Who makes the Premier League Team of the Season based on Opta Data?
The 2022-23 season has come to an end, with Manchester City winning the Premier League title for the seventh time in the last 12 seasons – five of those coming in the last six campaigns.
Pep Guardiola has now won the title in 11 of his 14 seasons as a top-flight manager across spells in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City, with Arsenal forced to contend with second place despite spending 248 days atop the Premier League table – the most by a side not to win the title in English top flight history.
With the curtain fully closed on the campaign, our data experts at OptaJoe have picked their Premier League Team of the Season for 2022-23 based on the data.
David Raya – Brentford
One of only four players to play every minute of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign, Brentford goalkeeper David Raya was a huge part of the Bees earning their highest top-flight finish since 1938.
The Spaniard made the most saves in the top flight (154) and had the best save percentage (77%) of any goalkeeper to play at least five times across the campaign. In addition to this, according to Opta’s goals prevented model, he conceded almost six fewer goals than expected (5.9), the fourth best of any goalkeeper.
Raya’s ability to play long passes has also suited Brentford, who played the most passes of 30+ metres of any Premier League side in 2022-23. Raya completed 410 long passes, the most by a goalkeeper in a season since 2017-18 (Jonas Lössl, 420 for Huddersfield) and played 174 passes to forward Ivan Toney, 93 more than the next best goalkeeper-to-forward pass combination. This was also over 100 more than any other Brentford teammate passed to Toney in the Premier League this season, although with Raya linked with a move away and Toney banned for the majority of next season, this season could be the last to see that successful link-up.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – Arsenal
Although Zinchenko couldn’t add to the four Premier League titles that he won when he was a Manchester City player, he still maintained his record of finishing in the top two of the division in every season he’s featured, with Arsenal finishing runners-up to his former club.
Zinchenko began the season assisting Arsenal’s first goal, scored by Gabriel Martinelli at Crystal Palace, and played 27 times for the Gunners, completing the most passes (64), most passes in the opposition half (38), most passes into the final third (26) and having the most touches (92) per 90 minutes of any Arsenal player to play at least 1,000 minutes this season.
Zinchenko was involved in the build-up to 16 goals for Arsenal this season, with only four players being involved in more in the Premier League, despite the fact he missed 11 games. He also played the most progressive passes of any left-back (121) and ranked fourth for secondary chances created (25) among all full-backs in the competition.
Arsenal will lament his absence in crucial late season matches against West Ham, Brighton and Nottingham Forest in which they picked up just a solitary point.
Manuel Akanji – Man City
It has been an excellent first season in English football for Manuel Akanji, lifting the Premier League title with Manchester City and potentially winning the treble if all goes to plan for the Citizens.
The Swiss international ended on the winning side in 24 of his 29 Premier League games this season (83%), with City winning 2.5 points per game with him in the side. In the nine games he didn’t feature, they won just four times (44%), picking up 1.8 points per game by comparison. Indeed, City won the last 14 matches that featured Akanji in in 2022-23.
Akanji is exceptional with the ball at his feet, completing 93.3% of his passes – the best passing accuracy of any of the 262 players who have attempted at least 500 this season. Between his first (17 September 2022) and final appearance (21 May 2023) this season, only Lewis Dunk and teammate Rodri completed more passes than Akanji (1,886), while only Dunk had more ball carries than he did (601). Akanji ranked third for ball carry distance (6,263m) and second for ball carry progression upfield (3,531m) in that timeframe. Surprisingly, despite only starting 24 times in the Premier League this season, Akanji played more minutes (2,286) than any other City defender this season.
Rúben Dias – Man City
It has been yet another successful campaign for Rúben Dias, who has now won the Premier League title in all three seasons in England. With 68 wins in his 87 Premier League appearances, he has the fourth-best win ratio of any player to play at least 50 times in the competition (78%).
This season, Manchester City won 85% of the games he featured in (22/26), compared to just 50% of those he didn’t (6/12), with four of their five defeats coming without the Portuguese defender in the team.
Of the 33 goals that City conceded, more than half (17) came in those 12 games without him on the pitch, conceding just 16 times in his 26 appearances. After conceding three against Newcastle and twice against Crystal Palace in August, City didn’t concede more than once in any of Dias’ 22 subsequent appearances in 2022-23, with the Portuguese defender playing 1,684 minutes across those matches. City scored 2.2 more goals than they conceded per 90 minutes with Dias on the pitch this season, the best ratio of any player in the division.
Although he missed 12 games, Dias still ranked an impressive seventh on the list of players with the most successful passes (1,921), completing 93% of those. Dias attempted (93) and completed (87) the most passes per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, while only teammate Aymeric Laporte has ever posted higher numbers in a Premier League season among central defenders in the last 20 seasons, doing so in 2019-20 for attempted passes (94) and 2021-22 for successful passes (88).
Kieran Trippier – Newcastle
It has been an incredible season for Newcastle United, as they qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03. Their full-back Kieran Trippier was the only player to start every single game for the Magpies this season.
