Posted by: mdegeorge | December 31, 2010

Starting XI Points: English Premier League Team of the Year

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and to try and encapsulate 12 months of footballing history into a selection of 18 players who captured our attentions on the pitch in 2010.

So without further adieu, here’s my Starting XI from the English Premier League in 2010.

The Hawthorns West Browmich Albion v Manchester City (0-2) Premier League 07/11/2010 Joe Hart (Manchester City) Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart Hart is the breakout star of the English game and the chosen one to bring stability to the England number one gloves. He was stellar on loan at Birmingham in the spring and has stood out at Man City as much for his consistency as for being in the minority of homegrown, non-bankbusting transfer fee toters. At 23, his best days are frighteningly still before him.

Right back: Branislav Ivanovic The emergence of the young Serbian as a versatile option for a thin Chelsea squad has been vital to their title aspirations. He has four goals already this season, a healthy amount for a practitioner of the sports most underappreciated position. His ability to deputize in the center of defense only increases his value.

Center back: Gary Cahill The posterchild for Bolton’s always parsimonious defense, Cahill separates himself from many of his fellow central defenders by his tremendous upside (he’s still but 25 years old) and omnipresence on the field. He’s also a constant threat at goal on set pieces, though he has yet to find the back of the net this season after seven goals in all competitions last term.

Center back: Nemanja Vidic He’s simply one of the most comprehensive controllers of defensive action in the world, performing the task while Rio Ferdinand’s game deteriorates by the day…whenever he’s healthy enough to make it onto the pitch.

Left back: Ashley Cole. Cole remains one of the stalwarts of the English game, craftily deploying down the left wing to the dismay of legions of the defenders. His attacking sensibilities have always included responsible defending, and in 2010, he added a scoring touch by finding the back of the net four times in the league, more than his combined total of the last five years.

Darren Fletcher Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester United V Wolverhampton Wanderers (2-1) 06/11/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Central midfielder: Darren Fletcher

The Scot is the heartbeat of the Manchester United attack and has to be regarded as one of the world’s premier box-to-box midfielders in the world. The rangy 26-year-old is a fulcrum in both attack and defense; his feistiness adds a vital edge to the Red Devils’ game.

Central midfielder: Scott Parker

Where would West Ham be sans Parker? Languishing in the Championship with their talismanic midfielder playing his trade elsewhere. They’ll likely be in that predicament at this juncture next year, but at last the efforts of Parker will forestall that for a season.

Right midfielder: Nani

The Portuguese winger looked tickets out of Manchester before an early 2010 turnaround that signaled his ascension to the upper echelon of Prem playmakers. His absence for Portugal at the World Cup was felt, as is his continued presence in the Man U side.

Left midfielder: Gareth Bale

It’s a chic pick, I’ll admit. But watch the tape of the Inter game and I defy you to argue against this selection. He has been rampant down the left wing this term for Spurs, scoring goals and making plays at a frantic pace.

Forward: Carlos Tevez

Love him or hate him (I suspect it’s the latter for us not from the blue half of Manchester) he plain gets results. His ability to bag goals at a lightning pace (25 in 49 league games) has papered over many of the squad assimilation issues at Eastlands.

Fulham v Sunderland, Premier League 11/12/2010 Darren Bent of Sunderland in action with Aaron Hughes of Fulham Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

Forward: Darren Bent

Plenty of ways to go here, but I’ll go the rather unconventional route. The Wearsiders are threatening for a place in Europe thanks to the mercurial strikers’ 31 goals in 55 games over the last season and a half. Without him, relegation would be a real possibility.


Goalkeeper: Paul Robinson. No England, no problems. The scorned Robinson has had a renaissance at Blackburn.

Defense: Sylvain Distin. Quietly, he and Phil Jagielka form one of the most formidable pairs in the EPL.

Midfield: Samir Nasri. The young Gunners have begun to make good on their promise of talent, led by Nasri’s eight Prem goals and electrifying playmaking this season.

Midfield: Florent Malouda. Much like Nani, Malouda took time to adjust to the English game, but he performances went from lethargic to lethal in 2010.

Midfield: James Milner. Think Aston Villa misses the dynamic playmaker?

Forward: Bobby Zamora. A healthy Zamora made the Cottagers a European contender. A Zamora-less Fulham is relegation fodder.

Honorable mention: Edwin van der Sar, Ryan Nelsen, Rafael van der Vaart, Paul Scholes, Andrei Arshavin, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Dimitar Berbatov


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