Tag Archives: Virgil Van Dijk

My Perfect Footballer #3 – Klopp’s Liverpool Edition

Words by @BubbIxs

Over the past three years we’ve witnessed the best Liverpool team in generations. They accumulated 197 points in two seasons whilst picking up four trophies, including a Premier League title, Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup, the first in the club’s history. 

There is no doubt that this squad of players have excelled all over the pitch, but would it be possible to build the perfect player by trying to merge attributes from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool players, with the only rule being you can’t use a player more than once? Lets give it a try… 


Brain
Fabinho 

Whilst firmly cementing himself at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield during the 18/19 campaign, Fabinho dominated in holding midfield sweeping up after those in front him. Virgil van Dijk once described him as Inspector Gadget because, “his legs are everywhere.” His ability to read the game is second to none, proven by his emphatic performances at centre back for the champions so far this season in the absence of van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, not to mention his appearances at right-back for the Brazilian national team as well. Definitely an underrated element of Liverpool’s recent success. 

Heading Ability
Virgil van Dijk 

It was pretty hard to think of anyone else for this attribute. Virgil is almost the most perfect player himself and so could fill a lot of these attributes to come on his own. He adds a calmness in your own box when dealing with set pieces and adds a threat in the opposition’s.

This was most clear in his Liverpool debut in the Merseyside derby, where he added a sense of security to the back line and went on to score the winner at the Kop end. His leap, strength and dominance in the air will be perfect for our perfect player. 

Physique
James Milner 

When you’re 35-years-old and still winning the long-distance runs within the squad, it’s made the decision easy. I’ve gone with James Milner. A model professional, always working hard to keep his physical condition in tip-top shape to still compete at this level.

To maintain the career he has from 16 years-old to now is something quite impressive and this may not have been the most obvious shout for this attribute but if our perfect player can stay at the peak of his physicality for 19 years (and counting) then there’s no doubt he’ll dominate the game. 

Hands
Alisson Becker
 

Well it’s fair to say there wasn’t much competition for this attribute, but nevertheless since joining the reds in the summer of 2018, Alisson has earned the status of one of the best goalkeepers with his hands but also his feet. An all-round solid goalkeeper who has come in clutch for Liverpool in so many key moments.

The “Goleiro Gato”, one of my personal highlights was when he collected more golden gloves than he had hands at the end of the Premier League and Champions League in 2019 and then with Brazil at the Copa America that same summer. 

Tackling
Roberto Firmino 

Having already awarded Fabinho with the “brain” attribute it was quite tough to think of who could fill this slot, and naturally of course I went straight to the remaining centre backs. But after a quick search I was surprised to find that Firmino had completed more tackles (275) than all of Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and even Virgil van Dijk in the Premier League.

One of the hardest working forwards in Europe, this attribute will be essential for my player, winning the ball back high up the pitch and in potentially dangerous areas. 

Agility
Sadio Mane
 

He can turn left, he can turn right, the fact of the matter is you never know! And neither do defenders, making him incredibly dangerous in the final third especially when bringing the ball into the box. Mane’s balance and agility will be key for our perfect player. 

Finishing
Mohamed Salah 

Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. With two golden boots in 3 seasons and the record for amount of goals scored in a single Premier League season, there’s only one man this attribute can be awarded to.

With him recently also becoming Liverpool’s all-time top goalscorer in the Champions League, there’s no doubt in my mind that Salah is one of the best finishers in Liverpool’s history and this attribute will make our perfect player a match winner.

Passing
Thiago Alcantara
 

A new addition to the squad but a star nonetheless. A diamond in midfield who shared the pitch with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso – and it shows! A truly blessed footballer who dictates the game from the middle of the park.

Speed
Joe Gomez
 

Having already allocated Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to different attributes I can’t also give them speed, so having said that I’ve gone with Joe Gomez. Gomez of course doesn’t venture forward in the same way the attackers do, in fact he’s never actually scored a goal, but going the other way he is rapid.

