As we enter the closing stages of the Premier League season, now seems a fitting time to reflect on the comparative fortunes of players up and down the country.

Attention is frequently placed on those who have let their sides down and failed to live up to expectations, but we are often quick to forget those who have taken the league by storm -  seemingly against all the odds.

With that in mind, let's celebrate some of the players who have surprised everyone this season with an overperforming XI from the 2018/19 season.

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GK - Ben Foster


Watford surprised plenty when they decided to replace 38-year-old Heurelo Gomes with...35-year-old Ben Foster in the summer transfer window.

It appeared to be a short-sighted solution for the Hornets, but Foster had more than proved his worth this season. He brushed off the disappointment of relegation with West Brom and has been consistently excellent, earning a handful of points all by himself with some stunning individual performances.

He's showing no signs of slowing down just yet, so Watford may be in safe hands for much longer than they initially expected.

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RB - Matt Doherty


Matt Doherty played a central role in Wolves' promotion to the Premier League, but there were still plenty of reservations about his ability to make the step up from the Championship.

To say that he's proved his critics wrong is an understatement. The marauding right-back has been outstanding for Wolves this season, registering an incredibly impressive seven goals in nine assists in all competitions.

He was unsurprisingly awarded with a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2023, so expect him to continue bombing down the right flank in the coming years.  

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CB - Fabian Schar


Fabian Schar took some time to work his way into the first team picture at Newcastle after he arrived on a free deal last summer.

The Swiss international underwhelmed during his previous two stints at Hoffenheim and Deportivo La Coruna, so concerns were unsurprisingly raised when he initially struggled to displace Ciaran Clark in the starting XI.

The turn of the year saw Schar turn everything around and his form has been central to the Magpies' surge up the Premier League table. His defensive contribution has been excellent, but he has also stolen the headlines for three superb goals - including an absolute rocket against Burnley.

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CB - Sol Bamba


No one gave Cardiff a chance of staying up this season, but their defensive diligence and robust approach has given them a glimmer of beating the odds.

However, the Bluebirds were struck a huge blow when Sol Bamba was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury back in March as, up until that point, he had been enjoying a very impressive season.

The Ivorian made 74 tackles before his injury, which remains the highest total in the league for a central defender, exemplifying how important he was for Cardiff.

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LB - Lucas Digne


Everton had high expectations for Lucas Digne. After all, he joined the club following stints with European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

That didn't necessarily mean he was going to be an instant hit. He was practically forced out of the door at Barcelona after making just 44 appearances in two seasons and missed out on a spot in the French World Cup squad to Benjamin Mendy, who had missed the majority of last season through injury.

It was a bit of gamble for the Toffees, but it's paid off. The left-back has been their most consistent performer, combining offensive and defensive duties to impressive effect, and has won over the hearts of Everton supporters as a result.

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CM - Matteo Guendouzi


Admit it, you'd never heard of Matteo Gunedouzi before Arsenal snapped him up from the obscurity of the French second division.

The 20-year-old was expected to act as a rotation player under Unai Emery this season, but the Spanish manager has placed plenty of faith in his abilities. Guendouzi has made 28 Premier League appearances, starting the vast majority - and looks to be a first team regular for years to come.

He's by no means the complete article and there are a number of kinks that will have to be ironed out over the next few years, but very few expected him to have had such an impact on the Gunners' surprise pursuit for a top four place.

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CM - Declan Rice


It was well-documented that Declan Rice was highly regarded at West Ham, but the 20-year-old has gone on to surpass everyone's expectations after making the transition from defence to midfield.

Questions were rightfully raised after he struggled against Liverpool on the opening day of the season, but he has gone on to provide all of the necessary answers. He plays with maturity beyond his years in the centre of the park, bridging the gap between defence and midfield masterfully, and has formed an impressive partnership with West Ham veteran Mark Noble.

West Ham are going to have a fight on their hands to hold on to him this summer, but they'll be hopeful of getting at least one more season out of him before the big guns come knocking.

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AM - David Brooks


Bournemouth have been frequently guilty of paying over the odds for players - see Jordan Ibe and Dominic Solanke - but they picked up one of the best deals of the summer in the shape of David Brooks.

Brooks had shown signs of promise at Sheffield United, but he wasn't necessarily all that influential in the final third with three goals and five assists to his name. Since making the step up to the Premier League, the youngster's record has surprisingly improved, registering seven goals and five assists in less games.

The future looks bright for Brooks and he looks set to remain with the Cherries after he signed an improved deal back in March to keep him at the club until 2022.

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RW - Felipe Anderson


Felipe Anderson arrived at the London Stadium with a huge price tag, but not necessarily the most glittering of records.

Plenty expected him to struggle to get to grips with the intensity of the English game, but he stepped up to the mark and has been West Ham's most influential forward by quite some margin. 

Nine goals and four assists is nothing to be sniffed at and his performances have even been enough to earn him a surprise recall to the Brazilian national team - four years after his last appearance.

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LW - Ryan Fraser


Ryan Fraser has been a regular for Bournemouth since they earned promotion to the Premier League in 2015 and his record has gradually become more impressive with every passing season.

This has been the Scotsman's best yet and he's firmly in the running to finish the season as the highest assist maker in the league. He's currently sitting in second with 11 to his name, behind established world class talents Christian Eriksen and Eden Hazard.

Rumours are circulating about Fraser's future - with Arsenal being one club who have been heavily linked with a move this summer - and it comes as no surprise when you consider how prolific he has been in the final third.

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ST - Raul Jimenez


Wolves came into the Premier League with lofty expectations, but they were going to be relying on a striker who had never previously reached double figures in a a single league season.

Raul Jimenez arrived on loan from Benfica to lead the line for Nuno Espirito Santo's side and has done a remarkable job. He's registered an incredibly impressive 12 goals and eight assists, making him the most proficient striker outside the top six.

Wolves understandably jumped at the chance to make his loan deal permanent for a hefty £30m, but the decision was entirely understandable based in his record this season.