With half the season gone, we would usually say the Premier League table has officially taken shape.
But in this weird yet thrilling 2020/21 campaign, it continues to feel like early-season chaos deep into January.
Manchester United are currently the leadersAFP
Take Aston Villa, for example: they’re currently languishing in 11th place, but if they win their games in hand, they go above Liverpool in fourth.
A couple of wins or a few defeats can be the difference between challenging for the title or falling into crisis – just ask Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta.
And at this midway stage, we’re still no closer to separating the genuine challengers from the fraudsters at the top end of the table.
The likes of United, Leicester, Everton and Tottenham appear serious about challenging Liverpool and Manchester City as the top spot changes hands on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis.
Can Leicester beat the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool to the title?AFP
But one thing we can tell you with a level of certainty is the players who have stood out above the rest so far this season.
Thanks to the people over at WhoScored.com, we’ve got cold-hard stats to prove that the following 11 players deserve a spot in the Premier League Team of the Season So Far.
So you’re not allowed to get angry if your favourite player isn’t there.
Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa)
In separate news, Arsenal win the prize for Most Bizarre Transfer Decision of the Season So Far.
It will be no surprise to Gunners fans that Martinez has been the league’s best goalkeeper this term, having deputised so incredibly well for Bernd Leno last season.
The Villa stopper has eight clean sheets, the second-most behind Man City’s Ederson with 10, although Dean Smith’s side have played two games less.
Good luck trying to get past Martinez this seasonAFP
Right-back: Matthew Cash (Aston Villa)
Another fantastic bit of business by Villa saw them land cash from Nottingham Forest for £16m before the season started – and that’s starting to look like an absolute bargain.
While the plaudits have gone to Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins, Cash has been Villa’s unsung hero in defence this season.
Just another player to add to England’s ever-growing list of talented right-backs.
Cashs performances have gone under the radar this seasonGetty – Pool
Centre-back: Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton)
The 6ft 6ins giant has finally plugged the massive hole left by Virgil van Dijk’s departure to Liverpool in 2018.
In fact, Arsenal legend Martin Keown has likened the big Dane to Liverpool’s talismanic defender.
Keown told talkSPORT: “It’s his passing. It reminds me of Van Dijk.
“I call it a stationary platform. When you don’t run with the ball you stop and when you look at those two, the way the ping balls, the way he threads things into midfield, the challenges, he’s a big man.”
Vestergaard has been a key reason behind Saints successGetty Images – Getty
Centre-back: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Chelsea fans will probably tell you Thiago Silva has been their standout performer at the back this season – and they’d be right.
Zouma’s big statistical contribution to the team comes from the four Premier League goals he has scored this season.
The Frenchman is the top-flight’s most prolific defender this term and his almost unstoppable threat from corners earns him a place in the XI.
Zouma was thriving before Chelseas dip in formAFP
Left-back: Joao Cancelo (Man City)
The Portugal international’s inclusion is probably the most impressive, given he isn’t even a left-back.
Nonetheless, Pep Guardiola has deployed the right-sided player on the left this season to great effect.
While John Stones and Ruben Dias have been credited with shoring things up at the back, Cancelo has been the club’s shining star in defence.
Cancelo can even play on the wingGetty Images – Getty
Right-midfield: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
We set such high standards for the Egyptian that we seem to criticise him for less than others.
Despite not scoring in Liverpool’s last five Premier League games, Salah remains the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season with 13.
Even when he’s not having his best season, Salah still scores at a faster rate than any other forward in the league.
Everyone else is still trying to catch SalahGetty Images – Getty
Centre-midfield: Bruno Fernandes (Man United)
It’s impossible not to appreciate Fernandes, unless you’re one of those people who thinks Cristiano Ronaldo is nothing but a penalty-merchant.
Fernandes has transformed United and arguably converted them into title contenders since his arrival in January 2020.
With 18 goal contributions in 19 games, he is already a big contender for Player of the Year.
Fernandes has been on fire for United this seasonGetty Images – Getty
Centre-midfield: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
The Premier League’s most gifted player? Probably. And he’s proving that again this season.
With ten assists already, De Bruyne is taking aim at Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in one campaign.
Given he has created 54 chances for his teammates, you could suggest he would be there already if City were better at finishing.
De Bruyne continues to thrill on a weekly basisGetty Images – Getty
Left-midfield: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
There has been no player more joyous to watch in the Premier League this season than Jack Grealish.
Not only does he have five goals and seven assists, his general play has oozed class and flair.
The Villa captain’s ability to go past people and create has bordered on genius this season and he will be challenging for the PFA Player of the Year award.
Is there a more valuable player in the Premier League than Grealish right now?AFP
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Grealish’s main rival for the award will probably be Fernandes, especially if Man United stay top, but based on the season so far, it should be Harry Kane.
The Tottenham talisman has been involved in more goals than any other player this campaign, and that doesn’t even begin to describe his influence.
From last-ditch tackles to string-pulling in midfield, Kane has been the Premier League’s standout player this season, both on WhoScored’s algorithms and to the naked eye.
Kane is having arguably his best season in a Spurs shirtAFP
Striker: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Even though he has had his season put on hold due to injury, Calvert-Lewin is probably the biggest reason why Everton are challenging for the top spots.
He made one of the fastest starts to any Premier League season, and the England international is becoming one of the most fearsome strikers in the land.
With two goals separating him from Salah in the race for the Golden Boot, don’t be surprised if Calvert-Lewin ends the campaign top of the pile.
Calvert-Lewin is thriving under Carlo AncelottiAFP
Premier League Team of the Season