Continuing my Best 11 from the first half of the Premier League this year, here are the midfielders, strikers and substitutes. Let the argument re-commence!
Left Wing: Gareth Bale (Spurs)
Bale has earned himself a reputation as a diver. Though he’s been unfairly booked more times than correctly this season, he’ll still have to work to get rid of that tag. When he plays and he’s not being kicked, he is devastating. He has scored 9 goals in 15 starts this season, including a hat-trick against the hapless Aston Villa, which is impressive from midfield. Spurs will do well to hang onto him past this season
Right Wing: Juan Manuel Mata (Chelsea)
By their own standards, Chelsea have had a mixed season. The one player who has remained constant for them, and consistently one of the best players in the league is Mata. Strictly speaking, he isn’t a right winger – more of an attacking & roaming midfielder, but in my rigid formation, he fits in out wide. 14 appearances in the PL, with 6 goals and 6 assists is very impressive
Central Mid: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Like Mata, Cazorla is capable of playing across midfield and into attack. He was one of the signings of the summer, and Arsenals form has dipped and peaked with his own form. When he is on song, he is unstoppable. 7 goals and 5 assists from 19 games is a pretty decent return for his first 5 months in English football
Central Mid: Yaya Toure (Man City)
For my money, Toure is the best footballer in England. He has moved from being a defensive midfielder to becoming a more driving box-to-box player in recent years, and has become a much better player for it. It has been said that the best midfield paring in England is Toure and whoever is alongside him. City’s indifferent form has been the fault of their misfiring forwards rather than Toures
Forward: Robin Van Persie (Man Utd)
When Man Utd spent £24m on a 29 year old injury-prone striker this summer, some eyebrows were raised. Of course, Van Persie is capable of matching the best in the world, but he rarely remains fit for an extended period of time. So far for United, he has managed to keep his fitness though. He’s also enhanced his reputation as one of the best finishers in the world, and his 14 goals in 20 PL games has meant that United are sitting on top of the table at the end of the year.
Forward: Demba Ba (Newcastle)
Newcastle’s season so far has been the mirror opposite of last season as they struggle for form. This is the other way round for Ba, who suffered a poor end to the 2011/12 but is thriving this year. Ba has scored 13 goals in 20 games – over half of Newcastle’s Premier League goals. He was pushed out wide to make room for Papiss Cisse last year, but this year he is back in the middle and it seems like he wants to stay there.
Al-Habsi (Wigan), Baines (Everton), Skrtel (Liverpool), Michu (Swansea), Fellaini (Everton), Sandro (Spurs), Suarez (Liverpool)