Mersey Beat: Ever-pool of Liver-ton It”s Merseyside”s team of the year
It”s an age-old debate, one which has been cogitated countless times: which players are good enough to get into a certain team
That argument has raged with great ferocity on Merseyside, as Reds and Blues have vociferously reasoned why a particular Liverpool player would slot into Everton”s team and vice-versa. But how would you go about selecting a team combining the two clubs
This is not an easy task and, inevitably, plenty of readers will disagree but here is the Mersey Beat team for 2011, with explanations why the selections have been made. Some choices were obvious, others perhaps less so.
Playing a 4-2-3-1 system we start off with…
IN GOAL: Pepe Reina
Liverpool”s No 1 felt he finished 2010 under a cloud but, having reaffirmed his commitment to Anfield, Reina’s form has been excellent through the past 12 months and he has shown why many considered him to be the best keeper in the Barclays Premier League.
Jumping for joy: Pepe Reina continues to prove himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, and even Europe
RIGHT-BACK: Glen Johnson
England have a number of top players in this particular position but when Johnson is on top form, he is a class above. Excellent defender and adds potency to the attack with his searing pace.
CENTRE-BACKS: Martin Skrtel and Phil Jagielka
There was a time when this might have actually been Everton’s central defensive pairing, as David Moyes was interested in buying Skrtel when he played for Zenit St Petersburg.
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The Slovakian has been enduringly consistent in 2011 and hit a rich vein of form recently. Jagielka could conceivably start Euro 2012 as England’s No 1 defender and he continues to improve.
LEFT-BACK: Leighton Baines
Though Jose Enrique has made an outstanding start to his Liverpool career, Baines is an easy choice for this spot. Provides a healthy number of assists with his terrific crosses, is quick, defends superbly and is potent with a dead ball. He is a complete package.
HOLDING MIDFIELD: Lucas and Marouane Fellaini
From scapegoat to star man, Lucas has become one of Liverpool’s most influential players and the reaction to his season-ending injury spoke volumes for the esteem in which he is held.
Fellaini has had his problems with fitness, too, but he started 2011 in outstanding form and looks primed to become a household name in 2012. Scores goals, can pass well and is teak-tough.
WIDE RIGHT: Maxi Rodriguez
The struggles he endured when first arriving at Anfield are now a distant memory and the elegantly simple way he plays is devastatingly effective. Has developed the happy knack of scoring important goals and finishes 2011 as the man with most hat-tricks on Merseyside.
Fulcrum: Leon Osman is the unsung star of Everton as an attacking threat
OFF THE STRIKER: Leon Osman
This may possibly be the most contentious selection but the reasons are valid. Osman is a skilful, intelligent player.
He might not command headlines but his manager and team-mates are well aware of his value to the team. Honest and committed, he has excelled in the past 12 months and his input has been crucial to helping Everton secure a number of points.
WIDE LEFT: Craig Bellamy
Kenny Dalglish pulled off a masterstroke bringing Bellamy back to Anfield on a free transfer and has been amply rewarded.
He makes things happen with his pace, skill and desire, pesters defenders to the point of distraction and looks revitalised. Along with Jose Enrique, has been the pick of Liverpool’s summer signings.
Better together: Both Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy have had the desired impact despite the disparity in transfer fee
STRIKER: Luis Suarez
Put to one side the controversies that have swirled around him for the past two months and, for a moment, concentrate on his ability.
Made an instantaneous impact, scoring on his debut against Stoke City, and never looked back. A special talent, he provided the most exciting moment of 2011 with a slaloming run past four bamboozled Manchester United defenders in March that defied gravity.
Might not be the most clinical finisher but he creates chances for others and any team in the country would like to have him.
So there you have it, Ever-pool or Liver-ton 2011. Slightly more Reds than Blues but It’s unlikely this team would struggle for goals and they would certainly keep them out. More of the same in 12 months’ time. Happy New Year.