Merry Christmas fellow readers!
Goal.com have recently announced their Premier League Team of the Season so far and The Linesman would like to share with all a different perspective on the starring performers on England soil.
Goal.com’s best XI:
Richards King Vermaelen Enrique
Aguero Rooney D. Silva
The Linesman’s View:
Walker found himself in the starting lineup of Tottenham’s campaign after maturing from his loan at Aston Villa last season and repaid manager Harry Redknapp’s faith with a string of strong and competent performances which also earned him a call-up to the national team. His pace, physique, stamina and attacking abilities (including a 25-yard winner against Arsenal) could well be the ultimate solution to Spur’s right back position and Aaron Lennon’s best partner to date.
AVB’s horrid defence play have seen the Blues conceding 20 goals in 17 league games but it could have been worse without Ashley Cole; his tireless and committed defense at left back was often overshadowed by his porous teammates until recently when AVB (or John Terry?) decided to revert to a deeper line of defense. Cole has already amassed 5 assists to his name this season, leveling his personal career high. His consistency up and down the flank has been undoubtedly vital in reviving Chelsea’s league form.
Since returning to the starting lineup after the 3 match-ban due to his confrontation with Joey Barton, Song has provided the physical presence lacking in the Arsenal midfield. He put up consistent-as-usual performances protecting the back four and allowed Arteta to star in his playmaker role. His career best five league assists have surprisingly shared the creative burden of the team. Arsenal will be more than happy that Cameroon is not a participant of the African Nations Cup in January next year.
Juan Mata’s debut half-season surely reminded Chelsea fans of Arjen Robben who changed the team in distinct fashion. He creates, he invents, he improvises. His 3 goals and 7 assists accounts for nearly a third of Chelsea’s goals this season and little will wonder why the summer signing could send Florent Malouda on the bench and Nicholas Anelka further eastwards. His set piece skills have also been a threat to his opponents as well as Frank Lampard’s starting berth. Already a fan favorite, Mata will be crucial in Chelsea’s 2nd half of the campaign to secure a top four finish.
Amid the Christmas joy, there are certainly more than 11 players to pay tributes to, and here we shortlist 7 more……
Another Dutch goalkeeper who starred this season after Edwin Van der Sar retired. He has helped Swansea to keep 8 clean sheets in the 17 league games, also conceding only 1 goal each to Arsenal and Manchester United. Vorm has caught 64% of the shots, even higher than the league leader goalkeeper, Joe Hart (52%). His brilliant penalty save against Wigan’s Ben Watson that has earned them a point can prove to be crucial in the relegation race.
He has proved that not everyone with the fluffy hairstyle would play like being controlled by a 10 year old on a Playstation. In his fourth year in England, Coloccini has shaken off the clumsiness and poor positioning he once showed. His partnership with Steven Taylor and Tim Krul has anchored the defense of the free-scoring Newcastle. Since his injury, Newcastle has given away 7 goals in 3 games, when they have only conceded 12 in 13 games before.
Alex Ferguson can certainly see something in this youngster when others can’t. The first summer signing of the Red Devils this summer have shown his versatility, starring in centreback, right back, and recently defensive midfielder. His mis-positioning in defence is still occasionally exposed, but don’t be surprised to see the 19 years old, who is being compared with Franco Baresi and Fernando Hierro, to be granted the England’s captain band any time soon.
When the spotlight is all on the expensive signings, Lucas has quietly emerged as an integrated part of Liverpool midfield. He has shown maturity on both ends of the field with his improved passing choices. The tireless Brazilian’s blossoming season has come to an end with a season-ending knee injury. His absence will be sadly missed by the Liverpool fans.
The skilful Spanish was signed by Arsene Wenger just before the trade deadline to replace his fellow Cesc Fabregas. He has quickly adopted to Arsenal’s playing style and stabilised the team with his excellent vision, pinpointing passes and penetrating deadballs. The former Barcelona trainee will continue to push hard in the 2nd half of season for his dream of representing his country at International level in Euro 2012.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis may still be puzzling why he didn’t sign Ba in January. The Senegal striker has put behind the poor start of his full-debut season and netted two hat-tricks, including one against Stoke. He shows his capability to play alone upfront or pairing up with Leon Best and Shola Ameobi. Alan Pardew will be in serious headache to replace the 13 goals Demba Ba has contributed to the recently struggling Teeside during the African Nations Cup.
The Togo striker has surely put football over money. His height and physical strength is invaluable to the short attacking front of Tottenham; His technique and aggressiveness merge perfectly with the short-passing game that Harry Redknapp prefers. Adebayor has already contributed 9 goals and 6 assists since joining from Manchester City on loan. Tottenham fans would surely want Daniel Levy to splash the money to secure the service of the once-rival.
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