What makes a flop? Clearly the player had to have produced far less than expected. Is that a reasonable assumption? By that measure from a team perspective Manchester United and Arsenal would be expected to contribute a good number to our eleven here given their less than stellar campaigns. That said, our review looks at the biggest flop by each position.
We’ll go from back to front and justify each selection factoring the transfer fee(if a new arrival), play on the field and how they have helped the team achieve their objectives.
GOALKEEPER – CLAUDIO BRAVO (Manchester City)
What a fall from grace for player once highly rated at Barcelona. Replacing fan favourite Joe Hart was always going to be tough but Guardiola would never have imagined the epic struggles suffered by the Chilean. Bravo at one point near the start of 2017, at least statistically, was the worst keeper in the league conceding from each of his last 6 shots faced at that time. Sieve companies were lining up to offer sponsorship.
LEFT BACK – ALBERTO MORENO (Liverpool)
Going into the season with the club having not invested in the area; his camp would been forgiven for taking it as a vote of confidence in the young Spaniard under 21 star. It took just a few games and some training sessions for Klopp to scramble to find a replacement in the frame of James Milner. Moreno’s dreadful defensive instincts seemed to have regressed from negligible to none.
CENTREBACK – JOHN STONES (Manchester City)
Was it the hefty £47M price tag or the pass heavy risk laden style demanded by Guardiola? Doesn’t matter. Stones had 3 errors leading to goals which tied with Simon Francis for the lead on the season and doesn’t count the litany of mistakes of all varieties. We still believe a talented player is there to be unearthed but it certainly was not shown this season.
CENTREBACK – WES MORGAN (Leicester City)
The foxes had a 37 point drop off from the previous campaign. The captain of the ship has to take responsibility especially acknowledging that only 6 teams conceded more goals this season.
RIGHT BACK – HECTOR BELLERIN (Arsenal)
When it came to crunch time at season end, Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain was preferred to play right wing back which spoke volumes of the confidence lost in the Spaniard. Bellerin was the most dispossessed (43)defender and tied for 3rd in bad touches (39) on the season.
HOLDING MIDFIELD – GRANIT XHAKA (Arsenal)
Our “poo poo” summer transfer did not disappoint. All the weaknesses we thought would stifle the Arsenal midfield were exhibited – poor tackling, lack of pace and dynamism which earned him 2 red cards this season. His sharp passing range was always known but Wenger will have to decide whether his use as a shield of the back four helps or hurts the team.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD – HENRIK MKHITARYAN (Manchester United)
The worse deal economically in history for a player who seemed surplus to requirements for large parts of the season; brief injury stints aside. Only 15 starts, 4 goals on 33 shot attempts and just 1 assist. We are massive fans of the player but those returns for a player that cost £35M (and could have been free a year later) are disgraceful.
LEFT WING – MEZUT OZIL (Arsenal)
2016: 6 goals, 19 assists
2017: 8 goals, 9 assists
Goals aside, Ozil’s job is to set the plate for his teammates and his creative production clearly regressed from standard renewing the common criticisms of his attitude/fight.
RIGHT WING – RIYAD MAHREZ (Leicester City)
2016: 17 goals, 11 assists
2017: 6 goals, 3 assists
An abjectly poor season from last season’s Player of the Year who seemed to regret his decision to stay at the club immediately and never recovered. Either that or he ran out of the magic beans he used last year.
STRIKER #1 – VICTOR JANSSEN – (Spurs)
When Harry Kane was down for extended periods(and still won the Golden Boot), Pochettino considered fielding himself reportedly. Not really….. but certainly little faith was paid in Janssen all year despite sky high expectations for a striker who scored 27 the previous season in Holland.
STRIKER #2 – ZLATAN (Mancheter United)
A shocking pick to some we imagine but we can easily support it with an equally shocking season statistic – Per Opta, Zlatan converted only 6 of the 21 “big chances”presented by teammates. Contrast that to his rivals Lukaku (18 from 26) and Kane (18 from 27). Mourinho blanketed criticism on the attacking group but would have been well aware of the identity of the chief culprit – a chief culprit we remind you who was brought to the club on a weekly wage in excess of £200K. Imagine if United had failed to win the Europa League, the season’s failure would have had to be placed largely on Ibra’s shoulders in light of the solidity of the defense all season.