English Premier League 2011-2012: Choosing the Ideal Starting XI
The English Premier League is one of the most, if not the most, competitive leagues in world football.
With some of the best players in the world plying their trade, developing their skills and creating a legacy of their own, it is easily one of the most exciting and intense leagues to see in action.
Given the immense amount of attention, money and range of players playing in sides ranging from Manchester to Swansea, there are a select few that put in their best week-in and week-out, making headlines and capturing the imaginations of those who watch.
With some of the world's top talent to choose from, here is the ideal starting XI from the English Premier League, put in a 4-3-3 formation to account for the attacking prowess within the league.
Feel free to provide your own best 11 in the comments below!
Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm
Surprisingly enough, the most impressive goalkeeping performance doesn't come from Liverpool or either of the Manchester sides.
With a resounding 79 saves and nine clean sheets so far this season after just 21 games, Michel Vorm has impressed with his newly promoted Swansea City side.
With several great games for the Welsh side, he is by far one of the biggest surprises so far this season.
His Swansea side need a little bit more on the defensive front to help out their excellent goalkeeper, but if they figure out their way to goal and strengthen their back line, they could seriously improve their lower-middle of the table standing.
As a potential substitute, Joe Hart would be more than fit, as he has helped Manchester City to a two-loss record so far this season.
Right-Back: Kyle Walker
Tottenham's speedy wing-back defender comes into the fold after climbing the ascent of English football to become a prominent figure in the Spurs' biggest run for a title that they've had in years.
Having fulfilled this position on the back line superbly, Tottenham have bumped the services of the likes of Vedran Corluka from their lineup for the well-rounded defender, making for happier times at White Hart Lane.
His astounding speed and pinpoint crossing ability have made him one of the best winging defenders in the Premier League, just a mere three years after playing for non-league side Northampton Town.
The one goal he's scored this season was a thunderbolt that blazed passed a bewildered Szczęsny into the back of the Gunners' net, during the North London derby, a goal that still upsets Arsenal fans, but a fantastic strike nonetheless.
Centre-Back: John Terry
John Terry, Mr. Chelsea, has not been in the greatest view of the public eye in the first half of the season, but the Blues' defensive keystone has hardly let this affect his superb defensive game.
With four goals and one assist to his name as central defender, Terry has helped keep Chelsea in the top four and among the key runners for a Champions League spot next season, while challenging for another title for the Blues and their new manager, Andres Villas-Boas.
His hard tackling and barking command from the back has helped steer the London side to five clean sheets in the 21 games they have played so far this season.
A very solid first half of the season performance from the England international.
Centre-Back: Vincent Kompany
Arguably the best defensive player in the world right now, Vincent Kompany has been the rock at the back for the blue half of Manchester.
This 6'3" central defender has been the heart of Roberto Mancini's sweeping attack-from-the-back side that sits narrowly at the top of the mountain in the Premier League.
With his nimble footwork and his in-air dominance, Kompany is a powerful presence for the Citizens in every single league game.
Left-Back: Jose Enrique
Jose Enrique has been one of the smartest defenders for Liverpool's side this season.
His ball control combined with his pass-and-move mentality up the left side of the field, have made him a solid inclusion into the elite Premier League XI as a part of one of the most stringent defenses in England, with only 18 goals conceded in 21 games.
In regard to fellow Kenny Dalglish buys Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, Enrique has proven to be much more vital for his substantially lower price tag.
He also beats out the likes of winging backs Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra, who have had subpar seasons in regard to their normally oh-so-high standard of play.
Right Midfield: Juan Mata
Juan Mata has been a sensation since his move to the Blues under the newly-founded reign of Andres Villas-Boas.
This Spanish international has proven himself to acclimatize quickly to the hustle and bustle of the hard-hitting English game with his hard-working Spanish flair.
The former Valencia midfielder was looking to make a move to Barcelona, with reports indicating in June that he had, but all was for naught, as the Spaniard made the jump to the EPL, much like his fellow former La Liga opponent, Sergio Aguero.
Since that move, though, he has held up in the face of calls for Villas-Boas' head and the "team in crisis" talks surround the club.
