Players always exceed expectations in a given season, and 2017-18 was no exception. From Mohamed Salah and on down the line, here is the best XI of over-performing talents.

By 90Min
May 16, 2018

Predictions are always made to look silly, and there are always team and individual performances that nobody saw coming. Whether it was Burnley competing for European places or all three promoted teams staying up, the Premier League season offered a number of surprises.

Individual players always exceed expectations in a given season, and 2017-18 was no exception. From Mohamed Salah and on down the line, here is the best XI of over-performing talents from the season that just concluded.


Nick Pope

Jan Kruger/GettyImages

When Tom Heaton left the field against Crystal Palace with a dislocated shoulder back in September, many inside Turf Moor were left unconvinced by his inexperienced replacement. 

A player who was on loan at York City just four years ago now finds himself on England's World Cup squad. The 26-year-old has truly taken his chance by the scruff of the neck. 


Andy Robertson 

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Having been relegated with Hull last season, not much was made of Liverpool's £8m capture of Andy Robertson. The former Queen's Park fullback, however, has been a revelation after breaking into the team ahead of Alberto Moreno. 

From having no money and no job six years ago to playing in a Champions League final against Real Madrid, the Scot has been simply outstanding. 


James Tarkowski

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After Michael Keane departed Turf Moor for Everton, most Burnley fans felt a key cog in their side had been lost with no replacement in mind. However, little did they know that Keane's replacement was already in their ranks. 

James Tarkowski, starter of just four games last season, emerged as a real presence for the Clarets. The former Brentford man has been so excellent, in fact, that he earned a call up to the England team, won his first cap for the Three Lions and is on the standby list for the World Cup. 


Nicolás Otamendi 

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A surprising inclusion, you may argue, but compared to his 2016/17 campaign Nicolas Otamendi has over-performed massively compared to what was expected from him. 

The Argentine has bossed the back line for the champions, completed the second most passes in the league (3074), and made 33 starts as the Citizens broke countless records. 

Let's see if he can take his dominant form into the World Cup with La Albiceleste...


Trent Alexander-Arnold

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From making just two Premier League starts last term to becoming a Champions League starter against Real Madrid, Trent Alexander-Arnold has shocked us all. 

The Liverpool academy graduate has made 18 starts in the league and played a key role in the Reds' run to Kiev in Europe. Liverpool's No. 66 also scored on his European debut for the Merseyside club, and is going to Russia with the national team. 

Whatever happens in Kiev, it has been an outstanding season for the 19-year-old. 


Abdoulaye Doucouré

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The Malian had always been a dominant presence in the middle of the park, but this season, Doucoure has added a touch of finesse to his end product. 

The 25-year-old has netted seven league goals for the Hornets from a box-to-box role, and has been the club's star man throughout the season having started all but one game. 


Luka Milivojević

Christopher Lee/GettyImages

After initially impressing in the second half of last season having joined the Eagles from Olympiacos, Milivojevic has taken it up a notch in his first full season in England. 

The Serbian has retained all the composure and crispness in midfield that stood out last campaign, but has since added a goal threat to his game. Milivojevic hit 10 goals for Palace this season, and finishes as the club's top scorer. 


Mohamed Salah

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Yes, we all somewhat expected him to have a good season, but even then, Mohamed Salah has absolutely exceeded expectations by miles. 

He seemed a better fit to Liverpool's system than the Chelsea one he previously played in, so an improvement on that was to be expected. 

Nonetheless, for Salah to break Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Alan Shearer's record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season (31) by smashing in 32 of his own, that takes some doing. 


Pascal Groß

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Signed for just £2m from Ingolstadt in the summer, Pascal Groß arrived in England with next to no expectation on his shoulders. 

In that respect, his eight goals and seven assists from a central attacking midfield role must be commended. The German has been Brighton's best player by a long stretch; every attacking move flows through the 26-year-old. 

The Seagulls are lucky to have him, and are being rewarded for a shrewd bit of business. 


Wilfried Zaha 

Christopher Lee/GettyImages

Many already knew of the Ivorian's game-changing talents, but Wilfried Zaha has over-performed significantly this season by becoming Crystal Palace's main man. 

In previous years, the winger would be a mercurial feature in a side not necessarily reliant on him to win games, although now, his teammates look to him for inspiration. 

The 25-year-old is the difference between no point and three points for Palace. He is huge. 


Marko Arnautovic 

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Again, like Salah, we all knew Arnautovic was decent, but he's taken it up a level at West Ham in a central role. 

Where the Austrian would dip in and out of games while at Stoke, he has become a model of consistency for the Irons. The 29-year-old has 11 goals and six assists in his debut season for the Hammers, and has definitely over-performed compared to what people were expecting. 

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