His recovery speed is ridiculous, and many players include him in the conversation when they’re asked who would win in a race. If you try to imagine his running ability going forward maybe it can be appreciated more, but I’m saying our perfect player has Joe Gomez’s speed! 

Dribbling
Naby Keita 

Maybe it goes quite under the radar just how press resistant Naby Keita actually is but when he’s on, he’s ON! One of the better ball carriers in Liverpool’s midfield and is great at breaking into the danger areas through the middle as an alternative to crossing into the box from the fullbacks. Our perfect player will have his dribbling, but definitely not his fitness problems!

Leadership
Jordan Henderson 

Filling the shoes of Steven Gerrard was never going to be an easy task for Jordan Henderson and it’s no secret that at times he’s struggled, but the turnaround to captain a side to winning the Champions League, after losing in the final the year before, and then winning the league, in an unprecedented way again after losing it the year before despite accumulating 97 points, only shows the signs of a phenomenal leader.

His teammates can’t speak highly enough of him and I always go back to the Champions League campaign of 2017/18, where Liverpool were in no way expected to reach the final but they did. A big part of that journey was down to Henderson. Particularly the home legs in the quarter-final and semi-final, Henderson never stopped running, set the intensity and led the press. A world class leader on and off the pitch. 

Crossing
Andrew Robertson 

It’s well known how crucial Liverpool’s flying fullbacks and their assists have been to their success, reaching the pinnacle of English and European football. I have given crossing to Robertson, but obviously, him and Trent have equally been a threat going forward. Robertson once shared that he looks for the “gap between the defenders and the goalkeeper,” knowing how tough that is to defend against himself.

His vision, paired with his technique but also his relentlessness to always being in a good position to whip the ball in, is what makes him the perfect crosser for our perfect player. 

Right foot
Trent Alexander-Arnold 

Trent Alexander-Arnold had to be in this list and I was happy to compromise and award Trent with the attribute of right foot. Trent is more than just a crosser. His passing ability in general is that of kid who grew up idolising midfielders like Gerrard and Alonso and being a midfielder himself all throughout youth football, his technical passing ability is superb. Scoring free-kicks on his right and striking a ball is not too difficult for him either so for that reason I’m giving our perfect player Trent’s right foot. 

Left foot
Xherdan Shaqiri 

Maybe quite a surprise shout given the high-profile status of a certain Egyptian’s left peg, but my word on his day does Shaqiri have a wonder of a left foot. With a collection of sensational strikes from long range throughout his career, Shaqiri’s left foot is no joke and he is technically one of the most gifted player at the club. With the whip and power he can generate our perfect player is going to be lethal. 


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France Greatest XI vs Holland Greatest XI

Since the early 90’s, two of the best footballing nations to have played the game are Holland and France.

Countless players have caught the imagination of fans and media alike over the last 30-odd years, so I decided to select the best XI of each country from my lifetime and pit them against each other.

Some incredible footballers have missed out, including the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, the De Boer brothers, Patrick Kluivert, Wesley Sneijder, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Paul Pogba and Patrice Evra.

I’m going to justify my selections for my teams here and break down what I think would happen if the two sides had ever met each other for real.

France v Netherlands - European Championship 2000 : News Photo

In goal, Holland’s keeper is obvious. Edwin Van Der Sar is a two time Champions League winner and multiple time league winner in two different countries with Ajax and Manchester United. He represented Holland 130 times throughout his career and is largely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.

For France the decision was a bit tougher. It was between two World Cup winners in Fabian Barthez and Hugo Lloris but I opted for the Tottenham man in this instance. While Barthez was supreme in his time for France, he was more prone to errors than Lloris and for me his peak didn’t last for as long. Both have exceptional reflexes and decent distribution and I don’t think the squad is any worse off regardless of which one was chosen.

FBL-WC-2018-NED-FRA : News Photo

In defence for Holland, one of the best central defensive partnerships ever. Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk is the best defender in the world right now and has been for the last 18 months or so, while Jaap Stam was one of the most dominant in Europe during his peak in the late 90’s/early 00’s. Physically they’re untouchable but they can also compete in a foot race and in the air. They have the ability to play out from the back too to help build attacks early.

