PFF Premier League Team of the Season: Seven clubs represented in star-studded XI for 2022-23

2R2XBY0 City players celebrate with the Premier League trophy after the Premier League match Manchester City vs Chelsea at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom, 21st May 2023 (Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images)

This season marks the third in which PFF has collected data on every event by every player across some 760 games in the Premier League.

The known entity of Manchester City being title challengers was also cast against the surprises of Arsenal joining them in a two-team race for the trophy, and Brighton and Aston Villa securing qualification for European cup competition.

With a game to spare, City had already wrapped up the title while there was final day drama at the bottom of the standings as Everton kept their head above water just long enough to see Leicester and Leeds go down.

So, with all outcomes now known, PFF has scoured through the data and grades to select a Premier League Team of the Season 2022-23.


Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martínez, Aston Villa

PFF shot-stopping grade: 98.8 (position rank: 1/20)

Aston Villa’s ten-match unbeaten streak stretching from late February to the end of April sparked a rally towards securing Europa League qualification, and fueling it was the efforts of Emiliano Martínez in goal.

The Argentinian World Cup winner kept seven clean sheets over this period as Villa collected 26 points from a possible 30 to surge up the table. But his influence extended beyond Villa’s hot-streak.

While the likes of Brentford’s David Raya (148) and Fulham’s Bernd Leno (139) pulled off more saves than Martínez (94), the quality and consistency of his shot-stopping led him to top spot in this facet with a grade of 98.8. This is the best grade of any goalkeeper across the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, and better than Raya’s 87.8, Leno’s 85.8, and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale whose grade of 92.9 was the second-best.

Right-back: Kieran Trippier, Newcastle United

PFF crossing grade: 92.3 (1/131)

Champions League football will return to St James’ Park next season for the first time in 20 years thanks to the exploits of their defence and goalkeeper Nick Pope. As a unit, they recorded 10-straight clean sheets between November and January to come within range of beating Edwin van der Sar’s record run of 14 clean sheets for Manchester United in the 2008/09 season.

As a member of the back four, Trippier’s contributions to Eddie Howe’s side do not just stop there. His set-piece ability also sets him apart from the rest with a league-leading 92.3 crossing grade evidence of the quality he displayed en route to recording 112 chances created, second only to Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.

Trippier’s feat as a crosser warrants recognition given the sheer volume of attempts he made and still managing to attain an elite level grade. His 422 attempts were more than Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (274) and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (272).

Centre-back: Rúben Dias, Manchester City

PFF passing grade: 77.5 (position rank: 10/171)

No player in the Premier League this season completed more passes per-90 than Rúben Dias. His rate of 78.7 is also supported by a high degree of overall accuracy with an adjusted completed-pass percentage of 91%.

FA Cup and Champions League final dates in June leave the treble on for Manchester City after they lifted a third-straight Premier League title, and Dias has been a figure of consistency for Pep Guardiola with eight grades of 70.0 or higher in facets relative to centre-backs.

Arsenal defender Gabriel
2PG2C5W LONDON, ENGLAND – 2023 MARCH 19: Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal FC during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium. Alamy

Centre-back: Gabriel, Arsenal

PFF challenge grade: 85.0 (position rank: 7/171)

Gabriel played the most minutes of any outfield player for Arsenal as they led the way in the Premier League for much of the season only to be pipped to the post by Manchester City. The Brazilian was a force at the back playing in every league game and was on the pitch for 11 minutes less than Aaron Ramsdale’s tally of 3,781.

Arsenal’s future as a team capable of challenging for the title looks safe at least in the hands of their centre-backs, with Gabriel striking up a partnership alongside William Saliba.

As a challenger, Gabriel won a total of 259 events and garnered an overall grade of 85.0. Aerial duels and 50-50s were both segments of challenging where Gabriel was particularly successful, with grades of 85.0 and 82.5 when analysing these specific facets.

Left-back: Luke Shaw, Manchester United

PFF ball-carrying grade: 82.9 (1/167)

Next season will see Luke Shaw celebrate ten years as a Manchester United player and he will enter it off the back of his best yet in the team’s colours. While the club await the outcome of a takeover bidding process, they ensured Shaw was able to commit himself to Old Trafford with a four-year extension signed by the England international in April.

This was reward for performances that have seen Shaw exceed grades of 80.0 in four facets; ball carrying (82.9), carry defending (83.4), 50-50s (81.6), and clearances (81.6).

Shaw has been hugely valuable to head coach Erik ten Hag in times of strife when injuries have impacted the United squad, shifting into the centre of defence to provide cover.

