As the Christmas period is rapidly approaching, I’ve started to think about who have been the top performers so far this season.
I’ve steered cleared of the so-called ”big four” clubs partly by choice, but partly because few would warrant a place in the team of the season so far. Certain players from the ”smaller” teams have outshone the Premier League’s big stars on numerous occassions this season. Many of the big earners have gone missing at times, and although it is early days in a long campaign, a new crop of stars are beginning to emerge. Reputation has gone out the window in this team’s selection, it is form and consistency that’s required to merit a place.
Joe Hart – Goalkeeper
Joe Hart would still be considered a youngster by goalkeeping standards. He is still learning, but has established himself as a first team regular for his club, and is looking to cement his place as first choice for his country. Questions were asked about Roberto Mancini’s decision to replace the vastly experienced Shay Given in the City line-up as first choice goalkeeper, but Hart has certainly stepped up to the plate with some match winning performances this season.
The Irishman has certainly caught the eye of his manager and pundits alike this season. Although predominantly considered a full back, Moyes has deployed Coleman on the right side of midfield for the majority of the season so far. His pace and work rate have drawn comparisons to Spurs wide man Gareth Bale, and Coleman’s recent form has also caught the eye of Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Having tied down a place in a very talented Everton midfield, and with an international debut looming, the future looks bright for the Donegal youngster.
Much like his Toffees teammate Seamus Coleman, Baines is a full back whose talents lie predomenantly in attacking areas. Everton have had a poor start to the season by their standards, but have recently picked up their form as they try to climb out of the bottom half of the table. Despite their problems, Baines has been a consistent performer this season, and his pace, crossing ability and set-pieces have caused problems to opposition defences.
Newcastle have re-adjusted to life in Premiership quite comfortably, and few more so than Mike Williamson. Having made no appearances for a cash strapped Portsmouth side, he signed for then Championship side Newcastle in the January transfer window earlier this year. He quickly established himself as a first team regular, picking up the man of the match award on his debut in a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at St. James’ Park. He played a big part in The Magpies successful title challenge and having achieved promotion to the Premier League, has continued his commanding form in his team’s return to the top flight.
The much coveted Bolton defender has been a consistent performer since joining the club from Aston Villa in 2008. Cahill is regularly linked with a big money move away from the club, but rumours about his future have died down in recent times, and the Sheffielder has been able to concentrate on his club form this season. His ever solid performances have led to him being consistently on the fringes of the national team, but he had to wait until earlier this season to force himself into a talented England back line in a 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley. Bolton’s unsung hero has helped The Trotters in an early push for a European place after an impressive start to the season.
Villa have brought some very talented youngsters into their first team this season, but none have seized the opportunity quite like Marc Albrighton. Martin O’Neill revealed that the winger was subject to many loan offers during pre-season, but he insisted Albrighton was good enough for the first team. He has played a big part for The Villans this season, chipping in with goals and assists. It was a close call to make between Marc Albrighton and Adam Johnson for the right wing position in the team of the season so far. There is no doubt that Johnson is superior ability-wise, but on recent form, Albrighton just about edges in front.
What is there left to say about Gareth Bale that hasn’t already been said? Is there a player as consistent, and in as top form as Bale is right now, in world football? The Welshman has been converted from a full back to a winger in the last year or two, and he and his team have reaped the rewards. He seems to play the game with ease, and shows very few flaws. He has pace, trickery, a fantastic left foot, in both open play and from set-pieces, a fantastic work rate and a clear eye for goal. He has become a key man in the Spurs team both in Europe and in the Premier League this season and will surely go from strength to strength.
When you are 20-years-old, playing week in week out in the top tier of Englsih football, and have already made your England debut, you are doing something right. Henderson is widely considered as a natural winger, but has been integrated into the heart of the Sunderland midfield for the majority of the season so far. The Black Cats youngster has received heaps of praise from his manager, along with a number of other managers in the league. The Sunderland born starlet is rumoured to be the subject of an impending £20 million bid from interested buyers, including Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United, but Steve Bruce will be doing all he can to dissuade him from leaving his hometown.
The Tangerines playmaker has been one of the success stories of the Premier League season so far. Blackpool themselves have made a respectful start to the season, although are still the favourites of many to end the season in the drop zone. Adam has been the pinacle of Blackpool’s form. His creativity in midfield has been the subject of much praise and The Seasiders will no doubt have a challenge on their hands if they wish to hang on to the Scotland international come January.
Similarly to his Spurs teammate Gareth Bale, Van Der Vaart is a pleasure to watch. The Dutchman was a deadline day bargain when he signed for Tottenham in August. His playmaking expertise and continental style of skill and flair is something that I feel has been lacking in the Premier League in recent years. Van Der Vaart has struggled to establish himself and reach his true potential since leaving Ajax for Hamburg in 2008, but the midfielder has taken to life in London extremely well and despite some concerns has settled into the style of the Premier League with ease.
Carroll, similarly to the likes of Mike Williamson and Charlie Adam, has had no problems making the leap from Championship football to England’s top flight. The frontman has been in sensational form this season, and his goals and performances have led to a recent England call-up. The big number 9 scored 19 times last season to help his side win promotion and has taken that form into this campaign. His strength and height make him a dangerous presence in the opposition penalty area and the towering Toon talisman will surely be a leading Premier League star for the foreseeable future.
Coleman – Williamson – Cahill – Baines
Henderson – Adam
Albrighton – Van Der Vaart – Bale
So there you have it, the team of the season so far. As I said before, everyone will have their own opinions, and it is early days in a long Premier League campaign, but some players are already staking a claim as one of the stars of this season.
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