The Best of the Rest
Best XI Outside the Big 6: Premier League
Like most football fans, I love arguing and debating which players would make the best starting XI given various circumstances. You’ve likely been on Twitter and seen people discussing the best all-time Premier League XI, or who would win in a match between the best South American XI vs the best European XI.
Following the emergence of the Big 6 – for clarification that is Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham – fans have been quick to discuss which players would make up the best starting XI consisting of players who do not play for these clubs. So I thought I would weigh in with my opinion on the matter. For this list I have chosen players based on their overall ability and quality, not just how well they have done this season.
Is it time to update who we're talking about when we mention; "The Big Six?" 😬 pic.twitter.com/R29oTPAYmQ
— 90min (@90min_Football) February 26, 2021
Goalkeeper – Emi Martinez
Taking into consideration what I have just said, in goal I have chosen a player who has had an excellent season, having made just 15 prior Premier League appearances. Martinez joined Aston Villa from Arsenal in the summer in a £20m deal in a bid to play more Premier League football.
For me, Martinez has been the best ‘keeper outright in the league this season. His 14 clean sheets are only bettered by Ederson, and his contribution of 95 saves have been instrumental to Villa’s impressive season.
Most clean sheets in Europe's top five leagues this season:
🇧🇷 Ederson (15)
🇫🇷 Mike Maignan (15)
🇦🇷 Emi Martínez (14)
Emi is not giving up on that Golden Glove. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/opGP4e5O1L
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) March 6, 2021
Right-Back – Ricardo Pereira
Leicester have been desperately unfortunate with injuries this season, but have welcomed the return of Ricardo Pereira following his ACL injury. In fact, before last season was suspended due to COVID-19, no-one had made more tackles than Pereira’s 119.
It’s not only his defensive contributions that put him on this list. Pereira offers support to his teammates all over the pitch, and provides a demonstrable threat going forward. When fit, he forms a vital part of Brendan Rodger’s side, with his versatility often seeing him seamlessly shift to left-back or even right-mid.
Centre-Back – Wesley Fofana
One of the new additions to a Leicester side perhaps threatening to make it a ‘top 7’, Fofana has excelled in his debut season in the Premier League. Splashing out £30m for the young French defender, Leicester have found a real gem in Fofana.
He is not only a strong tackler, but also possesses valuable pace for a defender. He has also showcased his impressive passing range in his short career so far. At just 20 years old, Fofana plays with a maturity well beyond his years, and could well form a formidable partnership with Caglar Soyuncu in years to come.
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 3, 2021
Centre-Back – Tyrone Mings
Initially signed on loan, Mings formed a formidable part of Aston Villa’s promotion winning campaign in 2018/19. After a permanent deal was made, Mings has been a stalwart of the Villa defence since their return to the Premier League.
He is a man-mountain at the heart of the strong Villa defence, contributing enormously to Martinez’ 14 clean sheets. His commanding stature and impressive pace make him comparable to Virgil van Dijk, and Mings may have played his way into Southgate’s England squad for the Euros this summer.
Tyrone Mings in his last 10 appearances for Aston Villa:
6 Clean Sheets
3 Times Dribbled Past
26/31 Aerial Duels Won (83.9%)
9/17 Ground Duels Won (52.9%) pic.twitter.com/zsIXxQRrve
— Villa For Life (@Villa_for_Life_) March 6, 2021
Left-Back – Lucas Digne
It is no surprise that Digne was once on the books of Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, when you consider how good he has been since joining Everton in 2018. He has also racked up an impressive 35 caps for France.
Not many full-backs pose as much of an attacking threat as Digne. In fact, no defender has more assists than his 6 this season. He has even worn the captain’s armband on several occasions, demonstrating his worth to Carlo Ancelotti’s side, and deserving of a place in the best XI outside the big 6.
Right-Mid – James Rodriguez
From one wing of Goodison Park to the other, I don’t think anyone is surprised at James Rodriguez’s impact on Everton. He has always displayed incredible talent since bursting onto the scene at the 2014 World Cup, even if his big move to Real Madrid didn’t quite work out.
5 goals and 4 assists this season only begin to tell the story. His flare and ball control compliment his vision wonderfully, and although injuries have disrupted his rhythm, there’s no doubt that on his day he is one of the most talented players in the league.
James Rodriguez 2020/21 stat update:
Idea balls: ∞ 😏
— Everton (@Everton) February 7, 2021
Centre-Mid – Youri Tielemans
Possibly one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, it’s remarkable that Leicester were able to purchase Youri Tielemans quite so easily from Monaco back in 2019. He provides a compelling link between defence and attack, linking the two simply but also effectively.
His 12 goals and 13 assists in 77 games is a fantastic return for a central midfielder, playing an essential role in Leicester’s charge for Champions League football. At just 23 years of age, don’t be surprised if a few of the big teams come knocking at his door in the near future.
Centre-Mid – Declan Rice
Since his breakthrough 2017/18 season, Declan Rice has been an irreplaceable player in the heart of West Ham’s midfield. In fact he has played in every game since the start of last season, and regularly captains the side in the absence of Mark Noble, demonstrating his importance to the Hammers.
Rice’s contribution this season has been a huge factor in West Ham’s rise to 5th in the table, and many believe he should make the Euros side this summer. David Moyes has even suggested that Rice is now worth over £100 million!
"I don't agree with the owners that Declan Rice is a £100m footballer. Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more."
Will #WHUFC hold onto their prized asset this summer? ⚒️
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) March 8, 2021
Left-Mid – Jack Grealish
Quite simply the first player I picked when choosing this XI. Grealish has been nothing short of superb for Aston Villa this season. 6 goals and 10 assists only begin to tell the story, as his ability to take on opponents and play key passes, mean he has the second highest WhoScored rating in the Premier League this season, only bettered by Harry Kane.
He was heavily linked with Manchester United last summer, and his value will have only gone up following his performances this season. He has shown he deserves to play Champions League football, and if he does end up leaving, it would be a massive blow to Villa.
Agree with Chris Wilder on Jack Grealish? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/PBqtUyRWVd
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) March 2, 2021
Striker – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Calvert-Lewin took some time to get going for Everton, but now under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti is showing signs of becoming a world-class striker. DCL has scored 26 goals over the past 2 seasons, an impressive return for any striker.
Calvert-Lewin has played a big part as Everton look to return to European football, and is another player knocking on Gareth Southgate’s door. At just 23, his numbers are only likely to improve too.
Striker – Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy deserves a lot of credit for the impact he has made on the Premier League. He made his debut at the age of 27 in 2014, and now has made it into the Premier League 100 club. One of the best Premier League strikers of the past 5 years, it’s no surprise he makes the best XI outside the big 6.
He has added 12 goals this season in Leicester’s charge for Champions League football. At the age of 34 he may now be starting to decline. However take nothing away from his goal scoring talents in recent years, which have made him one of the most feared strikers in the league.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 6, 2021
We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Best XI Outside the Big 6: Premier League’. Who makes it into your best XI outside the big 6? Let us know!
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