For France, it’s a similar story. Raphael Varane is one of Van Dijk’s closest companions at the top of the game right now while Desailly was France’s leader at the back during his time in the national team. Much like Holland’s pairing, they can compete with any sort of attack that comes up against them and would be a brick wall.

The full-backs are the first point where we see an advantage for one side or the other. France’s pairing of Thuram and Lizarazu is balance personified and the epitome of what a full-back duo should be. Individually both are comfortable at both ends of the pitch and equally able to defend their flank. Both are excellent defenders in their own right and are intelligent enough to know when to attack, although Lizarazu could struggle with the physical demands of today’s game a bit more.

Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids (L) speaks : News Photo

Holland’s options aren’t so star-studded. Former Barcelona paid Michael Reiziger and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst are both excellent professionals who won plenty during their career. Despite that, they both have their weaknesses too. Reiziger was never the best one on one defender while Van Bronckhorst was physically on the smaller side, which could be something this French side could look to exploit.

In central midfield, it would be a battle for the ages. Ngolo Kante and Edgar Davids have many similarities in their style, with both incredibly energetic and determined ball-winners who can also play with the ball at their feet too. Davids had a bit more swagger to his game but Kante’s defensive positioning is a thing of wonder. Alongside them both are two of their generation’s best as Patrick Vieira does battle with Clarence Seedorf.

Vieira made his name at Arsenal as a marauding box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal and a bite to his tackle, while Seedorf was one of the most complete midfielders ever. His passing range, stamina, strength, creativity and striking ability meant he stood out on any pitch he was on and he would look to do similar here.

In attack, it’s two absolutely incredible variations of style, skill and quality.

For France, the new school mix with the old school as Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann partner up with Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane. All World Cup winners and all phenomenally talented, they would be able to rotate almost freely in the attacking areas of the pitch, knowing they are perfectly protected behind them.

Football: Belgium coach Henry at World Cup : News Photo

Mbappe and Henry’s pace and goalscoring exploits would make them a scary sight for any defence that has ever existed, but especially a Holland side with obvious weaknesses at full-back. Zidane and Griezmann both have the ability to dominate a game in the hole and play killer passes from between the lines, while also carrying a goal threat of their own.

For Holland, it’s much of the same. Arjen Robben and Marc Overmars are among Holland’s greatest wingers ever, with their pace and drive while running from wide positions into the box unmatched by many. Centrally, Robin van Persie and Ruud van Nistelrooy are Holland’s two highest goalscorers ever and would be able to link together to cause plenty of damage. van Persie’s ability to drop deep and link the midfield and attack would allow more space for van Nistelrooy to do what he does best – get in the box and finish.

It would truly be a game for the ages between these two nations and it would be a fantastic spectacle. But who would win?

Looking at the sides, the glaring difference as mentioned already would be the French wingers up against the Dutch full-backs. Everywhere else on the pitch is pretty evenly matched but with France’s two best goal-threats coming against Holland’s two weaker players it just pans out that the French would be able to get a victory because of it.

Who Should Liverpool Sign At Centre Back in January Following Joe Gomez Injury?

Another pointless international break, another avoidable injury.

This time it’s Liverpool who are the unlucky side, after it was revealed that defender Joe Gomez is likely to be sidelined with a knee injury suffered in training with the England squad.

While the amount of time he’ll miss is unknown as it stands, England boss Gareth Southgate revealed that the defender was in ‘a great amount of pain’ and that ‘nobody was around him’ when the injury occured. The fear is that he may have re-injured the ACL that he damaged back in 2015 that saw him miss the best part of a year of action.

With Virgil Van Dijk already ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Everton, Joel Matip with plenty of his own fitness issues and stand-in centre back Fabinho already injured too Gomez’s injury was the last thing Liverpool needed during this break.

Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have both filled in alongside Gomez in recent weeks but together as a pairing Liverpool will struggle to defend their title. This surely makes it likely that they will dip into the transfer market in January for a new defender, especially if the 23 year old’s injury turns out to be serious.

