For this week's My Favourite Premiership XI we have Sam, aka the 15-year old Gooner. Sam is one of the best young writers around and can be found writing for www.column10.com, www.twofootedtackle.com and his own site – http://15yearoldgooner.blogspot.com. Be sure to follow him on Twitter too.
As a young Arsenal fan, it’s difficult to put together a Premier League XI without the majority being those who played in the “Invincibles” season. However, I shall give it a try. There’ll still be some Arsenal players though – plus mainly recent players, given that I’m a teenager.
In goal though, I have to go for Peter Schmeichel. I’ve seen enough of him to know that he was an absolutely brilliant goalkeeper. David Seaman was great for Arsenal, but Schmeichel was something else. A true brick wall. I actually met him at the Emirates when Arsenal were playing Man City – his son Kasper saved a penalty and put in a superb performance. Like father like son! I’ll always remember his saves against Newcastle and his celebrations at the end of that game at the Nou Camp in ’99.
I’ve gone with three at the back to accommodate three centre halves. The first is perhaps a strange pick. David Luiz only joined Chelsea in January but he’s already made an impression on me. His performances have been full of flair and drive – he’s already scored some superb goals and put in some pretty solid performances. He may have been caught out a few times thanks to some clumsy defending (and there was that naughty dive against Tottenham) but he’s still a “top banana” as someone put it.
In the heart of my defence is the lion at the heart of Manchester United’s. Nemanja Vidic is an absolutely first class defender. Fernando Torres may have completely shown him up on a couple of occasions, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Vidic is the best defender in the league. A beast in the air, and not too bad on the deck either, Vidic is one of the best defenders to have pulled on the red of United.
Completing my defensive trio is Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg. A top servant at Aston Villa for seven odd years, Mellberg was a rock at Villa Park. But what I like most about him was that on his final game for Villa, at Upton Park against West Ham, he gave every single Aston Villa fan attending the game a home shirt saying “Thanks 4 Your Support” – true class. Plus there was that third eye on Soccer AM where he seemed to have fleas in his beard. Brilliant.
The first Arsenal player in my line-up is super Swede Freddie Ljungberg at right midfield. Freddie was an absolutely marvellous player in his prime, linking up sublimely with Dennis Bergkamp in particular. His darting runs behind the defence were often finished off with delightful lobbed finishes – like against Juventus – and he was just a joy to behold. His goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, when he shrugged off John Terry to bend in a wonderstrike, will live long in my memory.
In the centre of my midfield I’ve gone for two Liverpool players and another Arsenal player. Xabi Alonso was excellent in his years at Anfield, playing some breathtaking passes, making some great tackles (including one that unfortunately injured another player in this particular midfield) and scoring some fabulous goals. I’ll always remember that lob against Newcastle – pure opportunism at its best!
Alongside Alonso I would have his ex-team mate Steven Gerrard. He may not set the world alight for his country, but nobody can write off his contribution to Liverpool. His passing and tackling are two of his best attributes, but without doubt it’s his ferocious shots that are his best feature. Goals against Olympiakos, West Ham and Middlesborough top the list, but there are many more. A true great of the English game. Just a shame about the dives.
Next up is a player who’s been my favourite since 2005/06, the season I first went to Arsenal games regularly. As soon as he slotted the ball past Gianluigi Buffon, Cesc Fabregas became my favourite player. He also ran the show during that game, and set up our second goal. He was my idol, and the following seasons just reinforced that status. The recent uncertainty over his future saw our relationship hang in the balance, but I was absolutely over the moon when he confirmed he was staying. So many brilliant goals and brilliant assists, as well as overall performances. Even if he leaves for Barcelona this summer, I’ll have nothing but fond memories of him, and he’ll remain one of my favourite players ever.
The third Spaniard in my team, perhaps a strange choice. Jose Antonio Reyes was only at Arsenal for a couple of seasons, but I absolutely loved him while I was there. Something about his play just made him my favourite player during his first two seasons, despite the likes of Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira being around. His goal against Chelsea was an absolute stunner, but I also loved his goal against Middlesborough on the first day of the 2004/05 season. One of my greatest regrets is that he didn’t become the player he was destined to become, thanks partly to the Neville brothers kicking him off the pitch at Old Trafford.
Then to the two strikers. If I could have included Henry and Bergkamp I would have, but I didn’t want to give the team too much of an Arsenal feel to it. Most Arsenal fans would find it impossible to choose from the two, but I went for Thierry Henry. I absolutely adored his style of play – he was the complete striker. Pace, strength, finishing, dribbling, you name it. Even heading; I think it was Wenger who said Henry could have been one of the best at heading if he had wanted to. Still, he managed to score a few with his bonce, including that last minute winner against Manchester United. Brilliant. I would list some other of my favourite goals of his, but I’d be here all day.
Completing my side is ex-Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. A striker of pure power, Hasslebaink was superb for the Blues during his time there. His shots were absolutely vicious, and woe betide anyone who got in the way! He scored a couple of goals against Arsenal but I can forgive him that.
And there you go – My Favourite Premiership XI. Hope you enjoyed it.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...