It’s that time of year, where awards are given out and everyone comes out with their EPL best XI lists. That being the case, I’m throwing my hat into the ring. The following opinions are my own, and I stand by them, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong if you think so, I can take it. Alright, let’s just get to the list:
GK: Michel Vorm (Swansea City) – If there was a team tabbed before the season to have a cup of coffee in the Premier League and then go right back down to the Championship after the 2011/12 season, it was Swansea City. This was partially due to the lack of recognizable names on their roster, and partially due to their more free-flowing style, that is harder to maintain given the perceived disparity in talent between the top teams in the EPL and the lesser squads. That has all proven to be horribly wrong, and one major part of that has been the stellar play of Michel Vorm in goal. His 5 Man of the Match performances are tied for most among EPL goalkeepers this season.
RB: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) – Sagna’s selection is somewhat similar to Terry’s selection (explained below), in that he has shown to be the league’s most valuable right back by his absence. Arsenal’s defense is noticeably more solid with Sagna in the lineup than without. In an admittedly weak class of Premier League right backs, Sagna, to me, was the best in 2011/12.
CB: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) – He has been the best defender in the Premier League all season, I can’t imagine any argument to keep him off this list.
CB: John Terry (Chelsea) – This is a case of evaluating the player and not the man. John Terry, to me, is a despicable person; that being said, I find it hard to argue that he hasn’t been the most valuable defender in the Premier League this season. Plain and simple, he makes all the difference for Chelsea. When he plays they have a chance against anyone, but when he doesn’t (and please let this come true in the Champion’s League Final) Chelsea are average at best.
LB: Leighton Baines (Everton) – David Moyes deserves a lot of credit for what he has done with Everton this season. To me, they (along with Swansea & Norwich) have been the real feel-good story of the season. Leighton Baines, and specifically his work getting forward and completing crosses, has been a big part of why Everton has succeeded this year.
MF: David Silva (Manchester City) – Let not his late-season dip in form distract from how brilliant he was for most of this season. He leads the highest scoring team in the league (at this point) in assists, and is tied for the overall league lead (at this point) in assists. Add half a dozen goals to that and he’s put together a mighty fine season.
MF: Clint Dempsey (Fulham) – Most seasons this would be a sentimental pick, as I just love Deuce, but this season he has been a man possessed and deserves to be on this list in every way. Deuce has 16 goals for Fulham this season, and may have punched his ticket to play for a big club and in the Champions League next season (that is, if he so chooses).
MF: Juan Mata (Chelsea) – Were it not for Demba Ba, this guy would probably have been the signing of the off-season. In an up-and-down season for the West Londoners, Mata has been the most consistent high-level performer for Chelsea this season.
MF/F: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – Inexplicably, Rooney has managed to quietly pile up 26 goals (only one behind RvP at this point) in the league and play some of his best football in years without too many people noticing. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but I really can’t believe how little attention Rooney has received this year, but I think the next guy on this list had a little something to do with that.
F: Demba Ba (Newcastle) – Coming into the season a lot of pundits tabbed Alan Pardew’s club to battle with relegation, and with only a handful of games left, thanks to a total collapse by Sp*rs, they’re sitting in position to make the Champions League (assuming Chelsea doesn’t screw them over by winning the whole damn thing this year). Ba was the steal of the off-season, and is the biggest reason Newcastle are the surprise story of the EPL in 2011/12.
F: Robin van Persie (Arsenal) – Simply the best. Better than all the rest. That may be a tired clichéd Tina Turner lyric from the late 80s, but it applies here. Sure, he hasn’t scored from open play in the last 8 games, but no one can deny the brilliant season RvP has put together in 2011-12. Were it not for those two guys going bananas in Spain, he’d be probably be getting hyped as the best player in the world right now, but as long as he stays in North London where he belongs, that’s fine with me.