I thought I’d try to come up with one of these before you’re inundated with them. You know the drill – one player per team, Scott Parker as captain, unfunny just-invented nicknames – the usual. Oh, and I’ve decided to go with the 3-5-1-1 formation that Wigan used against Man Utd. Because I can.
Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm – Swansea City
As a newly promoted team you don’t need your goalkeeper to perform better than most in the league (see R. Carroll, West Ham United 2005-06), but it certainly helps. With Supervorm behind them an already stingy defence got even stingier and at least 20% cooler. They may have got more lax in recent weeks but the Dutchman has already got thousands wondering how no one noticed him before, and not just in an Alan Shearer not noticing Hatem Ben Arfa kind of way.
Centre-back: Martin Skrtel – Liverpool
A brick shithouse in the Marco Materazzi mould, Teenage Mutant Ninja Skrtel has defied vowels and logic to emerge as the stand-out performer in an otherwise hilarious Liverpool season. Both by chipping in with important goals and by scaring the living shit out of team-mates and opponents alike, the Slovakian has forced Kenny Dalglish’s side to work harder than ever before to embarrass themselves.
Centre-back: Vincent Kompany – Manchester City
Dominant in the air, classy on the ground, possessor of a wonderfully spherical head – Vincent Kompany has it all. Based on Richard Ashcroft’s performances in his absence, it seems safe to say Manchester City’s title challenge would have already fizzled out long enough ago to make ‘The most important match in the history of everything’ (© Sky Sports) irrelevant. A dead cert for the captaincy if I didn’t worship at the altar of Scott Parker.
Centre-back: Jonny ‘fucking’ Evans – Manchester United
Convinced that his comedy value was running dry, and living in fear of a transfer to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland (where Manchester United players go to die), Evans has been good this season. Really good. Many feared the worst when the extent of Nemanja Vidic’s injury was revealed, but the man from Northern Ireland has – along with the paucity of much of the Premier League – helped put Manchester United in prime position to stumble over the finish line.
Right midfield: James James Morrison Morrison (West Bromwich Albion)
A.A. Milne’s favourite footballer has spent much of his career flattering to deceive, even living in the shadow of Stewart Downing for a brief period of time (somewhere I’m sure you’ll agree no one wants to be). However this year he’s done more than just shoot from impossible positions and hilariously kick the shit out of Cristiano Ronaldo. A six-point-five-out-of-ten footballer in a six-out-of-ten Albion side, his inclusion goes to show what a terrible season this has been.
Central midfield: Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur) – captain
Guaranteed his spot in the team by haircut alone, the kid from those McDonalds World Cup adverts has made the step up from mediocrity to a top four challenging side with ease, proving that it wasn’t just the media’s West Ham bias that earned him plaudits last season despite playing in one of the worst midfields in the history of football. He’s still doing those poncey little turns, but we can forgive him for that. Plus, according to some, he’s a war hero.
Central midfield: Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)
The immature child who could never learn has finally learned, and it only took several painful years (you know, apart from that whole vandalism thing – that was probably Bendtner’s idea though*). After spending the early part of the season hacking and scowling like a drop-kicked puppy, the king of high shorts has turned into the commanding midfielder Alex Smith always said he could be. When you bear in mind he’s still only 24 there’s still time for us to look back at the young eejit and laugh.
* or not, whichever stops me getting sued
Central midfield: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)
Last season Yohan Cabaye won Ligue 1 with Lille while Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan finished mid-table in the Premier League. Hindsight is one thing, but the Frenchman was quite clearly a better footballer than those two anyway, the only mystery being why the fuck he chose Newcastle. A few more defense-splitting passes and long-range stunners and Geordies might start naming their kids after him like in Purely Belter.
Left midfield: Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City)
At first glance Pilkington comes across as a luxury player that an all-hands-on-deck promoted club can’t afford to have in their team, but far from just being a ‘Match of the Day player’ the youngster has pulled his weight for a manager who seems to know how to get the best out of him. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about him to justify any sort of witty or snide comment, so this is all you’re getting. Be grateful.
In the hole: Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
Deuce has scored 22 goals this season for Fulham. 22. For Fulham. Not bad for a player who shares his nickname with a bodily function (yes, it’s a poo joke – don’t worry we’re nearly at the end). This season under Martin Jol Fulham have been a delight to watch, and not even in a patronising way, and Dempsey has been a big part of that in allowing the surly Dutchman to play more wingers than should be reasonably possible.
Striker: Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
The best player in the league this season, his feats are made even more impressive by the fact that Arsenal’s performances for much of the season have been at best embarrassing and at worst Wolves-esque. Providing Holland get out of a disgustingly tough group, the prospect of facing them in Euro 2012 looks absolutely terrifying.
Petr Cech (Chelsea) – Plastic club: check, Plastic fans: check, Plastic flags: check, Plastic head: Cech. Back to near his best since that incident with Stephen H*nt.
Sam Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers) – Purely here by virtue of not being Paul Robinson, which is surely enough. Also managed to amaze even himself by borrowing Philipp Lahm’s body for 45 minutes against Wolves.
James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic) – So good he cloned himself without anyone noticing, the Scottish Irishman has proved that ‘Hamilton’s finest’ doesn’t always count as damning with faint praise.
Alejandro Faurlin (Queens Park Rangers) – He might only move in slow motion, but the Argentine’s injury will likely send QPR down. It’s already forced us to look at Shaun Derry more than anyone would want.
Steven Fletcher (Wolves) – Proving why he was once a target for Real Madrid (not really – no one can explain that), he has hit double figures in back-to-back seasons in one of the least inspiring teams of the last decade. Which is more than enough for inclusion here.
Yakubu (Blackburn Rovers) – Feed the Yak and he will eat. Ever wondered what happened to Myles Anderson? All I’m saying is Yakubu’s packed lunch comes in a different box to that of everyone else.
Nikica Jelavic (Everton) – Part young Robin Williams, part Stilyan Petrov’s evil twin, not good enough for the Championship and unnaturally good for Everton to the point that the fans are waiting to find out what the catch is.