After the announcement of the PFA's Premier League team of the year, Vincent Ralph looks at an alternative eleven who deserve plenty of praise.
Nothing starts a debate quite like the announcement of the PFA’s Premier League team of the year; and this year is no exception.
But the debates are for another day or at least another article.
Instead I want to look at the other team of the year; the eleven men for whom recognition of this season’s efforts will come mostly from within the confines of their club and its supporters.
And because the PFA’s side has been formed of players from the current top seven, my picks come from the 13 sides below them.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan
It could have been one of many – with Asmir Begovic and Simon Mignolet the most notable absentees – but for all Aston Villa’s problems this season the American ‘keeper has been one of their best performers.
Defenders: Matthew Lowton, Ashley Williams, Sebastian Bassong and Luke Shaw
Villa’s Lowton and Southampton’s Shaw have already been touted for big-money moves away from their current sides. But both would do well to remain where they are for now.
At just 17, Shaw is being hailed as the Saints’ latest prodigy, while Lowton has shone in the face of Villa’s relegation battle.
Old hands in comparison, Williams and Bassong have both been impressive this season at differing ends of the table. Having led Swansea to League Cup success and mid-table security with months to spare, Williams is being talked of as a possible defensive solution for both Arsenal and Liverpool.
While former Tottenham defender Bassong has been one of Norwich’s bright sparks in a campaign slipping to an anxious conclusion.
Midfielders: Claudio Yacob, James McCarthy and Andreas Weimann
Another player who has excelled in the face of a relegation fight, McCarthy is now being talked of as a possible target for Manchester United. For now he remains intent on saving the Latics from the drop. But should they lose the fight, the 22-year-old may suddenly become their most-wanted player.
Yacob’s debut season at the Hawthorns has been outstanding; so much so that it is staggering that many hadn’t heard of him before his summer move to West Brom. In what has been a quietly triumphant campaign for the Baggies, Yacob has been an integral part.
Weimann is the third of four Villa players in this team, and it says something that despite their struggles their players have given us some of the best individual performances of the season. Should Paul Lambert’s side survive this year, the young Austrian could be key to their long-term future.
Forwards: Michu, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke
What hasn’t already been written about these three? Michu, Benteke and Lukaku are the bargain, the surprise and the revelation of the season.
Still a teenager, Lukaku has arguably been the best of the lot – suggesting Chelsea’s best striker this season has been playing for someone else; while Michu and Benteke have almost single-handedly provided the fire-power for Swansea and Villa respectively.
It remains to be seen if they can replicate this season’s great form in future campaigns. But of all the players to miss out on the team and individual awards this season, these three strikers may have the most reason to feel aggrieved.
Do you agree with the choices? And if not, who do you think deserves recognition this season?
image: © little-pete