Premier League Team of the Season

ESPNSTAR.com picks out the players that made the 2011-12 Premier League season one of the most memorable campaigns in recent history.

Football News: Roberto Mancini, Vincent Kompany

By ESPNSTAR.com Editorial Team

At the end of ten enthralling months, the red ribbons were stripped from the Barclays Premier League trophy and replaced with sky blue ones as Manchester City ended a 44-year title drought.

But the top two teams were not the only ones with players who enthralled - making the job of picking eleven individuals from the hundreds that played their part ridiculously difficult.

To ease some of the difficulty, we've gone with a starting eleven as well as a full-strength substitutes' bench. So, without further ado, here is ESPNSTAR.com's 2011-12 Barclays Premier League Team of the season.


Read also: Top 10 BPL Goals of the Season


Goalkeeper: Tim Krul (Newcastle)

In his first full-fledged Premier League campaign, Krul established himself as a fan favourite at the Sports Direct Arena. Commanding in the area, quick with his distribution and incredible with his reflexes, the 15 clean sheets managed by Krul were vital in Newcastle's stunning fifth place finish in the Premier League.

Right-back: Kyle Walker (Tottenham)


Tottenham's meltdown at the tail end of the season left many, including manager Harry Redknapp, at a loss for an explanation. While those around him deflated, Walker remained one of the few Spurs players who stayed consistent.

Regularly seen storming up and down the right flank, the Englishman offered a helping hand to Aaron Lennon on numerous occasions, in addition to his defensive duties. The PFA Young Player of the Year also managed to chip in with three goals including a sweet free kick against Blackburn that David Beckham would have been proud of.

Left-back: Leighton Baines (Everton)


After yet another solid campaign for the Toffees, one can most definitely count on Baines giving Ashley Cole some stiff competition for England's left-back berth at Euro 2012.

Putting in strong tackles, running tirelessly along the left, and being deadly from set-pieces are standout characteristics that Baines possesses, but it's his ability to do all these consistently that has earned him recognition as one of the best left-backs in the Premier League.

Centre-back: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)


When Carlos Tevez left City behind to play golf in Argentina, Kompany was there to pick up the pieces. Taking over the captaincy the Belgian led by example, hardly putting a foot wrong both on and off the pitch. The Belgian's behaviour and performances were a stark contrast to some of his flashier, trouble-causing team-mates.

Part of a defence that conceded only 29 goals over 38 games, the defender kept the likes of Papiss Cisse and Wayne Rooney quiet, helping City achieve the decisive goal difference that won them the Premier League title. Kompany has always gone about his job in a no-nonsense manner, making him fully deserving of the adoration he received from the Etihad faithful after scoring the match winner in the Manchester derby and the respect of the Premier League who named him their Player of the Season.

Centre-back: Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle)


Moving from one captain to another, Coloccini took a while to grow into the defensive stalwart he now is for the Magpies. Part of the team that was relegated to the Championship in 2008, the Argentinean remained loyal to the club after the drop and is now an integral part of a miserly Newcastle defence.

Named in the PFA Team of the Year, it was Coloccini's reliability and strength that was the unsung factor behind the Magpies' incredible push for Champions League football.

Right-midfield: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)


There are very few wingers in England who can match Valencia's pace and control down the flank, and the Ecuadorean's 13 assists were key in keeping United in the title race right until the final day of the season. Wayne Rooney and later Paul Scholes may have taken the spotlight, but it was the self-effacing 26-year-old who deserves to get the plaudits for another barnstorming season.

Left-midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)


It's not very often that the playmaker of the title-winning side starts on the left flank, but to Silva, the position is simply a spot to occupy at kick-off. Buzzing all over the pitch, the Spaniard was the nightmare of top-flight defences across the UK, either weaving his way through them or slicing them open with gorgeous passes.

His form may have fallen off towards the end, but the former Valencia man still ended up with the highest number of assists (14) in the league to complement the six goals he scored for his side.

Centre-midfield: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)


Silva's mazy runs all over midfield would have left City vulnerable to counter-attacks had it not been for Toure's presence. It's hard to recall any point in the season which the former Barcelona player was off his game, slotting back effortlessly after three weeks away for the African Cup of Nations.

Toure fit into any role assigned to him - the most obvious example of that being the game against Newcastle when he started off in a deep-lying position before taking advantage of Nigel de Jong's introduction to bomb forward and grab a match-winning brace for his side.

His outstanding performances for club and country earned him the honour of being named the African Football of the Year, quite a feat given that the previous 12 winners were all strikers.

Centre-midfield: Alex Song (Arsenal)


The loss of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and subsequently Aaron Ramsey due to injury left the Emirates faithful worried about a lack of midfield inspiration. Their fears were duly put to bed by the emphatic manner in which Song shouldered dual roles, complementing his defensive duties with some surprisingly effective playmaking.

