Premier League Team Of The Season (So Far)

Goal.com's Alan Dawson rounds up the Premier League's form players and slots them into his Best XI of the season so far, with a Second XI waiting obligingly in the wings...
BEST XI

Formation: 4-3-3


Goalkeeper

Ross Turnbull (Middlesbrough)
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a public admirer of the work that Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is doing at Teeside, and this may have something to do with their comparable ethics and footballing creed. They are both shrewd spenders in the transfer markets, and hold an unswerving faith in their youth academies. Southgate though tends to keep it local. When Jonathan Woodgate was sold to Tottenham in 2007, many sneered and sniggered when a replacement was not recruited, but promoted from within. Yet David Wheater went on to enjoy a breakthrough year. In a similar vein Mark Schwarzer, a regular incumbent of the number on jersey at Riverside, switched 'Boro for Fulham in the summer just gone, yet Southgate entrusted promising Englishman Ross Turnbull to step up, and step up he has done. While Middlesbrough have shipped 29 goals this season, Turnbull still boasts an impressive shots to save ratio of 3 in 4, which betters the records of the Big Four glovesman: Petr Cech; Edwin Van der Sar; Pepe Reina; and Manuel Almunia. He has also been forced into making more saves than the aforementioned quadrant, and only Scott Carson has seen more action between the sticks. His shot-stopping has been impressive, together with the command of his area, and considering the lack of top-class competition, he could be a full international over the next few years.


Defence

Glen Johnson (Portsmouth)
With Gary Neville no longer getting as many games for club, let alone country, there is an opportunity for right sided defenders to stake a claim for the Three Lions' number 2 jersey. Johnson is a full back in the marauding role, and benefits from an attacking 5-3-2/ 3-5-2 formation, as well as the standard 4-4-2. He has been a nuisance down the flank, linking the defence with the attack, and has been storng in the challenge too. His wonder goal against Hull City in November was phenomenal. I mentioned this before, but if that is not up there for strike of the season in May then I'll change my name to Mary, insist people call me Miss Contrary, while baking biscuits for the rest of the team at Goal International.

Brede Hangeland (Fulham)
What a buy the American-born Norweigan captain is proving to be for Roy Hodgson and the Cottagers. Hodgson would have known about the tall defender from their brief stint together at Viking, and the decision to bring him to west London has seen the 27-year old's stock rise to the stratosphere. His understanding playing alongside Aaron Hughes was one of the key factors to Fulham's Premier League survival last season, and this term Hangeland began an impressive campaign by toe-poking a solitary winning goal at home against Arsenal, while also keeping a clean sheet. Fulham's defensive record while Hangeland plays in front of Schwarzer is enough to have any manager purring, and it is no wonder there are endless press stories linking him with a January exit.

Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)
The partnership he has with Nemanja Vidic is amongst the best in World football. His leadership skills have often been questioned but he marshals the United defence with ease and remains a threat from set play. In a Best XI he would provide a formidable partner to Brede. While Hangeland would dominant in the air, Ferdinand could sweep up and dribble the ball out of defence. United's defence is stronger whenever the Peckham-born England international starts, and he has featured in every single game for the domestic, European, and recently crowned World Champions this season. When Rio starts, United also have a 64 per cent chance of keeping a clean sheet.

Gael Clichy
(Arsenal)
Despite the odd hiccup, Gael is fast developing into one of the stand-out left backs in the league, despite heavy competition from former Gunner and current Chelsea full back Ashley Cole, and fellow Frenchman Patrice Evra. He has enough licence to roam forward, and in the opening games of the season, it seemed the partnership with Samir Nasri had been born from years of hard graft, not a few get-to-know-you training sessions. The link up during the West Bromwich Albion match was reminiscent of Ashley Cole and Robert Pires. When William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy, Clichy's name was put forth as a contender, which is testament to the esteem that the Frenchman is held in at the Emirates. He is a crowd favourite, and geniunely seems to hold Arsenal dear.


Midfield

Stephen Ireland (Manchester City)
Put quite simply, he is one of, if not the best, player of the season thus far. He has pushed on and stepped his game up a further notch this season by producing some scintillating pass-and-move football, providing his goal-scoring team-mates with some on-a-plate assists, and has even netted some memorable strikes of his own. Has surely done enough to convince both the management and the owners, that he does not need replacing with a mega-money alternative. Is finding the target with worrying regularity for his opposition, and is one strike - and one game - short of recording a one in three record for the season.

Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Lampard has been one of the most consistent Premier League performers of the past five years, and after signing a new contract so rich it makes the food at Chez Bruce seem bland, the intelligent midfielder even had the audacity to up his game even further this term. His passing range is impeccable. The frequency that he strikes the ball with the outside of the boot, over distance, with relentless accuracy, is something to be both admired, and publicly praised. His positional sense all over the pitch is wise. He plays best centrally, where he can disrupt and break up play, before beginning an attack either on his own and striking from range, or spreading play before penetrating the box himself. His left-footed chipped third minute goal against Hull City in October screamed 'World Class', and prompted a proud Luis Scolari to boast that it was the best goal he had seen. Should he maintain his current form, then there is no reason why he will not finish with a goal tally that bursts into the twenties.

Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
It could have been so different for Xabi Alonso, and indeed Liverpool should the summer speculation have come to fruition. If Gareth Barry had brokered his move from Villa to Liverpool, and if Alonso has transferred to either an Italian club or switched Merseyside for the capital, then the Midlanders may not have enjoyed as successful a season they are currently having, Liverpool too would not have been treated to the superior deep-lying playmaking abilities that the Spaniard has been offering, and even Arsenal may have been challenging from the off, as opposed to slumping down the ladder. A season isn't built on 'what if's' though, rather 'what is'. Liverpool became the first team in four years to go to Stamford Bridge and leave with a league win, and that was all down to Xabi Alonso's tenth minute goal.


Attack

Robinho (Manchester City)
There are many ways to introduce yourself to a new league. If there were two clubs locked down in a bidding war to secure your services than what better way to get the fans on your side than by scoring in your debut against the team who were odds on favourite for your signature? That is precisely the tonic that the samba star inflicted upon Chelsea when the Blues visited the City of Manchester Stadium with a sense of what could have been. Chelsea have been criticised for being too one-paced in the middle and forward areas, and Robinho would have been the ideal recruit. But instead he is out-performing in the north-west; scoring an incredible 12 goals in all competitions in no less and no more than 19 outings. He has licence to thrill at City, and it is a good job too, considering the flop status of club and country team-mate, Jo. Robinho relishes the supply he is receiving - notably from Ireland - and he is a menace from dead ball situations, too.

Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Perhaps the analogies to flair forwards such as Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were a touch premature, but the point Martin O'Neill was trying to drill home was clear. Ashley Young has the potential to be one of the country's, if not the world's, best performers. Many may sneer because he does not play for one of the country's glamour side, and it is true that he is yet to break into Fabio Capello's England eleven, but he provides a bigger threat from set play than Stewart Downing, has an eye for goal, and his ability to assist is second to only one: Francesc Fabregas, but even this season Young has excelled while Cesc has underwhelmed. His crossing and passing finds his team-mates with magneticism, and he can kill a game off all by himself... just ask Everton.

Nicolas Anelka
(Chelsea)
Anelka's integration at Chelsea can largely be compared to a foreign rookie. Despite the former Champions League winner's experience within the English league, it still took the Frenchman a six month period to get settled into life as a Blue. The back end of the 2007-08 season were largely uninspiring for Nic, but he has more than atoned for that form with a seemingly endless string of match-winning games. A half-way mark of 14 goals shows just why Didier Drogba had been consistently overlooked, until recently, and why Anelka was keeping hold of the lone striking role. The two he struck in Europe move his tally for the term up to 16, and there is a high probability that he will finish the campaign as the league's top scorer.


Turnbull
Johnson - Hangeland - Ferdinand - Clichy
LampardAlonso - Ireland
A Young                                 Robinho
  Anelka



SECOND XI

Formation: 4-3-3


Goalkeeper

Scott Carson (West Bromwich Albion)


Defence

Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea)

Michael Turner (Hull City)

Martin Laursen (Aston Villa)

Ashley Cole (Chelsea)


Midfield

John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Rory Delap (Stoke City)


Attack

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Antonio Valencia (Wigan Athletic)

Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)



Carson
Bosingwa - Laursen - Turner - Cole
Gerrard - Mikel - Delap
Valencia                             Ronaldo 
  Agbonlahor



Alan Dawson, Goal.com