Premier League Team of the Year 2013-14

Jonas

 

Like this, but good, here’s my alternative team of the year. It’s inevitably worse, less witty and more tiresome than yours, but I don’t care.

 

Goalkeeper – Heurelho Gomes

It takes some effort to go from being first choice for your club and a squad mainstay for your country to playing back-up to a 42-year-old back-up keeper and losing out to Toronto’s number one on the international stage. Many would have struggled to pull it off, but Gomes has that never-say-die attitude needed to keep Richard Wright out of the starting XI.

 

Right-back – Ryan Taylor

“But Ryan Taylor left Newcastle ages ago, he’s probably retired, or playing in MLS or something. Actually it’s probably Australia. There’s a Newcastle there too, right? He can’t still be in the Premier League, right?” Wrong. He’s still there despite injuries restricting him to three games in the last two seasons, which itself is probably more than you’d thought he’d played. See, this is educational.

 

Centre-back – Garry Monk

A few weeks ago, when Ryan Giggs took over as Manchester United player-manager, people wracked their brains to try and think of the last person to fill that role at a Premier League club. Either they didn’t realise that Monk was still registered as a player for Swansea, or they didn’t care. Probably the latter in fairness.

 

Centre-back – Antolín Alcaraz

It takes a special kind of defender to see his teammates overachieving and deciding “I’ll do something about that”. Step forward Antolín Alcaraz. Clearly distraught by his contribution to Wigan’s survival in 2012, the Paraguayan sought to redress the balance by sabotaging new club Everton’s pursuit of Champions League football.

 

Left-back – Florian Marange

Sometimes when you join a new club you expect it to take a while to be given a game. However you probably rarely expect your new manager to make you ineligible for Premier League games. When Ian Holloway can’t even think of a woodland animal analogy when criticising you, you know it’s bad. Thankfully things have improved in the new year, as Marange has realised his name is an anagram of ‘Granola Fireman’.

 

Central midfield – Abou Diaby

Forget that meaningless Koscielny and Mertesacker stat, Arsenal have a 100% record this season in games where Abou Diaby has been named in the matchday squad. If he’d been fit the whole season then they’d have 111 points – you can’t argue with cold hard numbers like that.

 

Central midfield – Jonas Gutiérrez

He might have only made five league appearances this season, but the man’s Twitter game puts sees him lock down a midfield berth. A mesmerising blend of dog photos, Bon Jovi lyrics and so much more, El Galgo puts us all to shame.

 

Right midfield – Sylvain Marveaux (captain)

Not going to lie, I’ve only included him here so I can use the line ‘Captain Marveaux’.

 

Left midfield – Iago Aspas

Just look at him. The focus. The precision. The drive. And then this.

 

Striker – Jordan Bowery

Apparently a real person, with skin and bones and Premier League appearances and everything. He’s yet to live up to the illustrious career of his father, who scored one goal in a prolific 10-game spell for Team Hawaii in the 70s (this is actually true).

 

Striker – Moussa Dembélé

When we look back on Fulham’s season, we will remember two things: The first is Rene Meulensteen’s attempt at a Schrödingeresque teamsheet against Manchester United (I’m at least 70% sure Muamer Tanković isn’t real, or at the very least he’s part of an inside joke shared by only Meulensteen, Chris Morris and the Stonecutters).

Second is Martin Jol’s decision to pre-empt his sacking by calling upon Football Manager regens as early as November. In much the same way that Swansea tried to trick their fans into thinking Jordi Gómez hadn’t left by signing Jordi López, Jol fasttracked Dembélé into the first team despite him being nine years younger than his recently departed namesake, not to mention a different nationality and a different position. Did it work? See for yourself.

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Premier League Round-Up 14/12/10

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool , Premier League 28/11/2010 Heurelho Gomes of Tottenham celebrates his sides win 2-1 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom
Manchester United opened up an ominous-looking three-point gap at the top of the table, after they beat Arsenal and Chelsea could only draw at Tottenham.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side could develop a real gap between themselves and the chasing pack with victory at Stamford Bridge next week, and have a game in hand against Blackpool to boot.

