It’s that time of the year when the Premier League awards and individual honours are dished out, with fans eager to see which stars have made the Team of the Season.
The end-of-season awards are often dominated by the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ clubs and just three players from outside of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have made the PFA Team of the Year since 2017/18.
We’ve decided to honour the teams often overlooked, after a campaign which has seen several teams punch above their weight in the Premier League.
Here is our non-Big Six Premier League Team of the Season.
Goalkeeper: Nick Pope – Newcastle
The Big Six might soon become seven after Newcastle’s ambitious project took a huge step forward this season. Eddie Howe’s team will compete in the Champions League next season after a top four finish in the Premier League, with the Magpies’ challenge built on a brilliant defensive record across the first half of the campaign.
Pope kept 12 clean sheets across Newcastle’s first 21 games of the season and has conceded less goals per 90 minutes (0.88) than any other goalkeeper. There will be more glamorous signings from Newcastle’s new owners than the £10m arrival of Pope from relegated Burnley last summer, but he has been a pivotal part of a successful season at St James’ Park.
WOW! HUGE MOMENT!
BIG save from Nick Pope 🤯 pic.twitter.com/GJbMypFM2W
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 22, 2023
Fulham’s Bernd Leno and Brentford’s David Raya deserve honourable mentions.
Right-back: Kieran Trippier – Newcastle
Kieran Tripper has been in brilliant form during Newcastle’s campaign of overachievement, with the England right-back one of the most influential defenders in the division.
Trippier leads the Premier League for crosses and passes into the penalty area this season, while he ranks second for expected assists, expected assists per 90, key passes and shot-creating actions.
Kieran Trippier took a risk when he left Atletico Madrid to join a relegation threatened Newcastle.
18 months later, he’s won their Player of the Season award and captained them into the Champions League.
Incredible 👏 pic.twitter.com/zA128ZHTl8
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 23, 2023
The 32-year-old has provided seven assists in the Premier League and has emerged as the leader of Eddie Howe’s fast-improving side. Trippier has been nominated for the Premier League’s Player of the Season accolade and was awarded Newcastle’s Player of the Year award last week.
Centre-back: Lewis Dunk – Brighton
Lewis Dunk’s excellent season has been rewarded with an England call up, five years on from the defender’s sole appearance for the Three Lions.
Dunk has risen through the divisions with Brighton and is producing the best football of his career under the current regime, with the centre-back confident in possession and dominant defensively. He has adapted brilliantly to the demands of Roberto De Zerbi, whose emphasis in building from the back is reliant on Dunk’s assuredness in possession.
This season, Lewis Dunk has played every single minute of Brighton’s best-ever top-flight season, securing European football for the first time in the club’s history.
After five years, he’s back in the England squad. 💪 pic.twitter.com/w5HhgkHDJA
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 24, 2023
Dunk might be 31, but the Seagulls’ captain appears to be getting better under the tutelage of De Zerbi and his performances have made him impossible for Gareth Southgate to ignore.
Centre-back: Sven Botman – Newcastle
Newcastle fought off competition from a host of leading clubs to sign Sven Botman last summer, having waited patiently to land Eddie Howe’s top defensive target.
The club’s £35m investment already appears money well spent with Botman a prominent figure in a resolute rearguard at St James’ Park. Newcastle’s backline has been a formidable unit and Botman’s domineering presence has been central to their success.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 23, 2023
The Dutch defender is calm under pressure, good on the ball and dominant in duels. The Magpies conceded 62 goals last season, but have allowed just 32 in this season ahead of the final weekend and Botman has been a major part of that. He’s been a brilliant addition and looks set to be a long-term fixture at Newcastle.
Left-back: Pervis Estupinan – Brighton
Brighton have had a historic season with the Seagulls having secured European football for the first time. The club’s success has come despite seeing several assets prized away by richer clubs, with elite recruitment having ensured Brighton continue to progress.
Marc Cucurella won a clean sweep at Brighton’s end-of-season awards in 2021/22, but the Spaniard has barely been missed. It’s a strong argument that Estupinan has been an upgrade on Cucurella, such has been his level of performance this season.
The Ecuadorian bombs forward with intent, is an excellent crosser and never neglects his defensive duties. He’s been arguably the best left-back in the league this season.
