The Premier League has just passed the quarter way mark, so it seems like is a good opportunity to take stock of the players who have impressed so far. I have not just gone for the marquee names that anyone would have picked, but have tried to find the players who are actually performing ahead of what was expected of them, often for the less glamorous sides in the league. I am painfully aware that I am basing this selection almost exclusively on Match of the Day highlights and Spurs games (although no Spurs players made the 11), so if I have grossly over complemented a player you know is terrible, I am sorry. This is just how I see it:
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (Manchester City)
One of the only England players to emerge from the World Cup with any credit – mainly because he didn’t play – Hart has been truly world class all season. From his incredible performance at Spurs on the opening day to the penalty save against Arsenal he has hardly put a foot wrong.
Right back: Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham City)
I remember a few years back when Ridgewell was a typical journeyman Premier League defender, but he has blossomed into a Premier League journeyman defender who pops up with a few goals! Plus, playing for in a Birmingham defence means he really can defend a bit as well.
Centre back: Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers)
Samba has very quickly transformed himself from a subject of ridicule to a very well respected player. His massive frame may look ridiculous, but there is no doubt he uses it well. He is also Blackburn’s biggest goal threat, although I think that says more about Blackburn than Samba.
Centre back: Gary Cahill (Bolton Wanderers)
A young, committed and talented English centre back. We are lucky to have a few of these ready to take over from Terry and Ferdinand, and I believe Cahill’s performances this year have placed him just ahead of Shawcross and Dawson in the pecking order.
Left back: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
I really, really dislike Ashley Cole. He personifies a lot of what is wrong with football at the moment. There is one problem with this however – he is a bloody brilliant footballer. He is a threat going forward, but his greatest attribute is his impeccable all round defensive play. Simply the best left back in the world. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…
Right wing: Matt Jarvis
Perhaps a slightly controversial selection, but this guy appears to be on fire this season. From the little I have seen of Wolves he is involved in everything good they do. Perhaps he should be getting a bit more credit for his showings.
Centre Midfield: Joey Barton (Newcastle United)
One of the few players in the League I dislike more than Ashley Cole, but you still have to admit he’s having a fantastic season. Playing in an attacking and exciting Newcastle team, and revelling in the role of pantomime villain away from home, Barton is in the form of his life.
Centre midfield: Samir Nasri (Arsenal)
Given my loyalty to the mighty Tottenham Hotspur this is a difficult decision for me to make, especially as Nasri has a face you would never get tired of punching. But I must put partisan feelings to one side and admit he seems to be blossoming into quite a player.
Left midfield: Chris Brunt (West Brom)
My impression of Brunt when he was in the Championship was that he tried hard, but could offer little more than that. In the Premier League he still tries bloody hard, but seems to be able to couple that with a good use of the ball and a handy few goals. He has been a major factor is West Brom’s fantastic start to the season.
Striker: Kevin Davies (Bolton Wanderers)
Fundamentally Davies is just a big lad, but he is a very effective big lad. He can hold the ball up and bring people into play brilliantly, and really seems to have risen to the challenge of captaincy. He still doesn’t score enough goals, but arguably offers the team so much else.
Striker: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
The shining light amongst City’s megastars, mainly because he is the only one who is actually playing well. With Tevez in the team City constantly look like they’re able to score a goal – even when they are playing 4 defensive midfielders. Without him they look lost.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Liverpool) – Liverpool’s best player this season. Says a lot.
Florent Malouda (Chelsea) – Genuinely excellent. Main reason he doesn’t start is my hatred of Chelsea.
Rafael Van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur) – What a signing. What a player.
Andy Carroll (Newcastle) – Hopeless off the pitch, brilliant on it.
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) – Wayne who?