Haaland, Saliba and the Premier League Team of the Season so far

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As the English top-flight prepares to return after the World Cup, GOAL picks the best combined XI from the opening months of the campaign

We've reached the (not-quite) halfway point of the 2022-23 Premier League, and as the English top-flight returns following the break for the World Cup, it's easy to forget some of the fascinating storylines that were being played out over the autumn.

Are Arsenal really title contenders? How are Newcastle already challenging for the top four? And is Erling Haaland a cyborg?

The season has also seen some new Premier League faces take the division by storm, while some of the more established names have taken their game to new heights.

GOAL has included a blend of both for our Team of the Season so far...

  1. GK: Nick Pope (Newcastle)
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    GK: Nick Pope (Newcastle)

    Newcastle could have easily stuck with Martin Dubravka this summer, who enjoyed a strong end to the 2021-22 season.

    However, Burnley's relegation provided them with an golden opportunity to snap up one of the Premier League's most underappreciated goalkeepers at a knockdown price.

    Since sealing his £10 million ($11.5m) move to St James' Park, Pope has helped the Magpies register one of the best defensive records in the Premier League.

    He has also addressed a key criticism that has been levelled at him in recent years. In the past, Pope has been accused of being unable to play with his feet and sweep up long passes. However, this season, no goalkeeper comes close to the amount of defensive actions he's completed outside the penalty area. Just call him Nick Neuer.

  2. RB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)
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    RB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)

    Another example of Newcastle's smart recruitment since their takeover, Kieran Trippier just edges out the imperious Ben White for GOAL's Team of the Season so far.

    The right-back has bounced back strongly from the metatarsal injury that saw him miss a decent portion of the previous campaign, notching goals and assists at a very impressive rate for a defender.

    More than that, his experience and leadership have been vital in helping the Magpies see out several mightily-impressive results this season. He has also been handed the role of de-facto captain in the absence of Jamaal Lascelles.

  3. CB: William Saliba (Arsenal)
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    CB: William Saliba (Arsenal)

    Arsenal fans had to wait an eternity to see William Saliba pull on the red shirt, and he has not hesitated in making up for lost time.

    It is no exaggeration to say that the Frenchman has been the best defender in the league so far, combining near-perfection on the ball with a reading of the game the defies his relatively-tender years.

    He's even chipped in with some goals, nodding home to make the breakthrough against Brentford and also adding some gloss to the scoreline in the Gunners' victory over Bournemouth.

    Still only 21, the sky's the limit for Saliba, who is seeing his patience rewarded this season. And to think, there's was even talk of Arsenal parting ways with him in the not-so-distant past...

  4. CB: Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)
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    CB: Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)

    Lisandro Martinez has only been in the Premier League for a matter of months, but his redemption arc is already complete.

    After a sloppy display on his debut against Brighton, the pundits were quick to stick the knife in, with Jamie Carragher infamously quipping that short kings like him would never make it in England.

    'The Butcher' did not let this negativity affect him though, and has since gone on to calm things down at the heart of the Manchester United defence.

    He may not have been perfect since joining from Ajax, but the bouncebackability he's shown deserves massive credit.

  5. LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
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    LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

    Joao Cancelo has continued to reinvent what it means to be a left-back in the Premier League this season.

    A vital cog in the City machine that dominates possession every week, the spaces he takes up make him a complete nightmare for opposition defences to deal with.

    And while more is made of his abilities on the ball, it should not be forgotten that Cancelo is an accomplished defender too, racking up a tackle vs dribblers percentage comfortably over 70 thus far.

  6. CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
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    CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    The best passer in world football, it is increasingly being accepted that Kevin De Bruyne is probably worthy of a spot in the all-time great Premier League XI.

    Thanks to the arrival of a certain Norwegian centre-forward, De Bruyne has been even more devastating than normal this season. Seemingly all he has to do nowadays is hang the ball up by the back post and Erling Haaland will find a way to force it into the back of the net.

    Having had a World Cup to forget with Belgium, De Bruyne will be more keen than ever to get his campaign back on track over the next few weeks.

  7. CM: James Maddison (Leicester City)
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    CM: James Maddison (Leicester City)

    Considering Leicester City's comical start to the season, it's nothing short of a miracle that James Maddison continued to improve his reputation ahead of the World Cup.

    Four goal involvements in his first six games - none of which the Foxes won - set the tone for a campaign where the midfielder has tried desperately to help his side out of a horrific rut.

    Nowhere was his influence more pronounced than in Leicester's 4-0 derby-mauling of Nottingham Forest - a result that swung their season back from the brink.

    Maddison scored twice, including a inch-perfect free kick, and assisted another in a display that had was no doubt the catalyst for his call-up to the England squad for Qatar 2022.

  8. RW: Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United)
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    RW: Miguel Almiron (Newcastle United)

    Be honest. Who saw this coming?

    Ever since a p*ssed-up Jack Grealish used Miguel Almiron as a punchline during Manchester City's title parade, the Paraguayan has embarked on a revenge tour that Beth Mead would be proud of.

    A stunning eight goals in just 15 Premier League games has seen Almiron rise from a figure of a fun to the most productive wideman in the division.

    To be fair, nothing will motivate you more than the threat of being replaced by your club's new super-rich owners.

  9. LW: Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

    LW: Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

    The Gabriel Martinelli hype-train had been more of a rail-replacement bus service since he burst onto the scene due to unfortunately-timed injuries and shaky form.

    This campaign though, the Brazilian has been one of the principal benefactors of Mikel Arteta's footballing revolution, and he is certain to record his best-ever seasonal goal tally for the Gunners.

    Scoring in each of Arsenal's opening two games, Martinelli has consistently remained one of Arteta's most reliable attacking options, with his match-winning display against Liverpool standing out as a moment when he truly arrived as a Premier League superstar.

  10. ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
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    ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    Harry Kane's metronomic scoring has continued this term, with the England skipper's finishing digging Antonio Conte's side out of more than one sticky situation.

    With Son Heung-min enduring a poor start, Spurs' talisman had to hit the ground running and he did exactly that, reclaiming his status as top dog in north London.

    A top-four finish would represented success for Spurs this season, and if they are to qualify for the Champions League once again, Kane's goals are going to be pivotal.

  11. ST: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
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    ST: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

    So much has been written about Erling Haaland's other-worldly performances that it is difficult to put a new angle of his brilliance.

    Haaland is currently on track to score over 50 goals in a Premier League season, and while that number is perhaps a bit of a stretch, it would take someone brave to bet against him smashing the single-season scoring record by the time the campaign draws to a close.

    Impossible to defend against and now receiving the best service of his career from Phil Foden, De Bruyne, Cancelo and co, who knows what other statistical anomalies he will make reality over the next few months.