When I decided to choose my own Premiership Team of the Year, I thought it would be a breeze. I’ll be done in 20 minutes. Three days and two migraines later, I realised how difficult it is. I watch a lot of football, too much- but there are still many teams that I haven’t seen quite enough of to give a definitive judgement. But eventually I got there, though if you ask me tomorrow I’ll have changed half the team. I have tried to be totally unbiased, and have also considered all performances for their club team, not just Premier League games. I also was boring and went for a conventional 4-4-2, whilst shoehorning players randomly into midfield, perhaps picking more of a team of the top performers rather than a team that would work the best together. A little artistic licence should always be allowed.
Goalkeeper: Edwin Van Der Sar.
Seems to be having his best season in his final season. Admittedly not the most overworked keeper in the division, but a season of few mistakes and some crucuial saves sees him get the nod. One of a number of big holes that Alex Ferguson will soon have to fill.
Left Back: Leighton Baines.
An underwhelming season for some of the big-name left backs. Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra have hardly set the world alight, also making plenty of headlines off the field for all the wrong reasons. Baines though has been a model of consistency in a team that had a difficult season, and has shown himself to be a great crosser of the ball, and all-round striker of the ball. Inevitably will be linked to other clubs over the summer having notched 11 assists so far this season. Newcastle fans might argue Jose Enrique is even better though.
Central Defence: Vincent Kompany.
Mark Hughes had his uses. Bought from Hamburg for a mere £6m in 2008, he should be on all shortlists for player of the year. Hampered slightly by injury last season, he has come of age this season, and should be an integral part of what could be a very exciting Belgian national team over the next decade or so.A cool, calm, collected and classy defender, surely a future Manchester City captain, and a great ambassador for the club off the pitch too.
Central Defence: Nemanja Vidic.
Once more a rock in the centre of defence for Manchester United, an even more vital cog now that Rio Ferdinand’s back is slowly getting the better of him. Tough and uncomprimising, with the added ability to get away with fouls, a bonus for any manager! You know the rest….
Right Back: Bacary Sagna.
No outstanding candidates that I could think of in this position. Was tempted to plump for a rejuvinated Stephen Carr, but not seen quite enough of him to be sure. Arsenal’s defence is regularly criticised, but the blame surely lies more centrally, and they haven’t conceded quite as many as some might think. Solid season, gets up and down the pitch, compliments the midfield and attack well, athletic, not done much wrong from what I have seen.
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Midfield: Samir Nasri
Great season undoubtedly, having muscled up to cope with the strains of the Premier League. Some great goals, great link up play, a classy player that fits in perfectly with the Arsenal ethos. However I have read a few Arsenal fans question his effectiveness against the top teams, and he has faded a little recently along with the rest of the team. Great goal against Spurs though, and at his age a great career awaits.
Midfielder: Luka Modric
The true star of the Spurs midfield. Forget Bale’s one league assist or Van De Vaart’s explosive three-month spell, the biggest talent in the Spurs midfield is Modric right now. Brilliant control of a football, great passer, the type of footballer like David Silva that you’d pay good money to watch. Van de Vaart and Bale produced a total of 3 goals and 2 assists between them from January until mid-April in 2011, so they miss out.
Midfielder: Scott Parker
Sean Custis at The Sun thinks Parker has stood out this season because of the dross around him. But surely it is harder to perform when surrounded by poorer players? A stand out season, England recognition once more at long last, he has dragged the West Ham team forward through many matches, though it may well be to no avail. The Football Writers’ Player of the Year.
With a heavy heart I include Nani. Without a trace of bias, everything I hate about modern footballers is encapsulated in this man. Infuriates his own fans much of the time, but has undoubtedly had his best season, bringing a greater influence to proceedings on the pitch, with some great long range strikes, dribbling and ball control, and his 18 assists and 10 league goals cannot be ignored.
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Forward: Carlos Tevez
One of the easier choices. By his high standards has been off the boil recently before hit by injury, but his influence on the Manchester City team cannot be underestimated, City often over-reliant on him, focusing play around the Argentinian. Second highest Premier League scorer, he is selfish like most top strikers, but obviously knows where the goal is, and is a phenomenal workhorse, always giving his all on the pitch whatever may be happening off it. Will be hard to replace if, as expected, he leaves City in the summer.
Forward: Peter Odenwingie
The first thought for the final berth was Javier Hernandez, a scoring machine who has settled instantly in the Manchester sunshine. But is Odemwingie’s achievement not better? Crucial to securing Premiership football for the Baggies next season, 13 league goals in a promoted team is a wonderful achievement. Born in Uzbekistan, but a Nigerian international, a bargain buy for just £1m, he has had a successful debut season, scoring some crucual winners, and his goal against Spurs this week made him West Brom’s top goalscorer in a single Premier League season (the game was still played at an amateur level before 1992).
So there it is. I already doubt three of the choices. No, four. What of those that just missed out? Hernandez and Carr have been mentioned. A full season for Hernandez would undoubtedly have seen him in. No Chelsea players either, possibly a big oversight as much of their defence could have a case for inclusion. Sub keeper would be Wigan’s stopper Ali Al-Habsi, or an ever-improving and maturing Joe Hart. Injury once more hampered Van Persie. Berbatov as top Premier League goalscorer looks like a glaring omission, but he has scored only 4 goals in the league away from Old Trafford, scores in clumps (flat-track bully sometimes?), and even his manager seems to distrust him now. Jack Wilshere has a wonderful career ahead but I think he has been slightly overhyped for now. Ditto for Gareth Bale. He hasn’t performed every week, and is remembered for a couple of world-beating performances rather than overall consistency – the world is his oyster though, and all that. Van De Vaart’s energy fades during matches, and faded this year a bit too. You could still argue for his inclusion though. David Silva could easily replace Modric – I expect even more from him next season, plus a few more goals, once he has adjusted to English weather. I already love him though. De Jong should really be in there, and would have been in a 4-5-1 formation. Forget Kompany, Tevez, or Silva. De Jong is City’s most important player. He makes the team tick, and protects the defence as if his life depends on it. With him on the pitch City have conceded every 117 minutes, With him off it, every 63 minutes.
Kevin Nolan misses out for his chicken celebration, Joey Barton because he is Joey Barton, Andy Carroll wasn’t far off, nor Gary Cahill, Robert Huth (for goalscoring alone!) and maybe Charlie Adam too, though the January transfer window shenanigans seem to have done him no favours.
Either way, it is an impossible team to decide definitively. Football is not that simple, and picking teams certainly isn’t. Still, at least the migraine has gone now.
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