Wednesday, January 2, 2008

ü75's EPL Team of the Half Season

Disclaimer-In no way are these picks representative of all of the writers. These are mine alone. The fact that they are correct should in no way influence your beliefs in who you like or don't like.
GK: Manuel Almunia. He stepped into the morass left by Jens Lehmann's messy start of the season and anchored a team on a surprising run. He has come a long way over the last two seasons in terms of technique and stature in the net.

DEF: Richard Dunne. This may be a personality pick, but I really enjoy the way he plays. Tough without being (too) dirty. Early in the season, he made Kasper Schmeichel look like the second coming. There have been some shockers in there, but his recent display against Liverpool shows he can still shut down a team's offense almost single-handedly.

Nemanja Vidic. A force in the air in both boxes. Along with Rio Ferdinand, he has made the central defense of Manchester United very secure. I rate him slightly higher simply because he seems more intimidating--it could be the skinhead, Romper Stomper look.

Martin Laursen. He's here not for his defending skills per se, but for his scoring skills. Aston Villa has scored more than half of their goals through set pieces this season, and 5 of those have gone to Laursen. He gets free in the box with ease. Doesn't excuse his shock miss yesterday, though.

Sol Campbell. Who needs wide players? Just stack the middle. Campbell's inclusion is also a sort of "comeback player" award. Arsenal wanted nothing to do with him a couple of years ago and let him walk. Portsmouth's defense has been resolute, giving up a maximum of 1 goal in 17 of 21 matches so far.

MID: Cristiano Ronaldo. Leads the EPL in scoring. Stopped diving every single time a defender is close. Still hasn't gotten rid of that face that makes it look like he smells his own farts. He is the most influential player in the EPL, no matter how much it pains me to type that.

Francesc Fabregas. One of these days, he is going to get into a scrap with someone who will crush his diminuitive frame. Before his injury against Sevilla, he was the best player on the pitch every game. Along with Adebayor, the reason Arsenal is top.

Steven Gerrard. Simply put, he provides for his squad. His England form may be horrible, but his Liverpool form is inspiring. In the 16 games he has played for more than a half, he has scored or assisted in 11 of them.

Martin Petrov. Second to Fabregas among midfielders in assists. Seemed to have a little trouble getting settled in England, but has responded favorably over the last few months. His stats suggest, though, that he is a streaky player when it come to providing, so he could easily fall off in the second half of the season.

FW: There are simply too many choices to reasonably cut down to two and feel good about it. Fuck it, I'm going for it.
Emanuel Adebayor. Yes. I pull for Arsenal. While Almunia's inclusion above could be seen as a Gooner pick, this one cannot. With Robin van Persie out for most of the season so far, Adebayor has spent most game playing the role of lone striker. The result? He is the league's second leading scorer and Arsenal's win talisman. When he scores, Arsenal do not lose. If Eduardo continues his form, Arsenal could score 95 goals this year.

Dimitar Berbatov. While Tevez and Robbie Keane could definitely fit in this slot, I'll give it to Berbatov as a going away present. He won't be there for the second half of the season, but his first half was pretty damn good. He's not just a sniper, either, as his 9 assists attest. I will be glad when he is gone (hopefully before the Carling Cup semis).

Other picks:
Best American: Clint Dempsey. Perhaps his playing up top at Fulham will allow him to do the same effectively at the national level. So far, he has not done well at the position for the NT.
Worst American: Marcus Hahnemann/Carlos Bocanegra. Hahnemann could be the reason Reading goes down. It's not that they are close now, but if he keeps letting balls go through his hands Scott Carson style, I don't see them having much of a chance. It's a shame, too, because he is by all accounts a swell guy. Bocanegra was handed the Fulham captaincy when McBride went down. Two months later, he was riding the bench. His form has been bad for two years, how much longer can he hold out?
The "What the hell did they do with the promotion money?" Award: Derby County. May easily set a futility record for the Premier League. Buys players that could help, then sits them on the deep bench. May give up 100 goals before it's all over. Bennie Feilhaber should have stayed at Hamburg.
Crowd show of emotion I miss already: Lusty booing of England NT members after their failure to qualify for Euro 2008. Those were a great couple of weeks of schaudenfreude, weren't they?


The Fan's Attic said...

I will challenge you to a spitwad fight, if you can honestly say you wouldn't trade Adebayor for Torres in a heartbeat. While Adebayor has a higher goal total, Torres has been the class of the strikers this season in the Premiership.

The NY Kid said...

I also get free in the box with ease.

Seeing so many Gooners on here makes me swell with pride. All of the picks are right on, although you're a stronger man than I for actually including Christine Ronaldo.

ü75 said...

I would say that Torres started too slowly to figure into my thoughts. He has definitely come on lately and scored some nice goals, but was absent in the first quarter of the season. Besides, as I'll steal from another blog (I can't remember which), it seems that every Adebayor goal has been a heartbreaker for the other team. Torres can be on an end of the year list, but he's not there yet.

I hope that some of you will post your "best of"s so we can bitch at each other.

Precious Roy said...

I'd go West Ham's Green over Almunia (this from a Gooner). He might be single-handledly keeping them mid-table or better.

And Bentley's got to be in that midfield someplace.

But hard to argue too much with the others (save maybe Adebayor or Torres, but that's kind of a push).

Lingering Bursitis said...

You forgot the part where you add Fernando Torres to this list and drop Berbatov.