The Cameroonian's vision and instinct resulted in ten assists - a remarkable haul for a defensive midfielder, and his understanding with Robin Van Persie reaped rich dividends for the Gunners.

Striker: Robin van Persie (Arsenal)


There was hardly any room for doubt when it came to incorporating the top scorer of the Premier League in this list, but it's not merely the honour of the Golden Boot that merits van Persie's inclusion. Manager Arsene Wenger admitted on numerous instances that the Dutchman has literally dragged the club up the table during an injury-ravaged campaign for the Gunners.

Certainly his best season in an Arsenal shirt so far, van Persie's goals rescued the team in games against Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham just to name a few memorable ones. Wenger will be eager to tie down his captain with a new contract before he jets off to the European Championships.

Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)


It was touch and go between Wayne Rooney and Aguero before the last game of the season - and we were leaning towards the United striker. Until, that is, Aguero smashed in what turned out to be the title-winning goal against QPR.

That strike, combined with 29 others - most of them quintessential striker's goals - got the Argentinean the nod ahead of the United talisman. The fact that City were missing Carlos Tevez's contributions through most of the season makes Aguero's goals even more important.

Manager of the Year: Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)
Roberto Mancini takes the honour of the manager of the year not simply because he sits at the helm of the title-winning club. While achieving some measure of success is probably a prerequisite for consideration, one need only look back at the season to realize the Italian has put on a master class in management

The riches of Sheikh Mansour did provide Mancini with a wealth of talent to choose from, though credit must be given to him for bringing in players with the right mentality. Building his squad around the likes of Yaya Toure, Silva and Sergio Aguero, the City manager chose the core of his playing staff not only for their talent, but also for their determination and hunger to succeed.

Mancini's triumphant campaign can also be attributed to his application of the right tactics, which brought out the best from his players. However, the trait that was probably the most important in their victorious campaign was Mancini's press and man management.

Assembling a team full of talent from the major European leagues, one could expect egotistical characters and personnel clashes. In this season, the former Inter Milan manager had to deal with a wayward compatriot and an equally disobedient captain, yet he managed to keep the goals flowing from Balotelli while Tevez made a return and played his role in overthrowing United from top spot. When his team stuttered after the turn of the year and found themselves chasing the Red Devils, Mancini's astute comments in the media took the pressure off his players.

Substitutes
Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm (Swansea)
While Swansea pleased fans with an entertaining style of possession football, points are what count at the end of the season, and the club's respectable mid-table finish could not have been achieved without Vorm. Putting his famed penalty-saving abilities to full use, the Dutchman kept out notable spot kicks against Liverpool and Fulham, propelling Swansea on their way to several memorable victories.

Left-back: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Missing portions of the season with various injuries, Cole's presence down the left for Chelsea was sorely missed. Consistency is expected from a player of Cole's experience and the Englishman made sure he delivered dominating displays each time he took the field for the Blues.

Centre-back: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
With the exception of his three match ban, Ivanovic was ever present for Chelsea this season. Whether he played in the centre or the right of defence, the Serbian made sure his presence was felt by opponents who attempted to take advantage of his area. His contributions at right-back during the second half of the campaign not only encompassed several pin-point crosses leading to goals, but he also managed to chip in with important goals as well.

Centre-midfield: Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
Scholes' impact since his comeback from retirement is perhaps best summarized by the fact that the Red Devils won every single league game he played. It's a troubling thought for any United fan to contemplate how far behind City the team would have finished had the Englishman not reversed his decision. Scholes was quite clearly the spark in a previously uninspired midfield.

Right-midfield: Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
Perhaps the player that is most well known outside Craven Cottage, Dempsey has amazed all Premier League followers with his remarkable form. In fact, his goal-scoring heroics prompted manager Martin Jol to shift him from his berth on the wing, playing Dempsey in the hole or as an orthodox striker after the turn of the year.

Striker: Papiss Demba Cisse (Newcastle)
While van Persie topped the scoring charts, it was Cisse who captured the hearts of fans and critics with his unbelievable form and some remarkable goals. Achieving the record of being Newcastle's most prolific goals per game scorer is not a bad achievement for a debut season on Tyneside.

The Senegalese provided a highlights reel worth of goals, the most memorable one being that audacious banana shot against Chelsea that left Petr Cech helpess.

Striker: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
It was a record-breaking season for Rooney, though he would likely trade all the personal accolades for another title. The Englishman became only the fourth player in Premier League history to score back-to-back hat-tricks early on in the campaign, in what was to be a foreshadowing of his striking form. By the tail end of the season, he had surpassed George Best's scoring record and ended up second on the Golden Boot list.



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