Premier League Team of the Season 2010-2011: Part 3.

Hot on the heels of Part 1 and Part 2, here is Part 3 of my series to determine what your team of the year would be.

In keeping with the traditional order, this week is Midfielders. Please vote for up to 4 players who you think are deserving of a midfield slot in the team of the year.

Gareth Bale:

Maybe should have been included in the defenders’ section and not this one. Then again, his memorable moments this season have been the times he has gone forwards and scored or created goals. Consequently, his inclusion as an attacking midfielder is perhaps more fitting. Not many players can match Bale’s impact this season: Pace, energy, skill, goals, assists. The left sided Planet of the Apes star has contributed them all. If Spurs are to qualify for the Champions’ League a 2nd time Bale’s contribution is not to be underestimated. A top 6 side without a striker at the top of the goal scorers’ charts needs goals from elsewhere. Bale has certainly chipped in his share and created chances for others too. Our perception of his season might be exaggerated by his UCL performances, but you can’t argue with the Welshman’s efforts for Spurs this year.

Nani:

9 Goals and 15 assists this season. Whatever you think about Man United’s Portuguese midfielder you can’t fault his play this season. Whereas Vidic has been integral to United defensively, there are times when Nani has carried their offensive threat on his own. Such is the danger he poses to opponents, Jamie Carragher amongst others, resorted to less than fair means to stop him. Rooney and Berbatov as well as Alex Ferguson have waxed lyrical about Nani’s progress this season and it is hard to argue. It seems that finally after a number of false starts he might finally be ready to fulfil the potential that saw Ferguson pay all those millions for him.

Joey Barton:

Yes, that’s right: him. Barton is the modern day Denis Wise.  He is the man with more rap sheets than Eminem. Off the field (and sometimes on) Barton is an odious little twit. However, in an unusually turmoil-free season for Newcastle Barton has been outstanding. Not only did he withstand some rough treatment at the hands of Wolves with commendable maturity, he has also shown the skills that once made him a regular England squad member. Energetic, hard working and with  fantastic delivery from set pieces as well as open play Barton has been the heartbeat for Newcastle this season. Like it or not, he has been fantastic.

Scott Parker:

When talking about Scott Parker this season you start to run out of superlatives. West Ham may still not stay up, but if they do, he is the reason why.  I have watched West Ham a number of times on the TV this season and each time have been astounded by the role that Parker fulfils for them. He is everywhere in attack and defence, and if reports are to be believed has started to rouse his team mates with half time team talks too. I am not sure what struck me more; Parker’s ability to carry his team or his team mates’ willingness to allow him to do so. Either way he has been, in my eyes not only the best Midfield player in the league, but probably the best player in the league. West Ham would be lost without him.

Luka Modric:

If there was an award for the best midfielder for the first half of the season Modric would probably have won it. His performances showed him to be a class act and a large part of Spurs’ early season form was down to his creativity in the middle of the park. He has struggled a bit with injuries, but has shown enough to alert Alex Ferguson to his skills. As good as Spurs look going forward, they look better with Modric pulling the strings. If they wish to continue to dine at the top table of European football, Harry Redknapp needs to keep hold of players like Modric.

Charlie Adam:

Everyone’s pre-season favourites for relegation, Blackpool have actually done reasonably well. That is thanks in no small part to the efforts of Charlie Adam. Put simply, he is their talisman. He dictates their play creates and scores goals, and as with a number of players on these lists, his team would struggle without him. Adam’s form was such that he was subject to deadline day moves to buy him by Liverpool and Spurs. Both failed, in no small part due to Blackpool’s complete refusal to sell him. If that doesn’t show you how integral to Blackpool he is, nothing will.

