Every team has now played 10 games in this season’s Premier League, and I feel it is a good time to start reflecting on how the clubs and players have done over the last couple of months. In this article I will give you what I think is the best XI in the Premier League so far. You certainly have noticed that a lot of players have performed really well, and since Football is an eleven-a-side sport, some players will be substitutes.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart(Manchester City)
This is a tough one, really. Maybe the obvious choice would have been the goalkeeper who conceded the least goals, in which case, it would be Southampton’s Fraser Forster. His team has only conceded five goals thus far this season, but to be fair, he has got a lot of protection from his defensive colleagues, which means he has been rarely called upon.
I could have gone with the stats, and choose the keeper who has made the most saves. That man would be QPR’s Robert Green, but I chose Joe Hart because of the important role he plays for his team. He never lets his team down and has often kept his team in games whenever he is called upon. But I find it really hard to decide on which keeper to choose.
Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton) – Gary Cahill (Chelsea) – José Fonte (Southampton) – Leighton Baines (Everton)
Let us start with the right full-back position. Last season, Nathaniel Clyne had to fight for a place in the starting XI with Calum Chambers, but the former Crystal Palace youngster has shown a lot of qualities both at defending and attacking (like a proper modern full-back). Really good a defending with the best tackles per game record in the league (5.1 tackles per game), nobody really gets the better of him. He has shown some prowess going forward as well, his goals against Liverpool and Arsenal (in the League cup) were both magnificent strikes, the lad’s got some proper techniques!
It was a difficult call here as well, with Everton’s Seamus Coleman and Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta (yes, he plays at LB under Mourinho, but he is a natural RB). Coleman excels under Martinez, who wants his full-backs to always push forward (scoring 7 goals last season and already 3 goals this season), and defensively he is very solid as well.
Azpilicueta is a proper defender, as he rarely got beaten, and his attacking contributions are top class as well. Both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher agreed to name him as the best defender so far this season at Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football yesterday. But I do not like his over-aggressive style, which brought him trouble a few weeks ago at Selhurst Park (Straight red card!!).
Moving on now to the left full-back position: It is difficult to look elsewhere for a more consistent, and established left-back other than Leighton Baines. It’s fair to say that most of Everton’s attacking moves come from the flanks, especially from the left side. He’s already got 6 assists in the PL this season, and averages 2.5 chances created per game. That is more than the likes of Raheem Sterling, David Silva or even Steven Gerrard. He is a brilliant crosser of a ball, and set-piece taker, and he has been doing this regularly for the last four or five seasons.
A few others could have got the nod at LB, I have especially been impressed by West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell. He moved from Ipswich Town this summer and has become an important player for the Hammers. He’s another of those modern full-backs really, and could well be given the chance at an international level. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs and Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand also have shown some good form.
I have gone for Gary Cahill and José Fonte at the central of the defense, basically because I do not fancy putting John Terry in there, although Terry-Cahill is as good as a central defense partnership can be at the moment. John Terry is still a great defender but can be caught out by anyone who has a bit of pace.
There is no secret on why Southampton have been so strong defensively, it is because they are very organized, and Fonte is an important part of it. His recent performances have been rewarded by a senior international call-up with Portugal. I think he has got that leadership you need in a centre-back, very vocal and organizes the defense really well.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – Francesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) – Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
I have gone for a midfield three here, tactically it would be Schneiderlin and Fabregas playing deeper, and Sanchez with a free role in front of them two.
Maybe you have read my article about Southampton’s success, and I underlined the role of Morgan Schneiderlin for his team. 4th best at tackling this season in the league (4.2 tackles per game), but he is more than good at both defending and attacking. He loves to carry the ball forward and create chances, a proper box to box midfielder. I thought last season that he really deserves to play for France, thankfully for him, it looks like he will become an important element of he French National team now.
It is impossible to omit Cesc Fàbregas from this team. 9 assists in 10 games… that says it all to be honest, he has been so important for his Chelsea team,and for Diego Costa incidently. He is quite the opposite to Schneiderlin I think, much less running, but uses his incredible vision to pick out passes no other players could play (ex: assist for Schurrle against Burnley) and creating 3.1 chances per game (2nd behind Di Maria).
What about Arsenal’s new man Alexis Sanchez ? Where would the Arsenal team be without the former Barcelona player? He has surprised me with how quick he has settled in with English football. Seven goals and two assists in nine games is very handy for someone new to this league. If Arsenal can keep him fit and playing, he will be the man who will lead Arsenal to glory this season.
Unfortunately, there are only three spots in this midfield, but I would’ve love to pick a few more players. Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson has shown his real qualities so far after a frustrating spell at Tottenham, having already made seven assists in ten games, and linking up well with his striker Wifried Bony. We can’t call it a bargain, but Angel di Maria is another player who has impressed me. I think he really is a complete player, and can show his qualities when deployed in the centre of midfield at Manchester United, playing with a lot of freedom.
From a more defensive point of view, I think Mohammed Diamé has been really important for Hull City. To be honest, I can’t really understand the thinking behind his sale from West Ham, as he is a quality player. He has one of the best tackling records in the league, with 4.7 tackles per game, and has a lot of energy, doesn’t stop running.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – Graziano Pellè (Southampton) – Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Sergio Aguero is one of those strikers, when you give him the ball in the right place, you’ll find the ball in the back of the net a few seconds later. He is a very complete footballer. Great technique, strong, pacey, tireless and hard worker, what else can you ask him to be? He came back even stronger after an average World Cup for his standard, already netting ten times this season in as many games.
I thought at first that Graziano Pellè will suit the Premier League really well, and I was right. His size, power, strength and heading are his main qualities, but he is very handy with his feet as well. Even though Southampton don’t play a direct style, the Italian international is used as a true sole striker (not a target man who must be able to hold up play). Scoring six times in ten games is a great return for the first two months of English football.
He’s having a goal drought for his standard right now, hasn’t he? Diego Costa starts the season prolifically with Chelsea, with nine goals in eight games, but injury problems have stopped him from playing recently. Still it is an impressive start for his Chelsea career, especially when Chelsea have has problems with strikers in the last few years. He looks to be the missing piece to this Chelsea team, and he will surely drive the team forward. A true poacher.
I would have liked to put West Brom’s Saido Berahino in this team. He really is improving a lot, scoring a lot of goals. He is a fantastic finisher and possesses great pace, which can trouble any defence. At the moment, he is the best English striker (in terms of scoring goals), I think a senior call up with England is just around the corner for him.
Starting XI (4-3-3):
Clyne Cahill Fonte Baines
Aguero Pellè Costa
Substitutes: Green, Coleman, Terry, Diamé, Sigurdsson, Berahino, Di Maria