Premier League Team of the Season 2010-2011: Part 4.

So here we go; Part 4 of the series; the superstars, the shirt sellers, the crowd pleasers, the game winners: The Forwards.

As with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, some of my choices may seem a little obscure. Some of them you may totally disagree with, and some absentees, well, let’s just say I’m braced for a barrage of comments on that front. In this instance you can vote for up to 2 forwards. So, without further ado, here are the contenders:

Carlos Tevez:

The suggestion by many that Manchester City are a one man team is wide of the mark. It is however, a clear indication of the influence and importance of Carlos Tevez to their ambitions. The very capture of Tevez, torn from the bosom of their fiercest rivals was a huge coup for Man City. Rather than wilt under the pressure of such a move, Tevez has relished the task of drawing his new club alongside his old one. 22 goals in 38 games (in all competitions) this season is a terrific return no matter who you are talking about. The total is more impressive when one considers that City, allegedly play negative football. That would suggest that Tevez has had to score his goals from a relatively scarce number of chances. His work rate, composure in front of goal and his ability to pull a goal out of the air in seemingly any situation makes Tevez irreplaceable.

Javier Hernandez:

Alex Ferguson has constantly lamented the lack of “value for money” available in the transfer market. Between six and eight million pounds is what Hernandez reportedly cost. Hernandez has scored 12 goals in 24 league games and 19 goals in 40 games in all competitions in his debut season at Old Trafford. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that in today’s market that is an almost unbelievable return. An instant favourite with the United fans, Chicarito as he is also known has usurped Dimitar Berbatov from the starting eleven. Another of his elder colleagues, Michael Owen, looks on from the bench and sees a young man with an eye for goal even he in his heyday would have envied. Hernandez has made a massive impact. At the tender of age of 22 he has many years ahead of him to get even better. It is a scary thought.

Luis Suarez:

Losing Fernando Torres was a huge blow to Liverpool. Signing Luis Suarez, some said, was a huge gamble. In spite of his impressive scoring record in Holland, (111 goals in 159 games in all competitions) and in spite of his excellent displays during the last World Cup many were sceptical about his form transferring to the English game. The cynics cited the examples of Mateja Kezman or Alfonso Alves who had prospered during their time in the Eredivisie but flopped in the English league. They wondered whether Suarez would join them in failing too. A goal on his Liverpool debut and a virtuoso display in the thrashing of Manchester United showed people he is definitely a cut above those two. Whilst he has only netted twice since he joined, Suarez has wasted no time at all in forging an understanding with Raul Meireles, Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt. Suarez has fantastic movement, incredible skills and the ability to create chances from nothing. Already fans are talking about him in the same breath as a former Liverpool number 7 who now manages the club. He has a way to go yet to reach that level, but the start to his Liverpool career suggests a very bright future. Fernando who?

Dimitar Berbatov:

Berbatov is a man who polarises opinion more than most on this list. Speak to some and he is a genius with incredible skills and a wonderful eye for goal. Speak to others and he’s a lazy, disinterested, flat track bully. Think what you like, 21 league goals in 29 games is phenomenal. A hat-trick against Liverpool in a 3-2 win, including a terrific overhead kick, 5 against Blackburn and then another hat trick against Birmingham all suggest he can turn it on against a range of opponents. Latterly he has found his place in the United starting line up occupied by Javier Hernandez. This owes as much to the blistering form of Hernandez as it does to Berbatov’s efforts. He has still played his part, scoring a crucial late winner from off the bench against Bolton. He may look laid back, maybe even lazy, but Berbatov is the league’s top scorer. That is an achievement not to be sneezed at.

Darren Bent:

Gerard Houllier has often been criticised for his dealings in the transfer market. Signing Darren Bent for £18m potentially rising to £24m caused the football world to raise their eyebrows and wonder if he’d done it again. Personally, I think that it is a terrific piece of business. Goals win games; Darren Bent scores goals. It is a straightforward equation whichever slant you care to put on it. Bent has always scored goals often in an unfashionable or struggling team. Even when he had seemingly been frozen out at Spurs he still managed to score his share, netting 25 times in 79 games. His record at Sunderland was hard to beat: 36 goals in 63 games. Bent scored on his Villa debut, getting off the mark quicker than Edin Dzeko and of course Fernando Torres. He now has 7 goals in 12 games for Villa making his total for the season 18 goals in 35 games. I am aware statistics only tell part of the story, but as a pure out and out goal scorer Bent is hard to beat. For a Villa side seemingly doing their best to get relegated Bent’s goals are crucial.

Didier Drogba:

Reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated. Yes, he is not in the blistering form he has displayed previously. Yes, he is not an immediate starter for Chelsea any more. Yes, he is getting on a bit. However, Chelsea, quite frankly are still poorer without him in their side.  Depending on who you beleive, Carlo Ancelotti may or may not be forced to select Fernando Torres regularly, but the Spaniard’s struggles to find form have highlighted just how good Drogba is. Torres is a finisher who thrives on the chances created for him. Drogba, whilst able to finish such chances is also excellent at foraging and creating chances for himself. Chelsea know this and so are able to an extent to rely on Drogba to fend for himself. Torres’ problems are as much down to Drogba’s quality as they are down to Chelsea’s style. They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone; Chelsea have had a glimpse of what life without Drogba will be like. I’m not sure they like it.