Trippier has been a constant outlet, with only three players having more touches of the ball in the Premier League this season, while he was also the first Newcastle player to start a World Cup game since Michael Owen in 2006, when he featured against Iran in November 2022.
Trippier created the most chances from set plays (76) and played the most passes into the opposition box (551) by a player in a single season since Opta started collected this data 20 Premier League seasons ago, in 2003-04. Meanwhile, his 138 successful crosses are the most by a player in Premier League season since Jermaine Pennant in 2005-06 (146).
The 110 chances he created for teammates are also the most by a Newcastle player in a top-flight season since 2003-04, while only Cheick Tioté in 2013-14 (1,825) has completed more passes for the Magpies in a single Premier League campaign than Trippier did this season (1,568).
League-wide in 2022-23, Trippier played the most progressive passes (275) and had the second-best expected assists total (11.8), behind Kevin De Bruyne. Not only this, but he also had the joint most assists from set-plays (six), along with Andrew Robertson. Not bad for a full-back.
Rodri – Manchester City
Imperious midfielder Rodri has once again been part of a successful City side, winning the title in three of his four campaigns as an integral part of the passing machine in Pep Guardiola’s midfield.
For a fourth consecutive campaign, he topped the charts for successful passes by a midfielder in a Premier League season, completing a career-high 2,717 in 2022-23. Indeed, in the last 20 seasons, the only midfielder to complete more passes in a season was Jorginho in 2018-19 (2,782). Rodri’s total of 1,475 successful passes in the opposition half this season is 413 ahead of anyone else, while his 171 successful long passes were trumped by only one midfielder (Rúben Neves, with 213).
Rodri is also crucial to City winning possession back to start their attacks. The Spaniard won possession of the ball 301 times, second only to Declan Rice in the entire league, while also regaining possession a league-high 187 times in the middle third of the pitch. On 50 occasions he won the ball back, he started a sequence that ended in a shot – second only to Bruno Fernandes (57) – while City converted 11 of those into goals, which was the most of any player.
He ended the season with six assists – as many as in his first three seasons combined – while he also had five secondary assists.
Whether Rodri is the best passing midfielder in Premier League history is up for debate, but in the last four seasons it is impossible to argue with the consistency of his numbers, with the Spaniard the only player to complete more than 10,000 passes in that time.
Declan Rice – West Ham
Despite it being an underwhelming domestic campaign for West Ham, finishing 14th after consecutive top-seven finishes in 2020-21 and 2021-22, midfielder Declan Rice has maintained his high levels of performance. He missed just one league game and scored four goals – as many as he’d scored in his previous three campaigns.
Rice is coveted by most of the Premier League’s top clubs and it’s easy to see why. The England international’s industrious work is backed up in the stats; he won possession more often than anyone else (334), made the most interceptions (63) and finished as one of the top 10 players for tackles (79). Indeed, that possession-won total is the most by a player in a season since 2017-18 (Abdoulaye Doucouré: 345) and the sixth-most in a season on record since 2003-04.
When he’s not winning the ball back from the opposition, Rice is also prolific in carrying the ball, ranking second for ball carries (702), ball carry distance (7,136m) and ball carry progress distance (3,827m) among midfielders, behind only Rodri.
Only three midfielders made more successful long passes than Rice (151), who also made the most successful switches of play (50), defined as a pass travelling at least 60% of the width of the pitch. Rice also covered the third-highest distance in the Premier League this season – a total of 412km, which is almost the distance of running 10 marathons.
Wherever Rice ends up this summer, that club will know they have a special player on their hands.
Kevin De Bruyne – Man City
Kevin De Bruyne began the season on 86 Premier League assists, level with James Milner in joint-eighth spot in the all-time Premier League list. He ended the campaign with 15 more than Milner (87) and in joint-fourth place all-time, alongside Frank Lampard, with 102 assists and just one behind Wayne Rooney (103) in third.
De Bruyne created 98 chances this season, the third-most of any player, but topped the charts for both assists (16) and expected assists (14.1) to enjoy yet another productive season, also chipping in with seven goals. This was the fourth time that he’s assisted as many as 16 goals in a Premier League season, twice as often as any other player (Cesc Fàbregas did it twice).
Undoubtedly one of the main stories of De Bruyne’s season has been his link-up with Erling Haaland. Half of his assists (eight) were for Haaland, the most from one player to another in the 2022-23 Premier League and the most for a Man City duo in a season in Premier League history.
Overall, he created 26 chances for the Norwegian striker, with only David Silva creating more chances for a City teammate in a league season on record (since 2006-07): 28 for Sergio Agüero in 2011-12.
They played 2,020 minutes alongside one another this season – De Bruyne certainly had 20/20 vision when it came to finding Haaland and his other teammates in yet another title-winning campaign for the Belgian, his fifth with City.
Martin Ødegaard – Arsenal
With 15 goals and seven assists in 2022-23, Martin Ødegaard doubled his goal involvement tally from 2021-22 (seven goals, four assists).
