I’m going to do something new this season. After every round of games — that is to say, after any league games that have been played between Tuesday of one week and Tuesday of the next (which takes into account the rare Monday night game) — I’m going to name an All-Star Team based on that week’s performances. I didn’t do this last year, but I think this is a good way to recognize players that don’t necessarily get much publicity over the course of 38 games.
I’m also going to make this a contest of sorts. For each time a player is an All-Star, he’ll earn 10 points. My Player of the Week, who obviously will be in the team, gets 15 points. Most points at the end of the year wins, and that should give us a solid indication of who’s in the running for Player of the Year in the Premiership and who’s in line for other awards and international call-ups.
The formation isn’t always going to be a traditional 4-4-2; it can be any “recognized” way to set up a team. I don’t want my hands to be bound and have to choose players just to fit a formation, I want to be able to fit as many deserving players as I can into the team. It’s not going to be anything outlandish, though, so don’t worry.
Here’s my All-Star Team for this weekend:
GK: Shay Given (Newcastle) — Did you see those early, short-range saves on Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes? He even took another off the ol’ noggin when he denied Fraizer Campbell. Without Given, Newcastle loses that game.
RB: Grétar Steinsson (Bolton) — Accidental or not, his tally will be a candidate for goal of the season. Also played well defensively.
CB: David Wheater (Middlesbrough) — Scored the opener, had another disallowed (it should’ve stood), looked dangerous going forward, and spearheaded the unit that shut down Tottenham’s vaunted attack all game long. Played right back in this game, but will move back into the center now that Justin Hoyte has arrived.
CB: William Gallas (Arsenal) — The captain stepped up in Kolo Toure’s absence, as it’s usually the Ivorian who is the commanding presence in the center of Arsenal’s defense. Arsenal didn’t concede a goal, and Gallas was a big reason why.
LB: Stephen Warnock (Blackburn) — Picture-perfect diagonal long ball to Santa Cruz for the equalizer, great free kick into the area to set up the winner.
RMF: Mikel Arteta (Everton) — Scored on a terrific free kick from an acute angle in Everton’s 3-2 loss to Blackburn. Was their shining light, by far.
CMF: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa) — Everything goes through Barry for Villa. Had some chances going forward, and distributed the ball well to both flanks in a 4-2 win over Manchester City.
LMF: Ashley Young (Aston Villa) — One direct assist and started two other goals. Terrorized City’s defense the entire game.
ST: Dean Ashton (West Ham) — Scored both goals in the Hammers’ 2-1 victory over Wigan.
ST: Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) — Perfect hat trick in seven minutes. Enough said.
ST: Johan Elmander (Bolton) — Celebrated his first game in the Premiership with a goal and looked very lively before being subbed out in the 76th minute.
Player of the Week: Agbonlahor