Andy Carroll:

One of the success stories from this season. Carroll’s form during the first half of the season was terrific. So impressive was he that he was called up to the full England Squad in November. Carroll scored 11 goals in 19 league games for Newcastle this season. Good in the air, strong and hard working, his style of play drew comparisons with Alan Shearer. As with Shearer, Carroll showed he is just as comfortable scoring goals with his feet as he was with his head. He scored a spectacular long range goal against Liverpool before the Merseyside club parted with £35m to bring him in to replace the departing Fernando Torres. In spite of being sidelined with injury at the start of his Liverpool career Carroll has still managed to form a good understanding with his new team mates, scored 2 goals in the win over Manchester City and scored his first full international goal. A great season for the young man and hopefully much more to come.  

Robin Van Persie:

Good in the air, strong, quick, skilful and a terrific goal scorer. Van Persie is all of these things. The only problem is that there are question marks over his fitness. With Manchester United apparently not at their strongest, this was the year Arsenal had a real chance to overhaul them. At present it looks like that will not be the case; however, had Van Persie been fit all season you’d wonder if things might have been different.  In spite of his inability to stay off the treatment table, he has still managed 15 league goals in 21 games and 19 goals in 29 games across all competitions. He hasn’t played as much as Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger would like, but his contribution when he has is incredible. If only he could stay fit. If only.

Daniel Sturridge:

Sturridge is probably a surprising inclusion on the list, but a worthy one in my opinion. An exciting prospect who I believe is starting to show his skills now he is being given the chance on loan at Bolton. Sturridge has pace, power, a poacher’s instinct and raw potential. At Chelsea, he has found his way blocked by Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and now Fernando Torres. Sturridge has still managed a couple of goals in the Champions League and a couple of league goals for Chelsea. It is since he has been loaned out to Bolton however that he has flourished. 7 goals in 9 games for Owen Coyle’s side has really brought him to everyone’s attention. Bolton currently sit 8th with a realistic chance of overhauling Everton before the season is out. On current form Sturridge is likely to be the man whose goals get them there. With the perceived exit from Chelsea of Didier Drogba at the end of the season and with Anelka not getting any younger surely Sturridge will get the chance to carry his scintillating form from Bolton to Chelsea next season.    

Peter Odemwingie:

Another name that might be a surprise inclusion to some, however anyone who has seen Odemwingie play this season will know he has had a great season. West Brom were always going to struggle to stay up in the Premier League, however having a goal scorer has certainly helped their case. Odemwingie’s 13 goals in 29 appearances surpassed Robert Earnshaw’s milestone of 12 which was the previous highest for a West Brom player in the top flight. Many of his goals have been of great importance, the winner against both Sunderland and Arsenal; another goal against Arsenal, 2 in the 3-1 victory over Newcastle and so the list goes on. He may not be a household name, but you cannot deny that without Odemwingie’s goals West Brom would be at the bottom instead of mid table.  

Johan Elmander:

In the Fantasy Football competition I entered, Elmander was priced cheaply in comparison with his striking peers. Given he had hardly been prolific the years before I decided against selecting him. In the opening 13 games he scored 6 times, all away from home. For a while he was joint leading scorer in the entire division. Egg, well and truly was on my face. Whilst his goals have dried up somewhat he has still remained an integral part of the Bolton team. In addition to his 11 goals scored, he has also contributed 7 assists. Not a phenomenal return some might argue, but still a key part of the great season Bolton have enjoyed.

So there you have it. My choices, as those of you that have followed this series from the start will testify, aren’t necessarily the ones that you would immediately think of. Part of that is because I don’t wish my blog to be just another list of the top 5’s strikers. The other part of the reason is because I try to judge based on their contribution to their teams as well as their personal achievements. You might agree, you might not. Let me know, that’s what the comments section is for!

Remember, please feel free to vote for up to 2 strikers. Voting is open for a week, after which we will have our team of the year which I will announce and sum up for you in due course.

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6 Comments

  1. Another interesting selection of players, however I do feel this year has been dominated by some fantastic midfield displays therefore the lime light has been taken away from the forwards. All of these forwards have had fantastic spells within the season however my first vote has gone to Carlos Tevez as he has been by far the most consistent over the whole season.

    The inclusion of Suarez, Sturridge and Elmander is questionable, as mentioned before Suarez has only palyed a handful of games, Sturridge has definately benefited with a move to Bolton scoring a very impressive amount of goals in the games he has played and Elmander was unstoppable at the start but now seems to have dipped.