So what options do they have in January? Who is a defender of the necessary calibre that they could try to bring in?

The obvious candidate is Dayot Upamecano. The RB Leipzig defender was linked with a move away from the Bundesliga side in the summer, with Manchester United’s interest reportedly very strong. A move never materialised after he put pen-to-paper on a one-year extension but is expected to make the move away next summer when his €45m release clause kicks in.

Liverpool could use their excellent relationship with the club following their signing of Naby Keita to their favour, by paying more than release clause to get him in early ahead of the inevitable summer competition.

Another option could be Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. The Austrian international is out of contract at the end of the season and the German side revealed recently that talks over a new deal have been halted for now.

A move for Alaba wouldn’t be cheap despite that, with the player reportedly demanding large wages hence the failure to agree a new deal with the European champions. If Liverpool could agree personal terms then Alaba would arguably be the best option, as his versatility would also strengthen the squad across several areas even once their current injured options return.

Sevilla FC v C.A. Osasuna - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Bayern Munich have briefed that they don’t want to sell the player in January but if he agrees a move elsewhere, which he can by FIFA rules, an offer of cash could tempt them to part ways early rather than lose him for free at the end of the campaign.

A left-field option could be young Frenchman Jules Kounde of Sevilla. His partnership with Diego Carlos was a huge factor in the Spanish side lifting the Europa League last season and he has continued his good form into this season. Sevilla currently sit in mid-table but his individual performances have been excellent.

He has a release clause of £82.5m, with Manchester City showing interest in the summer and Sevilla showing a willingness to do business at around the £60m mark. That is on the high side but at just 22 years old, he would be a long-term investment for the club.

A cheaper option could be Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, who the club have reportedly been tracking for a while now. With a fee of £20m put on his head, Liverpool could look to bring him in as a cheaper alternative who still has implications for the future of the club at just 20 years old.

The Turkish international is very strong in the air, good positionally and willing to put his body on the line to block the ball but his weaknesses are generally on the ball. These may become exacerbated at Liverpool, who tend to dominate possession in most games they play.

At just 20 years old, there is plenty of room for improvement and coaching to mould the player but he’s also got more than enough top flight experience to help out with their immediate problems.

Whoever the Reds decide to bring in, if anyone, will have huge boots to fill and the expectation would be that they hit the ground running for Liverpool to be able to push on and continue challenging for honours.

Champions League Group Stage Predictions – Liverpool

After reaching back-to-back Champions League finals, winning it in 2019, the six time European champions return to the premier club competition in football.

Liverpool come into this campaign following a record-breaking Premier League season which saw them lift the league title for the first time since 1990, but they suffered a disappointing European outing last year as they crashed out in the Round of 16 to Atletico Madrid, losing both home and away legs.

They’ve started the Premier League campaign in interesting fashion too, winning their first 3 games before being thumped 7-2 by Aston Villa and then drawing the Merseyside derby with Everton 2-2 this past weekend. They now turn their attentions to Europe, where they have a group with two dark horses that on their day can cause any team on the continent trouble.

My Best XI*: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane (*not including Van Dijk)

Ajax, Atalanta and Midtjylland make up a considerable amount of threat for Liverpool to contend with and they will need to be near their best to contend with the obstacles that will be put in front of them during this tournament.

With news that Virgil Van Dijk will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament injury, Liverpool must navigate a very attack minded group without their talisman and best defender. This could see them revert to their previous style under Klopp, in which they simply aimed to outgun their opponents in every game.

The addition of Thiago and Diogo Jota in the summer has strengthened them and added considerable depth and quality to their side and ultimately they should still have more than enough about them to progress from the group as group winners.

I spoke with Liverpool fan Fahi, from renowned Liverpool podcast Kop End Fracas from the Touchline Fracas group, about his thoughts on the group and his predictions on how Liverpool would fare this season.

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I think the group itself isn’t as easy as everyone has been making out, especially in the current circumstances. A lack of atmosphere and injuries to key players equals potential banana skins. The games come thick and fast, so don’t expect the typical Liverpool performances in Europe. We should have enough to get through the group, just expect a lot of goals conceded… especially against Atalanta!