The Norwegian ranked fifth for chances created (76), fourth for successful passes in the opposition’s half (1,017), had the joint most secondary assists (nine) and was the Premier League’s highest scoring midfielder (15). That goal tally also meant he became Arsenal’s highest scoring midfielder in a Premier League season since Cesc Fàbregas also scored 15 in 2009-10.
He was involved in two or more goals in three consecutive appearances in November and December, becoming only the sixth Arsenal player to achieve that in the Premier League era and first midfielder since Fàbregas did so in 2007.
Ødegaard was integral to the build-up of Arsenal’s attacking play, as he was involved in 232 unique shot-ending sequences – the second most of any Premier League player behind Bruno Fernandes. Of those, 33 sequences ended with a goal, with only Erling Haaland involved in more (39).
Only two players made more successful through balls than Ødegaard did (13), while he laid the ball off to a teammate’s oncoming run 41 times, again the third-most of any player.
Although the season didn’t end with Ødegaard lifting the Premier League title, it was still a personal success for the Norwegian, who will remain an important part of Mikel Arteta’s side next season.
Erling Haaland– Man City
The easiest selection for this XI, Erling Haaland has broken numerous Premier League records and scared defences and statisticians alike this season.
His 36 goals are the most by a player in a season in Premier League history and the most in the top flight since Ron Davies scored 37 in 1966-67. His eight assists give him 44 goal involvements, equalling Thierry Henry’s total in 2002-03.
Haaland now has the record for the most goals scored in a player’s first five games (nine), 10 games (15), 20 games (25), 25 games (27) and 30 games (34), breaking records that have stood for decades. His nine goals in August 2022 have been bettered only once in a single month of Premier League action, with Luis Suárez netting 10 in December 2013, while it was the most by a player in their debut month in the competition.
The Man City star scored hat-tricks in consecutive games in August against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, the youngest player to achieve that in the Premier League at 22, while he scored his third hat-trick – against city rivals Man Utd – in just his eighth appearance, 40 games faster than any other player has hit three hat-tricks. He ended the campaign with four trebles, one behind the record set by Alan Shearer in 1995-96 (five).
Haaland averaged 27 touches per 90 minutes in the league this season, the joint lowest of any player to play at least 2,000 minutes, with just over 5% of the touches he had (830) ending in a goal or assist for a teammate (44). He scored a goal once every 23 touches on average, the fewest by any player to have had 100 touches in a Premier League season on record since 2003-04, while 27% of his touches were in the opposition box, which was the highest ratio of any player this campaign.
He converted 29% of his shots (36/123), which gives him the best shot conversion of any player to have had 100 shots in a season on record. It was little surprise when the Premier League announced that Haaland was their player of the season, and you wouldn’t bet against him winning it again if he continues to produce these mind-boggling numbers.
Harry Kane– Tottenham
Harry Kane began the season 25 goals behind Wayne Rooney in the Premier League scoring charts and three behind him in England’s all-time scoring list. At the end of the campaign, he’s toppled him in both lists, now five ahead of him in the Premier League (213) and two ahead for the Three Lions (55).
This was Kane’s second 30-goal Premier League season, and he scored in 26 different games (a joint record alongside Andy Cole in 1993-94), as well as becoming the first player to score 100 away goals (currently 112). He also broke the record for headed goals in a season (10) and, for a second time, failed to win the Golden Boot when scoring 30 times, also failing to do so in 2017-18, when Mohamed Salah scored 32.
All of these feats have come in a Tottenham team that has finished eighth in the league – the lowest that a top-flight team has finished with a player scoring 30+ goals since Ron Davies scored 37 in 1966-67 for Southampton who, somehow, finished 19th that year. Kane’s also done it without scoring a single hat-trick, a record for goals scored in a Premier League campaign without a treble.
Kane’s underlying numbers remain impressive, too. He had the most shots (130) and shots on target (63) in the Premier League this season, and only seven players created more chances in open play. He also outperformed his expected goal total of 21.5 by well over eight goals (8.5) – the best differential of any player this campaign.
In terms of work rate, Kane covered 395km in the Premier League this season, which was the eighth most of any player and the most by a striker.
He will turn 30 years old on the eve of the 2023-24 season and, with him now 47 goals behind Alan Shearer in the all-time charts (Shearer scored 176 Premier League goals before turning 30), Kane will decide this summer whether to stick at Spurs or take an opportunity elsewhere, as he looks to topple another record.
Roberto De Zerbi – Brighton
When Brighton & Hove Albion lost manager Graham Potter to Chelsea in September, the Seagulls were in a great position. With 13 points from their opening six games, they’d averaged over two points per game (2.17) and would have been just two points off the league leaders Arsenal had they won their game in hand. Many were fearful of how Brighton would cope, but they needn’t have worried.
Roberto De Zerbi arrived following his departure from Shakhtar Donetsk in July after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and eventually led Brighton to an exceptional sixth-place finish in the Premier League, securing Brighton a place in the UEFA Europa League next season – their first-ever European campaign. In addition to this, he took Brighton to the FA Cup semi-finals, where they eventually lost to Manchester United following a penalty shootout.