Premier League Team Of The Season 2023/24

Tomos Millward

At the end of another Premier League campaign, Impact’s Tomos Millward has put together his Team of the Season. Despite Manchester City’s fourth consecutive title, only two of their players make the cut in a team that reflects the high level of the league as a whole. 

Goalkeeper- Emiliano Martinez 

Recent error against Liverpool aside, World Cup winner Emi Martinez has maintained his impressive form since the 2022 tournament with club side Aston Villa and is fully deserving of being named in this year’s Team of the Season. Martinez has remained an exceptional shot-stopper, the best in the league seen by his prevention of over 6 goals more than he would have been expected to stop, and has developed into a more aggressive sweeper-keeper under Unai Emery’s tutelage.

The Argentine has been asked to be more adventurous playing behind a higher defensive line and has adapted impressively seen through his stopping of 11.7% of crosses he has faced, the second highest in the league behind David Raya. Whilst seemingly critiqued on a weekly basis for his antics and fondness for playing a pantomime villain, this is a style he utilised effectively to win football’s grandest prize and has continued to utilise to great effect.  

Left-back- Virgil van Dijk: 

Despite not having played a single minute at left-back for Liverpool this season, the Premier League’s dearth of standout left-backs and the strength of himself and his fellow defenders means that this is the position the Liverpool captain fits into this team in. Van Dijk’s performances this season have been typically commanding and assured, if not quite maintaining the heights of a few year back when he came a close-second to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or. The Netherlands captain has been dominant in the air in both boxes. He has won an average of 4 aerial duels per game, placing him within the top 4% of Premier League Centre-Backs, and has posed a consistent danger in the opposition area with an average of over a shot per game.

Van Dijk has been the one consistent centrepiece of Liverpool’s defence

He has also maintained his ability to deliver crisp and accurate passes across a range of distances. Unlike the centre-back pairing in this team who have played together consistently across the season, Van Dijk has been the one consistent centrepiece of Liverpool’s defence and credit must be given for his success in partnering with a much less experienced Jarell Quansah. 

Centre-backs- William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes: 

The on-field relationship between this pair and the exceptional defensive standards they have upheld this season means that it only makes sense to discuss them in a joint context. Whilst the stereotype of Saliba being the technically-gifted and composed partner to Gabriel’s more aggressive and unwieldy style may be less accurate than it once was, in reality Gabriel’s ball-playing ability has much improved and he has even outshone Saliba at various moments across this campaign, this relationship is still an accurate starting point to explore the pair’s success and style.  

This pair have been crucial to Arsenal’s title challenge

Both players are tremendously technically astute, physical monsters, dual winners, and goal threats from set pieces. Playing alongside one another, they are almost flawless. This season, Arsenal have conceded 28 goals, the lowest in the league, and have kept 18 clean sheets with David Raya only having to make 1.5 saves per game. The statistics, however, do not do this pair justice. Whether playing out from their own box around the opposition’s press, challenging opposing strikers in the air as high up as the halfway line, or contributing to Arsenal’s 20 set piece goals this season, this pair have been crucial to Arsenal’s title challenge and record-breaking season.  

Right-back- Ben White: 

The final core piece of Arsenal’s defensive triumvirate, Ben White has only gone from strength-to-strength this season. All the praise surrounding Arsenal’s defensive performances mentioned previously also applies to their right-back. White has also been a key contributor to Arsenal’s set piece success, often distracting or blocking the opposition keeper as part of Nicholas Jover’s intricately planned corner routines. Despite White’s improvement and indispensable role in Arsenal’s defence, he is often a player who people struggle to praise and gets lost amongst the long list of other English right-backs. This is due to White’s strengths being multi-faceted and his ability to play a number of roles for Arsenal.  

There are three types of full-back in football’s current era: a physically strong centre back asked to play at full-back (Manuel Akanji), an aggressive and overlapping attacking full-back (Andy Robertson), and an inverted full-back (Oleksandr Zinchenko). White has the ability to play as all three archetypes, and often does throughout the course of a 90-minute match. It is this tactical flexibility and strength of character that has made Mikel Arteta fall in love with him, and why he deserves a place in this Team of the Season. 

