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Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Season - Erling Haaland, Cole Palmer, Declan Rice

Sports Mole selects its 2023-24 Premier League Team of the Season, including Erling Haaland, Cole Palmer and Declan Rice.

The final chapter has closed on a captivating 2023-24 Premier League season, one which saw Manchester City earn another slice of English football history as the first team to win four Premier League titles on the spin.

Despite taking the fight for glory right up to the final day, Arsenal were once again forced to bow to the Citizens' superiority in the runners-up spot, while Liverpool threatened a title charge in Jurgen Klopp's last dance but ultimately settled for the bronze medal.

The three podium finishers will be joined in the Champions League by Unai Emery's Aston Villa surprise package, who forced Tottenham Hotspur to settle for Europa League football after a turbulent first season under Ange Postecoglou.

As things stand, sixth-placed Chelsea are also Europa League bound and seventh-placed Newcastle United will be Europa Conference League competitors, although Manchester United - who finished outside the continental berths - can shake up the positions by winning the FA Cup.

West Ham United and Oliver Glasner's rejuvenated Crystal Palace completed the top half placements, forcing Bournemouth, Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham to accept bottom-10 finishes.

As Everton, Brentford and Nottingham Forest retained their top-flight statuses, Luton Town, Sheffield United and Burnley dropped straight back down to the Championship, the first time since 1997-98 that all three promoted sides failed to survive.

Whittling down the year's prized performers to a star XI is always a tall order sure to spark plenty of debate, but of course, we have taken it on. Here, Sports Mole selects its 2023-24 Premier League Team of the Season, with some honourable mentions in tow.


Goalkeeper - Jordan Pickford

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford pictured on May 11, 2024© Reuters

OK, Arsenal's David Raya may have topped the clean sheet charts, conceded the fewest goals and won the Golden Glove, but the Spaniard had a mean back four in front of him and also made three mistakes directly leading to a goal, only behind Nathan Collins (four) and Wes Foderingham (five).

Second to the Brentford loanee in the race for the goalkeeper's individual accolade was Everton number one Jordan Pickford, who produced a praiseworthy 13 shut-outs in Everton's successful fight against the drop, a survival feat made all the more impressive by their points penalties.

The England international also topped the charts for progressive passing distance with a staggering 26,388 yards and recorded a save percentage of 73.9% - the third-best in the league - and has certainly hit form at the right time ahead of Euro 2024.

Honourable mentions: David Raya (Arsenal), Ederson (Manchester City), Alisson Becker (Liverpool), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)


Right-back - Ben White

Arsenal defender Ben White pictured in October 2023© Reuters

While Raya is overlooked, his trusty right-back Ben White was a straightforward pick in the backline, having been fundamental to Arsenal's record-breaking season, even if it did not end in title glory.

Present in all but one of the Gunners' 38 Premier League contests, the former Brighton & Hove Albion man - whose transition from centre-back to full-back has been ridiculously seamless - came up with four goals of his own in addition to four assists as his attacking output continues to improve.

Rarely dropping anything below a seven out of 10 week in week out, it is a real shame that the 26-year-old has burned some bridges within the England camp, so much so that he is not wanting to be considered for selection with the Euros on the horizon.

Honourable mentions: Pedro Porro (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)


Centre-backs - William Saliba and Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk pictured on April 18, 2024© Reuters

Continuing the theme of Arsenal rearguard members who consistently excel in Mikel Arteta's backline, William Saliba once again enhanced his credentials as one of the finest in the land and broke a Gunners record along the way.

The Frenchman - whose injury last year coincided with his side's title crumble - became the first-ever Arsenal outfielder to play every minute of a Premier League season, in which he played his part in 18 clean sheets, scored two goals and had the fifth-most touches of any player in the division.

Onto another shade of Red, and Virgil van Dijk was well and truly back to his intimidating best in his first season as permanent Liverpool captain, rediscovering the famed "aura" that made him such a feared centre-half in the earlier years of Klopp's tenure.

As well as contributing two goals and two assists from 36 appearances, the Dutchman finished the season with the highest percentage of aerial battles won with 81.4%, and only Everton's James Tarkowski triumphed in as many as the 140 off-the-ground duels that his Merseyside counterpart managed.

Honourable mentions: Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Micky van de Ven (Tottenham Hotspur), James Tarkowski (Everton)


Left-back - Destiny Udogie

Tottenham Hotspur's Destiny Udogie reacts on September 30, 2023© Reuters

One of the more complicated picks in our 2023-24 selection, left-backs setting the Premier League alight this season were relatively few and far between, but Destiny Udogie certainly took Tottenham by storm in his debut year.

From 28 Premier League matches, the explosive Italy international flaunted his attacking prowess with two goals and three assists and appeared to be nailed-on for an Azzurri call-up as the Euro 2020 champions prepare to defend their continental crown.

However, a thigh injury cruelly cut Udogie's successful debut campaign short, and the 21-year-old will not be present at Euro 2024 either, but there should be no concerns about the defender not immediately getting back to his effervescent best.

