My team of the season so far… and why I've picked more Stoke players than from City, Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal!
11:47 GMT, 31 December 2012
Sportsmail's dream teams
Click below to read:
Neil Ashton's London 2012 team
Martin Keown's Arsenal/Spurs XI
Dominic King's Mersey stars of 2012
It's never easy picking these teams – and I'm sure you'll tell me where I'm going wrong!
How can I possibly leave out the exciting and entertaining Santi Cazorla or the powerful and productive Marouane Fellaini Both would get into most teams, but I would argue I have better players and I need to have some balance too.
Joe Hart is, in my opinion, the best goalkeeper in the world, but he has not been in the best form – and nor has Manchester United's David De Gea. Stoke have been defensively excellent and their goalkeeper, who may well move to a bigger club soon, has been very good. And so has their captain, Ryan Shawcross.
You're out: Sorry Santi, sorry Marouane… there's just no room in my team for you two!
And here's how it breaks down, team-by-team…
Stoke – 2 players
Manchester United – 2 players
Swansea – 2 players
Manchester City – 1 player
Everton – 1 player
Chelsea – 1 player
Liverpool – 1 player
Spurs – 1 player
If you had told me at the start of
the season, I would be picking a half-term team with more Stoke players
than Manchester City, Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal, I would have asked for
the smelling salts.
Swansea too have two players, as do Manchester United.
There are no Arsenal players in my XI. No Wayne Rooney. No Sergio Aguero, or David Silva.
But my team has goals: Michu in midfield, Bale, Suarez and Robin van Persie in attacking positions and Michael Carrick to supply the passes.
I have two attacking full-backs, including the excellent Leighton Baines. Imagine Baines, Bale and Mata lining up for a free-kick.
So here's my line-up (4-3-3) …
Asmir Begovic (Stoke)
Pablo Zabaleta (Man
Ashley Williams (Swansea)
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke)
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Just try and get past this fab four: (clockwise from top left) Zabaleta, Williams, Baines, Shawcross
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
Passed it: Michael Carrick
Goal threat: Michu
Spain in the neck: Juan Mata
Gareth Bale (Spurs)
Robin van Persie (Man United)
Fearsome: Bale, Suarez and Van Persie would form a mouthwatering forward line in my dream team