As the year 2013 drew to a close and the Premier League entered the business end of another season, a lot of people will reflect on a period that has seen huge change in England’s top flight. We saw the end of Sir Alex Fergsuon and the incoming of David Moyes to Old Trafford and a Manchester United team that is in transition.
We have seen the return of Jose Mourinho but a Chelsea team that have struggled to make an impact at times. Possibly the league’s best player, Gareth Bale, left to join Real Madrid in a world record fee and we have seen Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero in scintillating form. It has been a year of change and this here is a look at the team of the calendar year 2013 in the Premier League.
Goalkeeper - David de Gea
After a shaky start to his career at Old Trafford, de Gea has really grown into an excellent goalkeeper over the last year. He went through a few tough times at the beginning and was even dropped on numerous occasions but he is now the undisputed first choice and provides a reliable last line of defence. He is beginning to justify the big transfer fee that he commanded and now David Moyes will hope that the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid won’t come looking for his signature.
Right Back - Pablo Zabaleta
It was a very close call between Zabaleta and Seamus Coleman. Coleman’s progress has been excellent in 2013 and he is now one of the best right-back’s in the league. Two other Everton defenders means a balance should be found and therefore the ultra-consistent Zabaleta gets in. He is another player that has improved a lot in 2013 and is now an integral part of the City side. He is very competent in both attack and defence and is probably the best player in this position in the league at the moment.
Centre Back - Per Mertasacker
Simialr to de Gea at Manchester United he had a slow start to his Arsenal career but he has developed an excellent partnership with Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence and this has been the foundation of their good form. Their attacking play has been excellent but until they visited the Ethihad stadium their defensive record had been excellent. He has been a very good leader of the team and he can also make a nuisance of himself at set plays. He has had a very good year in 2013.
Centre Back - Phil Jagielka
He has been the leader of the one of the best defences in the league this year and fully justifies inclusion. He has also received recognition at national level where he is now a first team regular with England. He has been excellent for Everton since moving to Goodison Park from Sheffield United and continues to improve. He has formed an outstanding defensive unit and their defensive record will be vital if they are to maintain their push for Champions League football.
Left Back - Leighton Baines
Baines has maintained his excellent form and even though an injury finished his year early he was still the best left-back in the league over the last year. His form supposedly has him very high on Man Utd’s radar and it will be interesting to see if he will move in January. His form has also moved him closer to starting for England and any player that can force his way into a team ahead of Ashley Cole must be doing something right. His delivery and creativity is excellent and he also carries a goal scoring threat.
Midfield - Adam Lallana
Southampton have been outstanding in the Premier League since their return and very few players have been better than Lallana. He is the captain of the side and is now being touted as a potential member of England’s World Cup squad. He has a lot of good attributes and has been key to Southampton’s improvement. Many people feared for them when Nigel Adkins was sacked but their fortunes have improved and players like Lallana have played a vital role.
Midfield - Aaron Ramsey
Along with Luis Suarez he has been the player of the season so far. His development has been phenomenal this year as he now looks like the complete midfield player. He looks to have all the demons of his horrific leg injury put behind him and he now looks like fulfilling the potential that saw a bidding war commence between the Premiership’s biggest clubs a few years ago. He has been very creative, scored plenty of goals and he has also grafted very well in midfield. He is one of the first names on Arsenal’s team sheet every week.
Midfield - Yaya Toure
He wasn’t at his best last season but his start to this season has been excellent. It’s very little coincidence to me that a return to form of Toure and Sergio Aguero has helped to turn around Man City’s fortunes. He is a world class midfielder. He is very athletic and technically is also very good. He has now added free-kicks to his growing list of talents. At his best there are very few better central midfielders in the league and he has been back to his best for a large part of 2013.
Midfield - Gareth Bale
Even though he no longer takes to the field in the Premiership, there were very few if any better players than Bale in the calendar year of 2013. Andre Villas Boas losing his job may even show just how vital Bale was to Spurs last season. His match winning goals almost got Spurs into the ‘top 4’ but they missed out on the final day despite another Bale wonder goal. The size of the transfer fee, while it may have been way too high for some people, does show just how impressive he was. He is now the most expensive player in the world and has fitted in well at one of the world’s biggest clubs.
Striker - Luis Suarez
Despite missing ten games for another act of ill-discipline all anybody can do is applaud what Suarez has done on his return. He has been phenomenal. His return of goals and assists has been on a par with the very best and let’s hope he remains in the Premier League. He made his desire to leave very public during the summer, and his availability to play in the Champions League will surely attract some interest in this window. He has been the best player in the league so far this season and if he keeps going Liverpool could easily make the Champions League if not contest the title. Signing a new deal should see them keep him until the end of the season.
Striker - Sergio Aguero
It was a tough call between Aguero, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie but for me Aguero gets the nod. Van Persie did most of his damage in the first half of last season and Rooney had a poor start to 2013. Aguero was hampered by injuries last season but he finished the season well and has started this one in brilliant form. He is one of their key players and he has shown plenty of quality to keep City in touch at the top of the table. They will hope that his injury clears up quickly so he can be fit enough to try and lead City back to the top of the table.