As tomorrow is the final day of the 2012-2013 Premier league season, I’ve decided to do a team of the year, ahead of another post following the last games. So here it is my 2012/13 Prem TOTY:
Goalkeeper – David De Gea: De Gea certainly had his critics when he first came to Man U. Problem was he was very young, and whilst he was always a very good shot stopper, he clearly suffered from some nerves at first. But now he’s stepped up and become one of the most consistent goalies in the league. Whilst some keepers like Hart and Reina have made some mistakes this year, De Gea has been solid and helped Man U keep several clean sheets, despite their shaky defence, and that’s why he’s been the best keeper this season.
Right Back – Pablo Zabaleta: Zabaleta has definitely been the best right back in the league this year, although in truth, there aren’t too many knocking on the door to challenge him. But despite this he’s constantly performed for Man City, even in the period where City went off the boil slightly and let Man U pull away. And, much like Baines at left back, Zabaleta has added a better attacking game this year. He’s had his best goal return for City. So despite getting sent off in the FA cup final, he’s been the only consistent performer at right back in the Prem this year.
Center Back – Jan Vertonghen: I don’t think there’s too much debate about the fact that Vertonghen has been the best center back in the league this season, and one of the best left backs when it’s needed of him. Not only has he been incredibly solid for Spurs at the back, but he’s also managed to carry a threat going forward as well; in the air at corners and free kicks as seen against Liverpool, and with good direct running, such as against Man U. He has really carried the Spurs defence as Assou-Ekotto is a very poor player, and Walker, for all his attacking talent is a bit weak defensively.
Center Back – Jamie Carragher: This one might be a surprise to some people, and maybe it’s just because I’ve seen more of Liverpool than anyone else, but Carra has been brilliant in his final season. And what really made me include Carra is the fact that Liverpool have been awful without him. He’s been such a presence at center back, and an absolute rock in almost every game he’s played. It’s such a blow for Liverpool that he’s going to be retiring at the end of the season, and I say good luck replacing him.
Left Back – Leighton Baines: I love this guy and the way he plays, even though he’s playing on the wrong side of Stanley Park. He just offers so much in when getting forward from left back. His driving runs, overlaps and ‘underlaps’ (where he comes inside the winger) mean that he offers a constant threat coming forward, especially since he has such a great understanding with Pienaar. And this coupled with how deadly he is from dead balls means he’s managed to surpass Ashley Cole as the best left back in the Prem for me, and many others as well.
Center Defensive Mid – Michael Carrick: For me Carrick has been the best player for Man U. Van Persie and Rooney might take all the headlines for them, but Carrick does the more unnoticed role at the heart of the midfield. He just keeps them moving, and was always an outball for United’s player. But most importantly he was the only really creative player Man U in that midfield, and so without him the big name strikers wouldn’t have had all the chances, and that’s why he is the reason Man U won the title, which is why he’s in my team.
Right Wing – Gareth Bale: There’s a reason Bale has won most of the awards this season, I don’t think there is another ‘top team’ who is so reliant on one player, and certainly not in the Prem. He actually started quite quietly this season, mainly because I think AVB was unsure of his best position. But since he’s been given the freedom to roam around the park, much like we used to see with Ronaldo at Man U, he’s been near enough unplayable. I’ve never seen a player who has the ability to just score wonder goals for fun quite like Bale does. Much like Suarez however, he has gained himself quite the reputation for diving, but I’m sure if you asked most Spurs fans wouldn’t care less about that.
Center Attacking Mid – Michu: What a bargain this lad was. £2 million, 2 flipping million and Fernando Torres cost £50 million… how did he slip under so many teams’ radars? He was banging in goals for funny early in the season. Whilst he may have faded a little since the, now annual, curse of league cup winners hit Swansea, his all form for a majority of the season has been superb. I also think the fact that he’s flexible and can play as a striker, or an attacking midfielder makes him even more valuable, expect to see him at a top club in the next few years.
Left Wing – Juan Mata: We’ve seen a few of these diminutive yet skillful attacking midfielders come into the premiership and make a big impact, but then fizzle out in recent years. Silva at Man City and Nasri at Arsenal. But Mata is the only one whose really gone on and been even better the next year. If he was good for Chelsea last year, this year he’s been crucial. Playing as the central one of the three amigos, he’s pulled all the strings for Chelsea, and when they play well, it’s because he’s at the heart of it. Whilst Hazard may actually be slightly better on his day, it’s Mata’s consistency that wins him a place in my team of the year ahead of him, and rightly so.
Striker – Robin Van Persie: I hate to admit it, but on his day this guy is one of the best in the world. And he’s brought to United the goals that they missed last year. RVP absolutely has to be on this list, because he is so crucial to the Man U team. With Rooney being nowhere near as good as he has been in the past, and a bit of a lack of quality in the midfield, particularly out wide, they needed someone who could not just score goals, but create goals out of almost nothing for both himself and teammates, and in Van Persie United sure have that.
Striker – Luis Suarez: “Oh my god, how can you put on here? He bit someone… he’s basically the devil.” I don’t really care what misdemeanors he’s done, he’s one of only a couple of players this year to score over 20 goals, he’s bloody well going in my team of the year. I’m sure if you were to ask most Premier league center backs which striker they most hate playing against they’d say Suarez. This guy must be nightmare to play against, he tenaciously buzzes around defenders, he’s got more tricks than some mischievous kids at Halloween, and he’s decided to add scoring consistently to his game as well… he has to be on here.
I also have to give some mentions to some players who didn’t quite make it onto my list. First off, there’s a new team in the international scene. Belgium. And there are several new top quality Belgians this year. Firstly a man very unlucky not to make the team is Benteke who on his day is nearly unplayable. Lukaku has been another example of a good use of the loan system, and is certainly the best striker Chelsea currently have on their books. Also Mirallas at Everton has been fantastic, and in my opinion has been their best player, who the new manager will definitely have to keep hold of. There has also been some quality new youngsters break onto the scene. McManaman stole the show in the FA cup final for Wigan, and whose goals came so close to keeping them up. Shaw looks like on of the most promising young fullbacks around, and is a product of Southampton’s great youth system, Coutinho was a great buy for Liverpool and the keymaster, as he should be known, looks like he can unlock most defences in the league. Finally Colback, who despite normally being a midfielder, has shown a great ability to adapt to most positions, and perform well, despite his inexperiance. Goalkeepers Lloris and Guzan also deserve mentions for excellent seasons, although I feel De Gea just overshadowed them. Finally three players who have been crucial to their respective teams this year were; Maloney, who almost drove Wigan to another great escape, Cazorla, who started the season brilliantly, although faded towards the end, and Snodgrass, who was only one goal shy of top scorer Holt, and assisted a large majority of Norwich’s other goals.
So that’s my Team of the Year, I’ll be back with another post in the next couple of days, with more of a look at the season in general, and some of the big talking points.