Fernandes, Salah and the Premier League Team of the Season so far

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With the top-flight campaign nearing its halfway point at the turn of the year, Goal assesses the star men of 2020-21 to this point

Though the delay to the start of the season means that the Premier League campaign is yet to reach its halfway point, the table is starting to take shape.

Defending champions Liverpool are again out in front, but the Reds have not had things their own way and look set for a much tougher challenge when it comes to winning a second successive league title.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Leicester City and Everton have all shown flashes of form that suggest they could be in the hunt right until the final weeks, while the likes of Aston Villa and Southampton have also enjoyed periods in the upper echelons of the table.

But which players have been the standouts so far? Goal has selected its Team of the Season through to the end of the calendar year, though everything could change as we enter 2021...

(All stats according to Opta)

  1. GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

    GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

    It is fair to suggest that Arsenal fans were split when it was revealed that Bernd Leno had been chosen to be the Gunners' No.1 for the new season given the impressive performances of Emiliano Martinez in the closing weeks of the previous campaign.

    Martinez had played a key role in helping turn around the fortunes of Mikel Arteta's side, and with first-team football not forthcoming in north London he jumped at the chance of joining Aston Villa for £20 million ($25m) in mid-September.

    His form for the Villans has mirrored that of his final months at Arsenal, with the Argentina international currently leading the race for the Premier League's Golden Glove with eight clean sheets from his first 14 appearances for the club.

    Martinez has rarely put a foot wrong for Dean Smith's side, saving 76 per cent of shots faced, which ranks him second among the English top-flight's regular goalkeepers in 2020-21 behind Nick Pope.

  2. RB: Reece James (Chelsea)

    RB: Reece James (Chelsea)

    With Trent Alexander-Arnold having struggled with injuries, the door has been opened for another young, English right-back to stake his claim to become the league's best player in his position.

    Reece James' form for Chelsea has been so strong that club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been relegated to the substitutes' bench for almost the entire campaign so far, with James also having earned himself a first England call-up during the autumn.

    Going forward he is a revelation, with his crossing accuracy of 22.4% the second-best among full-backs in the Premier League so far this season.

    He has also proven himself to be adept defensively, winning 27 tackles at a success rate of 63%; the fourth-best ratio among full-backs in 2020-21.

  3. CB: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
    Getty Images

    CB: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)

    Though new signings Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy have taken most of the plaudits for Chelsea's improved defensive record, there is no getting away from the fact that Kurt Zouma has perhaps been the most consistently impressive of the trio so far in 2020-21.

    The France international was tipped to become one of the world's great centre-backs before suffering a serious knee injury in 2016 that threatened to derail his top-level career.

    This season, though, he is beginning to deliver on his potential. He has 38 headed clearances - the fourth-most in the Premier League - and has won 75% of his attempted tackles as well as 66% of his duels.

    He has also become an attacking weapon from set-pieces, with his four goals the most among the division's defenders.

  4. CB: Fabinho (Liverpool)
    Getty Images

    CB: Fabinho (Liverpool)

    Liverpool's title odds lengthened significantly when Virgil van Dijk suffered his potentially season-ending knee injury against Everton in October, so seeming irreplaceable is the Netherlands international at Anfield.

    And yet, Jurgen Klopp's side have conceded just seven goals in 12 league games since Van Dijk's injury - a record made even more remarkable given that Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker have all also suffered injuries in the meantime.

    Holding midfielder Fabinho has been entrusted with filling the Van Dijk-shaped hole in the Liverpool defence, and while he too missed time through injury, the ex-Monaco man has looked very much at home at the heart of the back four.

    The 27-year-old ranks as Liverpool's leading tackler and their player with the most headed clearances so far this term as they chase a second successive league title.

  5. LB: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)

    LB: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)

    The only member of Liverpool's favoured back-five not to have missed significant time through injury, Andrew Robertson continues to get better and better as, at 26, he approaches the prime years of his career.

    The Scotland captain has again been a thorn in the side of opposition defences, with his five assists from left-back the most among Premier League defenders, and the fifth-most for players of any position in 2020-21.

    He has also played his part in helping the Reds firm up their defence in the absence of the like of Van Dijk and Gomez, with Jurgen Klopp's side having recorded five clean sheets thus far.

  6. CDM: Yves Bissouma (Brighton)

    CDM: Yves Bissouma (Brighton)

    Brighton might be set for a season of fighting off the threat of relegation but it now looks certain that Yves Bissouma will still be playing top-flight football next season regardless following a breakout campaign on the south coast.

    The Mali international has been a disruptive force for the Seagulls, with his 48 tackles ranking second in the whole Premier League.

    He has also won over half of the duels he has been faced with, with his performances having led to reports that the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid are keen on signing him in the near future.

  7. RW: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
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    RW: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

    Despite suggestions that Mohamed Salah might be plotting a route out of Liverpool, the Egypt international has shown no signs of slowing down on the field as he continues to rank among the world's leading attacking players.

    The former Chelsea winger currently tops the Premier League's goalscoring charts with 13 strikes to his name as he chases a third Golden Boot in four seasons.

    He has also provided three assists to help the Reds to a three-point lead at the top of the table heading into 2021.

  8. CAM: Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)
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    CAM: Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)

    If there was an award handed out to the Premier League's best player of each calendar year, then Bruno Fernandes would take the crown for 2020 without much, if any, argument.

    The impact the Portugal international has had on Manchester United has seen them go from a side seemingly going nowhere under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to potentially the nearest challenger to Liverpool at the top of the table in just under 12 months.

    This season alone he has contributed 10 goals and seven assists in the Premier League, ranking him second for direct goal involvements.

    He is also second on the list of chances created having laid on 47 goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates already this term.

  9. CAM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
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    CAM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

    If Jack Grealish was putting in the kind of performances he is currently producing for Aston Villa at a 'Big Six' club then he would be the frontrunner for this season's PFA Player of the Year, so superb has he been.

    The 25-year-old has been almost unstoppable at times, providing five goals and six assists for Dean Smith's side while creating 51 chances for his team-mates - the most of any player in this season's Premier League.

    He is also the most-fouled player in the league by a huge distance, with his displays earning him his first England caps as many call for Gareth Southgate's team to be built around Grealish at this summer's European Championship.

  10. LW: Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

    LW: Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

    It has long been argued that Heung-min Son is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, but his performances in the early weeks of the season mean that is unlikely to remain the case much longer.

    With 11 goals and four assists to his name, the South Korea international looks set to enjoy his most productive season in English football as Jose Mourinho's side look to break back into the top four positions.

    His relationship with Harry Kane has been one of the main themes of the season thus far, and Spurs' hopes will likely rest on their star attacking duo heading into 2021.

  11. ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
    Getty Images

    ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    Though Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jamie Vardy and Patrick Bamford have all enjoyed stellar campaigns thus far, England captain Harry Kane remains the Premier League's outstanding centre-forward at the age of 27.

    He is the league's leading assist provider with 10 to his name already this campaign, with his nine goals also meaning he has the most direct goal involvements of any player in the division in 2020-21.

    He is also the fifth-most-fouled player in the league, with his willingness to drop deep so the likes of Son can run past him and threaten opposition defences becoming a more and more impressive part of Kane's game.

  12. Premier League Team of the Season so far
    Playing Surface

    Premier League Team of the Season so far