Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
Over the past week, countless media outlets and football websites have published their own Premier League teams of the calendar year for 2018.
Generally, and somewhat understandably, the assorted selections have come out looking more than a little similar.
From Eden Hazard to Harry Kane and Virgil van Dijk to David Silva – the same names are found etched into the same positions, with little diversity from one TOTY to the next.
Here at FST, we’ve chosen to approach things from a slightly different angle. In our Alternative Premier League Team of 2018, we’ve picked players who often deserve a little more recognition than they get.
If you disagree with any of our picks, make sure to let us know in the Twitter comments!
Łukasz Fabiański – Swansea/West Ham
Polish international Łukasz Fabiański finished the 2017/18 season as one of the Premier League’s busiest goalkeepers, and even though his efforts to keep Swansea up were ultimately futile, the stopper’s reputation as one of the division’s top keepers was firmly cemented.
Sine moving to West Ham last summer, Fabiański’s has averaged 3.7 saves per game for the Irons and the 33-year has started each of the Hammers’ 21 Premier League games this season. Fabiański’s performances against Chelsea, Newcastle and Fulham were particularly impressive.
Kieran Trippier – Tottenham Hotspur
Routinely left out of Team of the Year selections in favour of England team-mates Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Spurs’ right-back Kieran Trippier was the picture of consistency in 2018.
The World Cup star, who turned 28 in September, remains one of the most productive defenders in the Premier League when it comes to supplying chances for his teammates further up the pitch. Tripper racked up 8 assists last season for Spurs in all competitions, and the former Man City youngster has collected 4 already this term.
Shane Duffy – Brighton & Hove Albion
Republic of Ireland international Shane Duffy was a talismanic figure for the Seagulls in 2018. The battled-hardened 27-year old centre half is one of the first names on the Brighton teamsheet, and Duffy has been making his considerable presence felt at both ends of the pitch.
Duffy has averaged a Premier League high 7.4 clearances per game this season and his 4-goal haul so far this term makes him Brighton’s second top scorer behind Glenn Murray.
Harry Maguire – Leicester City
Either side of his World Cup heroics for England in the summer, Harry Maguire was combining brute force with a silky touch to great effect in the Premier League in 2018.
Maguire didn’t miss a single Premier League game for Leicester City in 2017/18, and between August and December at the end of last year, the 25-year made more clearances (5.6) and won more aerial duels (3.8) per game on average than any of the Foxes’ other defenders.
José Holebas – Watford
Veteran German-born, Greek international wing-back José Holebas enjoyed a year filled with fine individual performances in 2018.
The former Roma regular brought his unique brand of aggression and grit to the Hornet’s left flank, while his exceptional delivery from crosses and set-pieces provided the ammunition for plenty of Watford goals. Holebas set up 4 goals for his teammates during his 2017/18 campaign, though the 34-year old had already scored 3 and set up 5 before the turn of the year this season.
Luka Milivojevic – Crystal Palace
Serbian holding midfielder Luka Milivojevic was instrumental in helping Crystal Palace climb away from the relegation zone and into mid-table safety in the first half of 2018.
The Eagles’ anchor-man scored 7 of his 10 2017/18 Premier League goals after January 1st, and Milivojevic hit another 5 league goals for Palace before the close of the year between August and December.
Milivojevic also put in man of the match displays for Palace away to Man Utd and Man City inside the space of a month to help the Eagles take 4 huge points from 2 extremely difficult fixtures.
Johann Gudmundsson – Burnley
Even with Burnley’s disappointing end to 2018 acknowledged, Icelandic national team regular Johann Gudmundsson enjoyed an incredibly productive year in the Premier League.
The 28-year old, who is deployed on the right-hand side of the Clarets’ midfield more often than not, was a key member of Sean Dyche’s over-performing Burnley team last season.
Gudmundsson’s striking technique from a dead ball was a particularly potent weapon, and the former Charlton Athletic employee amassed 4 assists for Burnley before Christmas to add to the 3 he collected at the beginning of 2018.
Pascal Gross – Brighton & Hove Albion
German midfielder Pascal Gross was a revelation in his first Premier League season with Brighton in 2017/18, creating 8 goals for his Seagulls teammates and scoring 7 himself during an incredibly impressive campaign.
3 of those goals and 3 of the assists arrived between January and May last year, and while injury curtailed his process somewhat at the back end of 2018, Gross’ performances were notable enough for Liverpool to sound out a January move for the 27-year old.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
Ivorian winger Wilfried Zaha twisted defenders into knots of limbs with his close control and trickery in 2018. The 25-year old scored 9 times and collected 3 assists in 2017/18, and most of those key moments (5 goals, 2 assists) arrived after January 1st last year.
A summer move to Chelsea didn’t materialize, though the £75m price tag placed on his head by Palace showed just how important they consider Zaha to be. Zaha added 3 goals and 1 assist to his Crystal Palace tally in the final months of 2018.
Son-Heung Min – Tottenham Hotspur
Explosive wide attacker Son-Heung Min was at his devastating best in 2018, scoring 13 times and setting up 6 goals for his Spurs’ teammates inside the calendar year.
This season in particular, Son has elevated his game to another level for Tottenham and only Karry Kane has posted more impressive numbers than the South Korean international.
Son’s recent displays against Leicester, Everton and Bournemouth in December were particularly outstanding.
Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
Having started the 2017/18 season relatively slowly by his own high standards, Jamie Vardy exploded into life after New Years Day 2018 for Leicester City.
The fiery centre-forward netted 11 times in his final 16 Premier League appearances of the season to drag his total for the campaign up to 20.
With injuries a concern, Vardy has played only 14 of Leicester’s 21 games so far in 2018/19, though the 31-year old has still maintained a healthy 1 in 2 strike rate, with 7 goals to his name so far.
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