Soccer

Premier League's Best Players: Foster, Baines, Vidic, Terry, Nani

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We’ve had a couple weeks to mull over the season and let our biases rest aside. At this point, Power Rankings are pointless as the final table is the exact representation of how each team has played throughout the year. That is why I am bringing you my best players of the 2010-11 Barclays Premier League campaign.

Some people say that this could also be a Best Fantasy team, but you could just look at their numbers and go from there. I actually watch the games. Plus, I will tell you now that Dimitar Berbatov will not be found on these pages. He may have been tied for the Golden Boot (21 goals), but he also was benched numerous times, including not being listed in the team’s roster for the Champions League final.

I bring you, my real life, best XI roster with reserves included.

Starters

GK: Ben Foster, Birmingham
Now you know how intense this list is going to be. Birmingham may have been relegated, but Foster deserves a ton of credit. On a team that scored the least amount of goals in the league, Foster didn’t get much help yet still kept the team in plenty of games. While he did concede 55 goals, he also made the most saves. In fact, Foster was just six saves short of having as many as Petr Cech and Edwin Van der Sar combined. The man was battered week-in, week-out and survived a full season. Expect a contract to be in his future.

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LB: Leighton Baines, Everton
This one is pretty obvious. He scored five goals and recorded 11 assists, which are good numbers for a midfielder. On an Everton team that had trouble scoring most of the season, Baines came through in key situations. When a left-back gets the team’s awards for Player of the Season and Goal of the Season, you know he was doing something right. 

CB: Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United
He’s hard to like, but that’s one of the reasons he makes this list. United were a top defensive unit and only allowed 12 goals at home on their way to the title. That’s hard to do when you only have two defenders that play in the majority of games. Vidic had to deal with Rio Ferdinand missing half the season, yet still was able to bring consistency to the pitch. It’s not that easy playing with a different back line every other match.

CB: John Terry, Chelsea
Not many people will agree with this, but with a rollercoaster of a year in 2010 Terry managed to pull through and lead Chelsea to being tied for least amount of goals allowed. He had the most minutes in the Blues back line, and even found the back of the net three times. England hates him, but he still knows how to play.

RB: Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City
This may be far-fetched, but his numbers support it. Bacary Sagna will be most people’s top right back; too bad Arsenal’s defense wasn’t very good. Zabaleta only played in 1947 minutes, but he only gave up 13 goals (149.6 goals per minute). Sagna played 2969 minutes and allowed 39 goals (76.1 gls/min). While that stat isn’t everything and Zabaleta wasn’t healthy for a good portion of the season, City finished tied second for a reason. Their defense was one of the best in the league and Zabaleta played the most minutes of any of their defenders.

LM: Nani, Manchester United
Like I said about Vidic, United would have been in trouble without the help of Nani this season. Antonio Valencia broke his leg early in the season and someone was needed to fill his spot permanently. Nani did just that and more, scoring nine goals and helping with 18 assists. He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but as he matures, that should change.

CM: Charlie Adam, Blackpool
Without Adam, Blackpool would have been this year’s Portsmouth (finished with 19 points last season). Adam was everything for one of the most exciting relegated clubs, ever. He was all over the pitch, from defense to offense, finishing with 12 goals and nine assists. Blackpool may have been relegated, but Adam likely won’t be.

CM: Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool
Known more for his workmanlike attitude and presence on the field, Kuyt decided to change those perceptions in 2011. The Reds were struggling at the beginning of the season, playing in the bottom half of the table. The new year came around and Kuyt decided to take things upon himself. He finished with 10 goals and six assists (13 and eight total) in 2011, including a huge hat trick against Manchester United. He started slow, but his finish deserves a spot in this lineup.

RM: David Silva, Manchester City
He started off the season slow, very slow. Coming over from La Liga isn’t the easiest change to make though. Still, he battled through getting benched early on to become City’s best player almost every match later in the season, especially when Carlos Tevez was hurt down the stretch.  Silva had the wizardry and smarts to help City become a consistent threat up front.

F: Robin van Persie, Arsenal
In case you didn’t know, RVP’s first start didn’t come until Dec. 27 because of nagging injuries. That’s more than four months into the season. That means his 18 goals took only half a campaign to do. He scored more than one goal per 100 minutes, not even Berbatov or super sub Chicharito can say that.

F: Peter Odemwingie, West Brom
I could’ve put Tevez here, but in his first Premier League season (first with WBA as well), Odemwingie needs to be here. Without Odemwingie, West Brom would’ve been battling relegation all season. He finished with 15 goals and nine assists. No other forward on the club had more than three goals or one assist. Not only that, but he battled midseason fatigue to finish on a tear where he recorded a goal or assist in nine straight matches.

Reserves

GK: Joe Hart, Manchester City
Another dominant season in the Premier League should help him become England’s No. 1 choice for good.

D: Brede Hangeland, Fulham
A complete bulldozer. Forwards didn’t want to mess with him.

D: Gary Cahill, Bolton
Many teams want this center back. He kept Bolton going.

M: Rafael Van der Vaart, Tottenham
No, not Gareth Bale. VDV is the reason Spurs were a viable team, and the main source of their goals.

M: Charles N’Zogbia, Wigan
The reason Wigan was not relegated. He did a lot by himself.

F: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City
Probably could be in the first team, but the injury and rumor mill surrounding him hurt his value for me.

F: Darren Bent, Aston Villa
He finished with 17 goals, but more importantly saved Aston Villa’s season.

 

Adam Zdroik co-hosts RotoRadio: Soccer Edition on Sunday nights, which covers all things Fantasy in the English Premier League and also hosts FootiePhantomRadio which encompasses soccer anywhere in the World. He also provides analysis for other sports such as Football, Basketball and Baseball. You man email Adam directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ RotoZdroik