A sensational XI of players left out of Carra & Neville’s PL Team of 2020-21

Quick Reads

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher named their Premier League Teams of 2020-21 on Monday Night Football, and predictably enough it was dominated by Manchester City and Manchester United players.

The two pundits both chose Ruben Dias, Luke Shaw, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, Phil Foden and Harry Kane, while they differed in terms of goalkeeper, right-back, centre-back, defensive midfield and a left-sided attacker.

Carragher went with Emiliano Martinez, John Stones Vladimir Coufal (the only representation in either XI from outside the ‘big six’), N’Golo Kante and Son Heung-min, while Neville opted for Edouard Mendy, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, Ilkay Gundogan and Marcus Rashford.

There’s no denying that the players they opted for have enjoyed outstanding individual campaigns, but some other names can feel a little unfortunate to have missed out.

We’ve selected an alternative team, changing the shape to a 4-2-3-1 to accommodate those we felt deserved some recognition.

GK: Ederson

The Brazilian hasn’t always gotten the credit he’s deserved this season, in part thanks to being incredibly well-protected by his supreme defence. But he’s tended to step up when needed, keeping the most clean sheets of any Premier League keeper this season, with 18 from 34 appearances.

Just ask Joe Hart or Claudio Bravo: meeting the demands Pep Guardiola makes of his goalkeepers isn’t easy.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Gareth Southgate knows all too well that there’s been a lot of top-quality right-backs in the Premier League this season, but it’s difficult to look past Manchester United’s tackle king.

An old-school, defence-first full-back, Wan-Bissaka has pulled off 85 of the 97 tackles he’s attempted this season; that’s a ridiculously good success rate of 87%.

He’s also steadily improving going forward, having registered two goals and three assists; before this season he was yet to score a Premier League goal, and had only registered seven assists in three full seasons with Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

CB: Antonio Rudiger

Frank Lampard tended to look past Rudiger as Chelsea struggled defensively in the first half of the season, and watching on from the bench he might have wished he’d joined West Ham or Tottenham on loan as he reportedly came close to last summer.

But everything changed when his compatriot Thomas Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge in January. The Germany international has been immense since being welcomed back into the fold, keeping nine clean sheets and conceding just four goals in his 13 Premier League starts under Tuchel.

Rudiger’s reputation was even enhanced when he was rested as the Blues uncharacteristically lost 5-2 at home to West Brom in early April.

READ: Five Chelsea players who struggled under Lampard to shine under Tuchel

CB: Ezri Konsa

Carragher and Neville rightly praised Aston Villa’s transformative summer signing Martinez for his role in Aston Villa’s superb defensive record this season, with 14 clean sheets.

There have undoubtedly been some heroics between the sticks, but the defence at Villa also looks much improved. While Tyrone Mings has been a little erratic with more than a few costly errors, his central defensive partner Konsa has been dependable and consistently composed. 

LB: Lucas Digne

Looking every bit a France international that used to turn out for PSG and Barcelona, Everton boast a truly exceptional left-back. Bolstering Carlo Ancelotti’s squad with players of a quality will be imperative if they’re to close the gap on the top four.

Digne has seven assists this season, the joint-most of any Premier League defender alongside West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell, who also would have had a strong shout to feature.

DM: Tomas Soucek

Praised by Carragher as the signing of the season, West Ham fan favourite Soucek has a very shout to feature in the best XI of the season.

Offering a physical presence at the base of David Moyes’ midfield, and a considerable threat on the end of set-pieces, Soucek has been nothing short of phenomenal in the Hammers’ unlikely push to qualify for the Champions League.

Not only has Soucek scored nine goals, but he’s won 210 aerial duels – 39 more than anyone else. An absolute monster in the air.

DM: Declan Rice

When you think of Premier League double acts, you tend to think of the great defensive partnerships – Ferdinand & Vidic, Terry & Carvalho, Stones & Dias – or brilliant front twos – Yorke & Cole, Shearer & Sutton, Suarez & Sturridge.

Double pivots don’t tend to get as much love, but West Ham’s has been solid as a rock this season, offering a shield in front of the defence that’s proved incredibly difficult to break through.

It wouldn’t be right to include Soucek without including his partner at the base of West Ham’s midfield, Rice. The England international’s untimely injury has resulted in their top four push falling away.

AMR: Mohamed Salah

One of the few Liverpool players to emerge from their meek title defence with any credit, Salah’s controversial omission from Carragher and Neville’s teams of the season can only be put down to getting bored of his brilliance.

Challenging Kane for the Golden Boot – which would be his third in four years at Liverpool, no less – Salah’s 20 Premier League goals are all the more impressive in an otherwise dysfunctional, underperforming team.

AM: Mason Mount

Critics unfairly used Mount’s continued presence for Chelsea and England as a stick with which to beat Frank Lampard and Gareth Southgate – “teacher’s pet” being the charge.

But Mount has continued to shine under an undeniably elite coach in Thomas Tuchel. It’s almost like he’s just a really, really good player and well on his way to becoming a future Chelsea legend.

Six goals and five assists in what’s been a misfiring side, while only Bruno Fernandes has created more chances this season. The 22-year-old is just getting started.

READ: How Mason Mount’s stats after 100 Chelsea games compare to Lampard’s

AML: Jack Grealish

Aston Villa’s creative talisman ranks third for assists (10) and third for chances created (75 – two more than De Bruyne), which isn’t bad going for a player that hasn’t kicked a ball since mid-February.

Dean Smith’s men have tended to struggle in his absence, and while England are suddenly stacked with exciting options, it would be a massive shame if he doesn’t make it back in time for the Euros.

FW: Patrick Bamford

Leeds United could end the campaign with the most wins of any newly-promoted side in 20 years, and their remarkable top-half push has been built in the image of their highly-respected coach Marcelo Bielsa. The high-intensity collective effort is king.

So it’s difficult to pick out any one individual from Leeds, but nevertheless Bamford stands out. Many had written the striker off as not good enough for the Premier League, especially after his tendency to miss chances in their promotion-winning season, but he’s done everything Bielsa asks of a centre-forward and silenced his critics in the process.

A return of 15 goals (just one penalty) and seven assists is exceptional.

BENCH: Nick Pope, Luke Ayling, Wesley Fofana, Joao Cancelo, Yves Bissouma, Wilfred Ndidi, Allan Saint-Maximin, Riyad Mahrez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

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