Picking an All Star XI of the Premier League's Best Players Outside the Top 6

Britain's top clubs may not compete as well on the continent as a decade ago, but one of the Premier League's great strengths is its quality in depth. 


Frankly stupefying wealth means all 20 clubs can attract a calibre of player unseen in many of the top tiers across the world.


Players at former continental powerhouses such as Feyenoord, Valencia and Benfica are now routinely forgoing the opportunity of European competition to cash in in England, while Burnley broke their own transfer record sign Robbie Brady for a similar figure to that spent by all La Liga clubs combined this January. 


While the top six looks fairly set in stone this season (although its order is less so), there is still plenty of top talent further down the table.


Here's a hypothetical starting XI of the best of the best plying their trade below sixth in the table...


Disclaimer: this list may cause outbursts of disagreement. 

Feel free to voice your displeasure to the author @TheElAndy

11. GK: Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Since Joe Hart's Guardiola-imposed exile and Fraser Forster's weakest campaign at Southampton to date, Tom Heaton has begun to look for all the world like England's best goalkeeper.


The 30-year-old can claim the most saves in the division so far with 104 stops, and is behind only Sunderland's Jordan Pickford for average saves per game with 4.5.


Heaton has also played his part in an impressive six clean sheets this season, and stands out as one of Sean Dyche's key players that have ensured Premier League survival is but a formality for the Clarets thanks to a formidable home record. 


On the bench:

Victor Valdes

10. RB: Seamus Coleman (Everton)

Everton's Irish right back is into his eighth season in the Premier League and remains one of the top flight's most consistent and dangerous attacking full backs.


With four league goals to his name so far, no defender has netted more than Coleman from open play this campaign, while the former Sligo Rovers man is also the Toffees' second highest scorer after Romelu Lukaku.


On the bench:

Antonio Barragan

9. LB: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

Another modern full back as capable at attacking as defending (if not even more so), Bertrand famously made his Chelsea European debut on the left wing in the Champions League final back in 2012.


Along with that trophy, the Southampton man can also boast FA Cup and Europa League medals in his personal cabinet, as well as a 2015 PFA Team of the Year nod and 10 England caps.


Only Bournemouth's Adam Smith and Watford's Jose Holebas have laid on more assists from defence this season.


On the bench:

Patrick van Aanholt

8. CB: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)

Possibly the most coveted of the entire team, Van Dijk could well be on his way to one of the Premier League's elite come the summer, if reports are to be believed.


While the prices speculated for the former Celtic star are typically exaggerated, few defenders in Europe seem quite as complete. 25-year-old Van Dijk combines physicality, aerial threat and an ability to read the game that is lacking at many of the Premier League's top clubs.


Last season's Saints player of the year would have had the opportunity to lift his first piece of silverware in England, but injury means he will miss Southampton taking on Manchester United for the EFL Cup at the end of February. 


On the bench:

Winston Reid

7. CB: Michael Keane (Burnley)

Alfie Mawson, Harry Maguire and Michael Keane have all garnered attention as young English centre backs putting in top performances in difficult circumstances this season, but perhaps the latter is the strongest contender of the three to rise to international calibre in the near future.


After playing at every level since U19 for England, the 24-year-old looks a shoo-in to get a call up to Gareth Southgate's senior squad sooner rather than later. Like Heaton, Keane has been instrumental in marshalling Burnley's defence to maintain an outstanding home record. He is behind only Hull's Curtis Davies for shots blocked, while he is among the top five highest clearance makers in the league this season.


On the bench:

Ashley Williams

6. CM: Etienne Capoue (Watford)

Capoue failed to ignite his Premier League career at White Hart Lane with Tottenham, but has rediscovered his best form slightly further north with Watford, since his 2015 move.


The tireless midfielder is the Hornets top passer, is consistently ranked among those who cover the most ground in the league, and has also added goals to his game this campaign, netting five to date.


The seven-cap France international combines metres run with a touch of class that has helped Walter Mazzarri's side avoid the ignominy of a relegation battle.


On the bench:

Joe Allen

5. CM: Idrissa Gueye (Everton)

No Premier League player has made more tackles this season than Everton's Senegalese enforcer Gueye.


His relentless energy has added drive to the Toffees engine room, since his arrival in the summer of 2016.


As a comparison the 27-year-old's tally of 96 (an average of 4.8 per game), is ten tackles more than N'Golo Kante. While the Everton star lags behind the superb Chelsea man in interceptions and number of passes, Gueye is still comfortably one of the best performers in the Premier League in both categories.


On the bench:

Morgan Schneiderlin

4. AMC: Gylfi Sigurdsson

No-one has scored more direct free kicks in the Premier League since 2012 than Swansea's Icelandic talisman.


Sigurdsson's creative abilities see him positioned at second in the Premier League's assist charts (with eight) and, with the same number of goals to his name, the classy midfielder has been directly responsible for just shy of half of all of Swansea's goals this season.


Paul Clement must take credit for the Swans recent turnaround in form, but it was with crucial contributions from Sigurdsson that helped his side to wins against Liverpool, Southampton and Crystal Palace in January. 


On the bench:

Ross Barkley

3. AMR: Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)

Snodgrass has big shoes to fill at the London Stadium, following Dimitri Payet's acrimonious departure.


While the 29-year-old Scot is unlikely to ever make it onto the Ballon d'Or shortlist as his playmaking predecessor did, he has the ability to be almost as important a player under Slaven Bilic for the Hammers - with his range of passing, set pieces and eye for goal.


While Snodgrass' half season with Hull, in which he scored seven and bagged three assists, caught many by surprise, he does have previous in the Premier League and netted 12 in two seasons with Norwich between 2012 and 2014.


On the bench:

Wilfried Zaha

2. AML: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)

The reigning PFA Player of the Year might currently appear a shadow of the man who scored 17 goals last season, but he is not alone amongst his title-winning teammates. 


However, amongst the terrible collective results there have been glimmers of what Mahrez is really capable of. The Algerian has been prolific in the Champions League, bagging four in five appearances, helping the Foxes to the Champions League second round.


While links to Europe's big hitters no long persist with such regularity, on his day Mahrez is still a magical player with the unfettered pace and skill to terrorise any and every defence around.


On the bench:

Xherdan Shaqiri

1. ST: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

Of all the players currently in the Premier League, perhaps the most likely to get close to breaking Alan Shearer's near-unassailable goals tally is Everton's Lukaku.


The club-record £28m the Toffees forked out for their front man was questioned at the time, but now seems like a bargain.


The 23-year-old Belgian has a staggering 76 strikes to his name already in five seasons between West Brom and Everton, and occasionally appears the living embodiment of unplayable.


Lukaku is a goal behind Alexis Sanchez in the overall scoring charts with 16 goals this season, and is behind only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane for league goals (excluding penalties) since January 2015 (36).


On the bench:

Jermain Defoe

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