads the league in fouls committed (84), despite not being a dirty player, while simultaneously applying the most pressure (781) and having the most successful pressures (221) of any player. Next season, Chelsea will benefit greatly from his aggression.

RW: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

Deep-dive stats are not necessary for this one.

Only four players made the TIE NEWS season-long Team of the Season, including Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, and Kevin De Bruyne, who have more goals and assists in the Premier League than Bowen (22).

Bowen’s skill in the final third has elevated him to a whole new level this season, and it’s making him an outstanding forward.

Bowen’s assist total is less than it may have been in a top side, with only Salah scoring better on “goal creating activities” than Bowen’s 21. It appears that Bowen may reach a whole new level if he joined a club like Live, just like Diogo Jota did before him.

ST: Ivan Toney(Brentford)

Thomas Frank, the manager of Brentford, has mixed a direct playing style with complex build-up play once the ball lands in the final third, which has led to the team’s remarkable Premier League first season.

Nobody personifies the Bees’ unique blend better than Toney, who simultaneously plays like an old-fashioned target man and a svelte modern center forward. This makes the Bees incredibly unpredictable.

Toney is third in the division for fouls drawn (84) and first among attackers for aerials won, with 150, in connection to Brentford’s propensity to hit longer passes forward early and win second balls (third among all players).

Toney, though, is also a merciless goal scorer, and he has developed a strong bond with teammate Bryan Mbeumo since their jobs are complementary. Toney provided 25% of Brentford’s total goals for the season with his 12 goals and five assists.

It was noted how Christian Eriksen helped the west London team’s campaign, but it is not a coincidence that Toney’s injury return and Eriksen’s entrance both occurred at the same time.

LW: Raphinha (Leeds United)

A player this good is unlikely to stay outside the Champions League for very long, so Raphinha’s celebration with the traveling Leeds United fans in the stands at Brentford is one of the most memorable images of the season. It may also be the ideal way for him to leave Elland Road.

With 119 shot-creating actions this season, the Brazil winger leads all non-“Big Six” players, demonstrating his extraordinary creativity even on a squad that almost avoided elimination on the final day.

Raphinha’s 11 goals and three assists speak for themselves, but his unique flair is what makes him such an exciting player: just one player completed more nutmegs than his 15 throughout the season!


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