Defensive Midfield- Rodri: 

There is little more that can be said about Rodri. The Spanish midfielder has been the key behind Guardiola’s success since arriving from Atletico Madrid. Rodri ranks in the top 5% of Premier League midfielders for: passes attempted, passes completed, progressive passes, and shot-creating actions. Far from being a simple destroyer who wins duels and plays conservative passes to more talented players around him, Rodri is the driving engine of Manchester City who, with 8 goals and 9 assists this season, is becoming more well-rounded as his tutelage under Guardiola continues. 

Central Midfield- Declan Rice: 

The greatest compliment I can pay Declan Rice is that his £105 million transfer fee is hardly ever mentioned. Rice’s move into central midfield in this team is not simply to fit Rodri in, but accurately reflects his development over this season and adaptation to playing as Arsenal’s left-sided 8. Rice’s ability to read the game, make perfectly weighted ball recoveries, and use his physical presence to drive with the ball has made him an excellent addition to Mikel Arteta’s side. The number of key goals he has produced (away at Luton, at home against Manchester United) has also benefitted Arsenal and kept them in the title race up until the final game of the season.  

Central Midfield- Cole Palmer: 

22 goals and 11 assists in 34 matches speaks for itself

In a disappointing season for Chelsea, Cole Palmer has been their bright spot. 22 goals and 11 assists in 34 matches speaks for itself. Despite 9 of these goals being penalties, Palmer’s impact has been clear to see from anybody surveying these statistics or watching 10 minutes of a Chelsea game. Palmer has been surrounded by players who, despite being of a similar age, lack the maturity, desire, and ability that the Manchester City academy graduate has. When watching Chelsea, Palmer is the only player working hard, moving the ball progressively, and making a difference in the final third. Palmer being able to get into this Team of the Season being surrounded by this current crop of Chelsea players is an undeniable illustration of his magnificent ability and frightening potential.  

Right wing- Bukayo Saka: 

Bukayo Saka’s consistent output and performances have been normalised. 16 goals and 9 assists whilst being as well-rounded as he is means that he is the clear choice at right wing for this Team of the Season. Similar to his right-sided partner, Ben White, Saka’s tactical flexibility and broad range of abilities means that his strengths are less definable and harder to praise. This is exemplified by his best ability being his decision-making and intelligence when on the ball. Despite opponent’s sitting abnormally deep against Arsenal, and their right side especially, Saka is still amongst the top 2% of wingers for touches inside the opposition penalty area and averages over 5 shot-creating actions per 90. This consistent output is explained by his aforementioned decision-making and means that, even if he is having an off day by his high standards, he is typically irrepressible and is able to contribute to Arsenal’s attack in some form or another. 

Striker- Ollie Watkins: 

19 goals and 13 assists from Watkins this season means that, despite Erling Haaland winning the Golden Boot for a second successive season, the Aston Villa and England striker is a deserved participant in this Team of the Season. Watkins’ ability to manipulate opposition defenders within their own penalty area, along with his elite attacking movement, has made him the perfect forward for Unai Emery’s refashioned Aston Villa side. Both him and Emi Martinez have been two of the key reasons for the sides’ re-entry into the Champions League for the first time since 1982/3. 

Left wing- Phil Foden: 

The Premier League’s Player of the Season with 19 goals and 8 assists, including two key goals on the final day, means that the best may have been saved until last. Whilst in previous seasons Foden has played second-fiddle behind other Manchester City forwards, his improvement, the slight worsening of Erling Haaland’s form, and distinct absence of Kevin De Bruyne has meant he has stepped up to become City’s main man. Despite often beginning matches on either wing, Foden is most deadly in central areas. His ability to drift between the opposition’s lines of defence like an old-fashioned number 10 before spinning to create shooting opportunities or slip through a teammate has led to massive returns this season.

Any half chance on the edge of the box can be converted into a goal

Foden’s ball-striking has improved massively this season and means that, even if City’s opposition are sitting deep inside their own box, any half chance on the edge of the box can be converted into a goal, as seen against West Ham on the final day. Foden has finally taken on the mantle Guardiola has been preparing him for, for many years now: an academy graduate leading his boyhood club to multiple league titles whilst being one of their most important players. 

Tomos Millward

Featured image courtesy of Fånga Images via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes were made to this image.


In article image 1 courtesy of @arsenal via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @avfcofficial via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

 In article image 3 courtesy of @mancity via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.


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