    My second vote is torn between Bent, Drogba, Hernandez, Obemwingie and Van Persie, went for Van Persie as he has led the Arsenal Line scoring an incredible amount of goals.

    Just a thought with regards to the formation of this ‘team of the year’ even though I feel games are more exciting with a 4-4-2 formation as the game isn’t bogged down in midfield. However it is no doubt that the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal have had more success playing 4-3-3 and Manchester United with 4-5-1.

    Another well written piece that I have enjoyed reading from start to finish, looking forward to the results!!

  2. I see your point about the number of games Suarez has played, however the impact he has made has been huge. Liverpool have had a fantastic 2nd half of the season and he has been a massive part of that. He might not have scored a bucket load of goals, but he is involved in pretty much everything creative that Liverpool do. Given they were criticised for being negative before, his influence has been absolutely incredible. That’s why i included him.

    Sturridge might also have left it late, but his goals to games ratio at Bolton is phenomenal. As i’ve alluded to towards the end of the piece, Sturridge’s impact has given Bolton a real chance of finishing in the top 7-8. Without his goals they might be looking at finishing lower. I’ve tried to include players that have made a real difference to their teams, Sturridge is, i believe one of those.

    Elmander was indeed superb in the 1st half of the season but has tailed off. A lot of the players in the midfield section of this series did likewise. I didn’t feel that i could leave him out. After all, his efforts in the 1st half of the season have still made a huge difference to his team’s prospects. Without him, who knows where they would have been at Christmas? I almost feels like Elmander did the ground work and Sturridge is finishing it off.

    I was going to touch on the formation during the summary piece that’ll follow this one. I agree that 4-4-2 is a little dated given the formations that most teams use today. I merely used it because that is the one the official PFA team of the year uses. I didn’t feel it would make the exercise as accurate as i wanted it to be were i to use a different formation.

    Hope that clears a few things up. Thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

    • Hi, I 100% agree that Luis Suarez should be added. This is because if Liverpool didn’t get this man then they would most probably be in about 10th or 9th fighting for top half. That is the kind of impact Suarez has made and without him we wouldn’t even be contending for champions league/ europa this year.

      Carlos Tevez and Odemwingie have been the other two candidates but I think Suarez and Tevez were the best this year.

  3. An interesting selection. The point about it being a poor season for strikers is a good one. I don’t really have any queries about the selection as I don’t think there have been too many standout displays from strikers; interesting that Van Perise and Caroll have both had lengthy lay-offs, while Berbatov has scored a lot of goals but isn’t trusted to appear in the big games, Sturridge hardly got much of a look-in before joining Bolton and Drogba has been way below last year. I went for Odemwingie purely because of his impact being so unexpected and his goals so vital to West Brom.

  4. Our votes went to Carlos Tevez and Peter Odemwingie, although Javier Hernandez came very close. The main reason being that this is for team of the SEASON. Van Persie has been phenomenal, but (sadly for Arsenal fans) only since he came back from injury at the turn of the year. Suarez, again immense, but he only signed in January (like Sturridge, much the same). Berbatov, Carroll, and Elmander were all brilliant pre-Xmas, but have done very little since (through selection, injury for the first two). Drogba has been good of late, and was indeed great at the start of the season, but a malaria-induced quiet spell in the middle somewhat disrupted his campaign.

    The strikers that have been good throughout the season deserve to make the team of the season (in our modest (and entirely subjective) opinion). Bent has been solid but not spectacular, whilst Hernandez has been instrumental in a lot of United’s victories. He has brought the best out of Rooney too, which has undoubtedly benefitted United, so perhaps he could/should make the XI – especially as they will almost certainly claim the title. But we plomped [a word?] for Tevez, who apart from the odd game off injured has been City’s main man in their charge to the top 4 and their FACup run, and Odemwingie, whose goals have come steadily (somewhat more explosively of late) and been a massive influence on why WBA will be in the Prem next season.

    Reckon you got the nominations bang on though BtB, another fine post. Thanks.

    Others possibly worthy of note include Kevin Davies (a decent season) and Kevin Doyle who has been consistently solid for Wolves and a large part of why their performances have tailed off over the last month or so in his absence.

    I’m surprised Nicklas Bendtner didn’t get a shout by the way, what with being, you know, “the best player in the world” and all that. Ballotelli probably reckons he’s a shoe-in for the XI too for that matter…

  5. Thanks for the comments. I must say Bendtner didn’t even register in my thoughts, but I suspect he rarely features in anyone’s apart from his own.

    Davies and Doyle are good shouts, but I selected the people i did as i feel they had had more impact than those two. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a mention, but i opted for a slightly different route.

    I’m pleased that Odemwingie got some mentions by people, although he didn’t quite make the team.

    I suppose success is what people gauge it on, and not many teams can say they’ve had a more successful season than the 2 Manchester clubs. By that logic, few players can claim to have contributed more than Tevez and Hernandez. So perhaps, they are the 2 who deserve to get the nod.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, always greatly appreciated.


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