This was a debate that came up recently, and I was keen to attempt to create my own current Premier League XI thinking that it would be a really easy task. It wasn’t.
I will endeavour to support my choices for each position, but I would love to hear a case for other players who I have either simply forgotten or because I have focused too much on one aspect of their game. Regardless this list is not set in stone.
My choices are between Joe Hart, Petr Cech and current golden boy Asmir Begovic. My vote goes to Cech. Out of the three, he has a better all round game. He takes crosses, organizes the defense well, and is a wonderful shot stopper. After regaining some of his form, Cech also doesn’t make many mistakes. Added to this, Cech has maintained a level at the top for years, winning the Champions League and Premier League with a trophy cabinet that far outstrips my other two contenders for this position. His consistency is a major reason I have Cech as the goalkeeper of my team.
This is a really tough one at the moment. My nominations for this position include Rafael, Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson. After much soul searching, my choice has to be Branislav Ivanovic. He is both solid defensively and good going forward. Ivanovic’s strength, defensive awareness and training as a centre back all give him good defensive stature and perhaps makes him the most solid defensively.
Ivanovic is also an asset at set pieces in both boxes.
The first centre back is an easy choice I don’t think many will disagree with — Vincent Kompany. He’s commanding, has great positioning, a calm collected personality, and a half decent left foot. Kompany is everything you want from a title-winning centre back and certainly inspired Manchester City to the Premier League number one spot last season despite being one of their cheaper purchases recently.
The other centre back is more difficult. There are so many choices. To name but a few, Rio Ferdinand is forcing his way back in, as are Thomas Vermaelen, Nemanja Vidic and Jan Vertonghen.
This is even more complicated by the decision of whether to make this the best ‘team’ or just the best individual XI. The general rule for a team is to pick one physical centre back, the role I have given to Kompany, and one more technical centre, this would rule out Vidic for this other role. Ferdinand, though strong recently, has been poor these last few seasons. This has been evidenced by the emergence of Jonny Evans as a United regular. Finally this brings the options down to two and my choice will be Vertonghen almost by process of elimination. Vermaelen’s form has been shocking recently, but I will defer my decision to the Belgian coaches who prefer Vertonghen at centre back and play Vermaelen at left back.
As an Englishman, this is really the only position I have any joy writing about from a national perspective. The two choices are Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines. The only problem here is which Englishman to choose. My preference is Ashley Cole, who is good defensively and possesses better pace than Baines. Also Cole has cut it at the highest level for many years, both at Arsenal and Chelsea. Baines, though, has an undeniably amazing left foot and good link up play with Steven Pienaar on the Everton left flank. For me Cole’s all round game is what places him at the top of the English Premier League.
Moving into the midfield things get even harder to figure out. This for me is an easy choice that will become clearer with the rest of the midfield. As I know, this player has played here many times. My choice is therefore David Silva, the Spanish wizard with a wand as his left foot. It is an easy choice in one way; Silva is one of the best attacking players in the Premier League. He is also willing to work incredibly hard from this position, something that was integral in Manchester City’s win of 6-1 over Manchester United last season. From here Silva can link up the attack, coming inside and out.
The first choice is easy. It is without a doubt Yaya Toure, arguably the best player in the Premier League right now.
Toure is strong, powerful, deceptively quick and is a good passer and striker of the ball. Toure is the full package and was the first name on this list.
I can’t think of anyone more dynamic to join Toure in the midfield than Jack Wilshere. Wilshere has a great left foot and is the stand out player in what can be considered a rather drab Arsenal team. He has great fight and spirit, which is perhaps my favorite part of his game. It would be unwise, however, to ignore his fantastic left foot, vision, driving runs and ability to find space. Wilshere is both the perfect person to assist with the defensive duties and to pick up the ball from the defense to propel attacks forward.
Over recent weeks this decision has been made for me. The best left sided midfielder in the league is easily Gareth Bale. He has put aside some of his inconsistency to become one of the best in the league right now. I fail to see how anyone who has watched Gareth Bale play recently could argue this decision. This is perhaps my second easiest choice behind Toure.
I have chosen an attacking midfielder rather than a second striker because there is more talent in this position in the Premier League right now than upfront. A 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 is also the favoured formation of the world. My choice in this role is Juan Mata. It is a difficult one since there are so many players who can play here.
Having not been completely convinced with Mata when he originally came to Chelsea, he has without a doubt proved me completely wrong. Still young, he has the time to improve and would work well with the other choices I have selected because he prefers a passing game. Mata, as well as providing crucial assists, is perfectly capable of scoring goals to help his team.
This choice was difficult to make. In the end, I decided you could not exclude a player of quality in red hot form because you do not like his personality. For all the play-acting and nastiness that he shows on the pitch, the striker with the best form right now is Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has such a massive impact on games for Liverpool and has been scoring important goals with ease right, left and center. It’s impossible to leave him out of my side.
As much as I would have liked, I could not fit in Robin van Persie, Ryan Giggs or any Manchester United footballer into my side.
What’s your current Premier League starting XI? Post yours in the comments section below.