Alternative Team of the Season

Premier League Team of the Season 2022/23; Alternative picks

If you’re looking for a genuine Premier League team of the season selection, this just isn't for you. Don't worry, they're boring anyway.

Monotony is the order of the day when it comes to a ‘TOTS’. I too believe Erling Haaland is a rather good goalscorer. Agreed, Kevin De Bruyne is very good at assisting. Yes, Bukayo Saka is a problem for Arsenal's opposition.

Instead, choosing an alternative team of the season that won't be considered for the actual team of the season is a far more interesting proposition, especially if we use the in-depth data available.

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno (Fulham)

There’s been many factors involved in Fulham’s overachievement as a newly promoted side this season, not least the performances of goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

A late addition to the Cottagers squad last August, the German stopper has proven to be an excellent acquisition throughout the 2022/23 campaign.

Based on Opta Analyst's post-shot expected goal (PSxG) figures, Leno has prevented 9.2 goals with the saves he’s made in the league, conceding 49 goals from 56.2 PSxG. Only Alisson has prevented more (10.1).

Leno’s also looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and has recorded 35 high claims, fifth in the standings for goalkeepers in the Premier League in that metric.

Post-shot expected goals (PSxG) minus goals allowed | Premier League 2022/23

Right-back: Serge Aurier (Nottingham Forest)

Kieran Trippier has very clearly been the Premier League’s best in this position in 2022/23, and the choice between Kyle Walker and Ben White, both a part of the two teams chasing the title, feels a little outside the intentions of this ‘alternative’ team selection.

Therefore, a left field pick at right-back can be made from what is a rather scarce shortlist. The much-maligned Serge Aurier has scored one goal and logged 25 shot-creating actions this season, but his defensive work has been exceptional for the historic club, helping Nottingham Forest survive a real relegation scare.

Aurier ranks in the very high percentile in FBRef's full-back comparisons for tackles (3.01), interceptions (1.41), blocks (1.65) and clearances (3.55) and aerials won (2.19) per 90 minutes this term, proving to be pivotal after the World Cup break.

Nottingham Forest's Serge Aurier

Centre-back: Fabian Schär (Newcastle)

A staple at centre-back for one of the best defensive teams in the Premier League, Fabian Schär's season has gone a little unheralded.

Only champions Manchester City (31) have conceded fewer goals than Newcastle's 32 and Schär has started for each of the 14 league clean sheets the Magpies have kept. His defensive presence is clear with just six players winning more aerially battles in the league this term.

Schär even contributed at the other end, recording three assists in an outstanding campaign. The only criticism? He should have scored more than a single goal from a lofty 6.58 expected goals (xG).

Fabian Schar shot map | Premier League 2022/23

Centre-back: Lewis Dunk (Brighton)

Often seen with his foot on top of the ball in Roberto De Zerbi's build-up, Brighton captain Lewis Dunk has revelled in a slightly different role under the Italian.

Not previously celebrated for his aptitude on the ball or his distribution of it, the 31-year-old has attempted and completed the most passes in the Premier League by a wide margin.

Considering Brighton's style, a fair few aren't simple, aimless passes. Indeed, no centre-back in the league has recorded more progressive passes (158) or passes into the final third (178) than Dunk.

Of course, Dunk does not shirk defensive duties, either.

Lewis Dunk stats Premier League 2022/23

Left-back: Rico Henry (Brentford)

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Pervis Estupiñán will likely battle it out for actual honours, so it is Brentford’s Rico Henry that makes this team at left-back.

A tireless runner on the Bees’ left side, Henry is consistent threat on the counter-attack for a team that continues to overachieve.

Thomas Frank’s side have conceded just 46 goals in 37 league games this season, with Henry missing only one fixture all campaign.

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Centre midfield: João Palhinha (Fulham)

João Palhinha is a most obvious choice to be in this team. The Portuguese has had a truly staggering statistical season.

Per FBRef, Palhinha has attempted 144 tackles, 45 more than any other player in the Premier League. He's succeeded with 80 of those, 24 more than anyone else.

Fulham’s defensive midfielder has also recorded the most tackles in the defensive third, middle third and attacking third of the pitch, an incredible ball-winning accomplishment given the quality in this league.

João Palhinha's Premier League 2022/23 stats

Centre midfield: Moisés Caicedo (Brighton)

Alexis Mac Allister is a definite candidate for the actual team of the season, but Brighton teammate Moisés Caicedo makes it into this one, undoubtedly making his midfield partner's job easier all season.

Set for a big move in the future, Caicedo has shone in almost all aspects of the game this season.

He's behind only João Palhinha in tackles in the middle third of the pitch and is clearly comfortable with carrying the ball for the Seagulls. The 21-year-old also ranks in the highly for pass completion, recycling the ball well in an excellent team.

Alternative Team of the Season

Centre midfield: Joelinton (Newcastle)

Joelinton has shone since the move to a more suitable position and has been an integral part of Newcastle’s outstanding season.

It’s difficult to pin down Joelinton’s role in the team exactly, which is often a criticism, but that’s not the case here. The Brazilian simply contributes in so many different ways in Newcastle’s midfield.

Finishing has never been his strong suit, but Joelinton has scored six goals from 6.3 expected goals (xG) this season. He often finds space with 5.07 progressive passes received per 90 minutes this season and can obviously stretch the opposition with impressive progressive carry and take-on numbers.

Without possession of the ball, Joelinton has been very active, applying plenty of pressure and ranking highly for midfielders in almost all defensive metrics.

Newcastle's Joelinton

Right-wing: Solly March (Brighton)

A switch to a more attacking role on the wing has been the making of Solly March, who has had an incredibly productive campaign at Brighton.

March scored six goals from 8.84 expected goals (xG) and recorded a total of seven assists from 9.76 expected assists (xA) before injury ended his season prematurely.

In his breakout season, March is in the top 10 for passes into the penalty area and carries into the penalty area, as well as being top five for successful take-ons.

Solly March stats | Premier League 2022/23

Left-wing: Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)

Almost all of the praise aimed at March can apply to his teammate on the opposite wing - Kaoru Mitoma.

Despite not quite matching the basic output of March, with Mitoma scoring seven goals from 4.99 expected goals (xG) and recording four assists from 4.28 expected assists (xA), it’s clear how much his skillset benefits his team.

Mitoma simply terrifies a defensive unit with his dribbling, matching the likes of Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish in ball-carrying metrics. In fact, he leads the league in carries into the penalty area.

Carries into the opposition penalty area | Premier League 2022/23

Striker: Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

When considering his position in the team was a slight doubt in Steven Gerrard’s iteration Aston Villa, Ollie Watkins has been a revelation under the guidance of Unai Emery, helping the club move into European contention.

Made the undisputed striker shortly after the new manager’s arrival, Watkins has scored 12 of his 16 Premier League goals since Emery took over in November.

Only Erling Haaland, Mo Salah and Harry Kane have recorded more than the 15.82 non-penalty expected goals (xG) total Watkins has managed this term, making the position at the head of Villa's attack his own.

Ollie Watkins' shot map after Unai Emery took charge

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