Many pundits and fans alike have started to compile their personal Premiership XL based on this seasons performances. As the final few weeks approach us, we all reflect on what has been a year full of memorable moments for both the good and bad reasons (See Louis Suarez roller-coaster season), and what players have taken huge strides into becoming an important cog in their represented teams (De Gea, Pablo Zabaleta.)
Below is the defence i came up with and why i thought each individual player deserved to be picked on merit. I will post my midfield/attackers in the coming days in a two part debate. Feel free to criticise/agree with my selections. After all, this is a blog!
GK- Whilst a lot of pundits went with the ever improving David De Gea for the goalkeeping slot, my choice has to be Hugo Lloris. A slow start to his career at Spurs playing second fiddle to Brad Friedel must have been frustrating, but the French no.1 eventually got his first start in October, keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win against Aston Villa and hasn’t looked back since. Commanding in the box, hugely experienced, and very quick coming out, Lloris has been an excellent purchase and is definitely proving to be one of the best keepers in the League based on his first season in English football.
RB- Easy. Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentine is arguably one of the most underrated players in the League in my opinion and is often forgotten in a side as richly talented as Man City. Whilst City have wonderfully creative attacking players at their disposal, players like Zabaleta play a key role in defending when so many others are high up the field. Equally adept going forward as he is defending, Zabaleta is a grafter. He will happily run all day long and is very aware of his position on the field due to his experience and clever footballing brain. Whereas City have disappointed this season, Zabaleta has maintained the impressive form we saw from him last season and deserves to be named in the team of the year.
CB- Jan Vertonghen. The big Belgian has been colossal at the back for Spurs this season, scoring important goals in the process. Ledley King’s retirement last summer kickstarted the club ‘s search for a talented leader to marshall the defence, and they have found the ideal man in Vertonghen. Strong in the air, a crisp tackler, and comfortable at left back as well as centre half, Vertonghen will inevitably attract the interest of major European sides in the coming years based on his debut season in the Premier League.
CB- Rio Ferdinand. For a man who really struggled for fitness and form last season, Rio has certainly got back on track this time around. So much so that Sir Alex Ferguson even went as far as saying that this was his finest since he joined the Red Devils in 2002. Back to his best even without regular defensive partner Vidic for the majority of the season, Rio has been an integral part of Man Utd’s quest to regain the title from the clutches of City. Excellent reading of the game, crucial interceptions and timely distribution is a hallmark of his game, with many examples being seen throughout the campaign.
LB-Leighton Baines. Whilst being perhaps the best free kick taker in the League at this moment in time, Baines certainly has much more to his game than dead ball situations. Attacking from deep has always been relatively comfortable for the Everton player, but it is defending which seems to be improving with every game. Now a complete left back in his own right, it is no surprise that Man Utd are rumoured to be interested in taking him as a replacement for the ageing Patrice Evra.