With another fantastic season of English Football now over, its time to reflect on many outstanding performers as we pull together a squad of the best stars from the past ten months.
Some positions proved tougher than others to decide so without further ado, here is our 2018-19 English Football XI.
Formation: 4-4-2 (attacking)
Captain: Steph Houghton
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Alisson Becker (Liverpool), Ben Foster (Watford)Embed from Getty Images
This was an easy decision because Alisson has been simply sublime for Liverpool in his debut season in English Football, whilst Ben Foster has been wonderful to watch.
With 21 clean sheets to earn himself the Golden Glove award plus a league high 212 throw outs, I have been mightily impressed by how Alisson has taken to an incredibly difficult league because its hard to think of any other goalkeeper who has had such an impact upon debut.
In fact, he is a well rounded goalkeeper with regular top ten appearances in various goalkeeping stats and that is why he goes straight into my starting eleven.
As for Foster, he has just been a constant joy to watch with a series of spectacular saves throughout the season to make him one of the most reliable keepers in the field.
Starters: Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool), Steph Houghton MBE (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool),
Subs: James Tarkowski (Burnley), Millie Bright (Chelsea)
It is impossible to not name Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in the fullback positions after an outstanding season for Liverpool.
Robertson’s partnership with Mane has been one of the best in the game this season in how he fed the ball to the Senegalese up the left flank, terrorising out of position defenders but both he and Alexander-Arnold has produced more assists than several midfielders which is simply incredible.
Alexander-Arnold in fact is possibly Liverpool’s best junior talent in a long time and his sneaky set piece tactic during Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final comeback speaks volumes about his talent.
Millie Bright therefore drops to the subs this year because she has had another consistent season for Chelsea with a 68% tackle success rate (72% in 2017-18 season) and is now set to feature at the Women’s World Cup this month, due to her fantastic consistency.Embed from Getty Images
Moving onto central defence, its hard not to include Van Dijk who has been the Reds’ rock this season defensively, with the fact that he produced 123 more clearances than second-placed Joel Matip highlighting his importance in their successful season and justifiably deserving of a place in our XI.
Houghton meanwhile continues to deliver strong defensive displays and this season matched her best Citizens return of three goals from 2015, whilst once again showing outstanding leadership on and off the pitch which is above various captains in the men’s game.
Burnley’s James Tarkowski therefore fills the centre-back sub spot because like Van Dijk, he has been one of the most well rounded defenders, especially in what was a tough season for the Clarets who had an early start with Europa League qualifying.
Ultimately, he is on the bench in our XI simply down to the fact that every team needs a leader like Houghton, who just has that edge.
Starters: David Brooks (Bournemouth), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal)
Subs: Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Fara Williams (Reading)Embed from Getty Images
In a competitive midfield, these six players have all shone brighter than everyone else and continue to get even better with each passing season.
Starting with central midfield, De Bruyne has been exceptional for Man City this season with his creativity and attacking drive despite various injuries impacting on his season.
Nevertheless, the Belgian has once again been one of City’s brightest stars and his tackling success percentage rate has only dropped by 1% from 69 to 68%, highlighting how influential he has been when on pitch and why he once again makes our XI.
As for Brooks, he is quite similar to De Bruyne in his creativity and attacking drive but what impressed me was how he has been a constant for Bournemouth in both attack and defence and should be a particular player to watch out for next season.
Reading’s Fara Williams therefore is on the bench again because she has once again been consistent in the WSL with her ability to score a variety of goals from both in and outside the box, and therefore would work best off the bench in this XI.Embed from Getty Images
Filling in the winger positions however was easy because together, Sterling and Mead have been two of the best assistants in English Football this season for both club and country and nobody else can get close to these two in terms of performance.
Hazard therefore unluckily finds himself on the bench because as fantastic as he has been, he hasn’t really had the service from his teammates in the way that Sterling or Mead have had in order to create chances.
On that note, if he does move to Real Madrid this summer then his absence will definitely be felt in English Football, simply because he has been Chelsea’s standout player in terms of creativity and goals.
Starters: Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Sub: Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)Embed from Getty Images
This has been a tough area to settle but these four strikers have been a class above everyone else, and deserve to make this squad XI with a combined 85 goals between them.
Miedema and Mane have both demonstrated exceptional quality let alone pace to produce 22 goals each in their respective leagues and for me, have played in such a way even when off the ball that it is hard to not name them in the starting eleven.
Deciding who to start out of Mane and Salah however was tough because both have been amazing for Liverpool but for me, Mane has been the more dangerous in creating chances whilst also chasing down moves into the box to ruthlessly finish off passes.
That ultimately is why I have put Mane up front alongside Miedema because together, those two would be a fiercely difficult duo for defenders to quieten down with their quality and pace.
Salah would have similar impact so drops to bench this year and I have also included Nikita Parris on the bench because she has been just fantastic for Man City with her all round teamplay on top of 19 goals.
This striker selection is therefore one of the best that you would probably find across both sides of the beautiful game.