Arsenal bring the players, Everton the best manager
Posted Saturday, December 14 2013 at 02:00
To refresh your memories, the very early season Premiership Eleven, in daring 3-4-3 inspired by adventurous young managers experimenting to great success, lined up thus.
Arsenal and Liverpool dominated the first Premiership Eleven of this column two months ago, and although the Gunners have continued on unabated the Reds have since been usurped by their Merseyside neighbours Everton for enormity and consistency of individuals.
Liverpool continue to scale heights they have not known for decades, bar that one season when Rafa Benitez’s overachievers came pretty close; but where several top performances were necessary for the team to do that in Luis Suarez’s forced leave at the start, they have all been like faceless extras supporting a one-man act since the Uruguayan returned to duty.
There is no better way to do a more comprehensive audit of an entire competition than to run through all its teams looking for their best performers, comparing them to the best from the rest, and then sieving those several picks for the crème de la crème; as in the past, this column will continue to do so at pre-determined intervals to keep tabs on a league that a great many of you profess is now a first love.
To refresh your memories, the very early season Premiership Eleven, in daring 3-4-3 inspired by adventurous young managers experimenting to great success, lined up thus. Simon Mignolet; Kolo Toure, Branislav Ivanovic, Leighton Bianes: Mathieu Flamini, Ramires, Yaya Toure, Mesut Ozil; Wayne Rooney, Olivier Giroud, Daniel Sturridge.
That team was to be coached by Southampton’s Mauriccio Pochettino, and even if I revert to a conventional 4-4-2 for the present Best Eleven, another young manager who has miraculously transformed the style and fortunes of a previously predictable outfit, Everton’s Roberto Martinez, takes over.
In goal for the new team is Newcastle’s Tim Krul, the outstanding Dutchman who has played a great part in the revival of the Magpies. Keepers have done well in the Premiership, but Krul has been generally better than Szczesny, Mignolet, Cech, De Gea and Man City’s Pantmillon.
At right back is Everton’s Seamus Coleman, so impressive that Arsene Wenger is making eyes at him, while at left back is Southampton’s Luke Shaw, the England U21 international who is destined to go places.
The central defensive slots are taken up by the towering, domineering, game reading master Per Metersacker who has helped Arsenal become solid at the back. He is joined by the tireless workaholic at the heart of Everton’s good tidings, Phil Jagielka.
Little surprise that the back four is dominated by players of Arsenal, Everton and Southampton, the three teams with the least conceded goals in the Premiership.
The midfield quartet brings together versatile and consistently top notch performers of the last few months, with Aaron Ramsey and Yaya Toure taking up the relatively deeper, central roles, and Mesut Ozil being joined by Eden Hazard in the more forward, roving, creative roles. You don’t have to go to Opta Stats to know that there have been plenty of tackles, interceptions, passes, dribbles, assists and goals between those four.
After having to mull over the choices for goalkeeper, back four and midfield, viewing and reviewing virtual shortlists over and over, it is a relief to get to a striking partnership that is self-picking.
It is not just the two have dominated the scoring charts and have twenty seven goals between them, it is also that they have been exceptional in leading the line, one a clinical finisher banging them in from all angles and the other a genius willing to carry the world on his shoulders and take it on a spectacular joy ride. Step forward Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez.
(4-4-2): Tim Krul (Newcastle); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Per Metersacker (Arsenal); Yaya Toure (Man City), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Sergio Aguero (Man City), Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Manager: Roberto Martinez (Everton)