Liverpool FC: Best XI for the 2011-12 Premier League Season
Now that the season Premier League season is over, it's time for those of us in the Internet punditry to choose our best XI teams.
And congratulations to Manchester City on winning the league title in dramatic fashion. It doesn't feel good to be out of the top four and Champions League football, but as long as it's not Manchester United lifting the trophy, it hurts a little less.
I went back and forth on where to set the minimum games played number to qualify for this best XI. I finally set on a minimum of 10 league games for inclusion.
I almost set the number at half of the league games, but with as many injuries as there were, that would have made picking a starting XI and a bench damn near impossible.
I know only one player qualifies, but when he's one of the best shot-stoppers in the league, that's okay.
The amazing thing about Pepe Reina is that, while the club had a down year, he still managed 12 clean sheets in league play and had a goals-against average of 1.03 while stopping 69.3 percent of the shots taken against him.
My best XI back line looks like this: Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique.
Which area of the team would you like to see improved for next season?
Johnson's speed and talent are why I chose him over Jamie Carragher. Don't get me wrong, Carragher's still a very good player, but he'll be 34 on the 30th of this month. Johnson, on the other hand, won't be 28 until August.
Skrtel, voted player of the year by fans on the team's website, is an aggressive and physical player and he gets the job done. He won 75.4 percent of his tackles and had a total of 176 clearances.
Agger doesn't play as aggressively as Skrtel, but the two complement each other well in the center of the Reds defense.
Enrique has proven to be, at least in my estimation, worth every penny the club paid for him. He's smart about his tackling (winning an impressive 81.2 percent of them) and very tough.
My best XI midfield looks like this: Dirk Kuyt, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam.
Kuyt is the team's Energizer bunny. He has an engine that just won't quit and he's a world-class player.
Gerrard is the team captain and good in the air, winning two-thirds of his aerial duels.
Henderson got off to a rough start to his Liverpool career, but he also managed to intercept more passes (54) than any other midfielder.
Adam's crosses, according to many, are worth the £10 million by themselves, but he's also good in the air, winning 71.9 percent of his aerial duels.
My best XI forwards are: Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy.
Suarez scored 11 times in league play in his first season in a Liverpool shirt. Just think how many more he would have had if he hadn't been hit with that eight-match ban.
Craig Bellamy may not play as often as fans would like, but he does put the ball in the back of the net more frequently (based on minutes played per goal) than Suarez.
The players I'll put on my bench are: Brad Jones, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Maxi Rodriguez, Stewart Downing, Lucas Leiva and Andy Carroll.
Jones and Carragher are emotional picks, Brad for his potential and Jamie for his experience.
If you'd told me five years ago that Lucas Leiva would be anywhere near my best XI for Liverpool, I would have said you were crazy. The 25-year-old Brazilian has grown on me. His return from injury will be like we're acquiring a new player, having been out so long.
Kelly, Rodriguez and Downing still have bright futures ahead of them, if they work at it.
That's my starting XI for Liverpool for the season that just concluded. What's yours?
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