2021 has been one of the strangest years in the Premier League history.
After months of eerie matches without fans we finally looked to be getting back to a semblance of normality – and then came the spate of coronavirus-enforced postponement.
Although off-field problems have often caused distractions, on the pitch there has been plenty to get excited about.
Here are the 11 players that have got 90min out of our seats more frequently than anyone else over the last 12 months…
Edouard Mendy (GK) – Few had heard of Edouard Mendy when he arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2020, but he is impossible to ignore now. Perhaps the best shot stopper in the league, he has consistently posted superior numbers to Ederson and Alisson in 2021.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – After a wobble at the back end of 2020, Trent Alexander-Arnold has returned with a vengeance this year. Few Premier League players strike the ball sweeter and he has also impressed defensively in recent times.
Ruben Dias (CB) – The 2020/21 FWA Footballer of the Year has continued to dramatically improve Man City’s backline over the past 12 months. There are few, if any, undroppables for Pep Guardiola – as FPL managers know all too well – but Dias definitely fits this description.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge this year coincided with Antonio Rudiger transforming into one of the best defenders on the planet. Don’t expect to find him in next year’s team of the year though, with a Stamford Bridge exit looking increasingly likely.
Joao Cancelo (LB) – Cancelo has lit up the Premier League from left-back this year, which is not an easy task. Much is made of the Portuguese’s prowess in possession but he is also a unbeatable presence at the back.
Declan Rice (CM) – Declan Rice had his doubters heading into 2021, but finding someone who refuses the board the hype train nowadays is close to impossible. Rice can do it all. Expect him to ascend to even greater heights in 2022.
Rodri (CM) – Finding Fernandinho’s replacement has always been a source of anxiety for Man City fans. Over the last year Rodri has finally proved he is ready to step into the timeless Brazilian’s shoes, setting the tempo and breaking up play with ease every single week.
Ilkay Gundogan (CM) – Ilkay Gundogan has enjoyed a career-best year in 2021, netting 17 goals for club and country as well as registering nine assists. His displays have seen him rewarded with the captain’s armband on occasions this season too.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – It had to be Mohamed Salah. By far and away the Premier League player of 2021, his goals and assists numbers boggle the mind and he shows no signs of slowing down in 2022.
Phil Foden (ST) – A controversial inclusion as Diogo Jota has enjoyed a terrific start to the season, but for longevity across 2021, Phil Foden just gets the nod. It has been a real coming of age year for him and he has produced a string of match-winning displays.
Son Heung-min (LW) – Son Heung-min has had some lulls in 2021 but even when he has not been playing well the South Korean has still delivered for his club with some vital goals. A couple of players run him close, but Son has just done enough to make it into our starting XI.