Midfield: Joao Palhinha – Fulham
Joao Palhinha has made his mark during an outstanding debut season at Fulham, with the summer arrival from Sporting Lisbon adding steel to Marco Silva’s midfield.
Palhinha tops the Premier League for tackles won and has won more duels than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues. His brilliant ball-winning has made Fulham tough to beat and the Cottagers have avoided a relegation dogfight to consolidate for another season comfortably.
A combative, crucial, cog in the Fulham side, the west Londoners failed to win in any of the three games Palhinha has missed this season. That is no coincidence.
Most Tackles Won in the Premier League so far this season:
80 – João Palhinha
56 – Pascal Struijk
52 – Idrissa Gana Gueye & Lucas Paqueta
Destroyer. 💥 pic.twitter.com/kCtBn478nT
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 24, 2023
Midfield: Declan Rice – West Ham
West Ham have disappointed domestically this season, but Declan Rice has continued to enhance his own reputation as the heartbeat of the Hammers’ side.
Rice leads the Premier League for interceptions and has been the driving force of West Ham’s best performances. The 24-year-old’s game has become increasingly rounded with an ability to both break up the game and drive forward with purpose, attributes which will make him one of the most sought-after players in the upcoming transfer window.
Declan Rice is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues with 30+ in these metrics in 22/23:
◉ 62 interceptions
◉ 51 clearances
◉ 38 take-ons completed
◉ 36 aerial duels won
◉ 36 chances created
◉ 33 shots
And he’s won possession more times than any other player (322). pic.twitter.com/UHFW0OqHMF
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 7, 2023
He will want to depart West Ham having become the club’s first captain since 1980 to lift a major trophy, having impressed during the Hammers’ run to the Europa Conference League final.
Midfield: Moises Caicedo – Brighton
Another name set to be in-demand this summer, Moises Caicedo has been the tenacious and tireless centrepiece of Brighton’s brilliant team.
Since breaking into the side during the latter stages of last season, Caicedo’s reputation has grown and grown with the Premier League’s top clubs keen on a midfielder who can add real bite and dynamism to the side.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) January 5, 2023
The 21-year-old is one of just two Premier League players to have created 40+ chances from open play, made 40+ successful tackles and made 40+ interceptions this season, while he has become just the fourth player aged 21 or under to record 100+ tackles in a Premier League season since 2016/17. The Ecuadorian is already immensely impactful and has the capabilities to get even better.
Forward: Kaoru Mitoma – Brighton
Kaoru Mitoma makes it a Brighton quartet in our non-Big Six Team of the Season, with the Japan international having been one of the most watchable players in the division.
Mitoma had to be patient for his chance after returning from a loan spell at Union Saint-Gilloise, but has thrived under the management of Roberto De Zerbi to give Premier League full-backs nightmares.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) October 4, 2022
Mitoma has seven goals and five assists in 24 league starts for the Seagulls, but more than that contribution he has raised the excitement levels at the Amex Stadium on a weekly basis. His desire to take on defenders has often been worth the admission fee alone.
Forward: Callum Wilson – Newcastle
Callum Wilson has fired Newcastle into the Champions League and the Magpies can look forward to big European nights returning to St James’ Park.
Wilson has had to make do with a reduced role on occasion following the arrival of Alexander Isak, but has proven his worth during the run-in with a phenomenal run of form.
The 31-year-old has scored 11 goals in his last 11 league appearances, part of a career-best haul of 18 goals in the Premier League this season. Wilson’s return has come from just 21 league starts, with the forward exceptional for Eddie Howe’s side and well worthy of his England recall.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 30, 2023
Only Erling Haaland can better his average of 0.87 goals per 90 minutes this season.
Forward: Ivan Toney – Brentford
Ivan Toney has had a career-best season for a Brentford side who continue to upset the odds in the Premier League on a fraction of the budget enjoyed by rival sides.
Toney’s first full season in the Premier League was impressive last term, but the forward has reached another level in 2022/23 to score 20 league goals and become an England international.
🏆 @IvanToney24 is our 2022/23 Players’ Player of the Season
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 24, 2023
The 27-year-old has been monstrous in the air and clinical on the ground, exhibiting an all-round game which would have made him coveted this summer. Brentford will need to find a way to replace his impact, after an eight-month ban for breaching gambling rules.