Premier League’s best XI using players outside of the ‘big six’ clubs

When the annual PFA Team of the Year is announced, it is certain to contain players almost exclusively from the top six Premier League teams.

In fact, there has only been one player from outside of the ‘big six’ clubs to be included in the last two Premier League teams of the season (Romelu Lukaku formerly of Everton).

With this in mind, let’s look at this season’s best Premier League XI. Using players not currently with one of the six major clubs.

GK – Nick Pope

The Burnley keeper has more clean sheets (11) than any other Premier League keeper outside of the big six clubs.

Not only are his clean sheets impressive, Pope has only allowed 28 goals in his 32 league matches this season.

The 28 goals conceded is better than Chelsea’s Thibault Courtois and Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris. Pope also ranks high in saves (6th), high claims (1st), and sweeper clearances (6th).

RB – Matthew Lowton

Keeping with the Burnley theme, Lowton would probably just edge out Southampton’s Cedric Soares and Bournemouth’s Adam Smith.

Lowton only managed 23 Premier League starts at right back. With limited playing time his numbers are impressive with 107 clearances, 46 tackles, and 28 blocks (all ranked inside the top 10 at his position).

Lowton was the top right back among teams outside of the big six. It must be said, however, that Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks to be a potential star in the making.

CB – James Tarkowski and Christopher Schindler

Along with the aforementioned Pope, Tarkowski is widely considered to be the main reason for Burnley’s defensive success this season.

The 25-year-old center back ranks fifth in his position in shots blocked, seventh in clearances, and fourth in aerials won.

While Tarkowski is receiving plaudits this season, Huddersfield Town’s Christopher Schindler seems to be having a quietly effective season.

The German, who was just recently awarded as his team’s Player of the Season, has been outstanding during his first English top flight campaign.

Among Premier League center backs, Schindler ranks first in tackles, second in interceptions, second in aerials won, and third in clearances. Kurt Zouma, Shane Duffy, and Jamaal Lascelles have all had solid seasons, but Schindler certainly deserves to be named ahead of all three fellow center backs.

LB – Aaron Cresswell

West Ham’s 2017/18 season may have been pretty awful, but Cresswell did perform fairly well during his fourth season in east London.

The England international is not your typical tough-tackling defender, but he does offer quite a bit going forward.

In fact, his seven league assists are currently most among all defenders. Teammate Arthur Masuaku, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand, and Burnley’s Stephen Ward also had solid seasons at the position as well.

CM/DM – Abdoulaye Doucoure and Wilfred Ndidi

Doucoure was perhaps one of the easier choices in this XI. The Watford midfielder is having a superb season and is reportedly gaining attention from some of the big six clubs in England.

His seven goals rank fourth among central midfielders, and his 39 key passes are second among players at his position not in a big six team.

While Doucoure is more of an offensive central midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi is a prototypical defensive midfielder.

The Nigeria international would not be out of place in practically any team in England.

Just 21-years-old, Ndidi ranks first in tackles (138), clearances (95), and passes blocked (58) among Premier League defensive midfielders. Palace’s Luka Milivojevic and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye also performed well in these positions this season.

AM/Winger – Pascal Gross and Riyad Mahrez

There should be no surprise to see Mahrez here. The Leicester City attacker has racked up an impressive 10 goals and eight assists on the campaign.

His 18 combined goals and assists are tops among players outside of the top six clubs (alongside his teammate Jamie Vardy).

Gross, on the other hand, arrived to Brighton and Hove last summer for a fee of just £3 million.

Easily one of the steals of the summer transfer market, Gross has six goals and eight assists playing in the number 10 role for the Seagulls. Per Whoscored, his six goals rank third among players in this position (only behind Eden Hazard and Dele Alli).

Watford’s Richarlison, and Burnley’s duo of Ashley Barnes and Johann Gudmundsson all played well this season, but there is no denying just how good Gross has been for Brighton.

Forward – Jamie Vardy and Wilfried Zaha

Now 31, Vardy does not appear to be slowing down just yet.

The Leicester City forward’s 17 goals are good enough for fifth in the Premier League, and most among players outside of the big six. His game might not necessarily be pretty, but he just knows how to score goals.

Zaha, while not always previously utilized up front, has been effective more centrally for Crystal Palace.

Glenn Murray may have more goals than Zaha, but the Ivory Coast international does more than just score goals. The 25-year-old ranks first among center forwards in dribbles (80) and third in key passes (37). Diving is an issue with Zaha, but there is no doubting his ability and talent.

What do you think? Who should be included, left off? Let us know in the comment section below

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