Well, we’re at the business end of the season, and soon enough the Player’s Player and Football Writer’s player of the year ceremonies will be upon us. However, as a fan, who would be in your Premier League team of the season?
Selection is fraught with difficulty, especially when selecting on such a wide scale. Certain teams receive far less air-time than others, and so the average fan can often overlook star performers in the less glamorous sides (basically anyone other than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool). Nevertheless, please feel free to correct the side where you see fit, and leave your comments in the box below…
I have selected an attacking 4-3-3 formation, and would simply like to outscore the opposition with this side.
Goal Keeper: Joe Hart, Birmingham City
If you’d have told a Birmingham City fan at the beginning of the season that Joe Hart would even have a sniff of making the Premier League team of the season, they’d probably have thought you were mad. However, such is the player’s upturn in form throughout the season, even Fabio Capello has been sold on the youngster, and the Italian drafted Hart into the squad for the recent qualifier with Egypt.
Alex McLeish never lost faith with the England hopeful, even after making a few mistakes at the beginning of the season against the likes of Aston Villa, Bolton and Tottenham. Maik Taylor was waiting in the wings, but Hart held his nerve, and with Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, has formed one of the best defensive partnerships in the league.
Hart has improved his concentration, is better when coming for crosses, whilst his shot stopping is second to none. This World Cup may come too soon, but Hart could be a future England number one. First he’ll have to dislodge Shay Given at Manchester City however.
Right Back: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea
Ivanovic has used the injury to Jose Bosingwa this term to cement his place in the Chelsea first team. Ivanovic signed for Chelsea in 2008 whilst Avram Grant managed the club, and after a slow start, earned cult status at the Bridge after his two goals at Anfield in the Champions League last season.
However, this season the player has really kicked his performances up a gear. He is solid defensively, powerful going forward, and has become first choice at Stamford Bridge at full back. Although his favoured position is centre half, he is an unsung hero in West London at right-back.
Left Back: Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur
Although he had to wait until December to get a regular slot in the team, it was worth the wait. Bale has probably been Tottenham’s best and most consistent performer in the second half of this season, and whether from left full-back or midfield, the rapid young Welshman will give the opposition a torrid afternoon. His delivery is excellent, he has pace, he is strong, and his defending is getting better game on game. What’s more, he’s only 20 years old.
Bale began the season playing second fiddle to Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but after the Cameroon defender picked up a groin strain, Bale has not looked back. Whilst Ashley Cole has also had an excellent season, it’s difficult to see past the Welsh left-back at present.
Centre Back: Richard Dunne, Aston Villa
If Manchester City had kept hold of Dunne, there’s a good chance they’d have walked into the Champions League this season, such is the impact the Irishman has had at Villa Park. Villa have conceded just 32 goals this term, and seven of those came in an uncharacteristically bad performance at Chelsea. Further, Dunne has led Villa to the Carling Cup final, and the FA Cup semi-final, while Villa are also still on course for European qualification in the league. This success has largely been based upon the water-tight defence led by Richard Dunne.
Dunne has barely missed a game this season, whilst he’s grabbed three goals to aid the Villa cause. Voted Manchester City player of the season four seasons in a row, it’s likely that Villa fans will vote the same way.
Centre Back: Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal
The ‘Verminator’ was one of three central defenders that could have made the team of the season, with Roger Johnson and Michael Dawson also having had excellent seasons. However, the Belgian international, who only joined English football this season, has been a revelation for Arsenal.
Vermaelen has only missed one game for Arsenal this term, and has been a rock for the club. He formed a great partnership with Gallas, and despite the team’s reputation as a soft touch, Arsenal have conceded just four goals more than Chelsea.
Vermaelen is only 5ft 10in, but has a great leap, and is a ball playing defender. He has also scored an astonishing 7 goals, which for a defender, is simply first-class.
Central Midfield: James Milner, Aston Villa
Mr. Versatility can play at full-back and wide midfield, but it is in a central position that Milner has really shone this season. He is the engine in the Villa midfield, and is now a certainty to travel to South Africa with England this summer.
Milner might only have scored six goals in all competitions for Villa this term, but in a more attacking outfit, he would undoubtedly get more, whilst his eleven assists is no mean feat. Every game, Milner’s agility, work rate and drive are there to see, and he not only breaks up the oppositions play, but helps to dictate Villa’s. In short, he’s had a superb season.
Central Midfield: Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal
Fabregas is the complete midfielder, and were it not for Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta et al, the player would be a regular for Spain too. He has 15 Premier League goals this term, 19 in all competitions, and is top of the Premier League table for assists (15).
Fabregas keeps the midfield ticking over, and Arsenal are a different proposition with the Spaniard pulling the strings.
Central Midfield: Frank Lampard, Chelsea
Lampard almost slipped under the radar this season, but after a slow start, the England midfielder has ‘Frankly’ (sorry) been immense. Carlo Ancelotti began the season by deploying Lampard deep in a midfield diamond, with Lampard appearing to suffer as a result. However, the statistics prove that Lampard is still the league’s most effective midfield player, and he has grown into his role under Carlo Ancelotti.
Lampard has scored 17 goals and made 14 assists in the league for Chelsea, whilst he has also continued to serve England consistently under Fabio Capello.
Forward: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City
I think Carlos Tevez has made his point to Sir Alex Ferguson since leaving Manchester United. He’s scored 22 goals in the Premier League alone, and unlike Darren Bent, has also contributed to his team with a further eight assists, which is why he gets the nod over the Black Cats striker.
Tevez has scored important goals against Manchester United and Chelsea, and is a constant thorn in the side of even the best defenders. Whatever Tevez cost Manchester City, it looks like it was worth it, because his influence on the team would be nigh impossible to replace.
If Manchester City do succeed in attaining Champions League football this term, Carlos Tevez will have been a major catalyst.
Forward: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Surprisingly the Manchester United forward is the only player from Old Trafford to make my team, but what a season the England talisman has had. He’s scored a career best of 26 Premier League goals, and has developed a ruthless streak which was never evident when playing under the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo. Rooney appears to have the knack of being at the right place, at the right time, and his goals have compensated for the departure of both Carlos Tevez and the aforementioned Portuguese.
Rooney has become a proper centre forward this season, and this is evident in Rooney’s lack of assists. He spends more time in the box, and has become one of the most feared forwards in Europe. The player has also developed his aerial prowess, and his two goals against AC Milan in the Champions League last 16 first leg are testament to such augmentation.
Forward: Didier Drogba, Chelsea
The stats say it all. 26 Premier League starts, 25 Premier League goals and 10 assists. The ‘Drog’ is a machine. At 32, you might suspect that his best days are behind him, but not this year.
The Drog has not only scored a glut of goals, but he scores important goals, and has hit the net against Arsenal and Manchester United – Chelsea’s title rivals – no fewer than five times this season, as well as notching the winner in Chelsea’s recent FA Cup semi-final with AstonVilla.
There’s not much to add, as it’s all been said about him before. Raw power, clinical finishing, he can play upfront on his own, or with a partner and he’s still got pace beyond his years. Drogba will undoubtedly be a Chelsea legend, but he could add to the gloss if he leads Chelsea to a League and FA Cup double this season.
Subs: Pepe Reina, Roger Johnson, Jon Heitinga, Florent Malouda, Darren Bent.
Well, there it is, my Premier League team of the season. As usual, I can already hear the loading of shot-guns and sharpening of knives, so feel obliged to scorn my team selection in the comment box below, or merely champion the efforts of a player that I should never have left out…
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