This list might very well create some controversy (hopefully positive) and that is fine. Choosing this list is much like choosing who England should take to Euro 2012, everyone will have an opinion and this opinion can be debated down at the pub until closing time. But I do want to set a list of ground rules for my Premier League MVP XI.
First I shall define what I consider an MVP (Most Valuable Player) to mean. There is a difference between most outstanding and most valuable. Most outstanding is simply the best, the player who has just excelled over all others this season. While most valuable are those players who are needed. Those players whom if they did not play week in and week out their respective team would not have as successful a season if they were not in the lineup. A player who can qualify as most outstanding could also qualify as being most valuable.
Secondly to qualify for this list the player must have been playing for the entire season (sorry to Paul Scholes and Lucas Leiva) and could not have joined or left their team during the January transfer window (sorry here to Samba, Cisse and Sigurdsson). It is okay if they had left their team for the Africa Cup of Nations, because they are still playing regular football.
And finally I have setup my team in a 4-4-2 formation just because it is easy to evenly distribute the players. Although I have chosen the top four defenders and midfielders regardless of where they play on the pitch. I have also allowed for seven subs including a goalkeeper, 2 defenders, 2 midfielders and 2 strikers. With teams being able to have more than one player on my MVP list (and they do).
Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
Who had Newcastle battling for a Champions League position? Anybody? Who in Newcastle had Newcastle battling for a Champions League position? Anybody? Well shouldn’t this wonderful resurgence show how the Magpies needed Tim Krul in net this season? Alan Pardew made a very gutsy choice in picking the Dutchman to be in goal this season over the established Steve Harper and it has paid off and for that Tim Krul get my choice at the most valuable goalkeeper this season.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Can a person be more valuable when they lead their team to their first Premier League title in 44 years? Can a person be more valuable when they are handed the armband after a controversial captain, and then just go out and lead by example? Can a person be more valuable by their absence? As in Kompany’s suspension this season, right around the time when Manchester City started to struggle? Can a person be more valuable when in the biggest game of their season against their crosstown rivals they score the winning goal? Nobody really had any idea of how valuable Vincent Kompany was going to be for City when he was brought in, but he is certainly deserving of this list.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
John Terry has not been his usual self this season in the Premier League. Now whether that is just the physical demands of getting older and losing a step or due to injury reasons the Chelsea captain has not looked in the form he has in the past. Plus with David Luiz and Gary Cahill not ready yet to hold the back line for Chelsea is has given Ivanovic a chance to really show his worth in the Chelsea’s central defense. He might not have the offensive skills, nor might he get all the glory, but this is about being valuable not being the best or most talented.
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Another season on the blue side of the Mersey and again another typical Everton season. Not a lot of money spent, top ten in the Premier League and no trophies. So why is Leighton Baines on this list? I have put him here because of the work that puts into Everton holding the back line and helping to keep Everton competitive. Not only does he hold the back line but he scores as well, notching four goals this season. Baines has been a constant for Everton, and even more so this season with the lackluster performance from Tim Cahill. Baines should be taken to the Euro’s this summer and he should be looked at as a strong summer signing for teams looking to improve their back line, Arsenal perhaps?
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
I have always thought that Spurs are always fantastic to watch offensively but just dreadful at times defending. Watching Walker this season though has shown me that Spurs can in fact be a top defending team. I feel that he should be the backbone (along with Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul) that Harry Redknapp builds from going forward. Sure things could become a little more boring some nights at White Hart Lane, but there could also be more Champions League nights in the future if they learn to defend against the powerhouse teams in Europe.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
Hopefully now people will realize how strong of a force Clint Dempsey can be in the Premier League. 17 league goals this season put him behind only Aguero, Rooney and Van Persie, and make the American the top scoring midfielder this season. I’m not sure why Dempsey seems to be going a bit unnoticed outside of South London, but Dempsey is a rare breed. An American who wants to play in the Premier League rather than toil in MLS (such as Landon Donovan and Brian McBride) because he seems to want to further his skills and become an elite Premier League player, despite being American. Regardless, no chance are Fulham in the top ten this season without Dempsey
Leon Britton (Swansea)
Anyone think I am a fool for this selection? Anyone have Swansea being as competitive as they have been this season? Anyone actually watched what Leon Britton does during a game for Swansea? Britton just sits in the middle of the pitch and makes pass after pass after pass pushing Swansea forward and creating chances. Sure Britton has only 3 yellow cards to show for this season in the league but being an MVP is not about scoring goals, it is about being vital to your teams success. And that is what Leon Britton has done this season for Swansea and not getting the recognition I feel he deserves.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)
Probably the player on this list who came from nowhere this season and had no expectations surrounding them after coming in from Lille. But Cabaye could easily be Alan Pardew’s strongest summertime signing. He just continues to impress and adapt to the Premier League and has been a box to box force for Newcastle. Cabaye has also helped Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse become legitimate goalscoring threats every game, and being an MVP means you should help make the players around you better.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Probably the best example I can use in terms of defining what an MVP means. In no way is Toure the most skilled player on Man City, but he is extremely valuable in terms of how City need him in their lineup. He is the bull in that midfield, the link between the defense and the forwards and from what I see, the heart and soul of the team. This really became clear when he left for the Africa Cup of Nations. When watching City you could see that they just were not the same team without Toure, and then upon his return they kicked it back into gear looking like the team at the start of the season. That is what an MVP should do. And of course scoring two goals against Newcastle United when asked to play a little bit forward does hurt either.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Not your typical Wayne Rooney season. No controversy, no suspensions (in the Premier League), no injuries, no real headaches. Because of that is seems as though the press have chosen not to focus on the striker and his 27 goals this season. Sure things are more glamorous and exciting when negative press can be written about Rooney rather than positive, but should more not be written about this season? I mean twenty-seven goals.
Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
I saved the easiest for last. Van Persie this season embodied how a person can be the Most Outstanding and Most Valuable to their team. Do you feel Arsenal even get a whiff of the Champions League without the season he has had?
Michel Vorm (Swansea), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Grant Holt (Norwich City)
Again this is a personal list, and yes there are some people who will certainly feel that I’ve left some players off this list (such as Joe Hart) but please remember again. This list is to show who has been the most valuable this season, not the best.