|photo by (3)
With half of the BPL season now done and dusted, it's time to announce our editors' picks for the all-BPL starting XI. This may be a slightly unbalanced side with no pure wingers, but these guys are so good they may even give the all-Spanish FIFA XI a run for their money. Interestingly, only two sides (Manchester United and Everton) managed to get more than one player in the team, and Arsenal got no one at all:
o Goalkeeper: Asmir Begovic, Stoke City. The big Bosnian narrowly edges out Sunderland's Simon Mignolet for our pick in the nets. Ably assisted by his well organized defense, Begovic has been stingier than Scrooge in conceding opposition goals this season.
o Right Back: Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City. Not only is he a fine defender, but the Argentine shoots like a cannon and is capable of popping up on the scorer's sheet when you least expect him.
o Center Back: Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City. Shawcross just re-upped his contract with the Saints, and you can see why Tony Pulis and the Stoke fans love him: big and rangy, the Englishman has become one of the more complete center halfs in the League today. He's also a threat on set pieces in the opposition box.
o Center Back: Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Hotspur. He plays with such ease that it's easy to forget that this season is the Dutchman's first in the League. He's currently holding only the narrowest of advantages over Norwich's Sebastian Bassong in our minds, but if we were forced to pick between the two of them we'd take the Tottenham man.
o Left Back: Leighton Baines, Everton. The Fifth Beatle may have started the season slowly, but he's come on like the freight train force of his free kicks and penalities.
o Midfield: Michael Carrick, Manchester United. Criminally underated for much of the past few seasons, the Englishman's standard has been so high this season that he's impossible to ignore. Pinpoint passing was only one of the many outstanding facets of Carrick's play in 2012.
o Midfield: Michu, Swansea City. The Spaniard is the buy of the season, and he just can't seem to stop scoring. A wonderful addition to his team and the League, Michu's fine club form may even see him force his way into the Spanish national team -- and that's saying a lot.
o Midfield: Juan Mata, Chelsea. Is there a better deliverer of the ball than the diminutive Chelsea man? Swerving in dangerous free kicks from all over the pitch, and offering moments of sheer genius with the ball at his feet, the Spaniard is the centerpiece of the Blues' prolific attack.
o Midfield: Maroaune Fellaini, Everton. He may look like Harpo Marx, but he plays like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The lanky Belgian plays much tougher than he looks, muscling his way through opposition defenses, and had added a significant number of goals to his repertoire this season.
o Forward: Luis Suarez, Liverpool. He may not be our personal cup of tea, but imagine where Liverpool would be without their antagonistic Uruguayan. He's scoring goals by the bucketload this season, having finally figured out tthere are no points awarded for hitting the post.
o Forward: Robin Van Persie, Manchester United. The Dutchman appears to be at the peak of his majestic powers, and his football has gained a new maturity over the past couple of seasons. Deadly off of either foot, RVP is the BPL's current top gun.
This is farlieonfootie for January 11.