Honourable mentions: Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Rayan Ait-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Alfie Doughty (Luton Town)


Right midfield - Cole Palmer

Chelsea's Cole Palmer celebrates with the match ball after the match after scoring four goals on April 15, 2024© Reuters

The stunning strike that Cole Palmer scored for Manchester City in last year's Community Shield would be a sign of things to come for the Chelsea-bound youngster, who deservedly posed with the Premier League's Young Player of the Year prize after exceeding expectations and then some.

Thirty-four appearances, 22 goals and 11 assists, Palmer finished as the runner-up in both the Golden Boot and Playmaker races, registered the most combined goals and assists of any player and also went home with two match balls under his arm, including a magnificent four-goal haul in a 6-0 dismantling of Everton.

Certainly Chelsea's biggest transfer success story during the Todd Boehly era so far, no other Blues player has scored more than one hat-trick in a single Premier League season, and a Euro 2024 call-up surely awaits the 22-year-old starlet.

Honourable mentions: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Michael Olise (Crystal Palace)


Centre midfield - Rodri and Declan Rice

Manchester City's Rodri celebrates scoring their third goal on May 19, 2024© Reuters

Scorer of the final goal of Man City's record-breaking 2023-24 season, there is arguably no finer all-around midfielder on the planet than Spanish fulcrum Rodri, who is now without defeat in a staggering 50 Premier League games in a Citizens jersey.

Integral to the champions' attacking and defensive systems, the 27-year-old registered eight goals and nine assists and made more touches (3,988), progressive passes (376) and passes into the final third (378) than any other player in the division.

Speaking of physically imposing defensive midfielders adding a serious goal threat to their game, Declan Rice undoubtedly justified his £105m price tag in his debut Arsenal campaign, where he transitioned from a number six to a number eight with devastating effect.

The England international finished just one off Rodri in terms of goal contributions - chalking up seven goals and nine assists - and his dead-ball deliveries were oh so crucial to Arsenal's set-piece mastery throughout the season.

Honourable mentions: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Ross Barkley (Luton Town)


Left midfield - Phil Foden

Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates scoring their second goal on April 3, 2024© Reuters

It is so easy to forget that Phil Foden is still only 23 years of age, as the Premier League Player of the Season registered more goal contributions than he has had birthdays in another victorious campaign for the Manchester titans.

The Man City academy product struck 19 goals of his own to finish joint-fourth in the Premier League scoring charts, in addition to setting up eight more, and his brace versus West Ham on the final day proved to be title-winning contributions.

There were shades of Arjen Robben the way that Foden went about his goalscoring business in 2023-24 - cutting inside onto his left foot and picking out the corners with panache - and the 23-year-old is now the youngest player in Premier League history with six titles to his name.

Honourable mentions: Anthony Gordon (Newcastle United), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Yoane Wissa (Brentford), Mohammed Kudus (West Ham United)


Strikers - Erling Haaland and Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring their second goal on April 14, 2024© Reuters

Regardless of the outcomes of any summer transfer sagas, Aston Villa hotshot Ollie Watkins will deservedly be playing Champions League football next season and earned as many plaudits for his playmaking as his goalscoring in 2023-24.

The ex-Brentford man came up with 19 strikes of his own - none of which came from the penalty spot - from 37 top-flight appearances but also laid on 13 assists - the most in the top flight - as he became the latest centre-forward to explode under Emery's tutelage.

Not every Team of the Season will include Golden Boot winner Erling Haaland - a victim of his own splendour in his record-breaking 2022-23 campaign - but the Scandinavian sensation was still a comfortable and inevitable winner of the gold-plated shoe.

Making the net bulge 27 times and adding another two hat-tricks to his collection, Haaland's 20 non-penalty strikes was also more than anyone else in the Premier League, and even though a tearful Guardiola memorably said in 2021 that City "cannot replace" Sergio Aguero, the champions have surely managed it.

Honourable mentions: Alexander Isak (Newcastle), Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth), Kai Havertz (Arsenal), Jean-Philippe Mateta (Crystal Palace)


SPORTS MOLE'S PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE SEASON

PL TOTS 2023-24

Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Season (4-4-2): Pickford; White, Saliba, Van Dijk, Udogie; Palmer, Rice, Rodri, Foden; Watkins, Haaland


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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bournemouth00000000
2Arsenal00000000
3Aston Villa00000000
4Brentford00000000
5Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton00000000
6Chelsea00000000
7Crystal Palace00000000
8Everton00000000
9Fulham00000000
10Ipswich TownIpswich00000000
11Leicester CityLeicester00000000
12Liverpool00000000
13Manchester CityMan City00000000
14Manchester UnitedMan Utd00000000
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle00000000
16Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest00000000
17Southampton00000000
18Tottenham HotspurSpurs00000000
19West Ham UnitedWest Ham00000000
20Wolverhampton WanderersWolves00000000


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