The Premier League's Most Underrated Starting XI

Simon Edmonds@@Eddie_EdmondsCorrespondent IApril 6, 2012

The Premier League's Most Underrated Starting XI

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    With the immense array of talent that the Premier League has to offer, it's very easy for players of great skill and technical ability to be lost amid the sea of "celebrity" players that are on show every weekend.

    The English leagues have a habit of over-hyping players of questionably lesser abilities whilst ignoring the prowess of other individuals who, when coupled with the right team, could achieve so much more.

    This article won't be able to cover all the players who fall under this category, but just those whom I consider to be some of the better "ignored" players of the current EPL rosters.

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm

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    When Swansea City signed Dutch goalie Michel Vorm from Utrecht for a sum of around £1.5 million this summer, the world barely took any notice. The signing itself was one of almost desperation from the Swans, who were without a first-choice, Premier League-standard keeper.

    What they found in Vorm was an inspiration—and without doubt one of the bargain signings of the summer.

    Impressive performances in the early stages of the season paved the way for what has been a fantastic year, not only for the man between the sticks, but also the Swans themselves, who currently sit just three points behind Liverpool in the table. 

Right-Back: Kyle Walker

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    In his breakthrough season for Spurs, Kyle Walker has proven his talent time and time again.

    Replacing previous fan favourite Rob Hutton in the right-back slot, Walker has shown both defensive and attacking brilliance—as well as a keen awareness for positional play. Some have even dubbed him "the new Roberto Carlos."

    Add on top of this his ridiculously fast pace across the pitch (a trait that seems to be becoming almost entwined with Spurs now), and it's no surprise that Jose Mourinho is genuinely considering snapping up Walker as a replacement at Real Madrid.

Left-Back: John Arne Riise

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    The big man from Norway may have lost some of his pace during his hiatus from the Premier League, but he certainly lost none of his power or passion.

    In his days at Liverpool, Riise was touted as one of the best defenders in the league. Although his best days are now behind him, regular fans at the Cottage will tell you that he has lost none of his technical ability and knowledge of the game.

    Not to mention the experience he brings to Fulham—something that itself is usually underrated in football.

Centre-Back: Johnny Evans

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    It may seem odd to include a player in an underrated list who plays for the current league leaders and reigning champions Manchester United. But when you consider who that player is, it might become a more clearer choice.

    Johnny Evans has for the past few seasons been widely considered, by neutrals and United fans alike, to be below the standards of the 19-time champion's usual quality.

    However, since the injury of Nemanja Vidic at the beginning of the season, Evans has stepped into the vacant centre-back role brilliantly, turning in some crucial performances for his side.

    Since his run in the first team became a regular occurrence, United have won 10 of their 11 league matches and have kept a clean sheet in the last four consecutively. The latter is in part thanks to Evans' solid defensive performances.

Centre-Back: Russell Martin

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    Almost a complete unknown amongst the majority of Premier League fans, Russell Martin has shown a surprising level of ability throughout the season. Although primarily a right-back, I felt it would be cruel to leave Martin off the list (he has played centre-back before to just as high a standard).

    Despite shocking some people with his performances this season, for the majority he has gone relatively unnoticed. Keep an eye out for the Scotsman on the next Match of the Day.

Wing: Matt Jarvis

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    As a former Gillingham season-ticket holder, I was elated to discover that Matt Jarvis had finally been recognised for the supreme masterful talent he is (perhaps some bias there?) with a call-up to the England side. 

    Unfortunately, since then—and despite, if anything, improving in his performances—Jarvis has fallen away from the England fold completely.

    The Wolves man, however, can do nothing about the worrying slump of form that his side faces at the moment, as they have now slipped away from the rest of the league completely.

Wing: Hatem Ben Arfa

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    Having been viewed as one of the future stars of the world game, Hatem Ben Arfa then promptly did what all French players do best and completely lose his form when the public eye was glaring down upon him.

    Since then, however, he has bounced back well, even recovering from a broken leg to be one of the driving factors in Newcastle United's amazing push for the Champions League places.

    This is a man that needs two things to become the great player many thought he would be: a move to a bigger club, and someone to tell him to pass more often!

Central Midfield: Mikel Arteta

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    Again, perhaps it's surprising to see a player from the team in third place making the list—especially one who has been as well received over the years as Mikel Arteta.

    Despite this, the Arsenal man, formerly of Everton, was heavily lambasted upon his arrival at the Emirates with a variety of footballing pundits declaring him a good player, but not world class or Champions League standard.

    Over the course of the season, Arteta on the most part proved these critics wrong, acting as one of Arsenal's few beacons of hope during their awful early-to-mid-season run of form. On top of this, Arteta's performances in the Champions League saw the Gunners narrowly lose out to Italian giants AC Milan. 

Central Midfield: Cheik Tiote

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    Another Newcastle player makes the list in a season when such an underrated side has achieved so much.

    To be honest, Tiote would have quite easily made this list last year too, which is why it is sacrilege that a player of this quality has been overlooked for a second consecutive season.

    Despite his somewhat brutish nature on the field, Tiote can at times show great finesse and ability with both the ball at his feet and at the feet of other players. He is a great bolster for any midfield. 

Striker: Pavel Pogrebnyak

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    Currently on loan from German side Stuttgart, the Russian Dynamo has managed to net five goals in just six league appearances for the Cottagers.

    Arguably one of the most underrated players in the whole of Europe, let alone just the English league, Pogrebnyak will no doubt grab the attention of either a bigger club or just his actual owners, Stuttgart. Either way, it will be a struggle for Fulham to sort out a deal for the big man over the summer.

Striker: Peter Crouch

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    I have to admit I was somewhat surprised by Tottenham Hotspur's decision to sell Peter Crouch and bring in Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from Manchester City over the summer. They have, of course, proved me totally wrong, as "Manu" has been an absolute godsend for Spurs.

    However, the man they let go has shown no signs of his ability deteriorating. Crouch has had a healthy return for efforts this season and has already won a place in the hearts of many a Stoke City fan. Long live the robot.