Premier League

Premier League 2021/22: Best XI of the bottom half of the table

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
There is so much talent in the Premier League
There is so much talent in the Premier League / Chloe Knott - Danehouse, Steve Bardens, Stu Forster / Getty Images
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In terms of strength in depth throughout the table, the Premier League is unmatched in world football.

Thanks to the riches on offer at even the smallest clubs in the English top flight, we often see players spurning offers from Champions League-bound sides across Europe in favour of a shot in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

Due to the sheer amount of star quality housed in England, it is only natural that some top performers are confined to the bottom half.

Here are the very best from the rest from the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.


1. GK - Nick Pope (Burnley)

Nick Pope
Nick Pope could not prevent his side going down / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Burnley may have ended up getting relegated but goalkeeper Nick Pope couldn't have done much more to prevent his side's demise.

Once again the England international provided a stubborn last line of defence for the Clarets, with only David de Gea and Jose Sa performing better against the xG they faced this season.

He should have no problem finding another club this summer.

Honourable mentions: David Raya, Jordan Pickford

2. RB - Matty Cash (Aston Villa)

Matty Cash built on a promising maiden campaign this time out, featuring in every single one of Aston Villa's Premier League games.

Villa's defensive record was the second best in the bottom half of the table and Cash also contributed at the other end with four goals and three assists.

His displays were enough to make him a favourite at Villa Park and he deservedly scooped the Supporters' Player of the Year award recently.

Honourable mentions: Tino Livramento, Emil Krafth

3. CB - Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Marc Guehi, Joachim Andersen
Guehi and Andersen have been superb this season / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

With Chelsea staring down the barrel of a defensive selection crisis this summer, the decision-makers at Stamford Bridge must be regretting letting Marc Guehi leave.

Guehi's first season in the top flight was near-perfect. His composed yet assertive style helped Palace conceded just 46 goals all campaign, as well as earning him the captain's armband for a spell and an England call-up.

4. CB - Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace)

We could not select Guehi without his partner in crime Joachim Andersen.

No one in the Premier League completed more long passes than the Dane this season with his raking balls adding a potent weapon to the Eagles' defensive arsenal.

Andersen also makes bread-and-butter defending look so easy.

Honourable mentions: Dan Burn

5. LB - Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace)

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Premier League
Mitchell has come on leaps and bounds / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Aside from a minor wobble towards the tail end of the season, Tyrick Mitchell was close to flawless during the 2021/22 campaign.

Only Brentford's Christian Norgaard completed more tackles in the Premier League and just two players managed more successful pressures.

His displays were reminiscent of another Selhurst Park youth-team graduate, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, whom Mitchell could ironically end up lining up alongside next season.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters

6. CM - James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

James Ward-Prowse is one of the best dead-ball specialists in world football and that is far from the only thing to like about his game.

The midfielder's value to Southampton cannot be overstated. In both directions Ward-Prowse is key to making Saints tick and keeping hold of him will be at the forefront of their new owners' agenda this summer.

7. CM - Christian Eriksen (Brentford)

Christian Eriksen
Eriksen helped tear Chelsea apart during the season / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Christian Eriksen may have only spent half the season at Brentford but that was more than enough time for him to firmly earn his spot in this team.

Eriksen came in just as the Bees were floundering and his arrival gave Thomas Frank's side fresh impetus to finish the campaign strongly and pull away from the relegation zone.

Brentford are desperate for him to stick around but he is surely destined for a top-half move in the summer.

8. CM - Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)

Conor Gallagher's reputation has exploded into the stratosphere this season.

A lightning start saw Gallagher net six times before Christmas and his boundless energy off the ball was pivotal as Patrick Vieira refreshed Palace's style after years of Hodgson-ball.

Although his numbers dipped in the second half of the campaign he still played well enough to secure the club's Player of the Year award amid some stiff competition.

Honourable mentions: Christian Norgaard, Bruno Guimaraes

9. RW - Raphinha (Leeds)

Raphinha
Raphinha may move on from Elland Road after two fine seasons / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Leeds may have struggled to improve on their 2020/21 showing, but Raphinha certainly didn't.

The tricky winger notched double-figure goals for the first time since 2017/18, inspiring the Whites' last-ditch survival bid.

Most importantly, he also completed the second most nutmegs in the Premier League.

10. ST - Ivan Toney (Brentford)

Ivan Toney did not always have things his own way during the 2021/22 campaign but when all was said and done he still finished with 12 goals and five assists.

This included five strikes in two games against Norwich and Burnley in March.

Toney's aim for next season should be proving he can get the job done against top teams.

Honourable mentions: Teemu Pukki, Richarlison

11. LW - Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Wilfried Zaha
Zaha is back to his very best / Eddie Keogh/GettyImages

No Palace player benefited more from Vieira's arrival than Wilfried Zaha this season.

The Ivorian played like a man reinvigorated, striking fear into Premier League defences with his devastating pace and close control in transition.

His 14 top-flight goals represent his best ever career haul and Zaha will be looking to push himself and Palace to even greater heights next term as he increasingly takes on a leadership role.

Honourable mentions: Emmanuel Dennis, Maxwel Cornet

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