English Premier League: Picking Best XI from 2011-12 Season
After an absolutely ridiculous survival Sunday, it's time to look back at the season that was the EPL.
There were great moments, teams and players. This article is all about the players. I have picked a starting XI that would not have needed two last-minute goals to wrap up a title.
However, I'm not simply picking 11 players; there is a one-player-per-team limit. Rather that stock up on players from the best teams, I've used more than half the table to fill out my 4-4-1-1 lineup. For the most part, these players have played in these positions at one time or another.
It was a great year, and each of these guys stood out. They may not have been the best player on their respective teams, but they were the best option at that position for both their team and for mine.
GK Petr Cech, Chelsea
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After a rough start to his year, Petr Cech found his form.
He came on strong in the second half of the season and bailed Chelsea out on many occasions. He only had 10 clean sheets in the Premier League, but that is more of a reflection on the defense than himself.
When big moments arise, Cech makes the play.
He wasn't the most consistent goalkeeper all year, but the plays he made in the last few weeks solidified him as one of the best keepers in the world.
RB Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur
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If you like counter-attacking football, then you would've loved Tottenham Hotspur this season.
Kyle Walker is a big reason why.
His pace down the flank is incredible, and his fitness is as good as anyone else in the league. When Spurs would counter, they loved to look for Walker, who was always there.
He can defend pretty well, but it's his attacking that made him a regular at Spurs and gives him a good chance to play for England (a little bit) this summer.
CB Daniel Agger, Liverpool
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Despite his injury, Daniel Agger was the rock in Liverpool's defense this season.
The Reds were inconsistent all year, but Agger (along with Martin Skrtel) held down the centre of defense. With all the nonsense in the midfield and attack, Liverpool needed some sanity.
For the most part, Pepe Reina and Agger provided it, only allowing 40 goals this season, good for third in the league.
Agger is a strong force in the middle of the field, and he was nothing short of great this season.
CB Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle United
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For most of the season, Newcastle United had the toughest defense in the Premier League.
As injuries and exhaustion started to hit the squad, their form took a slight dip. However, Fabricio Coloccini was a fearless leader. He took an injury knock in March, but the team was able to carry on without him.
Coloccini was a steadying force for the club. He was strong in the back and he helped them finish in the top five for the first time since 2004.
LB Leighton Baines, Everton
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Ashley Cole wasn't too special. Jose Enrique tapered off toward the end of the year.
Leighton Baines just got the job done.
He is one of the most dependable players in England. When he's on the pitch, you know exactly what you're going to get. He played well once again this year, and if not for his hamstring injury, no one would've come close to his level this season.
He was great once again, and he will probably start for England this summer.
RM Sebastian Larsson, Sunderland
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In his first season with Sunderland, Sebastian Larsson made a pretty solid impact.
He scored seven league goals and assisted on two others. He was a strong option on the right side, and he made defenders nervous.
However, Larsson is at his best when he's taking free kicks. His set pieces were wonderful once again, and he surely gives goalkeepers nightmares with those incredible set pieces.
Larsson is one of the best free-kick takers in England, and when Larsson is doing damage from a set piece, Sunderland have a great chance to win a match.
CM Leon Britton, Swansea City
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Swansea City were one of big surprises this season. They came up through the Championship playoff, and they became the first Welsh team to play in the Premier League.
The Swans played in a fortress, where they only lost four matches—that was the best outside of the top five. If their away form was better, they could've finished in the top eight, easily.
Leon Britton was a big reason Swansea was so dangerous. He locked down the midfield, and his passing was a thing of beauty. He was the glue for Swansea. He kept everything together.
When you watched a Swansea match, you knew where Britton was. He had a great season, and I hope he returns to make things happen at Swansea once again.
CM Yaya Toure, Manchester City
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There is no one quite like Yaya Toure.
No one combines defending, passing and attacking the same way he does. The Ivorian can do anything a midfielder could be asked to do, and he does it spectacularly.
Without him, Manchester City would not have won the title. Sure, they would've still been talented enough to do it, but he was the glue for the team. He held everything together.
Toure could defend and distribute the ball through long passes. He could also push forward and create chances. He doesn't have fancy footwork, but he's plenty clever when he moves forward.
Simply put, Toure makes things happen.
LM Clint Dempsey, Fulham
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Clint Dempsey just finished the best club season an American has ever played.
He finished fourth in the league in goals, with 17. He had six assists. And, most impressively, he played in every match but the last one.
Dempsey was a monster this season. He created chances, converted chances and notched great goals on a weekly basis. Each week, I thought he would revert back to the old Dempsey: too many touches, not enough quality chances.
It never happened.
Dempsey was one of the best midfielders in the league this year, and don't let anyone tell you Fulham's style was the only reason he was successful (it contributed, though).
He played great, and he deserves to move to a larger club. We'll just wait and see if it happens.
CAM Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
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Wayne Rooney tallied 26 goals this season in 33 matches.
And he should've had more.
I don't know if it was the hair plugs, or Sir Alex Ferguson permanently moving Rooney to a withdrawn forward position, but Rooney responded. He didn't just sit back and facilitate; he moved forward.
Rooney wasn't always looking to set up his teammates. Sometimes, he just went for goal himself, which was something he needed more of last year. As a result, he was Manchester United's best player in a majority of the matches he played.
The attack ran through him, and he made sure the attack kept moving in the right direction. People starting doubting Rooney after the World Cup and a pedestrian season (you know, 17 goals and 16 assists) last year, but I think he shut the haters up.
Except for, you know, comments regarding the hair that now exists. Like we wouldn't notice. Seriously, it's weird.
ST Robin van Persie, Arsenal
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There's no doubt here.
Robin van Persie was simply the best attacking player all season. He scored 30 goals, but he locked up the Golden Boot weeks ago. Van Persie was great to watch this year, and he made things happen for Arsenal week-in and week-out.
Unfortunately, he had to do most of the work himself. Due to numerous injuries and dips in form, van Persie was often hung out to dry up top. Nevertheless, the Dutchman responded with great moment after great moment.
Arsenal looked to be in serious trouble after drawing with Bolton on Feb. 1, but van Persie put the team on his back, and they won nine out of their next 10 matches.
The Gunners finished the season in third, which ensures they will play in the Champions League next season. You can give credit to whomever you'd like, but we all know van Persie deserves most (if not all) of the credit.
After all, he scores when he wants.