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Who’s in and who’s out? Our 2023-24 Premier League underrated XI

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Premier League, underrated XI

Premier League players fall into three distinct categories; overrated, properly rated, and underrated, all of which create division and upset fans based on their allegiances.

Countless Premier League stars don’t get the flowers they deserve; maybe because they don’t ply their trade for one of the top sides, or because the team around them is so poor their results overshadow their performances.

Whatever the reason, the Premier League will never exist without a contingent of underrated stars who go about their work without receiving the plaudits they deserve.

Conceiving an underrated XI is always a difficult proposition. What exactly does it mean to be underrated? It’s not something that is easily defined or universally agreed upon.

Is anyone truly underrated? Or simply underappreciated? What’s the difference between the two anyway?

Jarrod Bowen image
Has Jarrod Bowen done enough to feature in our 2023-24 underrated XI?

All are valid, difficult-to-answer, questions. To one set of eyes, a player may be underrated, to another fairly rates, and to some overrated.

Such division hasn’t stopped us though. We’ve run our eyes over the 2023-24 Premier League season and compiled what we believe to be the division’s underrated XI. We may be wrong, we may be right, but that beauty lies in the lack of clarity.

Our 2023-24 underrated Premier League XI

GK: Emi Martinez – Aston Villa

One of football’s great instigators, Emi Martinez probably sits alongside Alisson as the Premier League’s best shot-stopper, even if he lacks the necessary plaudits.

At times, his antagonistic antics overshadow his immense shot-stopping but part of the reason Villa’s defence is so unimpeachable is for the impressive Argentine between the sticks. 

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

Let’s address the elephant in the room; Trent’s defence isn’t the greatest. But, credit where credit is due, it’s improved recently, especially as he’s become more inverted, and more like the midfielder everyone knows he is. 

A lot of the criticism he cops is defensively orientated. Let’s face the music though, he’s the Premier League’s best right back; offensively his wand of right foot is peerless not only currently but in Premier League history.

Trent, Premier League, underrated XI
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the Premier League’s best-ever right backs

CB: Max Kilman – Wolves

Stats can lie; the ball can not. Wolves may have only kept two clean sheets this season, but whenever the ball finds itself flying near Max Kilman in his defensive area either his foot or his head swats it away like a fly at lunch. 

At the time of writing, his 31 blocks and 90 clearances this season rank third in the Premier League this season, while he tackles an impressive 77% of the dribblers he’s faced this season. Put plainly, he is a rock, and an inspiration to a Wolves side making defying expectations their normality. 

CB: Joachim Andersen – Crystal Palace

An unheralded defender who often sits in the shadows of his partner, Marc Guehi. Joachim Andersen is a solid and reliable defender whose five clearances per game is more than 87% of central defenders in Europe’s top five leagues, while sitting in the top 20 for defensive third tackles and blocked shots in the Premier League this season.

In possession, however, is where the Dane earns his money. Anyone who’s remotely paid attention to Crystal Palace has seen his pin-point, press-bypassing long balls that get Palace out of trouble more often than not. In fact, Trent and Rodri are the only outfield players to complete more than Andersen’s 145 long balls this season.

LB: Vitaliy Mykolenko – Everton

Pervis Estupinan and Alfie Doughty both nearly snuck in this side but it’s time to give Vitaliy Mykolenko his flowers. The Ukrainian has transformed from a defensive liability to one of the first names on Sean Dyche’s team sheet.

At the time of writing, he ranks sixth in the Premier League for tackles this season (49), highlighting how far his, and the entire Everton backline’s, game has progressed under Dyche. They now border on unbreakable, and Mykolenko is a large part of that.

DM: Douglas Luiz – Aston Villa

Another of the Villa contingent to make their way into the side, Douglas Luiz more graceful ball winner with a deft touch and brilliant passing range than a defensive midfield destructor.

Stats don’t paint the full picture of Luiz’s game; he doesn’t excel in any statistical field. This shouldn’t distract from the importance of his metronomic presence to Aston Villa, not only in hosing down opposing attacks but kickstarting Villa’s own. His laser-like set-piece delivery is a bonus for a Villa side who’ve created five goals from dead-ball situations.

CM: John McGinn – Aston Villa

Flirting between a traditional central midfielder and a more inverted wide-midfielder under Unai Emery this season, John McGinn’s game excelled to a whole new level in 2023-24. 

His five goals and two assists paint just half a picture of the Scotsman’s ability. He’s a box-to-box midfield general who’d not look out of place in any top side.

CM: Pascal Gross – Brighton

Some players in world football never look to break a sweat while maintaining a ventriloquist-like control of matches. Think Xavi, Andrea Pirlo, and…Pascal Gross. The German is seemingly never flustered, always in control, and always making the right decision.

It’s not uncommon to see the Gross wander unmarked into opposition boxes as if he were taking a Sunday stroll, defenders seemingly unaware of his threat, unphased by his movement, but ultimately punished. He sits second in the Premier League for key passes (47) and assists (six), while Rodri is the only midfielder who progresses the ball more with his passing.   

Pascal Gross image
German midfielder Pascal Gross has an uncanny knack for ghosting into dangerous positions

RW: Bernardo Silva – Manchester City

Pep Guardiola hailed him as ‘irreplaceable.’ In this City team, with those stars around him, is there a better compliment a player can receive? Bernardo Silva is not just one of the Premier League’s most underrated players, but also one of its best. 

Five goals and four assists is his return for season 2023-24 so far. His goal contributions tell only half the story. His versatility is crucial – Silva’s featured in all three central midfield roles as well as on the right wing this season – but not as important as his ball progression, only 15 players have carried the ball further forward than Silva this season, and retention, we think it’s glued to his foot at times. 

ST: Dominic Solanke – Bournemouth

Maybe he’s properly rated, maybe he isn’t. In 2023-24, Dominic Solanke is the Premier League’s best striker not named Erling Braut Haaland. His 12 goals at the time of writing are the second most in the Premier League, despite playing for a side in the bottom half for xG. 

On current form, Solanke wouldn’t look out of place in any Premier League side. His finishing is brilliant, but his all-round game is perhaps more noteworthy. The former Chelsea striker is an effective presser and a crucial element of Bournemouth’s build-up, often dropping deep to start attacks before snaking into the box to finish them.

Dominic Solanke, Premier League
The on-song Dominic Solanke has been one of the Premier League’s standout players this season

LW: Hwang Hee-Chan – Wolves

Speaking of underrated Premier League goalscorers, South Korea’s Hwang is on a tear this season. Just five players have scored more than his 10 goals, which is already more than his combined tally for his previous two Premier League campaigns (eight). 

Frighteningly quick, he’s a threat on the counter, though that shouldn’t lure you into believing he’s just a one-trick pony. Hwang is an exceptional finisher, overperforming his xG by four goals, and a dazzling dribbler whose 30 successful take-ons this season is amongst the best in the division.

Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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