My selection for the Team of the Premier League Season so far:
Goal Keeper: Wayne Hennessey, Wolves
The usual keepers that people have tended to plump for are Michel Vorm at Swansea and Newcastle’s Tim Krul. Both these keepers have been excellent this year but part of the reason why they have been getting quite so much praise is due to the fact that both their teams are vastly exceeding expectations whilst Wolves were always expected to struggle and are doing just that. This does not change the fact that Hennessey has been consistently outstanding, proving himself to be a key part of Wolves bid for survival. A great shot stopper, comfortable on the ball and confident from crosses. His performance at the Emirates was one of the best individual performances of the season.
Right Back: Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur
A breakthrough season for the young right back, who has emerged as a key component of Harry Redknapp's entertaining title challengers. As quick as they come the right back forms one half of the paciest right hand sides in the league in tandem with Aaron Lennon. Many would expect such an attacking and fearless full back to be found out defensively but that has simply not happened. Equally unlike many defenders when in attacking positions, rarely does his final ball let him down with Walker providing assists and goals this year. His long range strike which won the north London derby will live long in Tottenham fans' memories.
Centre Back: Vincent Kompany, Manchester City
Impossible not to include the Manchester City skipper; a dominant presence in the air, an excellent reader of the game and quick enough to cover for any rare mistakes he does make and as good on the ball as many midfielders. The captain provides an air of assurance and security that disappears in his absence as was witnessed during his recent suspension. The way he dealt with the aerial threat of Andy Carrol was impressive and he and his back line managed to keep Robin Van Persie as quiet as any this season which is an achievement in itself.
Centre Back: Daniel Agger, Liverpool
Although Liverpool have had their problems this season, defensively they have been fairly solid and much of this is down to Agger. The major problem with the Dane was never his ability on the pitch but being able to get him onto one consistently such was his troubles with injury. His fitness worries seem to be behind him and he has started 19 league games this term. His partnership with Martin Skrtel has forced Jamie Carragher into semi-retirement and it is no coincidence that Skrtel has performed far more now that Agger is consistently beside him. There use to be concerns over how Agger dealt with physical strikers (Drogba often gave him a torrid time in his early years at Anfield) but that problem is no longer an issue and with Skrtel alongside him they have an effective partnership of strength and pace.
Left Back: Neil Taylor, Swansea
An unexpected choice for some, but there is not exactly a stock of outstanding left backs in the divison. Assou Ekotto at Tottenham is solid but unspectacular, both Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole have been inconsistent. Swansea have been one of the best teams to watch this season and Taylor has been a key component of much of their enterprising attacking play. In Brendon Rogers' system his full backs are vital as both Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer often come inside so the full backs are essential in providing width as well as creating space for the wingers to come inside. Equally Swansea's desire to play out from the back often results in the full backs receiving the ball in difficult situations and yet Taylor and Angel Rangel consistently show for the ball and rarely concede possession. Swansea's equaliser this weekend is an excellent example of his role in the team, with Scott Sinclair cutting inside and Taylor overlapping to provide the assist.
Midfield: Leon Britton, Swansea
Another key member of the Swansea success story, Britton as the linchpin of Swansea's play with practically everything going through him has some of the best passing statistics anywhere in Europe. This alone is impressive enough but coupled with the success of the Swans this year with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all outpassed and outplayed at the Liberty Stadium with Britton central in all that is good with the south Wales outfit. His ability to find pockets of space anywhere on the field is essential to the way in which Brendan Rogers wants to retain possession and the way in which Britton and Joe Allen work together in midfield is a joy to watch.
Midfield: Luka Modric, Tottenham
How important will Daniel Levy's refusal to deal with Chelsea over the Croatian prove in both Tottenham and Chelsea's seasons? Whilst Andre-Villas Boas' side struggle for consistency and control in midfield, Modric leads Tottenham's title challenge into its final straight. The spurs fans who booed Modric at the start of the season must feel a little bit foolish given how well the Croatian has settled down to his task once it emerged that he was not going to be granted the transfer he so desired. With Scott Parker along side him and Bale and Lennon on the wings, Modric is the pivot on which Tottenham's play is founded. His ability to slide the ball in behind defenders for Tottenham's rapid wingers is central to spurs' attacking philosophy. The fact that Tottenham are rarely out passed and out muscled in midfield despite lining up with just 2 central midfielders, whilst most teams play with 3 is a testament of the quality and control that Modric inspires in Tottenham.
Midfield: Yaya Toure
As mentioned in a previous article on this site, Toure is critical to Manchester City and when he returns to Manchester from the African Cup Nations if he can return to the form he was in before he departed it will stand City in good stead going into the championship run in. Playing in a more withdrawn role this season compared to last, Toure plays in more of a double pivot with Gareth Barry but such is City's dominance in most games, he is still able to get forward and still has a healthy goal return. Equally his ability to run from deep with and without the ball has often been crucial for City. See his run for to win a penalty against Liverpool for an example of the Ivorian's power and skill.
Forward: David Silva, Manchester City
The presumptive favorite for footballer of the year, and despite a slight dip in performances lately City without the man from the Canary Isles are far less menacing proposition. With 9 assists he leads the way in the premier league and Mancini will be praying that the Spaniard can be muster one last effort to get city over the line. Although the presence of Samir Nasri has been sighted as a limiting factor in the gifted Silva's effectiveness, if Mancini can get all his forwards fit it is uncertain if the Frenchman even starts with James Milner emerging more and more as an integral part of the premier league leaders. Like Modric, Silva has banished all those who suggested he was too lightweight and in Sergio Aguero he has found a perfect foil and some of the interplay between the two is spellbinding.
Forward: Robin van Persie, Arsenal
Not much that needs to be said really. 22 goals in the league already this season, more than Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov last seasons golden boot winners managed in the whole of last seasons campaign. The Dutchmen has evolved into a complete centre forward and this is best shown by the sheer range of his goals. Headers, free kicks, tap ins, left and right foot Arsenals number 10 has scored them all. His movement is simply brilliant and this was illustrated by his hat trick at home to Blackburn over the Weekend. Despite regularly being the only Arsenal player in the penalty area the ex Feyenoord man always seems to find space. Sergio Aguero was very close to making this list but the fact that so few of the Argentine's goals have come away from Etihad coupled with the fact that Van Persie has continued to score at such a rate in a team enduring one its poorest season in living memory just edge it for the Arsenal captain. His volley against Everton will be remembered as one of the moments of the season and showed just how invaluable Van the man is to Arsenal.
Forward: Gareth Bale, Tottenham
Notable mentions to Nathan Dyer, Nani and Juan Mata but the Welsh winger has simply too much going in his favor. Having found both the consistency and the fitness that eluded him last season where he was fortunate to win the PFA player of the year, Bale has spearheaded a season that will undoubtedly see Tottenham return to Europe's top table, potentially as English champions. Bale has added goals and assists to his electric wing play and a notable effort has been made to make him more effective coming in off the left flank. Goals against Norwich and Manchester City are the best examples to the threat that Bale offers when he comes inside. The fact that Emmanuel Adebayor now leads the line for Spurs gives Bale a real target when he does get round the outside of his full back as inevitably Adebayor looks to play with the width of the goal posts as was demonstrated by his goal in the 1-1 draw against Chelsea at White Hart Lane over Christmas. Simply put on his day, there are few players in the league who can rival Bale for sheer excitement when the Welshman is in full flow.