As the season draws to a close, it’s only right we shine a light on the Dream Team assets residing in the unfashionable half of the Premier League table.
Here we’ve assembled the best possible Dream Team XI, as determined by total season points, using only players who represent clubs currently in the bottom half.
GOALKEEPER: Kepa Arrizabalaga (£3.2m)
The Blues’ No1 is possibly the only Stamford Bridge resident who can call 2022/23 his best season on English shores.
Only four goalkeepers have more points than the Spaniard’s 97 at this stage.
Arrizabalaga has kept 12 clean sheets this season and deserved to usurp Edouard Mendy (£3.2m) as Chelsea’s first-choice custodian.
DEFENDERS: Thiago Silva (£5m), James Tarkowski (£2.6m), Kalidou Koulibaly (£4.4m)
Here’s the thing, while Chelsea have been wasteful and unimaginative in attack, their defensive record is actually rather good.
Even after a flurry of disappointing defeats since Frank Lampard was appointed interim manager, only Newcastle and Man City have conceded fewer league goals this season, hence Koulibaly and Silva’s presence in this XI.
The latter stood out in the first two thirds of the campaign as an unflappable buoy of class amid floundering castaways and held his position among Dream Team’s top ten defenders before an injury caused him to slide down the rankings – he’s currently 18th.
Everton have struggled all season but they haven’t conceded anywhere near as many goals as the likes of Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Leicester and Bournemouth.
Tarkowski is very much a traditional centre-back in that he specialises in penalty-box defending: headers, blocks, clearances.
The 30-year-old has been fighting an uphill battle this campaign but 17 match ratings of 7+ are evidence that his individual efforts have been recognised even though it’s been a mostly miserable year for the Toffees.
MIDFIELDERS: Jarrod Bowen (£4m), Said Benrahma (£3.5m), James Maddison (£5.5m), James Ward-Prowse (£3.4m)
The value of European fixtures on display here.
West Ham have only recently trudged out of the relegation quagmire but they’re still active in the Europa Conference League, a competition both Bowen and Benrahma have utilised superbly.
In fact, the former has earned 37.2% of his points in Europe this term while the latter owes a quarter of his returns to his Thursday night adventures.
Maddison averages four points-per-game this season which puts him above the likes of Solly March (£4.8m) and Jack Grealish (£5.1m) in the same metric.
Leicester’s No10 has 115 points overall by virtue of ten goals and nine assists – imagine the scramble for his signature if the Foxes are relegated later this month.
And the same could be said for Ward-Prowse with Southampton nailed on for the drop having mustered just 24 points to date.
Saints’ skipper is the Premier League’s ultimate set-piece specialist and 112 points represents a noble effort given his side’s collective performances.
The England international has almost three times as many points as Carlos Alcaraz (£1.6m), Southampton’s next-best midfielder.
FORWARDS: Michail Antonio (£4.1m), Kai Havertz (£3.5m), Rodrigo (£3.3m)
The Hammers’ bullish forward has scored 13 goals in all competitions, a decent return in a side that have struggled in the final third domestically.
Antonio’s tally of 120 points is equal to that of Leandro Trossard (£4m), the pair are joint-13th among forwards in the rankings.
Havertz and Rodrigo are one place back on 102 points each.
The former is clearly a good footballer but he’s simply not prolific enough to lead the line for a club of Chelsea’s ambitions and as he approaches the end of his third season at Stamford Bridge, his role at the club remains loosely defined.
Leeds are now odds-on to return to the Championship having dropped down to 19th place in the table after the latest round of fixtures.
Much like Leicester, it’s the defence that has caused all the problems as their tally of 44 goals scored is superior to almost every other side in the bottom half – Rodrigo has 12 of those.
From an individual perspective, 2022/23 has been the Spaniard’s best Premier League campaign by a comfortable margin but it seems as if his efforts will be undermined by significant flaws elsewhere in the team.