It’s been a strange season in the EPL. No one team has dominated the race this season, with startling setbacks in between equally impressive results for both United and Chelsea. Any team of the season should reflect the fact that some of the usual suspects have not performed anywhere near the required standard with consistency over the last nine months, giving room for other good players to be recognized. The chosen formation is 4-4-2, and without further ado, here is my team of the season.
Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina (Liverpool): In a season to forget for the Merseysiders, Reina has stood head and shoulders above his team-mates. His handling and shot-stopping have been very good and he has been a source of confidence. It is safe to say that without him, Liverpool would have ended up lower in the table because he has a joint-highest 17 clean sheets. A new 6-year deal underscores his importance to Liverpool.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea): the Serbian has flourished with the game time afforded him as a result of Jose Bosingwa’s injury and he has been one of the league’s most consistent players. His instincts as a centre-half enable him to balance both offensive and defensive duties. Great in the air, and has 6 assists from right-back.
Richard Dunne (Aston Villa): Martin O’Neill needed to replace the influence of Martin Laursen at the heart of the Villa defence with the Dane’s career cut short by lingering knee problems. In Richard Dunne, he found the perfect player. Flogged off by Manchester City for a mere 6 million pounds, the Irishman has been at the heart of one of the best defensive units in the league. He is one of the main reasons why Villa kept up their top 4 challenge right to the last few games. Compare this to the abject displays of both Toure and Lescott, his replacements at City, at the combined cost of over 40 million pounds. Interestingly, City also didn’t make the Champions’ League.
Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal): the step up in class from Holland to the EPL is one that has been achieved mostly by strikers, and I for one was skeptical about this signing by Wenger. After all, his last 12 million pound buy is yet to yield dividends. Thomas Vermaelen has proved me wrong though. Technically he is very good, scores goals and is very composed. 12 million pounds is starting to look like a bargain. He has scored 7 goals from centre-half.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United): The best left-back in the world. For his height, Evra is remarkably good in the air and together with his 7 assists, it is a major reason for my choice. His constant runs from the left are a good outlet for his team and he’s a clean tackler.
James Milner (Aston Villa): I agonized before picking the player for this position. I feel Antonio Valencia runs him really close, but Milner just nicks this one for me. This has been a break-out season for him as he looks certain to be in the England World Cup squad. Originally a winger, he has been used to good effect in the middle of the field. His energy and drive stand him out, and he shoots very well. He has 7 goals to his credit, with 12 assists.
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal): there really can’t be any doubts about this particular selection. This has been a break-out season for the Spain international in terms of scoring goals, with the 4-3-3 used by Arsenal giving him more freedom to play closer to goal. This has led to 15 goals & 15 assists, making him second only to Frank Lampard this season. His centrality to the Gunners’ play can be summed up in a very tight game against Villa in December, when he came on as a 2nd half substitute, with the game at 0-0. He played only 28 minutes before again going off, but had scored twice.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea): As scandals threatened to derail his team, Lamps has remained outstandingly consistent and ever present in the Chelsea team. 17 assists and 22 goals from the England man are a big reason Chelsea won the title and his four goals against Villa ranks among one of the best individual performances of the season.
Florent Malouda (Chelsea): one of the players of the second half of the season. He has started to show the form that persuaded Chelsea to buy him from Lyon. He crosses the ball very well, and has scored a few himself. He even had a couple of games at left back. 12 goals and 9 assists for the Frenchman this season.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): in the wake of the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Rooney has become the focal point of the United team. 26 goals in the league is the result. Were it not for his injury against Bayern, it would surely have been a bit more and the destiny of the title race might have been different. His importance to England is such that some have said they shouldn’t bother getting on the plane if he’s not fit. They are right.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea): the sharpest end in a record breaking Chelsea team in an offensive sense. Drogba’s style is all action His share of 29 out of his team’s 103 goals this season is the most by an African player in the EPL. He has 13 assists as well, showing his contribution to team play. This is the best form he could possibly be in going into the World Cup. His national team-mates will need him to be on top of his game in the Group of Death.
So that’s my team of the season. As usual, I welcome all comments.