The Worst Premier League Team of the Season

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: 25 May 2022 11:45 CEST
  • 7 min read
FT Desk Updated: 25 May 2022 11:45 CEST 7 min read
Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea

The 2021/22 Premier League season came to a close with a highly dramatic final day with a suitable end to an enthralling campaign.

Manchester City came back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to secure their sixth ever Premier League title.

While Pep Guardiola's men enjoyed yet more domestic success, there were plenty of teams and players on the opposite side of the swing, with many underachievers this year.

Rather than include solely Norwich and Watford players, this team is based on players who didn't live up to expectations rather than the eleven worst players this year.

So, which players make our Worst Premier League Team of the Season?

GK - Illan Meslier (Leeds)

Heralded as one of Europe's best young goalkeepers last season after a stellar first campaign in the Premier League, Illan Meslier has suffered a huge drop-off this year.

The France U-21 'keeper narrowly escaped relegation with Leeds following victory on the final day, but he can't take much credit.

Meslier had the worst post-shot xG minus goals allowed in the entire division with 7.8. That essentially means he conceded nearly eight more goals than the average goalkeeper would've based on the shots he faced throughout the season.

For reference, Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez was the second-worst.

RB - Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd)

Signed for a large fee after commanding defensive performances for Crystal Palace, Aaron Wan-Bissaka started his Manchester United career in similar fashion and was tipped for an England call-up by many.

However, he's now further away from the national team set-up after a disappointing campaign. Replaced by Diogo Dalot following Ralf Rangnick's arrival as interim head coach, Wan-Bissaka ended the season with 20 Premier League appearances and zero goals or assists.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Man Utd, 2021/22

He made just six league appearances in 2022 and has even been linked with a move back to Crystal Palace.

CB - Harry Maguire (Man Utd)

Harry Maguire was heroic at the European Championship for England, but was unable to carry that form into the 2021/22 season.

The defender made several high-profile errors and was in the firing line for unjust abuse after a string of poor performances. According to WhoScored, Maguire has committed the most errors leading to an opposition shot on goal of all outfielders in the English top flight since the start of last season.

Still Man Utd's captain, Maguire will want to forget this season and move on with Erik ten Hag in the Old Trafford dugout next year.

CB - Jannik Vestergaard (Leicester)

Signed following the severe injury to Wesley Fofana last summer, Jannik Vestergaard arrived after a quietly impressive time at Southampton.

However, the Danish defender was unable to live up to expectations put on him and he was soon exposed in one of the division's worst defences. Vestergaard wasn't included in Leicester's matchday squad for their final nine games of the season, and started just three league games from October onwards. In those three games, Leicester conceded 11 goals.

Daniel Amartey, a natural midfielder, and the out-of-form Caglar Soyuncu, who was close to making this XI, were both preferred to Vestergaard for the majority of the season, while Brendan Rodgers dealt with injuries to Fofana and Jonny Evans.

LB - Nuno Tavares (Arsenal)

The downgrade from Kieran Tierney to Nuno Tavares was evident in Arsenal's run-in, and led to Mikel Arteta selecting Takehiro Tomiyasu and Granit Xhaka as left-backs ahead of the summer signing.

New Arsenal signing Nuno Tavares after joining from Benfica

Tavares arrived for just over €8m last summer, and although his underlying numbers look impressive, with nearly 7.0 progressive carries per 90, his erratic nature has left Arsenal with severe problems.

The win at home to Man Utd was a perfect example. Although Tavares opened the scoring, he gave away a needless penalty and was constantly found out-of-position and flying into tackles which ultimately led to his yellow card for pulling back Anthony Elanga after a heavy touch.

Tierney is needed if Arsenal want to return to the Champions League.

CM - Saul Niguez (Chelsea)

Despite links with Aurelien Tchouameni last summer, Chelsea opted to bring in the experienced head of Saul Niguez on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Once a key figure of Diego Simeone's side, Saul fell slightly out of favour in the two years before his move to Chelsea, and it's clear why.

His debut against Aston Villa lasted just 45 minutes after he was hooked by Thomas Tuchel following a dismal first-half in which he looked miles off the pace of the Premier League. He didn't start in the league again for over two months and his next appearance in the starting XI saw him removed after 45 minutes again, this time against Watford.

All in all, Saul made five Premier League starts and although he begun to adapt to the division, he couldn't quite cut it at Chelsea.

CM - Donny van de Beek (Man Utd/Everton)

After Ralf Rangnick's arrival, it was expected that Donny van de Beek would begin to feature more regularly for Man Utd.

However, his situation stayed the same and he remained on the peripheries, unable to break into the starting XI. As a result, he was shipped off to Everton on loan for the second-half of the season, but his fortunes didn't improve much at Goodison Park.

In his first six appearances, Everton won just once, and he then sustained a thigh injury that kept him out until the final game of the season. He did, however, score his first goal for the club against in Arsenal, in what will have been his last game for Everton.

Everton's on-loan Man Utd manager Donny van de Beek

CM - Dele Alli (Tottenham/Everton)

Dele Alli's Tottenham career was given hope by Nuno Espirito Santo at the start of the campaign, but that fizzled out before long.

The former England international netted once, a penalty against Wolves, for Spurs before Antonio Conte's arrival, which signalled the end of his career at the North London club.

He was soon out of favour and sold to Everton in the January transfer window as the Toffees sought a goal-scoring midfielder to guide them to safety.

Although they achieved their goal of staying in the Premier League, it wasn't down to Alli, who is yet to score his first goal for the club.

RW - Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa/Everton)

Just like Alli and Van de Beek, Anwar El Ghazi arrived at Everton mid-season and didn't have the desired effect.

In fact, he played just 11 minutes for the club in two separate substitute appearances. Unsurprisingly that yielded no goal contributions, while he scored just once and assisted once in six months at Aston Villa after falling down the pecking order there.

The arrival of Steven Gerrard sealed El Ghazi's fate as the winger was soon loaned to Everton in January.

ST - Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

Romelu Lukaku's return to Chelsea in the summer of 2021 has proved to be one of the most underwhelming Premier League transfers of recent memory.

While it may have seemed odd on paper for the Blues to spend €115m on a player they once had on their books as a young prospect, the signing of Lukaku was undoubtedly a statement transfer from the club.

Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, 2021-22

He was supposed to be the final piece of the jigsaw in a team that had months earlier won the Champions League without a natural striker.

However, he failed dismally in his first season. He publicly admitted in December 2021 that he regrets leaving Inter and then went months without scoring in the Premier League in 2022 as he was dropped. He could leave after just one year back.

LW - Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)

Once Man Utd's great hope, Marcus Rashford was far from his best in 2021/22. The Englishman broke onto the scene as a Kylian Mbappe level talent and was electric last campaign, but it went gone wrong this season.

Since missing a penalty in England's penalty shootout loss to Italy last summer, he hasn't seemed the same player and his performances have shown that.

He scored four goals in the Premier League this season, but was dropped for Anthony Elanga is large stretches under Rangnick and is no longer a nailed-on regular in the starting XI.

The player who ran Trent Alexander-Arnold ragged at Old Trafford didn't appear this campaign, and Ten Hag will need to inspire some confidence into Rashford ahead of next season.

Worst Premier League Team of the Season