Prediction: 12 points in total – 6 from Midtjylland, 3 from Atalanta and 3 from Ajax.

I have to agree largely with Fahi on this one. There are plenty of potential banana skins in this group, especially with Van Dijk unavailable. Ajax and Atalanta both playing attacking football and have the ability to score plenty of goals but they also leave themselves susceptible to counter attacks which is something the Liverpool attack will thrive on.

They start the campaign with a trip to Amsterdam and I think they should be able to get at least a draw there, while I think they will win all their games at Anfield. The away trip to Atalanta is their toughest fixture in the group in my opinion and they could suffer a defeat in that one, but I’d expect them to win every other game during the campaign to eventually sail through into the next round as group winners.


Fahi is a regular cast member of popular football podcast group Touchline Fracas and appears on the Liverpool podcast ‘Kop End Fracas’ every Wednesday night.

You can follow Touchline Fracas on Twitter:
@TouchlineFracas
You can follow ‘Kop End Fracas’ on Twitter:
@KopEndFracas
You can follow Fahi on Twitter:
@FeeFahiFoFum

Virgil Van Dijk To Miss The Rest Of 2020/21 Season

Liverpool have been dealt a huge blow in their pursuit to retain the Premier League title after Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Holland defender, 29, has been influential in the dominance Liverpool have shown over the last two-and-a-half years and is widely regarded as the best defender in the world.

During Saturday’s 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby against Everton, a horrific challenge by Jordan Pickford caught Van Dijk high and resulted in him being substituted after just 11 minutes. It’s now been officially confirmed by the club that he has suffered a complete tear of his cruciate ligament and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

Pickford’s challenge during the game went without punishment because VAR failed to look at it, seemingly becoming too fixated with trying to figure out whether Van Dijk was offside or not prior to it.

With Van Dijk now missing for the campaign, Liverpool are left with just two senior centre-backs until January at the earliest. Joel Matip and Joe Gomez will have to form a partnership for the defending champions until then, but with their own fitness issues over the course of their careers Jurgen Klopp has got a big ask on his hands.

Fabinho is an option to fill in at centre-back as he did against Arsenal when Gomez and Matip were injured earlier this year, but he is better off at the base of the midfield three.

The injury is obviously also leaves huge question marks over the future of Van Dijk at the top level of the game. Not only is he supremely intelligent and reads the game well, physically he is a specimen. Big and strong but he also is one of the quickest defenders in the game, which has allowed Liverpool to implement their high line to near perfection as he can use those long legs to keep up with any attackers who happen to beat their trap.

Everton v Liverpool - Premier League : News Photo

After recovering from an ACL tear, he will likely have less mobility, lose a yard of pace and also lose some of his agility. Former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic suffered a similar injury just after his 30th birthday and when he returned he was more reliant on his partner Rio Ferdinand than ever before, while also needing to use his experience and reading of the game more.

It’s imperative now that Liverpool have a top centre-back to go alongside Van Dijk when he returns to fitness, whether that is Matip, Gomez or someone they inevitably bring in during the January transfer window.

For Van Dijk it’s a real shame too, as this will bring to an end a stretch of dominant performances that have seen him (rightly or wrongly) compared to the great Premier League defenders of all-time for his role in Liverpool’s European and domestic triumphs.

The fact that Pickford went and will go unpunished for a tackle that has taken a season of football away from someone makes the Premier League’s rules surrounding VAR come under even more scrutiny.

Premier League Team of the Season

As the craziest Premier League season of all-time ends, all eyes go immediately towards the new season. People begin to talk about new transfers, new clubs, new managers and predictions for the new campaign.

Before I start doing that though, I want to give my thoughts on the best XI in the Premier League last season.

GOALKEEPER
Dean Henderson

A phenomenal debut season in the league has seen the Manchester United loanee break into the England squad and now be spoken about as a potential starter at Old Trafford next season ahead of David De Gea. With 13 clean sheets in 36 games, Henderson helped push Sheffield United towards a European place and although they missed out in the end it was Henderson’s performances that stood out more than others.