Park Ji-Sung’s first-half header was enough to see off the challenge of Arsenal, who failed to hit their stride on a pitch described by Arsene Wenger as ‘very poor.’

Meanwhile, at White Hart Lane it looked as though hosts Spurs would be made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as Didier Drogba’s shot beat Heurelho Gomes and the Brazilian keeper then felled Ramires in stoppage time to give away a penalty.

But Gomes made his name stopping spot-kicks, as Lyon found out to their chagrin in the 2005 Champions League, and he stopped Drogba’s effort to keep Tottenham in touch with the top four.

The fixture list provided a great opportunity for Manchester City to put themselves forward as genuine title contenders, and with their rivals facing off against each other Roberto Mancini’s side ended the weekend in third place.

Their lofty position comes courtesy of a comfortable 3-1 win at West Ham, with Yaya Toure continuing to slowly prove his worth in the North-West.

West Ham, meanwhile, remain bottom after that defeat and manager Avram Grant must surely feel his time is nearly up.

If the Hammers are to replace Grant, one man who might come in is Sam Allardyce. The Blackburn manager was the latest victim of a shock sacking as the club’s Indian owners felt defeat against 10-man Bolton was one loss too many.

Owen Coyle’s Trotters continue to hold their own in the top six, with the team making light of Mark Davies’ dismissal to see off their opponents 2-1.

Fabrice Muamba and Stuart Holden scored the goals, either side of a Mame Biram Diouf effort, to leave Coyle’s side five points and seven places ahead of their managerless victims.

Speaking of managerial changes, this week’s incumbent of the St James’ Park hot seat – Alan Pardew – earned himself a stay of execution (only joking) with victory over Liverpool in his first game as Newcastle manager.

Joey Barton almost managed not to rise to fairly blatant Liverpool attempts to wind him up, and actually let his football do the talking, while Andy Carroll’s clinching goal in the 3-1 win will be the kind of thing he falls back on in a few years when his career inevitably goes the way of former North-East darling Michael Bridges.

Aston Villa/West Bromwich Albion Premiership 11.12.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International Gerard Houllier manager Aston Villa during the game Photo via Newscom

Another boss who remains under pressure – if reports are to be believed – is Aston Villa’s Gerard Houllier, and that will make his side’s victory over West Brom on Saturday all the more important.

The 2-1 triumph came courtesy of goals from Stewart Downing and Emile Heskey, while Paul Scharner’s consolation did little apart from costing me a handful of fantasy league points.

Albion’s Black Country rivals Wolves secured a priceless victory in the second Midlands derby of the weekend, with Stephen Hunt’s second goal in black and gold (the black and gold of Wolves, that is, rather than the black and gold of previous club Hull) enough to see off a painfully disappointing Birmingham outfit.

The only other goal of the weekend came at the Britannia Stadium, where Blackpool continued to confound their doubters with victory over Stoke.

DJ Campbell was the hero for Ian Holloway’s Seasiders, as he has been many times in the past, although the visitors had the woodwork to thank for keeping out Stoke on multiple occasions.

Few could have predicted ‘Pool sitting four points ahead of Everton at this stage in the campaign, but that is exactly where they are after the Toffees failed to break the deadlock at home to Wigan.

David Moyes side missed the creative energy of Mikel Arteta, and fans will hope American international Landon Donovan returns in January for a second loan spell after impressing last season.

The final game of the week was played at Craven Cottage, and involved Fulham and Sunderland.

That’s about as much as I can tell you: I was at the game, and nothing actually happened over the course of the 90 minutes. The ‘highlight’ (if it can be called that) was Ahmed Elmohamady curling into a foetal position after a football-in-the-groin moment which puts Hans Moleman to shame.

Team of the week (4-2-3-1) Foster (Birmingham); Ricketts (Bolton), Vidic (Man Utd), Cuellar (Aston Villa), Ward (Wolves); Yaya Toure (Man City), Barton (Newcastle); Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Vaughan (Blackpool), Holden (Bolton); Campbell (Blackpool)