In this segment, we take a look at a team of players who are not given the credit that their performances deserve. These individuals are all integral to their sides and are some of the best there are in their respective positions.
Lining up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, the following is the Premier League Underrated XI:
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
It wasn’t too long ago that Lloris was hailed as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Since his move to White Hart Lane in 2012 though, he has been well in the shadows. After initially struggling to get into the side ahead of Brad Friedel, the Frenchman has now become a regular for Spurs. But, his lack of clean sheets, coupled with Tottenham’s under-achievements over the last couple of seasons have meant that Lloris’ performances have gone largely unnoticed. The truth is that the 27 year-old has, at times, single-handedly won games for his side, protecting his goal behind what has been a very very ordinary backline in recent years. He is almost as good as Manuel Neuer when it comes to playing the role of sweeper-keeper, often coming off his line to make vital interceptions and clearances when Spurs’ defence gets breached.
Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Cesar Azpilicueta is the perfect example of the ‘no-nonsense defender’. Despite hardly being in the limelight, the Spaniard has been one of the most consistent performers for Chelsea in the last couple of years and is a regular in Jose Mourinho’s backline. He may not have the same number of goals and assists as some other right-backs, but defensively, he is right up there as one of the best. In fact, such is his versatility that Mourinho has deployed him as left-back in the side. And such is his quality that it was good enough to keep Ashley Cole out of the team last season.
Centre-back: Ashley Williams (Swansea City)
The Welshman has been a rock in the Swansea defence and is one of the major reasons why they have been comfortably surviving life in the Premier League since promotion in 2011. As club captain, Williams has led by example and despite attracting interest from the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, has stayed on at the Liberty Stadium. The 30 year-old is one of the most consistent centre-halves in the league, missing just 6 games in 3 seasons.
Centre-back: James Collins (West Ham United)
We have Williams’ compatriot as his partner in the heart of the defence. James Collins is one of the most dogged centre-backs in the division and his form has been vital to West Ham’s incredible start to this season. He was missing for large parts in the last campaign and that reflected in his team’s performances as the Hammers struggled. His partnership with Winston Reid is one of the best in the league.
Left-back: Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal)
It is startling how underrated Kieran Gibbs is. Despite being one of the most consistent left-backs in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons, he is still behind Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw in the pecking-order for English national team. Despite not offering as much as Baines in an attacking sense, the 25 year-old is one of the best when it comes to defending.
Defensive Midfielder: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
The Crystal Palace captain was one of the most silently effective players in the Premier League last season. This season too, he has got off to a fantastic start. The Australian is number one in the list of the most successful tacklers and despite the exit of manager Tony Pulis this season, Jedinak’s presence has seen the solidarity of the team from last season continue seamlessly.
Right Midfielder: Willian (Chelsea)
Despite not being as skilful as many other wingers, Willian has been an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s side in the last year. The major reason for this is the incredible amount of workrate that the he puts in in every game. Normally, determination, doggedness, grit and commitment aren’t words you automatically associate with a Brazilian, but Willian is the epitome of these qualities. The 26 year-old though, has to improve on the number of goals and assists to his name.
Central Midfielder: Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
Morgan Schneiderlin has been one of most overlooked players in the Premier League in the last few years. Since joining Southampton in 2008, the Frenchman has been a regular in the Saints’ line-up. When his side got promoted to the Premier League, Schneiderlin stepped up a gear himself, standing toe-to-toe with some of the best in the top-flight. Assured in his passing as well as being an extremely competent tackler, the 24 year-old is one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league. His professionalism this season has been first-class, after having a move to Tottenham in the summer blocked by Southampton.
Central Midfielder: Mohamed Diame (Hull City)
The Senegalese international is an absolute monster in midfield and has been immense for Hull City this season, scoring 4 goals from 6 appearances. Signed from West Ham in the summer, Diame has made an instant impression at the KC Stadium. A very strong presence with a stunning powerful shot, the 27 year-old is surely one of the most underrated central midfielders in the Premier League.
Left Midfielder: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Since signing in 2012, Cazorla has been one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers but has remained in the shadows of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. A versatile attacking midfielder who is equally adept with both feet, he adds another dimension to Arsenal with his incisive and direct style of play. He also has 69 caps for Spain, which, in a generation dominated by players from Barcelona and Real Madrid, is an incredible achievement.
Striker: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
Last week, we covered in detail why Edin Dzeko is one of the Premier League’s most underrated strikers. The Bosnian has played second-fiddle to Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo in his time at the Etihad Stadium, but has come up with the goods with unerring regularity when he has needed to.