This week, Premier League teams were asked to confirm their final squads for the 2018-19 season. Which seems a bit weird considering we’re already four games deep, but with a bit of thought it does makes sense, what with all the transfer and loan window business finishing up.
There weren’t too many shock omissions from this year’s batch of squads, with the biggest names missing out being the likes of Younes Kaboul, Lazar Markovic and Andy King, so the publishing of the squad lists passed without much fanfare. But, in an international break with not much to talk about, we weren’t willing to let that slide. During an interlull, you can’t afford to miss out on an opportunity for some sweet sweet #content.
So, in the knowledge that the people of Football Twitter love nothing more than an argument about a combined XI, we decided to go one step further and name our 25-man Premier League squad. We knocked our heads together and came up with what we think is the best possible 25 comprised of players from across the league.
Remember, we’re trying to build a squad here, so it’s not just a case of randomly picking the best 25 players – there would surely be a difference between those two lists.
Disclaimer – yes, we are very specifically biased against your team, and your team alone.
The latest Premier League squad lists for the 2018/19 season have been confirmed
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 3, 2018
In case you didn’t know, Alisson is very good with his feet, although he might want to reconsider attempting to Cruyff-turn his way out of a tight spot when being closed down.
But he’s also an all-round top keeper: his handling is of the highest order and his shot-stopping is every bit as spectacular as you’d expect from Brazil’s number one.
Whatever happens this season, Liverpool supporters can rest easy that he’s definitely better than Loris Karius.
David De Gea
There’s been a lot of talk about De Gea’s form recently, mainly as a result of his poor World Cup showing and a more general struggle to replicate club performances at international level, as well as an iffy start to the season with Manchester United.
But there isn’t really much doubt that he’s one of the most reliable keepers in the country, and many would probably make him the outright best.
We’ll be honest: we were torn between the Man City stopper and young English tyro Jordan Pickford. In the end we plumped for Ederson because he was an integral part of an all-time great side, while Pickford spent 2017-18 largely watching goals fly past him while in nets for a fairly mediocre Everton outfit.
We also like that Ederson has the added height and, despite Pickford being no mug with his feet, a passing range that makes Andrea Pirlo look like Lee Cattermole.
Despite Alderweireld seeming about as keen to continue at Tottenham as a dolphin would be to spend a week trekking the Mojave, he’s still at White Hart Lane/Wembley/Milton Keynes.
Reluctant Spur or not, the Belgian is one of the league’s best centre-backs, especially when alongside his compatriot Jan Vertonghen.
Great hair as well.
The Spaniard is a pretty underrated sort. So much so that he didn’t manage to get even a single second on the pitch for his country at the World Cup.
But we reckon he’s right up there with the Premier League’s best. It was a tight call between him and Kieran Trippier, but we gave the nod to Azpi because, well, he’s actually been part of a team who has won something, while the England fullback, sadly, is still awaiting his first senior trophy.
Mendy hasn’t played much football over the past year, yet he’s still managed to win a Premier League and a World Cup in that time.
Our theory is that if you can do that, you must be good.
And, to be fair to Mendy, he’s looked exceptional so far in 2018-19 for City. It says a lot that even after such a prolonged absence, he came back into Pep Guardiola’s side as soon as he was fully available.
Much is made of Robertson’s rapid ascent from the relative anonymity of Queen’s Park to the Champions League final with Liverpool and, now, the Scotland captaincy.
But it’s understandable. The left-back has been electric over the past couple of seasons and has become rightly recognised as among the league’s finest defenders.
There will be some screaming out John Stones’ name at this point. And that would be fair enough. The ‘selection committee’ here was torn, with the Colombian getting the nod due to his added agility and ruggedness in comparison to the more louche, ball-playing talents of Stones. There’s also that absolutely searing pace, which helps.
Virgil Van Dijk
In Paddy’s opinion, it’s no coincidence that Big Virg’s arrival at Anfield corresponds with Liverpool’s massively improved on-pitch performances. It’s fair to say the Dutchman was a huge upgrade on every other centre-back available to the club, and he’s somehow also managed to make Dejan Lovren look like an actual football player again. That alone is enough to merit his inclusion.
Class personified, Vertonghen is as graceful and elegant a defender as the league has seen in recent years.
But there’s a hard edge to him as well – you don’t brush aside this man with any ease.
He’s been a vital cog in Spurs’ consistently excellent defence since he pitched up in London.
Keeping him and Alderweireld will be key to the Lilywhites’ fortunes over the next couple of campaigns.
The English fullback caused a bit of controversy when he departed Tottenham for Man City, but it can’t be unrelated that he suddenly looks like the most dangerous attacking right-back in the Premier League.
Working under Guardiola has done wonders for Walker.
If there were any lingering doubts about his class, those doubts were rendered into dust by his performances in Russia.
