Team of the Season so far in 2011

It’s been scintillating six months of English Football. We’ve had blow outs (8-2, 5-3, and 6-1 between some big guns) and some stunning individual performances (numerous hat-tricks and goal line saves). With half a season to go, it’s time to decide who has made the Team of the Season So Far, settling in a traditional English 4-4-2 formation.

Goalkeeper – Joe Hart:

Being consistent is important for a goalkeeper and with his team leading the way at the top Joe Hart has been the best this season. While he has only kept four clean sheets in 18 League games so far, Hart has stepped up when City has been under the pump. He’s done it time and time again against some Big Six and lesser teams. Strong in the air, with quick reflexes, Hart has pulled some stunning saves and leads the backline comfortably and his consistency is one of the reasons City are at the top. With a less skilful and mentality fragile keeper, they wouldn’t be.

Right Back – Micah Richards:

Overlooked by Fabio Capello for the England squad, Richards has been in stunning form this season and deserves his position at right back. The fact that Capello prefers Glen Johnson to City defender is a shame. Roaring up and down the flank, he’s a physical beast; a big man with lighting speed with a great finesse to support the attack. Five assists and a goal in 13 games is a good form for a defender. While at times he’s has to “remember to pick up his brain” (as Mancini puts it) his concentration at the backline has been improving game by game. Should be in the squad for Euro 2012.

Centre Back – Vincent Kompany:

The City captain has been a true leader for the blue side of Manchester. His taking the role from trouble maker Carlos Tevez, Kompany has been as tour de force. Powerful, physical, fast, uncompromising, City have probably one the best centre backs in the game. With 16 games and two goals so far this season, Kompany’s place in the Team of the Season So Far signals his recent superb form.

Centre Back – Fabricio Coloccini:

The reason for Newcastle rise to European positions (except for their recent slump in form) was due to a consistent backline. Argentine Coloccini has been one of the reasons for their success. Alan Pardew handed the defender the armband for the season and it has paid off spectacularly. Forming a formidable partnership with Steven Taylor, Newcastle has one the solid defences in the league. Such is the importance of the Argentine that after getting injured against Chelsea, the Magpies’ defence was in disarray and his replacement (James Perch) let Drogba score a simple goal. Something Coloccini would not have let happen.

Left Back – Jose Enrique:

Liverpool’s summer signing has proven to money well spent. The Spaniard has slotted himself seamlessly at left back and has produced a number of good consistent performances, especially against bigger clubs, including the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The reds have only conceded 13 goals so far this season, Enrique being a part of the equation. Strong, fierce and full of hard work and running his form has lead him to say that “‘some team-mates have told me to apply for British citizenship” and be in the squad of the Three Lions. It looks unlikely though with Enrique quoting: I’m not about doing that because I’m Spanish and I want to play for Spain”

Right Midfield – Juan Mata:

Usually plays on the left of Chelsea’s front three, but with that space being occupied by City’s David Silva, Mata finds him on the right side. Not that would be a problem for the Spaniard, who could easily play on the right, left and through the middle. His spark and creativity has been key for Chelsea’s title challenge. He’s been the missing piece of a Blues’ old rearguard, scoring and setting up goals, adjusting well to the Premier League’s fast pace and rough play. Will be part of the Chelsea squad for a long time to come.

Centre Midfield – Lucas Leiva:

Probably one of the most improved players so far this season has been the Brazilian. The Liverpool has added grunt, hard work and decent quality in the centre of the pitch for the Reds this season. They haven’t looked the same without him and a season-ending injury is real blow for the Merseyside club. Hopefully he’ll come back stronger than before.

Centre Midfield – Phil Jones:

A solid signing for Manchester United, but with an already quality filled backline, the multiple-positioned Jones can settle for playing in centre midfield, where he has filled in during the season – to great success. Originally purchased to help an ageing defence, Ferguson has thrown the Englishman into midfield to fulfil an injured plagued area. Hard working, full of grunt and with a keen eye for passing and supporting attacks, Jones has been great for United this season.

Left Midfield – David Silva:
Probably the player of the season so far. Skilful, creativity, slick and slippery, and astute eye for defence splitting passes and a goal sense, Silva has, is, the Manchester City’s main man. A man of the Match performance against United is of one of a series of fantastic performances his season, including getting the winner against Arsenal a fortnight ago. Consistent with hardly any faulty performances, Silva playmaking abilities has blown away the Premier League this season. Will be the Player of the Season if he continues with this form.

Striker – Demba Ba:

The Senegalese is the signing of the season for the Magpies this season. Two hat-tricks, 13 goals in 16 games, his inspiring form has made Newcastle the surprise package so far. He’s scored 57% of Newcastle’s goals this season and if wasn’t for him, Newcastle wouldn’t be where they are now. Physical, strong and playing without fear, Ba thoroughly deserves his place in the Team of the Season so far.

Striker – Robin Van Persie:

The Captain of the Gunners, Van Persie has been in irresistible form during the first half of the season. 16 goals in 17 games have launched Arsenal from the early troubles at the start of the season to challenging for a Top Four position.  A stunning run of form of 7 goals in four games including a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 5-3 win over Chelsea has shot the Dutchman to top of the goal scoring charts. Three more goals in 2011 and he will be beat Alan Shearer’s record of 36 goals in a calendar year. If he stays fully fit, expect Arsenal to challenge for some accolades.

Andrew Bishara

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