The top 5 unsung heroes of a remarkable Premier League season

Premier League

Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Southampton and Sunderland players feature in the top five unsung heroes of the season.

Leicester City v Everton - Barclays Premier LeagueLeicester City v Everton - Barclays Premier League

When Leicester City defied all the odds by lifting the Premier League title in this most open of seasons all the talk was about Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante.

But while the Foxes rightly dominated the headlines there were plenty of other success stories and heroes up and down the league.

Despite fading in their pursuit of Leicester for a title shot, Spurs enjoyed a fine season, finishing third to secure Champions League football for only the second time.

West Ham and Southampton were not far behind and will count themselves unlucky not to have secured Champions League football themselves after fine seasons, settling in the end for Europa League spots.

Meanwhile, what of Sunderland who looked dead and buried but managed to turn things around and survive in the penultimate game of the season under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

All those teams had a number of key performers but here are the top five unsung heroes of the Premier League this season.

Leicester City's Christian Fuchs in action with Manchester United's Antonio ValenciaLeicester City's Christian Fuchs in action with Manchester United's Antonio Valencia

Christian Fuchs - Leicester City

Austrian international Christian Fuchs was Mr Reliable for Claudio Ranieri in their astonishing title win.

Championship winning sides are built on a solid defence and Fuchs certainly gave the Foxes that with his buccaneering performances up and down the left flank.

A near ever-present playing 32 Premier League games, chipping in with five assists, a passing success rate of 72.4% and earning an average match rating of 7.5, Fuchs was just as vital to Leicester's fairytale triumph as any of their more heralded stars.

Tottenham's Danny Rose in action with Southampton's Shane LongTottenham's Danny Rose in action with Southampton's Shane Long

Danny Rose - Tottenham Hotspur

Like Leicester, credit for Tottenham's season usually went to the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris.

But as England fans are beginning to see Danny Rose's performances energised his side with his bullish strength and pace so often making the difference at both ends for the North Londoners.

The 25-year-old made 30 appearances in total, scored one goal, chipped in with four assists, had a pass completion rate of nearly 80% and had an average match rating of 7.2 per game.

Manchester City's Wilfried Bony and Raheem Sterling in action with Southampton's Jose FonteManchester City's Wilfried Bony and Raheem Sterling in action with Southampton's Jose Fonte

Jose Fonte Southampton

Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and Virgil van Dijk may have been the names on everybody's lips when talking about Ronald Koeman's Southampton side this season but Portuguese defender Jose Fonte has been their rock.

Some indifferent form midway through the season probably cost the Saints a place in the Champions League.

But their form in 2016 was fantastic and eventually earned them a Europa League spot, leapfrogging West Ham on the last day of the season.

Experienced Fonte was crucial to that, playing 37 of the Saints' 38 Premier League games, scoring twice, chipping in with two assists, a fantastic pass completion rate of 84% and an average rating of more than 7 per match.

West Ham United's Cheikhou KouyateWest Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate

Cheikhou Kouyate - West Ham United

Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell. All names you associate with the Hammers' brilliant first season under Slaven Bilic.

But make no mistake Cheikhou Kouyate is the key cog to the whole machine.

The Senegal star has been immense for West Ham since signing from Anderlecht for a bargain £7.5 million in the summer of 2014.

And last season was no different, with lung-busting performances winning balls and forging attacks all over the pitch.

He may be an unsung hero but not to West Ham fans who know his worth to their side.

Kouyate played 34 of West Ham's 38 Premier League games, scored five goals, contributed three assists, had a pass completion rate of just under 80%, won countless man of the match awards and had an average rating of 7.26 per game. And he did it all with his characteristic big smile on his face.

Sunderland's Jan Kirchhoff in action with Everton's Leighton BainesSunderland's Jan Kirchhoff in action with Everton's Leighton Baines

Jan Kirchhoff - Sunderland

Jan Kirchhoff may have only played 14 games for Sunderland since signing in January from Bayern Munich, but those appearances were vital to keeping the Black Cats in the Premier League.

Jermaine Defoe stole the show with his goals single-handedly keeping Allardyce's side up.

But Kirchhoff's influence cannot be underestimated in that crucial sitting midfield role he offered vital protection to Sunderland's fragile backline.

His aerial presence was worth his signing alone, playing a pivotal role in repelling attacks and his pass completion rate of just under 70% helped his side build out from the back and midfield.

Kirchhoff'S displays were lauded by Allardyce and he received an average match rating of 7.08.

Unsung Premier League heroes we salute you.


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