Review of the Year 2010

Premier League Team of Year

December 24, 2010
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Joe Hart - Birmingham City/Manchester City.

• ESPNsoccernet Awards
• ESPNsoccernet staff's picks

Joe Hart is now City's number one
GettyImagesJoe Hart is now City's number one

Loaned out to Birmingham City at the start of 2009-10, Hart has excelled for three teams in 2010: Birmingham, Manchester City and now England. Hart's inspired performances between the sticks helped Blues finish ninth in their first season back in the top flight which secured his place in England's squad at the World Cup finals. A perceived lack of experience cost Hart a chance to play after Robert Green's gaffe against the United States, with David James preferred. But post-World Cup Hart was immediately installed as Capello's first-choice goalkeeper. Hart's elevation was complete in August when he ousted Shay Given as Manchester City's number one, and only Sunderland have kept more clean sheets that City this season.

Branislav Ivanovic - Chelsea.

Choosing a right-back from the Premier League who has excelled throughout the Premier League season has provided slim pickings, with Ivanovic the best of a largely average list of contenders. Ivanovic's versatility in being able to play on the right and in the centre adds another string to his bow. It seems natural that the defence of the team which won the Double, also with the best Premier League defensive record this season and second-best last term, has two players to make up the back four.

Nemanja Vidic - Manchester United.

Without doubt one of the most solid and dependable centre-backs in the Premier League, Vidic continues to lead by example despite persistent and seemingly unfounded rumours about his happiness in Manchester - which should have been ended by his new contract. United boasted the best defence in the Premier League last season, with only Manchester City and Chelsea conceding fewer this term. Vidic has also started this term in good goalscoring form, netting three times. Manchester United may have won nothing more that the Carling Cup last season, but Vidic's form was worth more.

Gary Cahill - Bolton.

The selection of Bolton Wanderers defender Cahill may be controversial for some, but he has been consistent throughout the year - leading to transfer links with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Bolton have attempted to ward off his suitors by slapping an £17.5 million transfer price tag on the former Aston Villa defender, but it seems certain he is destined for bigger things. Bolton sit seventh in the table this season with a good defensive record, and finished well clear of the drop zone last term. Cahill has also weighed in with six goals this year.

Ashley Cole - Chelsea.

Cole missed two months at the start of the year through injured but returned in April for the final four games of the season. Chelsea did not concede a single goal in confirming their position as champions. Cole also found a new dimension to his play in the attacking third, scoring twice in the run-in and providing four assists. Despite England's shocking performance at the World Cup finals, Cole was one of few to return home from South Africa with his reputation intact - while possible left-back rival Patrice Evra returned in disgrace following his central role in the French squad's 'strike' prior to their final game against the hosts.

Nani - Manchester United.

Nani
GettyImagesNani has turned into a matchwinner

A player who had previously promised so much finally came of age in 2010, looking like he could emulate Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of his influence on the Man United team. With eight assists so far this season he has the most in the Premier League along with West Brom's Chris Brunt and Andrei Arshavin of Arsenal, and he has also scored five goals. No longer a one-trick pony, he now seems to have come on leaps and bounds in terms of making the right decision when on the ball. He might have missed the World Cup with a shoulder injury, but United seem to have benefitted from his summer of rest.

Samir Nasri - Arsenal.

Once seen as an injury-prone player rather than a star attraction, he can now be billed as a genuine goalscorer with quick feet, sharp thinking on the ball and the ability to be a matchwinner. His record of eight goals from 14 games this term is the kind of goals-to-game ratio Frank Lampard has regularly enjoyed, and now this France international - who was remarkably left out of his country's World Cup squad - seems indispensable alongside Cesc Fabregas in the Arsenal midfield. Long since dubbed the 'new Zinedine Zidane', Nasri could be ready to fulfil that bold claim.

Scott Parker - West Ham United.

If it wasn't for Scott Parker, then West Ham would surely have been relegated last season. His powerful, determined and industrious performances at the heart of the Hammers' midfield kept them driving on when others would have thrown in the towel. West Ham may be bottom at Christmas this year, but you feel their position could have been much worse without Parker. He has scored a quarter of their goals this term, despite being ostensibly a defensive midfielder, and also grabbed a vital late winner in the 3-2 defeat of Wigan at the end of last season.

Gareth Bale - Tottenham.

The transformation of the former Southampton left-back from a useless, misfit defender into a marauding left-winger is now complete. While claims of him being "the best left-sided player in the world" are a little premature, there is no doubt that his pace and delivery put fear into most defences in England and Europe - and that includes European and world champions Inter Milan - mainly Brazilian full-back Maicon - who simply could not live with him. With eight Premier League goals this year and six assists his influence is growing. Spurs' greatest challenge now may be keeping hold of a player who is now a prize asset.

