It’s that time of the season when the player of the season awards start being handed out. It’s also the time of the season when us fans argue about who has been the best player in each of the positions. It is unlikely that any two fans would select an identical ‘team of the year’ but for the purposes of debate and ‘friendly’ discussion I thought I’d have a go at putting my ideas on paper.
I have selected a squad of twenty-two from which I will select my final Premier League eleven. I just know that the players I select will be hugely proud to be recognised by me, a man who all the top players listen to. Mmm.
I’m going for a good old fashioned 4-4-2. Not because it is the only way to play but because it makes it easier to put down on paper!
Edwin Van der Sar (Manchester United): Best keeper with the ball at his feet by a mile. Rarely lets United down and his saves against Arsenal may just have won the Premier League.
David James (Portsmouth): Had a great season and has kept his ‘eccentric moments’ to a minimum.
Bacary Sagna (Arsenal): Has looked pretty good all season and his injury may have played more of a part in Arsenal’s decline than most have suggested.
Glen Johnson (Portsmouth): I’ve never rated Johnson to be honest, but in the games I’ve seen him play this season he has looked effective going backwards and forwards.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United): After a dodgy start at United this man has developed into a wonderful player. Defensively he is sound and going forward he provides yet another attacking alternative for the team. For a man so small, he wins an amazing amount of headers.
GaÃ«l Clichy (Arsenal): Has totally replaced Ashley Cole and I’m sure the Arsenal fans have forgotten their old boy already. Clichy has remarkable energy levels and great pace.
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United): Solid as a rock. Difficult to remember a mistake. Has been sorely missed in the games he hasn’t played.
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United): Not everyone’s favourite player but he has been exceptional this season. With Vidic, he has formed a formidable partnership.
Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea): A bit of an unsung hero at Stamford Bridge. I think he has been Chelsea’s best defender by a mile this season, and has held the defence together in times of trouble.
Richard Dunne (Manchester City): He may have gone off the boil a little in recent weeks but his early season displays were faultless.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United): I don’t think I really need to say too much about this man who has been a phenomenon this season.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool): Yes, I know I’ve criticised him in the past, but he’s just a very good player. Lots of goals and inspirational for Liverpool.
Cesc FÃ bregas (Arsenal): Not so good over the last few weeks but I thought he looked near to his best at Old Trafford. In the first half of the season he was the only player in the country to be anywhere near Ronaldo in terms of performance levels.
Paul Scholes (Manchester United): Quite simply still a wonderful player. He might not get in the box as much as he used to, but he still picks a pass as well as anybody.
Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal): From bit part player to superstar. He has performed well all season and Arsenal will do well to hang onto him.
David Bentley (Blackburn): Not sure about Bentley really, but he has clearly produced the goods this season.
Ashley Young (Aston Villa): A really exciting prospect. He is direct, quick, can score goals and delivers a wonderful cross from open play or a dead ball.
Alexander Hleb (Arsenal): I wondered what all the fuss was about Hleb when he arrived at Arsenal, but this season he has shown what a fine player he is.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool): Wonderful striker. Is there a better centre forward in world football at this time?
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): His partnership with Ronaldo has been breathtaking at times. He has had to take a bit of a back seat to Ronaldo this season but he remains England’s best player.
Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham): He might be lazy and grumpy but I love watching him play. I have never seen a striker with a better first touch.
Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal): Blew it a bit at the end of the season but earlier on he was quite simply unplayable at times.
Players who just missed out:
Petr Cech (Chelsea): Not quite at his exceptional best this season and has given away a couple of crucial goals.
Manuel Almunia (Arsenal): Has done well particularly under the constant glare of the bitter and twisted Lehmann, but just not quite good enough to make the squad.
Pepe Reina (Liverpool): Looks like a world class keeper to me apart from in the really big games when he looks a little shaky. I cannot afford to risk my reputation as a manager on a player who might let me down in the big games!
Wes Brown (Manchester United): Has done a wonderful job for United this season, but I don’t think he is a right back. Not good enough for the squad but should be proud of what he has achieved out of position.
John Terry (Chelsea): Still a great leader and defender but has had a disappointing season by his own high standards.
William Gallas (Arsenal): Gallas has got the lot physically and deserves to be in or near the squad. I just feel his temperament has let him down a little in these last few crucial weeks.
Jamie Carragher (Liverpool): Another fine season for Liverpool, but I just don’t think he is quite as good as the others.
Jolean Lescott (Everton): Great season for Everton but plays as much at left back as he does at centre half. If he gets a regular place in the ‘number 5’ shirt, he could force his way in next season.
Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough / Tottenham): At his best, Woodgate is immaculate. If he’d played the whole season he could have made it.
Ryan Babel (Liverpool): In and out of the Liverpool team and he seems to get mixed reviews. Whenever I have seen him he has looked to be a talented and exciting player.
Michael Essien (Chelsea): Not quite as good as he was last season but still a formidable presence in the midfield.
Javier Mascherano (Liverpool): Has done a wonderful job for Liverpool this season.
Mikel Arteta (Everton): An exceptional player who makes Everton tick. He has played through injury this season but still looks a class act.
Gabby Agbonlahor (Aston Villa): Another exciting Villa prospect. Fast, direct and score goals. He could go far.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea): What a handful this player is. He misses out on my squad because of his propensity to fall over. (Yes I know I’ve selected Ronaldo, but you can’t leave him out, can you?)
Edwin Van der Sar
Cesc FÃ bregas
Let the arguments commence!