Honourable mentions: Allison Becker, Nick Pope, Ederson.

RIGHT BACK
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Self explanatory pick this one to be honest. Trent has continued to excel as the best right-back in the league and is now among the best in the world. While he still learning and improving in a defensive aspect, going forward he is one of the best there is and that helped propel Liverpool to a record breaking run that saw them lift their first Premier League title. With 13 assists in the league, he broke his own record for assists by a defender and had more than anyone else bar Kevin De Bruyne. A truly remarkable season by a truly remarkable player, he’s my pick for young player of the season.

Honourable mentions: Ricardo Pereira, Matt Doherty, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

CENTRE BACKS
Virgil Van Dijk & Joe Gomez

A pairing in real life and a pairing in my team of the year, Liverpool dominate the defensive side of this team. Van Dijk has continued to show the world that he is the best in the world in his position right now, while Gomez has shown why Jurgen Klopp has so much faith in him. Gomez is undoubtedly better when he has Van Dijk alongside him but on his own, he has shown good reading of the game and positioning while also becoming more vocal as the season progressed. Together they have the perfect blend of strength, speed, aerial dominance and ability on the ball to keep any attack quiet and they are a huge reason as to why Liverpool had the best defensive record in the league this season.

Honourable mentions: Caglar Soyunçu, Willy Boly, Aymeric Laporte

LEFT BACK
Andrew Robertson

It’s a full house for the Liverpool back-four as Robertson completes the defence. The Scotland captain is often outshone by teammate Alexander-Arnold as a creative full-back, but he himself managed to get 12 assists this season. His surging runs on the overlap are a big reason why Sadio Mane is so successful at cutting inside in this team and while his form certainly dropped off post-lockdown, the position Liverpool were in was clearly a big reason as to why so I won’t hold it against him. He’s among the best full-backs in the world currently and will continue to perform at a high level under Klopp’s rock ‘n’ roll football style.

Honourable mentions: Enda Stevens, Jonny

Liverpool players Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino ...

CENTRE MIDFIELD
Kevin De Bruyne & Mateo Kovacic

I want to have some form of balance to this side and this is the best performing duo that gives me that. Mateo Kovacic was arguably Chelsea’s best player this season, really coming into his own as a lynchpin in Frank Lampard’s midfield. His fantastic dribbling and passing means he can break lines in multiple ways but he was also excellent defensively. Kevin De Bruyne’s inclusion is self-explanatory. 13 goals and 20 assists from central midfield is a stunning return and he has cemented himself as the best player in the league for me. His creativity, pace, power and ball striking is at a world class level and he would be an asset to any team in world football. He’s impossible to leave out and in his current form Man City will be looking to him to lead their charge to potentially lift the UEFA Champions League.

Honourable mentions: Joao Moutinho, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice

RIGHT WING
Mohammed Salah

Another stellar season in which Mo Salah dominated attacking charts and records for Liverpool. Just one goal away from a third consecutive 20+ goal season and he also hit double figures for assists this season. His electric pace, superb movement from the wing and ability to hold the ball up with his back to goal despite his smaller frame are all at a world class level. Regardless of aesthetics, Salah is among the best players in the world and without him Liverpool’s attack would drop a level.

Honourable mentions: Riyad Mahrez, Adama Traore

LEFT WING
Sadio Mane

Much like Salah, Mane is continuing to perform at a world class level in the Premier League. Another season where the Senegal international has notched double figures in goals and was also instrumental in creating. Mane’s goals won more points in this season’s Premier League than anyone else (21). His movement, touch and ability to beat a player one on one is among the greats in the game today and you’ll be hard fought to find a better left-winger for Klopp’s system. His willingness to defend too is a credit to his professionalism and makes him impossible to leave out. He was my contender for Player of the Year along with Kevin De Bruyne, although KDB pipped him towards the end in my opinion.