His fluid efficiency on the ball, as well as his close control, look to be a long-term solution to the aging cog of the Blue machine, Frank Lampard.
Centre Midfield: Luka Modric
Luka Modric looked for the longest time to be Chelsea-bound during the mayhem that was the summer transfer window of 2011.
Boy, are Spurs fans glad that this Croatian genius has stayed.
Modric has been in stellar form in the first half of the season, with the acquisition of workhorse Scott Parker giving him the freedom to add his own fluid, artistic touch to the game, something he was not allowed to do last season.
His creativity on the ball has allowed for the likes of Gareth Bale and loaned target striker Emmanuel Adebayor to free up their own games as well, bringing an attacking blade into the Hotspur's offensive game.
With this creative freedom and high level of play being circulated around North London, Spurs look to make a real title push this season, with Modric helping to steer their way along the long road toward the title.
Left Midfield: David Silva
David Silva is one of those players that is always there when you need him.
In the case of Manchester City, this has been a fruitful case, as the Spanish maestro has proven key to their title run this season, providing five goals and 11 assists, and shooting 55 times for his side, making him one of the most dangerous men in the league.
The Spaniard has helped immensely in the evolution of the big-spending Citizens.
Some sides spend an immense amount of money but lack that edge to win crucial matchups and make a true challenge to a title. This is usually due in large part to the lack of a general in the midfield.
A playmaker. A game-changer, if you will.
David Silva is exactly that for Manchester City and, with his insane amount of skill and sight on the ball, they could look to make their Premier League title dreams a reality.
Right Forward: Robin Van Persie
97 shots. 18 goals. 5 assists. 21 games.
These are the sort of numbers a Premier League-level striker would be happy to have at the end of a long, tortuous season in one of the elite football leagues on the planet.
Fortunately for Arsenal fans and Robin van Persie, this is not the case. We are in the month of January, and the season still has a long way to go, yet van Persie has put up this level of numbers in his first season of captaincy for the recovering Gunners squad.
As long as this Dutchman can stave off the injury troubles that have plagued him in seasons past, he could be a shoo-in for the Golden Boot at the end of the season and help his Arsenal side out of a slump of form that has plagued them so in recent years.
Centre Forward: Demba Ba
Demba Ba has proven to be an amazing steal for Newcastle.
Coming over on a free transfer from West Ham, the Senegalese striker has been an absolute sensation this season, striking for 15 goals in 19 games for the Magpies.
In what was shaping up to be a dismal season for Newcastle after the massive sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool, fortunes have turned in favor of the black-and-white stripped side in the form of Ba and his sensational eye for goal.
At one point, this side were challenging for top spot, surprising all analysts and fans of the game alike, as they struck against the odds and made their own fortunes, highlighted in such fashion as their 3-0 victory over second-place Manchester United earlier this month.
This sort of form being thanks in large part due to the efforts of players like Demba Ba.
Left Forward: Yakubu
It would have been easy to give a nod to players in the city of Manchester—Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero—with their clubs battling for top spot in the league and their superior goal tallies.
However, a nod must be given to a side struggling to stay in the league yet have a true striker in their ranks.
Yakubu has been amazing for a Blackburn side looking to stay in the top flight of English football.
He has an amazing strike rate, with 12 goals in 16 games and only 39 shots taken. Compare this to his fellow forwards Rooney and Aguero, who have 13 goals with 90 shots taken and 14 goals with 68 shots taken, respectively, and you see how truly on form this forward is.
He has almost single-handedly helped Steve Kean keep his job with the Rovers, but generally goes unappreciated with his poaching ability in front of goal when it comes to talking about forwards in the league.
With major wins over Arsenal, Swansea, Manchester United and Fulham this season, Yakubu's magic can be seen as a major influence into the battle that Blackburn Rovers are fighting in to stay afloat.
With less than half of the Premier League season left to play, these featured players should be interesting to watch.
As the league takes the toll on them individually, we'll see how this squad stacks up against the squad at the end of season.
Only time will tell if their class stands out throughout the rough-and-tumble times in one of the world's toughest footballing climates.