Kevin De Bruyne
What more is there to said about the Premier League’s best, and most perpetually sunburned, midfielder?
King Ginge is an irresistible force, a pasty wunderkind with the ability to pass a beach ball through a basketball hoop from sixty yards.
KDB could probably find a yard of space in a telephone booth full of starving cheetahs. His inclusion is the easiest choice we had to make.
What he lacks in pace and hair thickness, the Dane makes up for with precise passing, intelligent movement and crosses that are drawn to Harry Kane’s head like Donald Trump to tall, blonde Eastern European women.
Eriksen is often accused of ‘going missing’ in games, which is a classic Yer Da way of saying that he doesn’t charge about like a meerkat on LSD trying to get hold of the ball.
Of course, the second-easiest choice after De Bruyne was this man.
Rumour has it that it wasn’t the Russian artillery that put paid to the Charge of the Light Brigade, but rather a perfectly timed N’golo Kanté sliding tackle. We’ve heard that he warms up for matches by knocking out a quick ultra-marathon.
But Kanté has also improved vastly his ball-skills in recent times. He’s now an attacking threat, and looks all the better for it.
Kanté’s former Leicester City team-mate is now a Man city maestro, and it looks as if he’ll slot nicely into Pep’s side.
A man who could trick an angry country musician into proudly wearing a Nike tracksuit, there are few players who excite as much as the Algerian when he’s on the ball.
It will be fascinating to see how Guardiola improves him over the coming season – with Mahrez’s gifts, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he progressed into one of the best players in Europe.
Can someone call Graeme Souness and check if he’s ok?
Joachim Low opting to omit Sane from his World Cup squad now looks pretty much the worst decision since another well-known German leader divided his forces and sent half of them to spend a winter fighting in the Russian steppe.
There isn’t a more fearsome direct runner in Europe at the moment than Sane.
What a joyful little man David Silva is. He’s been Man City’s most consistent midfield performer for seven or eight seasons now, and isn’t showing any signs of age just yet.
Silva has always been a remarkably agile footballer, with a vision and technique to match his physical prowess.
He has gone about his business quietly and with understatement, which shouldn’t belie what a hugely talented and important figure he is.
Another underrated footballer, Willian has the technique, physicality and intelligence to rival any other player in the league. On his day, there are few better. Has been in and out of the Chelsea team at times, but you get the feeling that he’s one who may eventually thrive under Maurizio Sarri. The Blues have a lot of options, but we reckon Willian is arguably the best player at the club after Eden Hazard.
‘Past it’. ‘Not a Guardiola player’. Sergio Aguero has responded to such claims with 44 league goals in 60 appearances under Pep.
He’s also four off 150 Premier League goals, which would make him the joint eighth-highest scorer in the league’s history – his scoring rate is also significantly better than nearly everyone else in the current top ten (only Thierry Henry comes anywhere close).
There’s a growing case that he’s the best centre-forward to have ever played in the Premier League.
We probably shouldn’t underappreciate Eden Hazard while he’s still playing.
This guy is a genius with the ball. There’s no more elusive dribbler, no-one better at manufacturing space with a jink or a twist of those snakelike hips.
It’s a uniquely thrilling experience to watch Hazard in full flow. Oh, and he ain’t half bad at kicking the ball really hard into the net, either.
Look at his teeth. Just look at his teeth! Even if those pearly whites aren’t enough in themselves to justify inclusion in the 25, his reinvention of the false nine role probably is.
Firmino has been a driving force in Liverpool’s evolution from also-rans to contenders with his hard-running and intelligent movement.
He creates space so Salah and Mané don’t have to.
When he’s not staring blankly at a wall breathing out of his mouth, Harry Kane is arguably the most lethal current centre-forward on the planet.
Off the pitch, he may be as dull as a roll of grey linoleum, but he’s as sharp as a tack when he’s playing football.
Not much more needs to be written about him, as we all know how good he is.
Having arrived from Liverpool’s south coast feeder club in 2016, Mané has gone from strength to strength, hitting heights alongside Firmino and Salah as part of the division’s most terrifying strikeforce. The Senegalese pretty much has it all.
Probably better known as Ramzan Kadyrov’s bezzy mate, Salah has exploded onto the global football scene since he swapped Tiber for Mersey in 2017.
At this stage, there won’t be many denying he’s one of the top few players in the world, not just the Premier League.
You’d have to be made to leave him out.
TL;DR – Alisson, De Gea, Ederson; Alderweireld, Azpilicueta, Mendy, Robertson, D Sanchez, Van Dijk, Vertonghen, Walker; De Bruyne, Eriksen, Kanté, Mahrez, Pogba, Sane, D Silva, Willian; Aguero, Hazard, Firmino, Kane, Mané, Salah