Manchester City edge out Arsenal 5-3 in ‘best’ Big Six XI of the Premier League season

Martin Odegaard, Rodri and Reece James

Man City can boast half the outfield places in this Big Six XI but Arsenal show why they have moved ahead of Manchester United and co.

We’ve based it entirely on the WhoScored ratings, so don’t shoot the compilers.


GK: Alisson (Liverpool)
Fulham’s Bernd Leno is the highest-ranking Premier League goalkeeper while Bournemouth’s Neto boasts the best save percentage. Alisson is below both Kepa and Aaron Ramsdale on that metric but he’s very bloody good with his feet. And this ranking suggests he has saved his oft-rotten side more goals than any other Premier League stopper.


RB: Reece James (Chelsea)
Without the Big Six caveat, it would be Kieran Trippier in this position but James takes this from Trent Alexander-Arnold largely because he keeps the ball a whole lot better, and is very, very rarely dribbled past. It’s inevitable this will cause some ructions, judging by the response to this article, largely from Liverpool fans who love to stick their beaks into any right-back chat.


CB: Thiago Silva (Chelsea)
Without an arbitrary ten-game minimum in each position, both Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire would have made the cut here, with Wesley Fofana not far behind, but instead the consistency of the old man at Chelsea is rewarded. With two of three places taken up by Chelsea players already, it’s a wonder they have had an utter clusterf*** of a season.


CB: Gabriel (Arsenal)
These algorithms reward ‘actions’ from defensive players so the busier defenders tend to score higher, which explains why Ethan Pinnock would make an overall Premier League team of the season. Gabriel is worthy of his place here regardless, edging out Joe Gomez and Lisandro Martinez, largely because he has actually scored a goal.


LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
Will he return for the open-top bus parade if City win the title? He has certainly earned himself a winner’s medal, even if Pep Guardiola eventually decided that actually, he would prefer a whole defence of centre-halves.


CM: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Who else could it be with 15 Premier League assists this season? Even at his not-quite best, he is still the absolute dog’s.


CM: Rodri (Manchester City)
Five of the top six pass-completion rates in the Premier League belong to Manchester City players and Rodri is the only midfielder among them. A safe pair of feet with the ball and dogged without, he is the perfect foil for the man above.


AM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
You could say the very modern Martin Odegaard has unlocked football’s door at Arsenal after losing the key. Just the 11 goals and seven assists for the Gunners this season in their unlikely title challenge.


RW: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
The only Premier League player to reach double figures for goals and assists has not been himself in recent weeks but there is absolutely zero doubt that he deserves to edge out Mo Salah here, with his defensive work adding to those headline statistics. No Big Six bias and this place would have gone to Solly March.


LW: Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
Since Christmas, Grealish has been superb on the left side of that City attack, working, creating, carrying the ball, drawing fouls and – no end product show-pony alert – actually scoring goals and claiming assists. All the pennies seem to have dropped at once.


ST: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)