English Premier League: Team of the Season so Far
The league is now edging closer to the halfway mark. The last couple of months have seen the beginning of one of the most exciting and most competitive Premier league season's ever.
This, in turn, has given birth to some of the most consistent and most impressive group of players—and I intend to recognize them on this list.
NB: Some of your favorite players may not be on this list. It took quite a while before I decided on a first 11. The thing that separates these players from the rest is the level of consistency they bring to each game— players who have delivered without going through rough patches.
So without further ado, in a 4-3-3 formation, here is the team of the season thus far.
Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm (Swansea City)
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It was between Vorm and the equally outstanding Tim Krul of Newcastle, but Michel Vorm edges Krul for me.
So far, his outstanding performances have earned Swansea eight clean sheets—the second highest in the league behind Manchester United's nine. A true revelation, it's difficult to forget his amazing debut against Manchester City. Eleven saves in one game helped to keep the damage at a minimum.
He also has a penchant of saving penalties. For example, Ben Watson against Wigan to earn Swansea their first point of the season, and more recently, the outstanding save against Fulham's Clint Dempsey to earn another clean sheet for his side.
Another brilliant moment came against Liverpool, when he made two dying minute saves from Glen Johnson and Luis Suarez, earning his side a well respected and well-earned point. One of the signings of the season in my book, Vorm has been a revelation this year, and I very much expect him to grow from strength to strength as the season goes further.
Right Back: Micah Richards (Manchester City)
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There have been some very impressive right backs this year.
Kyle Walker has been in terrific form and has earned himself an England call up, Glen Johnson has had his moments and seems to have reinvented himself, and Chris Smalling has been solid enough.
But Micah Richards has been the standout. In a team of expensive big name signings, it's very nice to see a homegrown lad holding his own in the Man City starting XI.
Showing off his amazing strength in defence, with impressive physicality, as well as his much improved attacking instincts, it seems that he has finally found his way back to the sort of form that earned him a regular place in the England squad earlier in his career.
Fabio Capello would have some serious explaining to do if he leaves Richards out of his 23-man squad for Euro 2012.
Centre Back: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
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Arguably right now, the best centre back in the league.
Vincent Kompany is a rock at centre defence. Few can argue that his presence in City's defence hasn't been important. What he has improved on, though, is his offensive contributions. His two goals and two assists have been very much welcomed by the league leaders.
His leadership qualities shine through with each game and his ability to read the game a step quicker than most attackers, as well as the very impressive way in which he organizes his defence and controls the game from the back makes him one of the most sought after defenders in the league.
A much better leader than Carlos Tevez ever was, it's no surprise that this year City have taken their football to a new level, and with Kompany leading this team, the sky is indeed the limit.
Centre Back: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
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My very good friend David Hendrick would go through leaps and bounds to argue the case for Daniel Agger's inclusion. I must admit he has been a good defender this year. Ledley King and Fabricio Coloccini have also been outstanding, and Koscielny and Skrtel are ever improving. But the impact Thomas Vermaelen has had on Arsenal, cannot be ignored.
Although all the attention and praise goes to Robin Van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen has been just as instrumental in the Gunners turning their season around. The imposing Belgium defender seems to be making up for lost time with every game, putting in commanding performances and coming back as good as ever.
His commanding but calm influence, as well as his aggressive but controlled defending, have seen the Gunners rise from 17th in the league before his return, to fifth and one-point off the top four. Also, his three goals and two assists haven't exactly hurt either. But most importantly, his return has provided arsenal with six clean sheets, same as league leaders Manchester City.
Right now he is deputizing at left back, proving his versatility and importance to Arsenal. With him on the field, they look very much assured defensively.
Left Back: Jose Enrique (Liverpool)
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In my humble opinion, the one good piece of transfer business that King Kenny Dalglish got right this summer.
Liverpool's Achilles heel for the last couple of seasons has been the left back position, and Enrique has filled that position with class.
One of the bargain buys of the season following his £5 million move from Newcastle in the summer, Enrique has been consistently impressive, both defensively and offensively. Solid in defence and is very quick to start an attack, Enrique is the best left back in the league so far.
The missing link to the Liverpool defence that can now boast to being the best in the league, Enrique has started every game this season and has helped his team to seven clean sheets and the least amount of goals conceded in the league. A Spanish international call up would be a very deserved prize for his performances this season.
Midfield: Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur)
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Tottenham have become a team to reckon with this season.
Scott Parker has become a midfielder to reckon with this season. Last season's FWA player of the season, he is showing exactly why his form has seen him being almost irreplaceable in the England setup.
Very much in the twilight of his career, like fine wine, he seems to get better with age. His performances as a tough tackling, ball-winning defensive foil in the midfield has given Tottenham the stability they didn't get with Huddlestone or Palacios in recent seasons.
Another candidate for bargain of the season, Parker has been very impressive indeed.
Midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
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The best midfielder so far this season.
Silva started off the season in blistering form with three Man of the Match performances in a row for trailblazers Manchester City. He then followed this up with impressive performances all through September, catching the eye of fans and neutrals alike.
His ability to create space and chances out of nothing makes him extremely difficult to stop, and his understanding of the game makes him one of the best midfielders in Europe right now. He is also turning out to be a big game player, with goals against Arsenal and United showing that he doesn't shy away or go missing in the games against the very best.
It's easy to assume that Man City have a lot in their locker to go on a sustained championship run. They do have the best team in the league, but it would be hard to see them sustain the level of performance and domination without Silva in the team. A game changer in his own right, Silva is arguably the player of the season so far.
Midfield: Juan Mata (Chelsea)
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Chelsea's new creative player. Edges out the mercurial Alex song, the flying winger Gareth Bale and the surprisingly impressive Yohan Cabaye for a spot on the list.
Mata made his debut against Norwich and scored in a 3-1 victory. Mata also assisted Chelsea's 6,000th league goal with an in-swinging cross which was headed in by Frank Lampard. In the same game, Mata scored with a spectacular 25-yard strike in a 3-5 home defeat to Arsenal.
Numerous Man of the Match performances in games against Wolves, Newcastle, Sunderland, Everton and Swansea have led to pundits and teammates to praise him and his ability to create and score goals. He has been labeled by many as the creative "spark" that has been missing at Chelsea and is their constant attacking threat in midfield with his dynamic midfield play.
Mata is one of the finest midfielders in Europe, and with each game, shows a level of class and creativity. Chelsea still hold out hopes of a premiership trophy this season, and they need Mata to continue in his impressive vein of form if they have any chance at all.
Striker: Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
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Where would Newcastle be without Demba Ba. That's what the commentator screamed as he fired in a thunderbolt of a second goal against West Brom. It got me thinking, why is he not as celebrated and appreciated as much as the other strikers in the league?
Thirteen goals so far this season has him joint second in the tally with household names like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero.
A major reason for Newcastle's impressive start to the season, the Senegalese striker has a strike rate only bettered by Robin van Persie in this calender year, with 20 goals in 28 games in 2011.
Be it headers, long range, tap-ins and, more recently, free-kicks, Demba can do it all. A nightmare for defenders, you can forgive Newcastle fans if they have forgotten about a certain Andy Carroll, as the man who wears No. 19, is the new Geordie hero.
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
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I had to choose between him and Wayne Rooney. Both have the same amount of goals and assists. But Rooney's dip in form for a month and a half has him taking a back seat to Aguero so far. Impressive debut against Swansea, and a hat-trick against Wigan, put the whole league on notice.
Proving at least in one case that 35 million can get you goals immediately, the Argentine has lived up to his price tag by not only scoring goals, but also creating for his strike partners, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.
He is always all over the place on the field, using his upper body strength to shrug off defenders and his nimble footwork to get into tight spaces and make chances with limited room. His finishing as well has been impeccable.
Well on course for a 30-goal season if he maintains his form.
Striker: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
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My Player of the Season so far.
His goal scoring exploits have been well established in the media this season, and his influence and affect on Arsenal is clearly obvious whenever he doesn't play. Sixteen goals in 17 games and 34 in 34 in 2011 shows a striker in a rich vein of form.
The king of the goal-scoring charts this season on so many occasions, his influential performances, as well as his leadership, have almost single-handedly dragged Arsenal through the troubled times they endured at the beginning of the season, into a position where they now look like a solid choice to remain in the top four, and even go one step better.
Man of the match performances against Chelsea, Everton, Norwich, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Bolton, Wigan and West Brom have seen him as a standout performer in the league and in Europe. If he can stay fully fit until the end of the campaign, Arsenal's hope for a successful season would be given a very much needed boost.
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In no particular order.
1. Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
2. Brad Friedel (Tottenham)
3. Wojciech Szczęsny (Arsenal)
4. Joe Hart (Manchester City)
5. Ledley King (Tottenham)
6. Daniel Agger (Liverpool)
7. Ashley Williams (Swansea)
8. Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle)
9. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
10. Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
11. Leighton Baines (Everton)
12, Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)
13, Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
14. Alex Song (Arsenal)
15. Nani (Manchester United)
16. Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
17. Yaya Toure (Man. City)
18. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)
19. Jordi Gomez (Wigan)
20. Al Habsi (Wigan)
21. Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)
22. Adebayor (Tottenham)
23. Wayne Rooney (Man United)
24. Edin Dzeko ( Man City)
25. Mario Balotelli (Man City)
26. Yakubu (Blackburn Rovers)
27. Grant Holt (Norwich)
28. Shane Long (West Brom)
29. Helder Helguson (QPR)
30. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
31. Phil Jones (Manchester United)