GK: David de Gea, Manchester United, Spain
RB: Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton, England
CB: Jose Fonte, Southampton, Portugal
CB: John Terry, Chelsea, England
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea, Spain
LM: Eden Hazard, Chelsea, Belgium
CM: Nemanja Matic, Chelsea, Serbia
CM: Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea, Spain
RM: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal, Chile
ST: Diego Costa, Chelsea, Spain
ST: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City, Argentina
Why I chose this team:
At goalkeeper, I’ve gone with Manchester United’s David de Gea. While some may argue that Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois has let in less goals, he also has a better defense in front of him.
United’s back four/five have had a lot of moving parts, due to injuries to Luke Shaw, Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, and Marcos Rojo. It’s been so tumultuous at the back that winger Antonio Valencia, midfielder Michael Carrick, and youngsters Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair have started at the back.
de Gea is already one of the most talented goalkeepers in the league, and at 24, the Spaniard has shown no signs of slowing down. His heroic displays against Everton and Liverpool garnered United six crucial points.
At right back, I’ve opted to go with Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne for several reasons. While he may not be as dominant as Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, he has been exceeding expectations significantly. While he may be solely looked at for his cracker of a goal on opening day against Liverpool, Clyne’s defensive improvement has been immense.
The Englishman’s play has been acknowledged by Roy Hodgson. The England manager called up Clyne to the squad for a string of international friendlies, and the right back won his first England cap this November.
At center back, we have a pair of skippers: Chelsea’s John Terry, and Southampton’s Jose Fonte. Terry has anchored the Blue’s backline at the ripe age of 34, and has seemingly gotten better with age.
Fonte makes the side ahead of Terry’s counterpart Gary Cahill because he is captaining the league’s best defense. The Saints have conceded a league low 15 goals, and a large part of that is due to Fonte’s excellence, which garnered him his first international call-up for Portugal.
Chelsea have another player at the back line, in Spanish left back Cesar Azpilicueta. A natural right back, Azpilicueta has been domineering out of position this campaign. A brilliant one-on-one defender, the Chelsea man has managed to keep arguably the world’s most complete left back, Filipe Luis, out of the starting XI on a consistent basis.
At left midfield, Belgian sensation Eden Hazard earns a spot. Arguably the best player in the entire Premier League, Hazard has gotten off to a sparkling start this season for Chelsea, tallying 8 goals and 4 assists. Hazard has the highest cumulative match rating according to WhoScored.com.
In central midfield, we’ve gone with two more Chelsea players: Holding midfielder Nemanja Matic, and attacking midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
The former leads the Premier League with 55 tackles, and terrorizes opposing offenses all night. It can be argued that Matic has been the most consistent performer in the Premier League all season long. Before Chelsea’s defeat at White Hart Lane this past weekend, the only match that Matic didn’t start was Chelsea’s only loss– 2-1 at Newcastle.
Fabregas has arguably been the most important transfer this summer for any team. He leads the Premier League with 14 assists, 6 more than second placed Gylfi Sigurdsson. While he played in England with Arsenal before a short stint with Barcelona, the Spaniard’s re-integration to the English top flight has been seamless.
At right midfield, Alexis Sanchez wins a spot. The former Barcelona man has kept Arsenal afloat this season, and has the third highest cumulative match rating according to Who Scored.com. He already has 10 goals for the Gunners, including an early candidate for goal of the season, with this screamer v.s. Manchester City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj6phJ-4Sss
The two forward players are indisputable.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Diego Costa are both level with 14 goals atop the Premier League leaderboards. They’ve both accounted for 14 of their teams total 44 goals, which is 32%. Their cumultaive match ratings on WhoScored.com? 7.8 for Aguero, 7.6 for Costa. They’ve been that close to each other.
They are both impressive in their own right. In 17 games, Costa has 14 goals and one assists. Aguero, in 4 less games, has the same amount of goals, and three more assists. Injuries have bugged the Argentine, yet he still is tied for the best offensive output in the league, despite playing a significantly less amount of minutes than Costa.
However, Aguero is a three year veteran of the Premier League. Costa is playing in his first year in England, which makes his offensive output equally as impressive. To score at this high a clip this early on is extraordinary.
Both of them have been brilliant: Costa’s brace against Everton, his hat trick against Swansea, can be countered by Aguero’s stunning four goal outburst against Tottenham. Both are former Atletico Madrid players, and both of them are thriving in their respective blue outfits.
de Gea, Clyne, Terry, Fonte, Azpilicueta, Hazard, Matic, Fabregas, Sanchez, Aguero, Costa. That’s our Premier League first team as we gear up for the second half of the season.