Carlos Tevez - Man City.

Despiie Tevez's constant moaning about an alleged desire to retire from football altogether he has remained - on the pitch at least - nothing less than a fully committed, terrier of a forward for City this year. Only Dimitar Berbatov has scored more goals than Tevez (10) this season, though eight of the Bulgarian's 11 goals have come in just two fixtures, so it could be said that Tevez has been more important and consistent across the season. His 14 goals in the second half of 2010 make him the most potent striker of the year. City would have lost their most talismanic player if his wish to leave had been granted, and his decision to stay undoubtedly increases their hopes of success.

Didier Drogba - Chelsea.

Drogba may have gone through a dry patch of late with the effects of malaria, but he's still managed to contribute seven goals and six assists. Add that to the 15 he scored in the first half of 2010 - despite missing a month due to the African Cup of Nations - as well as five assists and it underlines his importance to the Premier League champions. He also scored what proved to be the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth. His powerful performances have been too much to handle for many defences. Despite the fact he will turn 33 in March, fully-fit he remains the best striker in England.

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Paul Robinson - Blackburn.

Paul Robinson: Still behind Joe Hart
GettyImagesPaul Robinson: Still behind Joe Hart

Rovers kept 13 clean sheets last season - only six clubs fared better - which was the best return of any English goalkeeper. But he chose to rebuff an England return in August and instead quit the international game. England's loss continues to be Rovers' gain.

Liam Ridgewell - Birmingham City.

With six goals this season, Ridgewell has shown his aptitude both in attack and defence. Another former Aston Villa player who has flourished away from Villa Park, Ridgewell has been a great signing and has picked up only six yellow cards in the past two seasons.

Alex - Chelsea.

The Brazilian may have at one stage been considered as nothing but a back-up player for Chelsea, but he played the vast majority of Chelsea's games as they did the Double last season. He may be solid but there remains a lack of finesse about his play.

Florent Malouda - Chelsea.

Unfortunately for Malouda there is Gareth Bale standing in his way for a place in the Team of the Year. While Malouda has been excellent, Bale just edges it was you take into account the level of improvement. With 16 Premier League goals in 2010 he has been one of the top-performing midfielders.

Matthew Etherington - Stoke.

He may not be a stellar name like some on this list, but his form for Stoke has been as important for the Potters as others have been for the big clubs. He scored six goals and also produced seven assists, leading to calls for a chance with the England squad.

Darren Bent - Sunderland.

Simply one of the most consistent goalscorers in terms of goals-per-game, Bent was a certainly for a place somewhere within this squad. He has scored seven goals so far this season to go with the 11 he netted in the second half of last season.

Dimitar Berbatov - Man United.

Berbatov's failure to be a truly consistent scorer harms his claims for a place in the first team, with eight of his 11 goals this term coming in just two games. That means he has scored only three goals in the other 11 games. His tally for the year is 17 goals.

  • ESPNsoccernet staff's picks

    John Brewin: Van Der Sar; Sagna, Vidic, Dawson, Ashley Cole; Nani, Nasri, Scholes, Bale, Malouda; Tevez. Subs: Hart, Bramble, Parker, Etherington, Wilshere, Carroll

    Jon Carter: Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Vidic, Ashley Cole; Nasri, Lampard, Parker, Bale; Bent, Tevez. Subs: Reina, Roger Johnson, Baines, Milner, Nani, Gerrard, Drogba.

    Dom Raynor: Hart; Ivanovic, Dawson, Evra; Nani, Lampard, Parker, Malouda; Tevez, Drogba, Bent. Subs: Van der Sar, Vidic, Bale, Fletcher, Modric, Fabregas, Carroll

    Tom Adams: Hart; Ivanovic, Vidic, Alex, Bale; Fabregas, Modric Nani, Nasri, Malouda; Tevez. Subs: Van der Sar, Hangeland, Ashley Cole, Parker, Adam Johnson, Drogba, Van der Vaart

    Robin Hackett: Van der Sar; Sagna, Vermaelen, Vidic, Ashley Cole; Adam Johnson, Nasri, Parker, Bale, Milner; Tevez. Subs: Hart, Alex, De Jong, Fabregas, Modric, Malouda, Defoe

    Mark Lomas: Hart; Vidic, Alex, Kompany; Nani, Fletcher, Parker, Bale, Cahill; Tevez, Drogba Subs: Van der Sar, Roger Johnson, Ashley Cole, Etherington, Fabregas, Malouda, Bent