In what has been the most competitive season for many a year, takefootball.com selects a Premier League XI at the half-way stage…
GK: David de Gea
It seems a long time ago when David de Gea was considered to be a liability in the Manchester United goal. Whilst his shot-stopping has never been in question, he now cuts a more commanding figure in the penalty area and is no longer an easy target for opposing forwards. Still only 23, the only problem United have with the Spaniard is keeping hold of him when Barcelona inevitably come knocking in the future.
RB: Seamus Coleman
As impressive raiding down the right flank as he is at forming part of the joint-meanest back four in the division, Seamus Coleman, like many of his Everton pals, is flourishing under Roberto Martinez. The 25-year-old has played every minute of the Toffees Premier League campaign thus far, and has also chipped in with five goals.
LB: Leighton Baines
As Ashley Cole struggles to force his way into the Chelsea side, his England rival Leighton Baines has now surely established himself as the best left fullback in the country. As such, one of the most difficult decisions facing Roy Hodgson in the summer could be redundant by the time he selects his side to face Italy in Manaus. The 29-year-old’s two free-kick goals in the 3-2 win over West Ham United in September remains one of the most memorable occasions of what is proving an exciting season at Goodison Park.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
Like Everton, Arsenal have conceded just 18 goals in their first 19 matches. Per Mertesacker has been one of the key reasons for this, but without having Laurent Koscielny alongside him, would the German international look anywhere near as assured? Once considered by many as an accident waiting to happen, the Frenchman is now one of the most reliable central defenders in the country, and certainly the most reliable for the Gunners.
CB: John Terry
If there was one thing certain when Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea, it was that John Terry would re-establish himself as a key member of the starting XI. Last season, when available, he was in and out the side under Rafael Benitez, but he has played every minute this time round and, in doing so, has equalled his tally for the entire of last term. Love him or hate him, the Blues back four looks a lot more solid with the 33-year-old at its heart, and his form has even sparked suggestions of a possible return to the England fold.
DCM: Yaya Toure
Is there a more complete midfield player in the world than Yaya Toure? The Manchester City man mountain can shield the back four or can operate in a more attacking role, and when on form, he is unstoppable in whatever role is asked of him. Since arriving in England he has shown a staggering knack of scoring crucial goals, and with the Blues in contention for honours on all fronts this season, you wouldn’t bet against this trend continuing.
CLM: Eden Hazard
If any of the current Chelsea players has thrived under the arrival of Jose Mourinho, then it is Eden Hazard. The Belgian international already proved last season he is value for the £32million the Stamford Bridge club forked out for his signature; and now he is proving that should the time ever come for the 22-year-old to move on, he will likely do so at a handsome profit. His goal in the 2-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday was his eighth of the campaign, and he also has six assists to his name…with many more surely to come.
CRM: Aaron Ramsey
Due to the outstanding progress he has made this season, there had to be a place for Aaron Ramsey in the Team of the Season so far. Many Arsenal fans considered him not good enough last term, but this year he has been unrecognisable from the player who has in the past been booed by the home fans at the Emirates Stadium. Eight goals and six assists so far, the 23-year-old has even shone in the UEFA Champions League and has out-performed both Jack Wilshere and even £42.5million club record signing Mesut Ozil.
CAM: Wayne Rooney
When Sir Alex Ferguson revealed Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United at the end of last season, a large number of the Old Trafford faithful would have been glad to see the back of him; after all, it wasn’t that long ago he was keen on a move to neighbours City. However, David Moyes will be mightily relieved he has kept hold of his former Everton charge, who has been the talisman for the Reds in what has so far been a difficult campaign; his nine goals and 11 assists have kept the champions within reasonable touch.
S: Sergio Aguero
After scoring the goal which gave Manchester City a first league title since 1968, Sergio Aguero went on to have a fairly quiet second season in English football. But the Argentina international has been playing the best football of his career this time round, and with 13 goals to his name, he has already bettered his return of last term. It speaks volumes that, even with the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic on board, keeping the former Atletico Madrid man fit will be crucial for City’s trophy ambitions.
S: Luis Suarez
He will never be the most popular, but this season, Luis Suarez has arguably been the best player in the Premier League. His half-term report of 19 goals and 10 assists is all the more remarkable when you remember he sat out the first five games through suspension. The Uruguay international has recently signed a new contract to keep him at Liverpool until the summer of 2018, yet even so, if Brendan Rodgers fails to lead the Reds to a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League football, it will be hugely difficult to retain the 26-year-old. The only consolation for the Anfield club would be that the forward is now so good, they could demand the sort of transfer fee reserved for only the very best players in the world.