How about the second team?
GK: Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea, Belgium
RB: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea, Serbia
CB: Gary Cahill, Chelsea, England
CB: Winston Reid, West Ham United, New Zealand
LB: Gael Clichy, Manchester City, France
LM: Santi Cazorla, Arsenal, Spain
CM: Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton, France
CM: Mile Jedinak, Crystal Palace, Australia
RM: David Silva, Manchester City, Spain
ST: Charlie Austin, Queens Park Rangers, England
ST: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United, England
Our second team starts Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian shot stopper has made 37 saves and kept 7 clean sheets in 19 games for the Blues, who have a share of the league lead. Courtois, who has been on loan at Atletico Madrid for the past several seasons, has shown tremendous reflexes and shot stopping ability at the age of 22. With a World Cup quarterfinal appearance with Belgium and a La Liga title and Champions League final berth to boot, Courtois has the potential to be one of the world’s best goalkeepers for the next decade.
Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic is probably the best all-around right back in the Premier League, and his fine play earns him a spot in our second team. Ivanovic has terrific durability: he has started and gone the full 90 in all 20 of Chelsea’s league matches. The Serbian right back still has a few years in him as well, at age 30.
Gary Cahill easily could have made the first team, but he will have to settle for our second team. A tremendous center back, Cahill led the back line for England this summer at the World Cup. He has been stout for the Blues, and is forming quite the partnership with skipper John Terry. When Terry eventually retires, Cahill is expected to step up as the center back for Chelsea football club.
Winston Reid is a stalwart at center back as well for surprising West Ham. According to Squawka.com, Reid has 13 average defensive actions a game, he has won 59% of his aerial duels, and he has made a grand total of zero defensive errors. Impressive.
Manchester City’s Gael Clichy is our second team left back. The Frenchman has 3 assists this season in 15 Premier League Games, and has won 3 Man of the Match Awards, according to Who Scored.com.
Despite a sluggish start, Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla has hit top form recently, which earns him a spot in our second team midfield. The Spaniard has four goals and three assists for the Gunners, and has embraced new responsibilities due to injuries suffered by Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere.
Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlain nearly left the club this summer. He ended up staying, and has been the engine room driving a brilliant and retooled Saints midfield. The Frenchman is making 3.5 tackles a game, and doing all of the gritty things that have driven this Southampton team into contention for a Champions League berth.
One of, if not the most underrated players in the Premier League is Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak. A dominating defensive midfielder, Jedinak is one of the only things keeping Palace out of the relegation zone (although new manager Alan Pardew will help. Jedinak is averaging the 5th highest performance rating in the entire league, according to Who Scored, and he’s one of the most undervalued players in the top flight.
David Silva is one of the most creative players in England, and this season has been no exception. Silva is creating chances left and right, and his team is seriously benefiting from it. What is surpsiign has been the Spaniard’s bump in scoring: Silva has recorded four goals in his last four games in England, which has allowed City to catch up to Chelsea in the title race.
One of the most surprising players of the season, Charlie Austin is almost single-handedly keeping QPR afloat. He has 12 goals thus far, good for third in the Premier League, and has been QPR’s top player 3 times, according to Squawka.com. What’s most stunning about Austin is his production relative to the rest of the team: Austin’s 12 goals make up 55% of his team’s total offensive output. While it’s unhealthy to rely so much on one player, Austin is paying big dividends thus far at Loftus Road.
Finally, Wayne Rooney earns a spot in our second XI. Rooney was at times the only bright spot for United a season ago, and his efforts were rewarded by Louis van Gaal, who appointed him captain. Rooney has eight goals and four assists for the Red Devils, and has led a rejuvination of sorts at Old Trafford. United, who finished seventh a season ago, are now third, and a lot of that can be attributed to Rooney.
GK: Costel Pantilimon, Sunderland
DF: Aaron Cresswell, West Ham United
MF: Dusan Tadic, Southampton
FW: Diafra Sakho, West Ham United
One response to “Picking a Best and 2nd Best XI for the Premier League’s First Half”
Love your selection. i don’t think there has been a better cm combo this year than fabregas and matic. As for selecting degea being a chesea fan i don’t like to agree but courtois has looked vulnerable and degea is a very large reason united are in a champions league spot.