Premier League Team of the Year: An Alternative View
By Dan Brett (@DanBrett90)
This year's offering for the PFA's Premier League Team of the Year has been announced for 2014-15 and, on review, I'm not too convinced on the eleven professionals named among the line-up.
The official XI, as picked by the Professional Footballers' Association, has named Manchester United's David De Gea as the league's best goalkeeper, following up with Chelsea's defensive trio of Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Southampton's Ryan Bertrand occupying defence.
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho are joined by another two of Jose Mourinho's side – Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard – in midfield while Diego Costa and Tottenham's Harry Kane complete the star-studded line-up.
Many questions have been asked about this year's choice for the Premier League's top performers (granted, a hard task to name just eleven), with omissions of Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas and notably only one Saints defender from a club who have conceded just 21 goals this term.
Therefore, I've drawn up my own list of top flight stars who, in my opinion, should have constructed this year's gong-worthy footballers:
The Belgian has excelled at Stamford Bridge and had big boots to fill after returning from three years at Atletico Madrid to dislodge Petr Cech as Chelsea's first-choice 'keeper.
Courtois has made 29 league appearances for Jose Mourinho's men this season and put in a number of fantastic performances to help his side's rise to the top of the league.
I don't think there's a better, more consistent right back in the Premier League than Ivanovic. The 31-year-old has played every match of Chelsea's campaign and, with four goals and four assists, he's played his part towards the Blues' run for the title.
Bombing forward when he can, Ivanovic always looks a threat to his left-back counterparts and his physicality always makes him a dangerous prospect in the box. Has looked comfortable alongside Terry and Cahill.
He's had his controversies over the years – and there's no getting away from the fact that I wouldn't trust him with a tenner, let alone anything else – but on the pitch, he's the kind of player you want to have around.
For me, he should be England's first-choice defender but that's a headache for Roy Hodgson to have. The Chelsea skipper has played a major role in maintaining top spot on Mourinho's England return.
Largely an understudy to Terry but you can see that they're cut from the same mould and, with every match, Cahill is learning from his captain. With a pass success rate of 86.5%, he's also the ball-playing kind of defender that can help turn defence into attack.
The 25-year-old's first season at West Ham has proved fruitful after notching two goals and four assists for Sam Allardyce's side. An attacking player, plucked from Ipswich, he has continued his development at Upton Park, notably for his set-pieces and crossing ability.
Arsenal have a habit of relying on just one big-name acquisition to light up their season and bring silverware. It's a huge mantle for any incoming player but the former Barcelona winger has taken taken to the challenge with aplomb.
Guiding the Gunners to an FA Cup final in his first season, league life has proved fruitful for the Chilean after notching 14 goals and 8 assists in just 30 appearances and has shown he can use his flair and creativity to pick locks in opposition defences and move Arsenal a step closer towards challenging for titles.
His move to Chelsea from boyhood club Barcelona raised plenty of eyebrows – mainly from those wondering why Arsene Wenger hadn't opted to bring him back to the Emirates – and Gunners fans won't have liked seeing Fabregas' first season back in the Premier League.
Linking effectively with Diego Costa, the Spanish midfielder has occupied a number of roles for Mourinho's side, both defensively and with chance creation, hitting home three goals and making a whopping 16 assists for his title-chasing teammates. A surprise omission from the official Team of the Year.
If it wasn't for Fabregas and Hazard, I dread to think where Chelsea would have finished this season. The Belgian's pace, trickery and inventive nature has been talismanic this campaign.
Absorb-and-counter has been order of the day by the Blues this season which has played directly into Hazard's hands as, peeling off the left wing, he's scored 13 and created eight goals with a pass success rate of 87% - and an opposition defence frustration rate of 110%.
With these awards, it's always important to award on individual merit rather than just team performance or league standings. I've been immensly impressed by the Scottish winger this season and despite Burnley occupying a lowly relegation place, great promise can be taken from Arfield's campaign.
Bombing forward, looking to create chances for his teammates and himself and always looking a threat on the ball, Arfield will be a hot prospect for many in the summer transfer window – and could be a bargain should Burnley drop out of the top flight.
There's always one true English success story and this season's Price Charming is Kane. The striker has emerged onto the domestic and international stage in style and equalled Gary Lineker's 30-goal haul in all competitions for the first time since 1992.
At just 21, there will be plenty of suitors in the summer as Mauricio Pochettino continues to receive plaudits for bringing through English talent. A confident youngster, down to earth and hungry for success, Spurs could have a gem on their hands for years to come.
It's been a tough year for Manchester City but Aguero has continued to show why he's one of the world's top strikers. The Argentine has notched 20 goals so far this season and continues to look a threat despite pressure on Manuel Pellegrini, as well as some of his City team-mates.
I look at the above selections and realise that there are many worthy candidates – Harry Mason and Eric Dier from Spurs, Jose Fonte from Southampton, Manchester United's Chris Smalling (considering his growth after Vidic and Ferdinand exits) and Arsenal's Francis Coquelin have all had great campaigns.
If anything, the true winner is the Premier League – certainly a bright future as the competition's global popularity is matched by the weekly on-pitch offerings.