2022-23 Premier League: Best, worst players this season

Another Premier League season is over, and the winners and losers have been confirmed.

Manchester City have won a fifth title in the past six years and might yet end the campaign with a historic treble. Arsenal ran them close, while Manchester United and Newcastle returned to the Champions League. Brighton qualified for Europe for the first time in their history, while Unai Emery took Aston Villa from relegation candidates to the Europa Conference League.

At the other end of the table, Southampton, Leeds United and Leicester fell through the trap door into the Championship, while Everton only survived by the finest of margins.

Here’s a look at the players who have had seasons to remember and those who will want to quickly forget.

BEST XI OF 2022-23

Goalkeeper: Nick Pope (Newcastle United)
Defenders: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Sven Botman (Newcastle United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Rodri (Manchester City), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Newcastle’s charge into the Champions League has been built on a solid defence. Eddie Howe has, first and foremost, made them hard to beat, and it has started at the back. Newcastle ended the season with the joint best defensive record in the league thanks, in part, to Pope, Trippier and Botman. Pope has kept 14 Premier League clean sheets in his first season at St James’ Park, while Trippier has also chipped in with seven assists from right-back. Trippier, with his experience at the highest level, has been transformative for Howe’s side since arriving from Atletico Madrid.

Luke Shaw has been consistent at left-back for Manchester United and looked just as comfortable at centre-back on the occasions Erik ten Hag has asked him to fill in.

Ruben Dias’ role in Manchester City’s fantastic run at the end of the season cannot be underestimated. He has taken on added responsibility in the centre of City’s defence when John Stones has shifted into midfield, and he’s Pep Guardiola’s leader at the back.

Meanwhile, Dias’ City teammate Rodri has been the best holding midfielder in the league this season. He barely missed a game and would have been in the running for the club’s player of the year award had it not been for Haaland and those phenomenal numbers.

Elsewhere in midfield, Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo have been outstanding for Brighton as they qualified for Europe for the first time in their history. Mac Allister’s technical ability on the ball has been key to the way manager Roberto De Zerbi wants to play, and reaching 10 league goals from midfield is an impressive return. His form for Brighton and Argentina at the World Cup has naturally sparked interest from Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Much of Arsenal’s success this season has been based on the form of their wide players, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, although Martin Odegaard also deserves a mention. Saka recorded 11 assists while Martinelli scored 15 goals — attacking output that helped Arsenal maintain their title challenge even when Mikel Arteta was without Gabriel Jesus after the World Cup.

Haaland has to be in the team of the year after breaking the Premier League single-season record with an incredible 36 goals, but Kane also deserves his place after finding the net 30 times in a Tottenham team that has struggled. Kane has been the highlight in an otherwise poor season at Spurs and would have run away with the golden boot had it not been for Haaland’s historic campaign.

WORST XI OF 2022-23

Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier (Leeds United)
Defenders: Clement Lenglet (Tottenham), Lyanco (Southampton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Marc Cucurella (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Jonjo Shelvey (Nottingham Forest), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton)
Forwards: Richarlison (Tottenham), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Chelsea)

No team has conceded more goals in the Premier League this season than Leeds United, and Meslier has had such a tough season in goal that the first thing Sam Allardyce did when he came in as manager was to drop the young Frenchman to the bench.

Chelsea have had such a disastrous season that any number of their players could qualify for a worst XI, but Cucurella has been particularly disappointing considering it cost around £55 million to bring him in from Brighton last summer.

Maguire has been so bad this season that the Man United captain has barely had a game. He started Erik ten Hag’s first two games in charge — defeats to Brighton and Brentford — but has since started just seven league games as the Dutchman has preferred Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw at centre-back.

Southampton finished the season rock bottom of the table on 25 points, six points adrift of Leeds in 19th. Plenty of Saints players should be in the mix — only James Ward-Prowse is really exempt from criticism after a thoroughly awful season — but Lyanco and Stuart Armstrong have been the worst of a bad bunch.

Phillips ended the season with a Premier League winners’ medal but didn’t really contribute at all. Despite arriving at Manchester City from Leeds in a £45 million deal last summer, the England midfielder started only two league games all season. Meanwhile Shelvey has had a forgettable spell at Nottingham Forest after joining from Newcastle in January. He made eight appearances — winning none — and gifted a goal to Aston Villa in a 2-0 defeat at Villa Park, also falling out with manager Steve Cooper.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has managed just one league goal all season, while Chelsea teammate Kai Havertz hasn’t fared much better. Chelsea finished in the bottom half of the table for the first time since 1996 and managed to score only 38 goals in 38 games — fewer than Leicester and Leeds, who will both be playing in the Championship next season.

There was a lot expected of Richarlison after his goals kept Everton up last season, but it has not gone well at Tottenham. The Brazilian scored only one league goal during a debut campaign at Spurs that will be best remembered for his row with former manager Antonio Conte. They also conceded 63 goals this season, more than any other team in the top 10; Lenglet isn’t the only Spurs defender to struggle, but he had a poor season following his loan move from Barcelona.