David Silva:

Silva might be a surprise inclusion on this list for some people, however anyone who has seen Man City play will understand why. Roberto Mancini and Man City have drawn a lot of criticism for their negative style of play. However, they are capable of some brilliance in attack. Much of that brilliance is down to the skills of David Silva. As we saw before he joined City, Silva has pretty much every trick going in his locker. He is quick, graceful, balanced and very skilful. If Silva plays, City will create chances. It is as simple as that.

Ryan Giggs:

As with Edwin Van Der Sar in goal, Man United fans, players and of course Alex Ferguson are collectively terrified at the prospect of Giggs hanging up his boots. The evergreen Welshman is a far cry from the marauding winger of his early days but still a key player in United’s ranks. His eye for a pass, his work rate and his composure mean he is still one of their more trusted performers. I would hazard a guess that he is utilised far more than Ferguson probably wants. Not because Ferguson doesn’t rate him, more because I imagine he is worried at his reliance on a player in the twilight of his career. His experience and calm head have been invaluable to United this year, but how many more years can he keep going?

Steven Gerrard:

Gerrard is Liverpool’s Captain Fantastic. Even under Roy Hodgson, when the rest of his team looked disinterested and like they were waiting for the manager to get the sack, Gerrard still turned in some eye catching displays. As has so often been the case, Gerrard took it upon himself to single-handedly drag Liverpool across the line. For a while, it looked like they were in a relegation battle. His battling, never-give-up style was one of the few things that made you think they’d get out of it. Now flourishing under Kenny Dalglish, Gerrard is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he is central to Liverpool’s ambitions.

Jack Wilshere:

Wilshere has had a truly outstanding season.  It is little wonder he is regarded as one of the most exciting talents to come out of this country, probably since Paul Gascoigne. Wilshere may still be young, and in England we may have a habit of building our young players up too soon, however his performances this year have been good enough to convince you he is the real deal.  Fabio Capello has said he will be the player England will build their team around for years to come. Capello knows a thing or two about players. It is testament to how far the youngster has come; that he, and not Cesc Fabregas, is the Arsenal midfielder who makes this list. The recognition is richly deserved.

Raul Meireles:

Say it quietly, but one of Liverpool’s best players this season was brought to the club by Roy Hodgson. Liverpool fans might say there was little to celebrate during Hodgson’s time at Anfield, but few would argue against the impact Meireles has had. Now that they seem to have found the best way to use him; his energy and his darting runs forward have featured heavily in Liverpool’s return to form. Furthermore, Meireles has started to find the net with regularity, scoring important goals against amongst others, Chelsea. Rapidly he is becoming as important as Gerrard or Reina in the Liverpool ranks. The Portuguese has offered a lot, and still you feel; has plenty more to come. A fantastic signing and a fantastic debut season.

Matt Jarvis:

An unfamiliar name to many outside of Wolverhampton and Gillingham. Jarvis has caught the eye of Fabio Capello and made his England debut this season. Hard working, tricky, quick and a decent crosser; Jarvis has been an excellent performer for Wolves this season. His performances have prompted interest from a number of the top clubs, with Liverpool mooted as a possible destination. Judging by Jarvis’ form this season, and Liverpool’s perennial problem of no width, it does not seem too far-fetched. He is, as experts will tell you, a “good old fashioned winger” whatever that means. In the meantime, Jarvis will focus his efforts on keeping Mick McCarthy’s team in the top flight.

Samir Nasri:

Similar to Luka Modric, if the award for best midfield player was judged solely on the 1st half of the season, Nasri would be there or thereabouts. He was outstanding in the early part of the season. He scored and created goals, looked dangerous and intelligent in possession and pulled a lot of the strings in Arsenal’s attacking play. To say he has not scaled those heights during the 2nd half of the season is fair, yet it is no shame due to the standards he set to begin with.

Florent Malouda:

Malouda is something of the forgotten man of this list. At one point this season Chelsea were running away with the league. Malouda was in the best form of his Chelsea career. He chipped in a large number of goals, looked strong on the ball and was seemingly always involved in Chelsea’s best moves. As Chelsea’s form deteriorated so too did Malouda’s. However his statistics (10 goals and 4 assists) still stand up against most other players in the league and still show he has had an excellent season.

