Even good players can have bad seasons — compare Eden Hazard from his days at Chelsea and, because of injury, now at Real Madrid — and nobody wants to be named in a line-up of Premier League strugglers, but it is a fact that some stars have performed below expectations.
So here is my selection of disappointments in 2020-21, in a 4-4-2 formation. Some of this might seem unfair, but it is really only meant as a starting point for playful debate!
Hugo Lloris | Goalkeeper | Tottenham Hotspur: A World Cup winner with France in 2018, remember, Lloris does not inspire the same confidence these days. There is a feeling that his time with Spurs may be up, with Burnley’s Nick Pope among those being eyed up.
Hector Bellerin | Defender | Arsenal: The Spaniard with a Cockney accent could be on his way out of north London, with Calum Chambers preferred lately. Bellerin has rather lost his way since making the PFA Team of the Year in 2015-16 as a 21-year-old.
Eric Bailly | Defender | Manchester United: Prone to injuries and accidents when he does play, so it would worry United fans if, as seems likely, Bailly starts the Europa League final in place of the injured Harry Maguire.
Davinson Sanchez | Defender | Tottenham Hotspur: He has rarely looked like the commanding central defender Spurs need. He has a sprinkling of good games, but is prone to mistakes and sits behind Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld in the pecking order.
Benjamin Mendy | Defender | Manchester City: It has taken him four seasons to clock up 50 Premier League appearances. Talented and likeable but erratic too often, Mendy is rarely selected for the bigger games by Pep Guardiola.
Ryan Fraser | Midfielder | Newcastle United: Injuries have played a part, but the Scotland winger has made next to no impact after his move from Bournemouth, where his time ended with a poor look as he opted not to risk his fitness ahead of a transfer.
Ross Barkley | Midfielder | Aston Villa: In and out of the team at Villa Park during a season-long loan from Chelsea. Once regarded as the next big thing, Barkley has his moments, but has failed to turn potential into consistently applied quality. What will Thomas Tuchel do with him?
Donny van de Beek | Midfielder | Manchester United: A nightmare first season in England, during which he has hardly been given a chance. Van de Beek lives in the shadow of Bruno Fernandes and, when he is used, has understandably looked off the pace. A real threat at Ajax Amsterdam, you feel sorry for him now.
Willian | Midfielder | Arsenal: After trophy-laden years at Chelsea, his signing by Arsenal looked as if it might be significant. But he looks to have lost his spark and does not make Mikel Arteta’s first-choice selection.
Rhian Brewster | Forward | Sheffield United: The Blades took a £20 million gamble that the Liverpool youngster would provide the goals to keep them out of trouble, but he has not looked ready for the Premier League and failed to find the back of the net in any competition.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Forward | Arsenal: The Gunners’ captain and talisman signed a new deal last summer, but he has largely misfired since. When he was dropped after turning up late for a derby against Tottenham, it rather summed up his year.
Substitutes: Romaine Sawyers (midfielder, West Brom), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (midfielder, Brighton & Hove Albion), Oli McBurnie (forward, Sheffield United), Alexander Mitrovic (forward, Fulham), Fabio Silva (forward, Wolverhampton Wanderers).
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