Terrace View – Premier League Review, Best XI So Far – By Billie Marshall

As the Premier League reaches its halfway stage, the shape of the season seems to have been defined and The Sporting week has a look at those who have achieved so far.

To the sides struggling to remain in the division, or the sides preparing for a title run in. Despite last season being a memorable one, this season has been intriguing in its own rights and predicting any outcomes remain as unpredictable as ever.

With the thrills and spills of the transfer market, to the merry go round of managerial positions, the Premier League remains one of, if not, the best league in the world.

In this, we will be reviewing the team of the season so far, and explaining why they deserve a place.

Goalkeeper

Simon Mignolet – Sunderland

Mignolet has without doubt been a bright spark it a relatively dull Sunderland campaign thus far. A String of strong displays has firmly cemented the Belgian’s place  as the number one at the Black Cats.

Despite Sunderland being in fourteenth place, and not far from the potential relegation ‘dog fight’, Mignolet’s performances this season has given them hope to improve for the second half of the season.

Right-Back

Glen Johnson – Liverpool

Similar to the position of Goalkeeper, Liverpool have had an indifferent start to the Premier League season. With a new manager, new philosophies and reduced expectations, times are changing on Merseyside. However, in Glen Johnson, they have a player Rodgers seems to be getting the best out of.

Criticised for his defensive incapability’s, Johnson has been allowed to push further up the field this season, and it has seen him put in some brilliant displays for the reds. With three assists and a goal to his name already, Johnson seems to be reveling in the Rodgers way.

Centre-Back 

Ryan Shawcross – Stoke City

It is no surprise that a Stoke City player is included in the defence. Tony Pulis has Stoke recognised and a well drilled outfit, who are extremely hard to beat, especially at the Britannia stadium.

Shawcross has been a part of a back four which has seen only 20 goals conceded in the league so far, a total bettered only by Chelsea and Manchester City. Stoke receive plenty of criticism for the way they play, but there is no denying its effective, and has served Pulis well in his time in charge.

Centre-Back

Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea

The Serbian has shown his versatility this season, with rotation between the RB and CB positions. Despite this, Ivanovic looks equally settled in these positions and since the injury to captain John Terry, has filled a much needed gap in the heart of Chelsea’s defence. Strong in the air and good on the ground, Ivanovic has won many plaudits with his displays this season.

Left-Back

Leighton Baines – Everton

There is only one man who deserves the Left-Back position, and this man is Leighton Baines. A key part of the improving Everton side, he is vital in terms of both defence and attack for the Toffees.

Baines has become somewhat of a set-piece specialist in recent times and with his three goals and four assists already this season, is an integral part for Everton, and maybe even England.

Adding to the fact, he is the player to create the most chances in the Premier League so far, Baines was a sure pick.

Central-Midfield

Marouane Fellaini – Everton

The second member of Everton to be included in the 11, and another vital player to what David Moyes is trying to achieve. His performances have caught the eye of many top sides this season, with rumoured interest from the Manchester clubs and Chelsea.

Playing in a more advanced position, Fellaini already has eight goals to his name, his best tally in the Premier League as we only enter January. Tough tackling and an aerial threat, Fellaini has now added the art of goal scoring and has proven to be a fantastic all round player to have.

Central-Midfield

Santi Cazorla – Arsenal

The Spaniard has been a revelation at the Gunners since his £16million move from Malaga. Seven goals in 19 games, and 47 chances created for his team mates this season, four of which were assists, Cazorla has proved an instant hit.

A relatively big money signing for Arsene Wenger has helped relax some sections of Arsenal fans after the sale of star striker Robin Van Persie in the summer.

Attacking-Midfield

Michu – Swansea

Arguably the signing of the season, Michu joined for just 2 million pounds from financially troubled Spanish side Rayo Vallecano in the summer, and has repaid the faith shown in him from manager Michael Laudrup. Starting the season as an attacking midfielder, before being played further up the field, Michu has 13 premier league goals, and is challenging for the Golden Boot award come the end of the season. His versatility and all round game just add to the impressive goal scoring record of the Spaniard.

Right-Wing

Luis Suarez – Liverpool

At times this season, Liverpool have been a one man team. Luis Suarez, renowned for his controversial antics and continued saga’s, has this season added goals to his game, and shown maturity in a side that has lacked any attacking support for Suarez.

15 Premier League goals, and third most creative player in the Premier League, Suarez has achieved a consistency and is now a massive player for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.

Had Liverpool not had Suarez’s goals, they would currently sit in eighteenth place in the Premier League.

Left-Wing

Juan Mata – Chelsea

The little Spaniard has become an integral part of Rafael Benitez’s new Chelsea Side. His passing, movement and creativity has at times won games for Chelsea on his own. With six assists and seven goals to his name at the half way stage, Chelsea have a player who seems to be coming into his prime.

Central-Striker

Robin Van Persie – Manchester United

This pick is pretty self explanatory. The Premier Leagues top goal scorer last season, is yet again topping the charts with 16 goals, and despite the switch of teams, Van Persie is still delivering the goods for new club Manchester United.

His new found partnership with Wayne Rooney has guided United to a seven point gap over their City rivals and made them top scorers in the Premier League by an incredible 13 goals already.

Roberto Mancini recently stated the title could be decided because of Robin Van Persie’s arrival at Manchester United and not City.

Manager

Steve Clarke – West Bromwich Albion

In his first managerial job, following many spells as a coach, Steve Clarke has proved a massive success. Seventh place in the Premier League at Christmas has saw an improvement from their tenth place finish in the previous season.

Despite a recent drop in form, West Brom have been the surprise package in the Premier League so far, given their budget and expectations at the start of the season Steve Clarke seems to be doing a fine job with the Baggies.

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