Month: January 2016

English Premier League Halfway Point XI

The first 20 games of the EPL are over, and therefore the league is more than half way done. From the top to the bottom of the league, players have impressed and shone, and here the best of the best are brought to attention.

Goalkeeper- Petr Cech, Arsenal

Arsenal’s defence has never been the most consistent in the world, but Petr Cech has been reliable and often spectacular when called upon for the Gunners. David de Gea and Heurelho Gomes of Manchester United and Watford are also worth some shouts, but for now Petr Cech just edges it.

Right Back- Hector Bellerin, Arsenal

The second Arsenal player on the list, Hector Bellerin has been spectacular since the start of the Premier League season. He’s incredibly quick, gets to the byline with consistency, and his defensive game is improving by the week. Nathaniel Clyne has also been very good so far this season.

Centre Back- Chris Smalling, Manchester United

Chris Smalling is doing an amazing job for Manchester United. The centre-back pairing of Daley Blind and Smalling himself has been the most effective in the Premier League, and Louis van Gaal has created a fantastic defensive balance.

Centre Back- Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

The outstanding centre back of this year’s English Premier Leaguel, Toby Alderweireld has built on his promising season with Southampton last year to go full out with Tottenham. His passing range is excellent, he’s solid in the tackle and he can feed the strikers and midfielders for goals, too.

Left Back- Nacho Monreal, Arsenal

Table toppers Arsenal have really dominated the Premier League thus far, and Nacho Monreal has no doubt been one of their best players. He’s developed into a complete defender and, alongside Luke Shaw and Cesar Azpilicueta, one of the best left backs in the Premier League in recent times.

Central Midfield- Ross Barkley, Everton

This midfield unit is not a great example of a defensively balanced midfield, but nevertheless, Ross Barkley has been so good, he warrants a selection over most midfielders so far. Barkley is scoring goals, racking up assists and has struck up a great partnership with Romelu Lukaku.

Central Midfield- N’Golo Kante, Leicester City

The top midfielder this season is Leicester’s N’Golo Kante, and by quite some distance too. His physical attributes offer the best combination of pace and power to feed Leicester’s counter attacking system. He’s been everything we expect from Yaya Toure and more this season.

Attacking Midfield- Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

Riyad Mahrez has arguably been THE best player in the Premier League so far this season, cutting in from the right wing with great effect for Leicester. 13 goals and 7 assists in 20 games, some of which Mahrez missed, is a nearly unrivalled tally across the Premier League.

Attacking Midfield- Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

Mesut Ozil has been one of the best players in the Premier League so far this season, racking up 16 assists and 4 goals to take Arsenal to the top of the league. The all-time record for assists, set by Thierry Henry, is 20 in a Premier League season, and Ozil has 16 at the half way point. He looks ready to smash more than just one record while trying to take Arsenal to the title.

Striker- Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

Jamie Vardy broke the record for most consecutive matches in which he scored an English Premier League goal. He’s currently tied at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, and along with Mahrez and Kante he’s been carrying Leicester into the title race. Leicester has dried up with the goals as of late, and his conversion rates are far lower than others, but he has done more than enough to edge Odion Ighalo for the second striker spot in this list.

Striker- Romelu Lukaku, Everton

Romelu Lukaku is the outstanding striker in the Premier League this season. His powerful running and hold up play in the air and in the ground, has been superb all season, and his 15 goals and 5 assists is very, very good as well. Expect some big clubs to be hunting after Lukaku in January and July.

Disagree with any of my selections? Let me know your opinions in the comments or on Twitter @aaronm830_blog

Advertisements

Predictions for European Football in 2016

Football was an up and down sport as usual in 2015, with results, upsets, and interesting scores. Of course, football is known around Europe as the unpredictable sport, but I’m going to attempt to predict football in 2016 anyways.

La Liga 2015/16
Winner: Barcelona
Top 4: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Villareal
Top Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo
Top Assister: Neymar
Player of the Season: Neymar

With Lionel Messi having been injured for a while, Barcelona managed to find a new leader in Neymar, as his goals and assists have carried Barcelona to the La Liga title. Cristiano Ronaldo will score the most goals in the league, and Villareal will seal the coveted 4th place in the league.

Ligue 1 2015/16
Winner: PSG
Top 3: Monaco, Lyon
Top Scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Top Assister: Angel di Maria
Player of the Season: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 1st in goalscoring and 2nd in assisting going into the 2nd half of the English Premier League season. Ibrahimovic’s goals, along with help from Angel di Maria will help extend PSG’s lead further than the current 19 points. Monaco and Lyon will push their way into 2nd and 3rd as they edge ahead of the close pack behind Paris.

Bundesliga 2015/16
Winner: Bayern Munich
Top 4: Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Wolfsburg
Top Scorer: Robert Lewandowski
Top Assister: Douglas Costa
Player of the Season: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Bayern Munich will retain the Bundesliga title once again, and Robert Lewandowski will maintain his place at the top of the league. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 18 goals and 4 assists so far should project to a spot as the player of the year.

Serie A 2015/16
Winner: Juventus
Top 3: Inter Milan, Napoli
Top Scorer: Gonzalo Higuain
Top Assister: Marek Hamsik
Player of the Season: Gonzalo Higuain

Napoli will attack their way into the last Champions League spot in Serie A, while Juventus will fully recover to take the league. Inter Milan still has an impeccable defensive record, and they’ll rally to second in the league.

English Premier League 2015/16
Winner: Manchester City
Top 4: Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur
Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku
Top Assister: Mesut Ozil
Player of the Season: Mesut Ozil

Arsenal will, once again, fall just short of the requirements to win the English Premier League, and Manchester City will take the crown almost by default. Romelu Lukaku will score the most goals in the Premier League and finally deliver on his promise, while Mesut Ozil will win player of the year after breaking the assist record.

UEFA Champions League 2015/16
Winner: Bayern Munich
Finalist: Barcelona
Top Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Bayern Munich will deny Barcelona the chance to repeat their Champions League in a dramatic final. Cristiano Ronaldo already has an insane amount of goals in the Champions League and will be hard to catch up.

UEFA Awards and Accolades 2015/16
Golden Boot: Cristiano Ronaldo

Once again, Cristiano Ronaldo should get to 38 goals and be the top scorer in European football, and he will wrap up the list of European accolades for 2016. To conclude, expect another fantastic year for Bayern Munich and Cristiano Ronaldo, a heartbreaking denial for Barcelona and a very interesting ending to the English Premier League.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronm830_blog