The 2016/17 Premier League season is shaping up to be one of the most intense and memorable seasons ever. With arguably 6 teams still in the title race, and pretty much all of the bottom half of the League looking over their shoulder at the drop zone, combined with the addition of new managers such as Pep at City, Conte at Chelsea and Jose at United, this season has the potential to be the most scintillating one ever.
But with all this attention, we now look to the players who are often ignored, not in the headlines but still do a very important job for the team. Here is Dictate The Game’s Premier League XI of Underrated Players.
Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg
With mainstay keeper Tim Howard leaving The Toffees last summer, Ronald Koeman recruited his compatriot from Championship side Fulham. Everton have made a reasonable start to the season, sitting in 7th at the time of writing, and this is partly due to the 6’4 Dutchman. Up until his recent injury he had played 16 of the 17 games this season, including a sensational showing against Manchester City at The Etihad where he saved two penalties, helping his side to a 1-1 draw against the title contenders.
Right Back: Allan Nyom
Since slotting into West Brom’s defence in early September, the Cameroonian full back has been an ever-present in a Baggies side which have enjoyed their best ever start to a Premier League season. Although the Northern Irish duo of Jonny Evans and Gareth McCauley often take the plaudits for the teams strong defence, Nyom should be recognised too for his high workrate and desire to win.
Centre Back: Ben Mee
The 27 year old is a experienced figure in a somewhat inexperienced Burnley squad for this season. Mee was part of The Clarets squad that were in the Premier League during the 2014/15 season, and this past experience has really proven to be vital for the men from Turf Moor. The Manchester City youth product has been, and will be vital if Burnley want to survive the drop this season, and with impressive performances at home to Liverpool and away to Manchester United and Sunderland, Mee can play a huge role in this.
Centre Back: David Luiz
Many eyebrows were raised when Chelsea re-signed the Brazilian on deadline day back in September. During his first spell in England, Luiz was renowned for his eccentric style of play which as a defender, often lead to mistakes. But since The Blues acquired his services for the second time, he’s barely put a foot wrong. Sitting in the centre of a Chelsea back three which at time of writing has won 13 games in a row, its matter of time before the football public shake off these thoughts about Luiz being mistake prone, and acknowledge him as one of the Premier League’s best defenders.
Left Back: Nacho Monreal
Monreal is often the forgotten man in Arsenal’s backline. With Bellerin, Koscielney and new signing Mustafi often being focused on by the media, Monreal is another player who is underrated by many fans due to the lack of attention. The Spaniard has played 18 of The Gunners 19 games this season, helping them to secure 5 clean sheets and keeping them firmly in the race for the title. If Arsenal do go all the way this season, it may be the likes of Sanchez, Ozil and Giroud grabbing the headlines, but Monreal’s contribution will be just as vital.
Right Midfield: Victor Moses
Moses is an integral part of Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation that has shot them to the top of the pile this season. But playing a team with Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Pedro and N’Golo Kante, the Nigerian’s importance to this team and set up is often forgotten. Both him and Marcos Alonso, the other wing back, are fundamental to The Blues set up, and if Chelsea carry on playing the same way they are at the moment, Moses will surely be appreciated more.
Centre Midfield: Idrissa Gueye
After an individually impressive season in a poor Aston Villa team, Gueye made the move to Merseyside and hasn’t looked back since. Sitting alongside Gareth Barry in defensive midfield, the Senegal international has made the most tackles and the most interceptions of any player in the Premier League this season. Playing in the same style of N’Golo Kante last season, he will be aiming to represent the Frenchman’s success.
Centre Midfield: Oriol Romeu
After an unfortunate knee injury stunted his growth at Chelsea, Romeu moved to the South coast to Southampton where he was given a new lease of life. Although the Spaniard doesn’t score or even assist very often, he is the glue that holds this young Saints team together. The defensive minded midfielder is excellent at breaking up attacks and picking out passes to start attacks. Much like Wanyama and a host of other Southampton players, a move to a Top 4 club looks to be on the cards sooner or later.
Left Midfield: Marc Albrighton
Mahrez, Vardy, Kante and Morgan. For most football fans these are the names that come to mind when asked which players were key to Leicester winning the 2015/16 Premier League. But not many think of Marc Albrighton. The unassuming left midfielder played every League game in The Foxes’ triumphant Premier League campaign, as well as scoring and assisting at crucial moments. Albrighton is again a reliable man for Leicester this season, despite their problems on the field.
Striker: Troy Deeney
Deeney has established himself as a talisman for the Hertfordshire based club since joining the club back in 2010. When The Hornets were promoted to the Premier League back in 2015, many questioned whether the former Walsall man could make the step up and perform well at the highest level. But Deeney, who recently netted his 100th goal for Watford, has proved them wrong, notching up 13 goals and 7 assists in his maiden season, and looking at the fact he is currently on 4 goals and 3 assists so far this season, many are calling for Watford’s captain to be involved in the England set-up.
Striker: Alvaro Negredo
Some were shocked that Middlesbrough signed the Spaniard on loan back in July, this was due to the fact that he had played one season in the Premier League, winning the league with Manchester City. Despite this and netting 9 goals, Negredo was considered a flop. But this season he’s been anything but a flop. Five goals and four assists in 19 games is a great return for a player in a newly promoted team, and with a run of good fixtures coming up for Boro, there is no reason why he can’t continue this excellent form.
Written by Saeed Moulai.