2020 has been the strangest year in living memory and the world of football has had to adapt in serious ways. With the extended 2019/20 season finishing just weeks before the 20/21 campaign began, players have been pushed to the physical and mental edge especially within the Premier League. There have been plenty of players that have risen to the challenge though with established names being joined by upcoming prodigies and some sick of waiting in the shadows any more. Having searched the top flight for all those who have really shone over the past 12 months, here is our best Premier League XI of 2020.
2020 Premier League XI
GK: Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal/Aston Villa)
What a 12 months it has been for Emiliano Martinez. The Argentine shot stopper had been nothing more than an afterthought at The Emirates for almost a decade before a serious injury to Bernd Leno gave him his opportunity to shine. He did this superbly just after the Premier League restart in July and that form saw him rightly earn a move to Aston Villa for more regular opportunities. He hasn’t looked back though keeping 5 clean sheets in the 20/21 season so far and pulling off remarkable saves each and every match. It’s amazing what can happen in a year!
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
There’s no doubt that Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best right-backs in the world today and he is included in our Premier League XI of 2020 in that posistion. Alexander-Arnold’s biggest strength this past year is how he has really added to the attacking threat he now poses to the oppositions. He is now an excellent crosser and set-piece taker and his 15 assists last season is testament to this fact. Add to the fact he is now a Premier League winner means that Alexander-Arnold is nigh on untouchable once he steps out onto the pitch.
LB: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
On the other side of Liverpool’s defence, Andrew Robertson has become one of the most consistent figures in the Premier League champion’s backline. His pace is a nightmare for both opposing attackers and defenders to deal with and can whip in deadly balls at a whim. His positioning and all-round defensive skills have improved too and has featured in a back line that has only conceded 48 goals in 18 months! It’s a big achievement for a player who also helped lead Scotland to their first major tournament in over 20 years – a good time for the Scot on all footballing fronts.
CB: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
There has been a remarkable turnaround from Kurt Zouma in the last year or so. Gone is the error-strewn player who was set to fade at Chelsea and now is a physically dominant defender who leads by example. Zouma’s composure has improved tremendously and having a partner like Thiago Silva has helped Chelsea become one of the tightest defences in the Premier League once again. The Frenchman has also got a taste for goal scoring 4 times already in the 2020/21 campaign – doubling his previous best for a season only a dozen games in. Things are certainly looking up now for Zouma’s future and he is certainly worthy of a place in our 2020 Premier League XI.
CB: Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton)
Hardly a star name but Jannik Vestergaard has quietly become one of the most astute defenders in the Premier League. The Danish international is always a reliable figure and is not afraid to get physical in order to snuff out an attack. He has helped The Saints keep 5 clean sheets so far in the 2020/21 campaign and has chipped in with 3 goals helping propel Southampton toward the upper reaches of the table. He has shown these skills time and time again both home and away for Southampton and is only likely to strengthen his reputation moving into 2021.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
There is no doubting that Kevin De Bruyne is the ultimate puppet master in football today. The Belgian maestro is still able to rip teams apart with a single pass with both simple flicks as well as gravity-defying long balls. It’s the accuracy of his passes that ceases to amaze fans, players and pundits alike with each passing game no matter if it’s in his or the opponent’s half. 29 assists in the past year or so has proven this and has been a major reason for Man City staying relevant in the title hunt when others have failed to step up to the mark. Is there a better passer in world football today? We don’t think so.
CM: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Jordan Henderson seems like a dying breed of footballer – a no-nonsense player who leads without needing to cause a scene. Henderson is the link that puts everything together in Jurgen Klopp’s team whether it is helping out at the back or being the first part of a devastating offensive strike. Henderson looks effortless doing this and has proven to be a very worthy successor to Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain. He still possesses the ability to strike from long distance and score when necessary but it’s hardly the first thing that comes to his mind. It’s a key reason why Liverpool has been so dominant over the past year and look set to continue heading into 2021.
CM: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United, Old Trafford has been missing a player with that X-Factor so it’s only natural that it would be his Portuguese compatriot Bruno Fernandes to bring back that missing spark. Since joining in January, Fernandes has been a powerhouse at Old Trafford providing magic whenever he is on the ball in the final third. 15 goals and 13 assists is an excellent return for someone adapting to their first year in the Premier League and was a big reason for United securing Champions League football at the end of last season. Fernandes is likely to be a key reason for United repeating the feat in 2021 and could very well become a club legend if he keeps this form up heading into the future.
FW: Son Heung-Min (Tottenham)
No-one has had a better 2020 than Son Heung-Min. The Korean phenomenon has set the world alight with a new taste for goal and freedom in the frontline. Starting off with that stunning solo effort against Burnley in February and to scoring in a North London derby in November, there is nothing that he hasn’t done for Spurs in the past 12 months. He has formed a telepathic bond with Harry Kane and the two have turned Spurs into a genuine title contender. Add 11 goals in 12 games so far in the 2020/21 campaign and you have Son very much in the form of his life. A player in form that rivals the very best in world football.
FW: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
The other half of Spurs devastating strikeforce, Harry Kane has surprised everyone with his biggest contribution in 2020- becoming an assists king. The England skipper has set-up 10 goals in 13 games so far in the 2020/21 season – double that of anyone else in the league. His partnership with Son-Heung Min has been nothing short of magical and has teams across the country baffled every time they break forward. Kane’s scoring touch hasn’t deserted him either though having scored 14 goals in 2020 as well making him the ultimate forward player. It’s hot form that England will be hoping that continues with the Euros looming just beyond the horizon.
FW: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
After years of almost showing promise, 2020 has been the year that Dominic Calvert-Lewin has realized his full potential. Everton have needed a deadly striker for years and Calvert-Lewin has given them what they have desired. 11 goals in the 2020/21 season has made him joint top scorer in the league and has seen his secure his first professional hat-trick against West Brom back in September. He quite rightly earned the Player of the Month award in September and also made the breakthrough into the England squad scoring twice in 5 games since debuting in October. Don’t be surprised to see Calvert-Lewin giving defences nightmare throughout the years to come.
Subs (Honorable Mentions): Alisson, Reece James, Bukayo Saka, James Ward-Prowse, Jack Grealish, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy