Chris Boden’s alternative Premier League team of the season

With the Premier League on hold for the foreseeable future, it is an ideal time to look at the players who have impressed the most against Burnley this season.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 3:00 pm
Christian Pulisic

Rather than a Team of the Season including the usual suspects, this is an XI picked entirely from those whose displays have caught the eye in games against Sean Dyche's side.

Starting in goal, some keepers have enjoyed quiet afternoons against the Clarets, and some have been somewhat overworked at times, with different outcomes.

The one display which stands out above all as wildly inconsistent was West Ham's Roberto, now on loan at Deportivo Alavés.

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You could claim he was at fault for all three of Burnley's goals, particularly the third as he flapped in an Ashley Westwood corner.

But once the score went to 3-0, the Spaniard pulled off a string of superb stops in a truly Jekyll and Hyde performance.

While Roberto won't get in the side, a goalkeeper who conceded as many goals in defeat at Turf Moor was arguably the pick of the bunch.

Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale went away on the end of a 3-0 defeat in February, but couldn't be blamed for any of the goals.

He denied Matej Vydra with a fine first half stop, and the Czech Republic striker - while opening the scoring - would have had a hat-trick but for the Cherries keeper.

Jay Rodriguez also beat him from the spot, but was frustrated on a number of occasions, on an afternoon when fans came away thinking, with Nick Pope at the other end - they had seen two of England's best.

Ramsdale's statistics make him the best performing English keeper this season, according to Whoscored.com, so he gets the nod in my team.

My next pick at right back, rather than the obvious candidate for the PFA team of the year - Liverpool's outstanding Trent Alexander-Arnold - I would argue the best display against Burnley this season came from the marauding Reece James in the Clarets' last defeat at Chelsea in January.

The 20-year-old, who shone on loan with Wigan in the Championship last season, claimed one assist, and created three more chances which went begging on the day, Tammy Abraham admitting: "He was fuming at me" for not taking more.

England's future in that position is certainly safe going forward...

Centre back is where an obvious pick springs to mind - the UEFA player of the year Virgil van Dijk takes some beating.

The Dutchman came to Turf Moor at the end of August to go up against Ashley Barnes, who had scored four in his first three games, and cruised through a 3-0 win for the Reds, showing all his attributes, pace, power, reading of the game and range of passing. A class act.

My second centre back could be any one of the three deployed by Sheffield United in their 3-0 win over Burnley at Bramall Lane in November.

The Clarets, with Jay Rodriguez and Barnes up front, were well below par, but much of that was down to the Blades, who didn't give the Clarets an inch all afternoon.

Probably the pick was Jack O'Connell, who combined his solid defending with his combination play down the left, overlapping wing back Enda Stevens to great effect.

When thinking of a left back, the first name which sprung to mind was that of Brandon Williams, the 19-year-old at Manchester United.

The right-footer took the opportunity given him after Luke Shaw’s injury, and nudged out Ashley Young, who has since joined Inter.

The Crumpsall youngster was terrific at Turf Moor in United’s 2-0 win in December, and played as a left wing back in Burnley’s 2-0 win at Old Trafford a month later.

Ben Chilwell performed well in Leicester’s win at the King Power Stadium against Burnley, but was left out of the squad for the return at Turf Moor, which the Clarets won, in a game which saw their fortunes reverse.

In midfield, the first name on the list has to be Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.

He probed and prompted in the 2-2 draw at Villa Park, but almost single-handedly earned a 2-1 win at Turf Moor, which looked to be a big result in the fight for survival on New Year’s Day.

Magnificent close control, the ability to drive with the ball at pace, and he is now adding the assists and goals to his name. I would have had him in the squad for the Euros, but that will have to wait now.

In a very attack-minded midfield, I’ve gone for Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic - an obvious choice having scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 win at Turf Moor.

They were his first goals for the club, a perfect treble - the first of the American’s career.

While they are huge boots to fill, the former Borussia Dortmund man looked like a capable replacement for Eden Hazard that night, punishing two lapses at the back, before heading home a third.

The third midfielder I’ve gone for is Rodri, how became Manchester City’s record signing in the summer, joining for €70m from Atletico Madrid.

Burnley couldn’t get close to him in the 4-1 defeat at Turf Moor, despite Jeff Hendrick being deployed to stop him threading things together.

He completed 93 of 102 passes, five of seven long balls, won back possession 12 times, had more touches than any other player, made more tackles and won more aerial battles than any other City player.

And he scored the third goal with a ferocious half-volley.

Of the three forward slots, the first goes to a perennial goalscorer against Burnley - Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur.

The Clarets turned in arguably their poorest display of the season in a 5-0 thumping at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but as James Tarkowski said recently: “The game was out of our hands. I think it was after 20 minutes they were 3-0 up.

“It doesn’t help when Kane smashes it into the top corner from 25 yards out. It’s never a good start to a day.”

As soon as Kane picked the ball up, you senses danger, and he started the demolition with a quite brilliant strike.

He added a superb second after the break, and was involved in absolutely everything.

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino may have struggled for goals at Anfield, but he was brilliant in the 3-0 win at Turf Moor at the end of August.

The Brazilian claimed an assist for the second, picking up a loose pass from Ben Mee before carrying the ball to the edge of the area and playing in Sadio Mané to beat Nick Pope.

And in the second half, he sealed the points, starting and finishing a move, after trying to send Mo Salah clear.

His intelligence and movement was a problem throughout for the Clarets.

The final place in the frontline goes to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who fills me with fear whenever Burnley face Arsenal.

He hit the winner at the Emirates Stadium in August - his seventh goal in four appearances against the Clarets - an unerring finish after Burnley gave possession away.

And while he didn’t score at the Turf in February, he was the Gunners’ sole threat in a 0-0 draw.

Team: Ramsdale; James, van Dijk, O’Connell, Williams; Rodri; Grealish, Pulisic; Firmino, Kane, Aubameyang

Let me know your thoughts and your own selections - email [email protected] or tweet me @bodenknights or @BXSport