Nigel De Jong:

People liken De Jong to Claude Makelele because he performs the defensive midfield role for Man City. People also associate De Jong with fouls, bad tackles and the kick-fest that was the World Cup Final. Forget all that. He is far more than just a spoiler or destroyer. His use of the ball and composure on it is a lot better than he is given credit for. De Jong might not be the creative force of a David Silva or a Carlos Tevez, but his role is not to be underestimated. He provides a platform for his team mates to do their jobs by quietly going about his. Glamourous he is not, central to City’s plans he is.

Rafael Van Der Vaart:

You regularly hear that Van Der Vaart was offered to Manchester United. Well, they didn’t sign him. Spurs did. Manchester United probably wishes they had. Van Der Vaart became an instant favourite with the Spurs fans by scoring goals immediately after joining. Playing as a sort of second striker he has linked up superbly with Peter Crouch. As mentioned previously: Spurs, despite competing for a Champions’ League place do not have a striker amongst the league’s top scorers. How important might Van Der Vaart’s impact be at the end of the season?

Next week: Forwards.

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6 Comments

  1. This is not as clear cut most people think as in so many of the above have been some poor periods this season. I suppose reflecting on how unpredictable this season has unfolded. Bale and Nasri came first and second in PFA awards, but both have only really been world class for 2 months periods at different points in the season and since tailed off. Only really Wilshere, Parker and possibly Nani have shown a decent level of consistency…

  2. Bale only has one assist all season, bbc blog posters make good points about media overhyping his impact and performaces. For me adam, and parker have been the only truly outstanding midfielders this season. Each making the biggest differences to their respective teams’ performances. Wilshere and nasri deserve a mention though but not sure either has stood out all season.

  3. I agree Graves, it’s been a strange season where players have had spells of being excellent and then tailed off. Nasri, Nani, Modric, Malouda and Van Der Vaart all fall into that category. I suppose you have to weigh up their impact and contribution during their peaks and decide whether that puts them ahead of the others.

    Simon, i agree that Bale’s impact has been massively over-hyped. However, assists as a statistic can be misleading. Spurs do not have a striker near the top of the goalscorers charts. Bale could be creating buckets full of chances, but because his team mates do not take them his statistics do not look as impressive as other players’. That said, i think his highlights have swayed people into thinking he has performed better than he has.
    As i’ve alluded to in the piece itself, i think Parker has been collosal. Adam too has been consistently outstanding. However, if both their teams get relegated, does that diminish their achivements?

    Much food for thought i think you’ll agree. Thanks for the comments and views all. Greatly appreciated.

  4. I would be tempted to add Clint Dempsey to the midfielders short-list. Into double-figures for the season, in a Fulham side that has had to deal with numerous injuries throughout the campaign. And at a decent level of consistency.

    Would definitely agree that Nani, Adam and Parker have stood out consistently (Wilshere too in fairness), although Modric and Nasri were sublime in the first half of the season. Bale has only really performed on the Euro stage sadly.

    Interesting thoughts though, thanks for sharing!

  5. Clint Dempsey is a decent shout actually. He has been, at least, a consistent performer. Statistically speaking there is little to sugest he should have been left off the list. The reason i decided to overlook him is in spite of the statistics, every time i have watched him this season, which admittedly isn’t as much as some of the others, he has been quiet. I’m not by any means saying he is like that every week, however as unfair as it might sound, the statistics on him don’t match up to the performances i have personally seen. As with all pieces of this nature, i am sure there are infinite combinations of players and numerous individuals that people feel i should have included. I am glad of the alternate opinions. That’s kind of the point!

  6. Interesting and thorough… only missing players I thought were Stuart Holden and Chiek Tiote.

    Modric, for me, he’s been outstanding.

    RCM


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