With eleven rounds of matches played, there have been plenty of surprises in the first quarter of the Premier League season. New stars have emerged while some of the league’s most bankable performers have suffered with injury frustration. Based purely on the season to date, here is our Premier League team of the early season and the shadow eleven.
Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow (Newcastle)
When Newcastle confirmed goalkeeper Martin Dubravka would miss the start of the season, the relegation alarm bells were ringing on Tyneside. Darlow, however, has seized his opportunity and enjoyed an excellent start to the season, playing a vital role in keeping Newcastle away from danger. Newcastle have only kept two clean sheets, but Darlow has made 44 saves, stopped a penalty and has yet to make a mistake leading directly to a goal. There are better goalkeepers in the Premier League, but none have made a bigger difference for their team thus far this season.
Rightback: Reece James (Chelsea)
James’ crossing ability was displayed last season, but what’s been impressive about the young defender is that his all-around game is improving. He now looks comfortable playing in back four of a much-improved Chelsea defence, keeping four clean sheets. His main strength remains his crossing, making Olivier Giroud’s exclusion even more baffling. It is a fitting tribute to his start to the season that he now looks top of an England pecking order that includes Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Wan Bissaka and Trippier.
Leftback: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Robertson has picked up where he left off last season, a constant menace down the left flank for Liverpool. So far he has added another three assists and has stepped up as a leader in Liverpool’s patched-up defence. Add to that to the fact he has become the first Scotland captain to lead his nation to a major finals this century and it adds up to a fine start from what is likely to be another stellar season.
Centeback: Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
Gomez finally emerged from the shadow Virgil Van Dijk with a string of commanding displays as Liverpool emerged from a stuttering start to regain their footing at the top of the league. However his good form was curtailed by a freak knee injury on England duty. Gomez is likely to miss most of the remainder of the season but could make a timely return ahead of the run in.
Centreback: Thiago Silva (Chelsea)
Chelsea were leaking goals and then Silva made his debut. The 36-year old has added assurance and aerial presence to Chelsea’s defence. Questions remain about his recovery speed, but four clean sheets from six games is a fine start to his Premier League career.
Defensive Midfield: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Phillips was handed an England call-up before making his Premier League debut, but now the Premier League has learned what those who followed the last two EFL seasons already knew: Phillips is the real deal. He has provided both protection to Leeds’ backline (they conceded eight in the three games he missed) and provided the starting point of attack with his ability to ping a perfect long pass. The ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ is now a Premier League star.
Central Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manchester City may be becoming overdependent on him and he hasn’t scored with the regularity of last season, but De Bruyne is still the best player in the division. His ability to open up a defence with one pass remains undiminished with five assists already to his name. He does have just the two goals to this point, but it would still be a shock if he doesn’t hit double figures again.
Attacking Midfield: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Grealish has excelled in Villa’s improved start to the season and is finding more freedom now. So far, Grealish has added five goals and five assists and continues to be the most fouled player in the league. The belated England call arrived in September and Grealish now looks integral to his nation’s Euro hopes.
Forward: Son Heung-Min (Tottenham)
One half of the most prolific front pair in the league, Son has been deadly in the Premier League this season. His lightning speed on the ball make him a perfect fit in Jose Mourinho’s counter attacking system, feeding off Harry Kane’s hold up play to bag nine goals and two assists.
Forward: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
The early leader and unexpected leader in the golden boot race. Calvert-Lewin became a key player at Everton after Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment, providing a focal point to Everton’s attack. This season, he has benefited enormously from the arrival of James Rodriguez, smashing 11 goals. This is marked as an extraordinary return for a player who managed 23 goals in his previous three seasons combined.
Forward: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
The Premier League’s best centre forward is back on form after last season’s injury lay off and leads the league in assists with ten. Not that Kane has lost his scoring touch, bagging another eight goals for himself. Kane staying fit remains paramount to both club and country heading into 2021.
The season is still young and there has been plenty of impressive performers. Here are the eleven that narrowly missed the team:
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham): The veteran has been at his reliable best between the posts and his accurate long balls remain a potent counter-attacking weapon.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal): Remains a penetrative threat down the right, even if Arsenal have stopped scoring.
Lucas Digne (Everton): Made a fabulous start to the season, but his injury is a hammer blow to Everton.
Kurt Zouma (Chelsea): Looks far more assured since the arrival of Thiago Silva and has five clean sheets to his name.
Conor Coady (Wolves): Having a great season and made his long overdue England debut, it was all going so well until his Anfield horror show.
Allan (Everton): Signing of the season and has provided skill to a previously lightweight midfield.
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United): There is so much more to him than putting away a lot of penalties.
James Ward-Prowse (Southampton): The heartbeat of an impressive Saints side and the most prolific English dead ball specialist since David Beckham.
James Rodriguez (Everton): Getting back to his 2014 form, the Premier League is a better division for his presence.
Mo Salah (Liverpool): bagged an opening day hat trick and hasn’t looked back, He has added nine goals and two assists to this point, but his personal best of 32 goals from 36 remains a reasonable target for this season.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester): Approaching 34 and still too much for most defenders to handle, just the nine goals and two assists so far.