Having seen the Match of the Day team of the season, I have decided to construct my own top-11 Premier League side of the 2012/13 campaign.
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland)
The Sunderland stopper has been the stand out performer for the Black Cats. His team-mates may have struggled but the Belgian No. 1 enhanced his reputation with a string of fine performances and was crowned the North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year.
Having kept 11 clean sheets and made and average of 2.48 saves per goal, the 25-year-old is one of the main reasons for his side’s Premier League survival.
Rafael (Manchester United)
Since Gary Neville’s retirement in 2011, Manchester United have searched for a right-back replacement without much success. That is, until this season.
Criticized for lacking defensively in the past, the 22-year-old has shored up this aspect of his game, while adding an extra dimension to the United attack when going forward with well-timed overlapping runs and some typical Brazilian flair.
With 28 appearances, Rafael da Silva looks to have firmly entrenched himself at Old Trafford’s new number 2.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Jan Vertonghen has been a great success since his summer move to White Hart Lane, and even before his goalscoring exploits saw him win the April Player of the Month award, his performances were noteworthy for his defensive work.
Only 3 players made a higher combined total of tackles and interceptions than Vertonghen (204) whilst he also made a gigantic 296 clearances; markedly more than any other player from a team who finished in the top 5.
Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Jagielka has been outstanding every time I’ve seen him play this season, most notably in Everton’s goal-less draws versus Arsenal and Liverpool.
Always solid and dependable, the Englishman has kept 10 clean sheets this season as he has captained Everton to a well-deserved 6th place finish.
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Baines performs week in, week out for the Toffees. His biggest attribute is his ability going forward – highlighted by the fact that he set up more chances than any other player not only in the Premier League, but the whole of Europe, this season. Eight goals is also more than a respectable return for a full-back.
The Englishman has surpassed Ashley Cole in many people’s opinions. There’s a real clamour for him to become England’s number one left back.
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s players’ and fans’ Player of the Year Juan Mata deserves every accolade going for a truly stellar season.
The mercurial Spaniard has been comfortably Chelsea’s best player. He’s found the net 12 times and created numerous opportunities for team-mates with his silky skills and eye for a pass.
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Carrick has been fantastic for United this season and his performances were rewarded as Sir Alex Ferguson gave him the captaincy for his final match as manager, against West Brom.
This campaign he has been the team’s unsung hero in the centre of midfield. He has created 37 chances in total for the Red Devils and boasts an Average pass accuracy of 88%.
His range of passing has never been in doubt but his ability to snuff out opposition attacks has been just as crucial to the champions’ success.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Like Spanish compatriot Juan Mata at Chelsea, Santi Cazorla has been a delight to watch in action this season. The former Malaga man arrived at the Emirates along with Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, and has proved to be an instant hit with the Arsenal fans.
The midfield wizard has a silky-smooth touch on the ball and eagle-eyed vision to match it, weighing in with 13 assists as he dictates the pace of the Arsenal attack in every game. Cazorla appears to have forged a solid partnership with Mikel Arteta in the middle of the park, and is capable of putting chances away, as evidenced by his 12 goals – only one behind club top-scorer Walcott.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Bale’s inclusion in any ‘2012/13 team of the season’ cannot be questioned. The Football Writers’ Player of the Year, the PFA Player of the Year and the players’ Young Player of the Year. That says it all. He has had a phenomenal season, lighting up the Premier League stage with some brilliant performances.
Gareth Bale’s late strike against Sunderland took his goal tally to 21 for the season—a truly incredible feat for a midfielder.
He’s moved from left wing to right wing to the No. 10 position in an attempt to evade double- or triple-marking and established himself as one of the best players, if not the best, in the English Premier League.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Like him or dislike him, love him or hate him, Luis Suarez is a fantastic player who’s enjoyed a sensational season.
His campaign was cut short, but he still managed to scored 23 goals and lay on five assists—second only to Robin van Persie in the chase for the Golden Boot.
Robin Van Persie (Manchester United)
The Premier League’s top scorer has been rightly credited as the key to United’s title success. The Dutchman’s 26 goals ensured Sir Alex Ferguson went out in suitably high fashion.
Van Persie’s threat in and around the area is second to none. The talismanic forward clearly is the striker that the club were lacking last season, and deserves all the plaudits he gets.