Midfielder: Declan Rice, West Ham United

PFF challenge grade: 85.2 (position rank: 1/161)

All the talk at Bayern Munich in the aftermath of their dramatic Bundesliga title win has been of Declan Rice being a player they will target to make sure Dortmund can’t run them close next season.

The West Ham enforcer has been highly effective as a challenger, as he has been in previous seasons, but 2022-23 has seen him recognised for his skills as a progressive ball carrier.

A carrying grade of 84.7 ranks fourth amongst all midfielders and was a marked improvement on his 2021-22 grade of 83.5. This, together with a passing grade of 89.5 and challenge grade of 84.1 set Rice apart as one of the league’s best all-rounders and worthy of the £100m ($124m) price tag West Ham are said to be demanding in the transfer market.

Midfielder: Martin Ødegaard, Arsenal

PFF passing grade: 91.8 (position rank: 4/167)

Mikel Arteta’s decision to appoint Martin Ødegaard produced results in its first year as the Dane won games single-handedly at times for Arsenal this season. Still just 24, Ødegaard’s 15 goals from midfield led the position and not one came from the penalty spot.

His dynamic range of passing saw him finish with a passing grade of 91.9 and was one of only five players to have attempted 100 through balls or more. The kind of high threat that also saw him amass 81 chances created and seven assists.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne
2PJ9X56 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates with teammate Jack Grealish after scoring his his side's 2nd goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, April 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

PFF passing grade: 93.4 (position rank: 2/167)

The kingmaker to Erling Haaland, De Bruyne’s 16 assists were the most by a player in the Premier League as he once again showed his abilities as a creator.

De Bruyne attempted 2.7 through ball passes per-90 over the course of the season, more than rival Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United (1.9) who was second in the rankings. The tendency of the Belgian to try to pierce through opposition defensive lines also saw him record the highest number of second assists – supplying the pass which leads to a goal being created by another player – with nine.

The full effect of De Bruyne was also more present for Pep Guardiola as he played the most amount of minutes for Manchester City since the 2019-20 season, finishing with a passing grade of 93.4 and third in key passes (88).

Right wing: Bukayo Saka, Arsenal

PFF crossing grade: 80.0 (position rank: 7/142)

Arsenal boast the second-youngest squad in the Premier League at 24.6, marginally above relegated Southampton’s 24.5, and Bukayo Saka cemented himself as one of the league’s most promising talents with 24 goal contributions.

The 21-year-old provided 14 goals and ten assists in Arsenal’s campaign, as they reversed years of decline to record their best finish to a Premier League season since the ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04.

Saka’s 177 cross events generated a grade of 80.0, while he created only seven fewer chances than team leader Martin Ødegaard with 74 and recorded the third-most possessions in the opposition box (225).

Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma
2N1X9CB Kaoru Mitoma of Brighton and Hove Albion takes on Adam Smith of AFC Bournemouth – Brighton & Hove Albion v AFC Bournemouth, Premier League, Amex Stadium, Brighton, UK – 4th February 2023. MatchDay Images/Alamy

Left wing: Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton & Hove Albion

PFF passing grade: 87.3 (position rank: 5/164)

Kaoru Mitoma has been a revelation for Brighton and will take his talents into the Europa League next season, a feat never achieved before at the south coast club.

Such has been Mitoma’s impact, the club now operate an official Japanese twitter account after their winger’s 14-goal contribution under Graham Potter and current head coach Roberto De Zerbi.

Mitoma has shown the highest accuracy as a passer to generate a grade of 87.3, aided by a true accuracy percentage of 82%. His value as a dribbler was also apparent as only Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise (141) attempted more than Mitoma’s 134.

Striker: Erling Haaland, Manchester City

PFF shooting grade: 94.6 (position rank: 1/125)

The Premier League Golden Boot winner also tops PFF’s shooting grade rankings at 94.6. Of Erling Haaland’s 36 goals, 29 came from open play as he fired Manchester City to a fifth title in six years.

Haaland was signed to be a box presence for Pep Guardiola and he did just that as he led all strikers in possessions within the opposition box at 202, more than Tottenham striker Harry Kane who also hit the 30-goal milestone this season.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward has brought vast improvement to City’s quality in front of goal, with no striker recording a shooting grade higher than the 80.0-mark in 2021-22. His high quality is matched by the third-highest number of shot attempts at 125, behind Harry Kane (130) and Mohamed Salah (126).

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