Honourable mentions: Marcus Rashford, Christian Pulisic

NUMBER 10
Raheem Sterling

Now Sterling’s inclusion will be controversial because he doesn’t play as a No.10 but there was no way I could leave him out. 20 goals in the league with no penalties is a personal best for the England man and his performances are a key reason as to why Man City fans didn’t panic when Sergio Aguero got injured and ruled out for the remainder of the Premier League season. He has mastered the run from outside to in for a back post tap-in but also has the ability to beat players one-on-one, play intricate passes between the lines and link-up with teammates in tight spaces. A truly top class player, Raheem Sterling was a player I simply couldn’t leave out of the side despite the qualities of rivals for this position.

Honourable mentions: Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes

STRIKER
Danny Ings

Another slightly controversial pick but Ings deserves recognition in my opinion. While Vardy won the golden boot, he went on a big barren run without a goal and it was ultimately his run of scoring in 9 games in a row earlier in the campaign that got him there. Ings was a consistent goal threat for Southampton this season, has stayed fit and is the reason they were able to turn their season around and end up finishing comfortably in mid-table. 22 league goals in a side that doesn’t create a lot of chances and were fighting for their lives is a mightily impressive return following his injury problems in recent years. His movement, link-up play and finishing with both feet was evident for all to see all season long and he deserves a place in the team of the season mainly due to his, lack of, supporting cast in comparison to his rivals.

Honourable mentions: Jamie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Anthony Martial

Do you agree with my team of the year? What would you change? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter at @TapInsTapOuts.

Who Should Be Premier League Player of the Year?

A crazy Premier League season is drawing to a close and many questions we had are beginning to be answered.

Liverpool have officially been crowned Champions for the first time in 30 years, while Norwich and Aston Villa look certain for the drop having not won a single game between them since the resumption of the competition. Top 4 is still up in the air as are the Europa League places. One thing that seems to still be debated among fans, pundits and players is who is the player of the season?

With Liverpool on course for a record breaking season, a number of their players have been named as potential winners. Captain Jordan Henderson, winger Sadio Mane and young defender Trent Alexander-Arnold are all among the candidates after stellar campaigns and media pushes.

Liverpool FC v Aston Villa - Premier League : News Photo
Trent Alexander-Arnold has 12 assists this season, more than any other defender in Premier League history

Another name that comes to the fore but isn’t from Anfield is Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is on course to break Thierry Henry’s assist record and has been the standout performer in an underperforming Man City side.

January signing Bruno Fernandes has turned Manchester United’s season on it’s head since joining from Sporting CP, with no player being involved in more goals (goals or assists) than him since his arrival. While he’s only been here for half the season, it’s hard to argue that anyone has had a greater impact.

Jamie Vardy is the current golden boot leader so could be in with a shout as Leicester currently sit in the Champions League places, while Virgil Van Dijk’s performances have once again seen Liverpool record the best defensive record in the league this season.

Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League : News Photo
Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil Van Dijk both have big claims to Player of the Year

So who’s the deserving winner?

For me, it has to be Sadio Mane. The Senegalese winger has scored 16 league goals this season and provided 7 assists for Liverpool en route to their title. But it’s more than that. His influence on games has been immeasurable with stats. If you talk to Liverpool fans, it’s always Mane that they mention as their biggest threat.

His ability to beat players one on one, to go in either direction with either foot, his first touch, his final ball, his finishing are all of the absolute highest level. Not only that, but the goals he scores are crucial.

According to Sky Sports, Sadio Mane’s goals have been worth a staggering 21 points this season – more than anyone else in the league. Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table as of right now is 23 points, which shows just how dominant they’ve been but just how important Mane is to them.

After winning the golden boot along with Mo Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season, his fine form has continued this year. Rumours of potential interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are far from surprising, but he seems incredibly happy at Anfield.

Despite De Bruyne’s potential record, Vardy’s potential golden boot, Henderson’s captaincy and Trent’s assists, Mane has been the main man this season for the most dominant team in recent memory. He should be the man to take home the individual awards to go with his shiny, new Premier League winners medal.