Fantasy Football – Arsenal vs Chelsea vs Liverpool vs Manchester United

At the risk of flogging a long-dead horse, I’m taking this squad mashup idea to its logical conclusion (for me at least).

If you were asked to pick a starting 11 out of the top four Premiership clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool & Manchester United, in case you are a Tottenham or Newcastle fan…), what would your lineup look like?

Before we continue though, a short preamble.

Previous Incarnations:

Why:

Because there is no point to it, because fantasy football turns us footie fans on (the only thing better is your team winning, or football babes, and because England are playing a sucky team today for another meaningless Euro 2008 qualifier.

What if I don’t give a flying fuck:

Then you can talk about whatever you want here.

Ok, now if we can just move along to the juicy stuff…

The mega-squad mashup – Picking 11 outstanding players out of 4 top clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool & Manchester United.

Squad Selection

Formation: 4-4-2

Flexible (can play 4-4-1, 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 with the same set of players (maximum one substitution).

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

Facts can be twisted to suit almost any line of thought. Wenger is a better manager than Fergie because he used less money and had immediate success. Fergie is better than Wenger because he had nothing to build upon, and because he forged his career on making lesser players come together and form a team that just could not be beaten and refused to give up.

The real debate for me was Mourinho vs Ferguson, because we’re not talking transfer policies and long-term development, we talking about immediate impact and making disparate elements play together like a great team.

Logically it’s a tie, although if I bias it then Ferguson comes out on top because of his experience and because he has mounted more ‘comebacks’ than Mourinho…I wonder what the Special One would do if Chelsea were 10 points behind United in February? Would he be able to help his team win the Premiership? I wouldn’t bet on anyone else apart from Ferguson managing such a feat.

Goalkeeper: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United)

van der Sar over Lehmann and Reina for his command of the box, superior positioning and aerial ability. Cech over Lehmann and Reina for the same.

Cech has faster reflexes, but van der Sar is more experienced. Who do you pick? I really don’t know, so I’ll succumbed to bias and plump for van der Sar. One of the hardest decisions to make, as nothing separates the two.

Rightback: William Gallas (Arsenal)

I’m cheating again by sticking a centre-back at right-back, but leaving Gallas out of the team is folly and his attacking instincts make him a strong, marauding full-back. Gary Neville lacks the pace, Ferriera is not as defensively solid as Gallas while Finnan and Lauren and Eboue are not as proven (or as good) as him in all departments (although Eboue is peerless in attacking while Lauren’s positioning is excellent).

Centrehalf #1: John Terry (Chelsea)

Makes the grade because of his willingness to hunt the ball down and take the game to the opposition. His critics say that he gets away with murder but that’s only a small part of the story. He’s not the best defender of the lot, but he gives 200% where everyone else is giving 110%, and that gives him the edge.

Centrehalf #2: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

A close call between Rio and Toure. Rio’s reputation of lacking concentration is annoyingly justified, but when riled up the defender is unarguably the best the Premiership has seen in a long while. Rio needs to be paired with a solid defender to really perform well (see his performances with Vidic for Manchester United) and he is good captain material as well.

Leftback: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

Gabriel Heinze vs Ashley Cole – who would you pick? Cole wins out for his sheer pace and quality crossing, although Heinze is probably more aggressive. Not a fun decision to make, this one. If this was my team I’d let objectivity be damned and pick Heinze.

Right wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Pennant? Rosicky? SWP? You’re joking, right?

Holding midfielder: Michael Essien (Chelsea)

Essien is better defensively than Alonso, Fabregas and Carrick, and he gives his team a little extra impetus going forward – something that Makelele and Sissoko lack. He is in Keano’s and Vieira’s mould, and that’s about as high a compliment that you can give a midfielder.

Attacking midfielder: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

The old Lampard vs Gerrard debate 😉 I’d pick Gerrard because with Ronaldo and Joe Cole in the team you have a roving middle-three that can switch around and cause the opposition a lot of problems (and with the front-two that I’m picking, that’s 5 players who can float around). Plus I rate Stevie higher than Frank, but that’s a separate issue.

Left wing: Joe Cole (Chelsea)

Robben, van Persie, Rosicky…all three could have made it here, but Joe Cole wins out on all the stakes – long shots, ability to play for the team, superior wing play, excellent crossing ability, etc etc. It’s tough to leave out Ryan Giggs here, but age is not in his favor.

Striker #1: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

No questions.

Striker #2: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Once again, no questions.

Final Picks

Formation: 4-4-2
Manager: Ferguson
Team: van der Sar, Gallas, Terry, Ferdinand, A. Cole, Ronaldo, Essien, Gerrard, J. Cole, Henry, Rooney
Scores: Arsenal (2), Chelsea (4), Manchester United (4), Liverpool (1).

Your best 11?

Let us know who you’d pick in your dream team in the comments below.