By Chris Wright
No unnecessary spiel, no waffle, no flim-flam, let’s just get straight down to brass tacks of the matter at hand – presenting: Pies’ Premier League Team of the Season for 2011/12…
GK – David De Gea, Man Utd: De Gea, along with Joe Hart, possesses one of the top two shots-to-saves ratio in the Premier League this year, despite enduring a ropey old start to life at Old Trafford and all the merciless haranguing that goes with it (the gag being that he wasn’t taking the criticism well, opting to punch it out for a corner instead).
Truth be told, both De Gea and Hart have been brilliant for large swathes for the two top sides, with the latter arguably being the more consistent over the course of the full campaign – but it’s the narrative of De Gea’s season that gets him the nod.
Missing out: Tim Krul, Michel Vorm, Wojciech Szczesny.
DF – Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle: Once regarded as little more than a cartoon character for his haplessly slapstick defending, he may well look like he plays synth in a Devon-based Scorpions tribute band, but Captain Colo has been a brick wall of rock solid metal at the back for the Toon this season.
DF – Martin Skrtel, Liverpool: ‘Skirts’ (as we’re sure absolutely no-one calls him) has formed a formidable partnership with Daniel Agger this season, providing the toil and bite while the slightly daintier Dane mopped up the detritus. Liverpool deflated forlornly during the last 18 matches of their season, though Skrtel’s marauding form hasn’t noticeably waned. The man’s a curtain of iron.
DF – Vincent Kompany, Man City: A calm, gargantuan presence in the heart of City’s back-four for the past two years now, Kompany is one of the few centre-halves that any side in the world would gladly employ without so much as a second thought. City have a real commodity on their hands in Vinnie, and they know it.
DF – Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal: Another player who had to tough out a bit of a shonky start to his career in England and the accompanying barrage of criticism, the spindly French defender has arguably been Arsenal’s second best player this season.
Missing out: John Heitinga, Kyle Walker, Leighton Baines, Micah Richards, Jonny Evans.
MF – Michael Carrick, Man Utd: Narrowly pipping Mikel Arteta. Granted, he can go missing on the odd occasion, but that’s the nature of the subtle art he peddles. Fade in/out. You hand the distribution mantle to Phil Jones (against Basel) and look what happens. Chaos.
He’s never going to be spectacular but that’s not the point. There is a place in English football for his line of refined, ‘pick and choose’ conservative wafting whether the baying oiks in the terraces want to see it or not. He’ll be derided by the hoi poloi until he retires for not barreling around, frothing manically and kicking lumps out of everybody à la Roy Keane, but Carrick has been largely excellent in possession this season – with an impressively high tackle rate to boot.
Frankly, we don’t care if you disagree – we love him.
MF – Yaya Toure, Man City: The big man that puts in the big shifts when they’re bloody well needed. Toure’s the size of a wardrobe and as nimble as a housefly when it suits. Has the attributes to best opponents in every capacity. You try to rough him up a bit; he flattens you. You try and beat him for pace; he leaves you standing, etc, etc. When they’ve really needed something doing, City have relied on him more than almost anyone else both this season and the last.
MF – Clint Dempsey, Fulham: His fourth season in West London has quite easily been his most productive – sticking away a record 17 Premier League goals for Fulham from (very advanced) midfield, a total which is somewhere approaching miraculous. Okay, maybe not miraculous, but pretty darn tootin’ impressive. Will this summer see Dempsey up-sticks, move on and try his hand at one of the bigger fishes? We’d have a groat or two on it.
Narrowly missing out: Juan Mata, Ramires, Mikel Arteta, Gareth Bale, Alexander Song, Antonio Valencia.
FW – David Silva, Man City: Silva has been in semi-hibernation since approximately the point at which the clocks went forward, but for the several months before and roughly four games since April the dinky Spaniard has had Pies making awkward sexy noises during Match of the Day – the pass for Dzeko against Manchester United *uurghh*, the rolled gold he put on a plate for James Milner against Blackburn *aaaah* – and for that, we thank him.
FW – Wayne Rooney, Man Utd: Same old same old from Rooney. Another 27 goals and no-one bats an eyelid.
FW – Robin van Persie, Arsenal: 30 goals, several of them truly beautiful, 11 assists, manful displays, etc, etc, etc. No real explanation needed. He’s done quite well this year has our Robin.
Narrowly missing out: Emmanuel Adebayor, Sergio Aguero, Yakubu, Stephane Sessegnon, Grant Holt, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba.
Right. That’s our ‘Team of the Season’ for 2011/12, fancy letting us have a butcher’s at yours?