Ah, the top 6. How they hog the limelight! At times, it is almost as if there are two completely different leagues going on. One being the top 6, and the other one right below it . This does not mean that the ones below aren’t quality teams. The Premier League is known for its upsets and these teams outside the top 6 do not fail to provide us with many upsets through the course of a season. This season has seen unlikely competitors like Burnley, Brighton, and Watford competing in the top 10. It has also seen usual suspects like West Ham, Everton, and Crystal Palace struggle at the bottom end of the league. Many impressive players have emerged from these teams and here is a Best XI from these teams outside the top 6:
Formation: We go with the conventional 4-2-3-1 formation for this team.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
This might come as a surprise to a few, but the truth is, Lukasz has been brilliant for a club like Swansea. He has pulled off the most saves compared to his nearest rivals and he has managed to keep 4 clean sheets even though his team does not possess the best of defences amongst those not in the top 6. Most people had written him off once he left Arsenal, but from a personal standpoint, he has consistently been able to show that he is a solid Premier League quality keeper. Swansea currently sit 19th in the league. It is crazy to think where they would be without his saves between the sticks.
Defence: Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward
When you are the joint 3rd best defence in the entire league, it is very hard to pick anyone else. Burnley have been phenomenal this season and their backline has just been a level above the rest. Their discipline to maintain shape and defend as a unit has paid dividends as they currently sit 7th in the League. James Tarkowski has been the biggest revelation in their defence this year. Michael Keane’s departure is unnoticeable after the displays put on by him and Ben Mee this season.
Matthew Lowton has been the best right back amongst those other than the top 6 this season. He has the highest number of tackles and has yet to be booked this year even though a quarter of the season is over. Lastly, Stephen Ward too has been instrumental this season. An experienced campaigner, he knows what it takes to defend in the Premier League and if he can contribute in front of goal like he did vs Chelsea, it just adds to his value.
Central Midfield: Aaron Mooy and Abdoulaye Doucoure
This year, Watford have pleasantly surprised us all. They have managed to stay 8th in the table with their energetic performances. Their main midfield man, Abdoulaye Doucoure has been instrumental in their team this year. He has managed to keep Capoue out of the team this year. He is a tall and powerful midfielder who is regarded for his box to box skill. Outside of the top 6, he has been arguably the best Central Midfielder in the league. 4 goals from midfield does not do any harm to his value either. Australian Aaron Mooy has been brilliant so far as well. His performances for Huddersfield have been invaluable in their pursuit of a top 10 position. He is a lot more creative than Doucoure and the two of them would be a very balanced pair in Midfield.
Attacking Midfield: Riyad Mahrez, Pascal Groß and Richarlison
How can one forget the season of 2015-16? Leicester winning the league with Riyad Mahrez being the player of the year that season. He may not be reaching the heights he scaled that season, but 2 goals and 4 assists means he is starting to regain some form. He has been important for Leicester this year having tormented defenders on numerous occasions from the Right Wing. Pascal Groß is the second player to appear in this team from newly promoted sides. His form has helped Brighton a great deal. While most people would have tipped them to go back down after being promoted, Brighton are in the top 10 at the moment. Groß himself has contributed a lot to that. His 2 goals and 5 assists have shown his value to Chris Hughton’s men.
Lastly, Richarlison. He is the league’s second highest goalscorer outside the top 6. Even at 20, he is showing signs that he could really go on to be a star in the future. On the Left Wing, he has tormented many a defender with his trickery and agility. He is Watford’s talisman this season and he will only get better as he learns. One might even go as far as to say that continuous performances at this level and a trip to Russia in the summer is not beyond his talents.
Striker: Jamie Vardy
How can you keep this man out of the spotlight? The star of Leicester’s 2015-16 campaign is at it again. Jamie Vardy is the highest scorer outside the top 6 this season and is showing signs that he is back to his best after a forgettable 2016-17 season. His work-rate up front has always been an asset and will continue to be one this season.
Manager: Sean Dyche
It could have gone either Dyche or Marco Silva’s way but the financial constraints on Burnley compared to Watford means that Sean Dyche just about pips Marco Silva to this position. He has managed a very disciplined Burnley side which sit 7th in the league, tied on points with Arsenal and Liverpool. He seems like a miracle worker for Burnley considering how financially constrained they are. At 46, he still has a lot more years left in management and hopefully in the future he can get the step up he so rightfully deserves.
Honourable Mentions: Heurelho Gomes, Maya Yoshida, Jack Cork, Oumar Niasse, Tammy Abraham
There you have it. The best Premier League XI outside the top 6. Boy, this team could give any one of those top 6 teams a real run for their money.
Featured Image via 101greatgoals.
Fabianski Image via WalesOnline.
Tarkowski Image via express.
Doucoure Image via Football365.
Gross Image via theargus.
Richarlison Image via Premierleague.
Vardy and Mahrez Image via Mirror.
Dyche Image via PremierLeague.