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Premier League: After last night's PFA awards, we come up with an alternative best XI- with Suarez and Sturridge nowhere to be seen!

 

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As the season draws to a close, the plaudits and awards  are beginning to be handed out, with the players from the tops teams invariably the main focus of attention.

The PFA awards last night threw up few surprises, with the league's top scorer Luis Suarez named Player of the Year, and the best XI having three Liverpool players, three Chelsea players, two from Manchester City, two from Southampton and one from Everton.

Every player in that XI fully deserved their place, as they have all played consistently well at the highest level, but with this season's Premier League throwing up so much excitement, surprise and controversy, we thought we'd take a different view point.

So, in our alternative eleven, we have considered players who aren't necessarily considered 'world class', or haven't been in title chasing teams, but have shone this season for their respective clubs, in some cases despite said club's having relatively poor seasons.

That's not to say there aren't players in the top teams who have gone relatively unnoticed compared to their more lauded teammates, so without further ado, here is our Premier League Alternative XI.

 Goalkeeper- David Marshall (Cardiff City)

When a side is bottom of the league, their goalkeeper can easily be dismissed. But in the case of Cardiff, who have the second worst defence in the league, it could have been so much worse had it not been for David Marshall. Having only missed one league match this season, despite conceding 68 goals he has also made a staggering 146 saves, with some of them among the best of any 'keeper this season.

Should Cardiff manage to avoid relegation, they will almost certainly have him to thank, however keeping hold of him may be another matter. If they go down, his future will almost certainly lie elsewhere.

Right Back- John Flanagan (Liverpool)

Despite the fact that he's played most of this season at left back, it's worth being reminded that Flanagan is naturally a right back. In fact, that is part of the reason he has made this list, as he has acquitted himself extremely well on the left side of Liverpool's defence.

With Glen Johnson also having a great season, Flanagan's future may be on the left, even if he may feel he's better on the right, because the defensive qualities, as well as his eagerness to get forward and help Liverpool's notorious attackers, are too good to be left out (no pun intended).

Centre Back- Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)

Like teammate Marshall, Caulker's abilities have managed to shine through this season despite his team's overall performance. Signed in the summer from Tottenham, where he had limited first team chances, he has immediately showed his potential as a future Premier League and England star, and has been a mainstay for Cardiff all season.

As well as showing his defensive prowess (he has made 42 tackles and 313 clearances this season), he has also aided his side's cause with 5 goals, providing a threat from set pieces reminiscent of the likes of John Terry.

Centre Back- John Stones (Everton)

When Everton captain Phil Jagielka was injured, youngster John Stones was left with the perhaps unenviable task of deputising for him, but given his performances, Jagielka might have trouble getting back in the side! Stones has stepped up with the confidence and authority that mirrors his veteran partner in defence Silvian Distin, and is reminiscent of a young Phil Jones when he was at Blackburn.

Another young English centre-back who has a bright future, he will certainly give Roberto Martinez food for thought next season when Jagielka is fit, and with European football most certainly on the cards, Martinez will certainly be thankful to have this bright talent to turn to.

Left Back- Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

A year ago Ashley Cole was widely hailed as arguably the best left back in the world. Flash forward a year, and until recently he has not had a sniff of first team football. The reason for that is down to one thing- Cesar Azpilicueta.

Since joining Chelsea two years ago, Azpilicueta's ability to play on both sides of defence has meant that he has become a first team regular in a very short time. This season he has made left back his own, and as said above, if your keeping Ashley Cole out of the side, you must be doing something right. Chelsea have put on some of the top defensive displays of the season, and Azpilicueta has had a major say in that.

Right Midfielder- Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)

Here is a player who has made the step up to Premier League football with aplomb. A crucial part of Palace's revival under Tony Pulis, Puncheon's direct running and goal threat have at times carried his team.

He is Palace's leading scorer, having scored 7 goals this season, four in his last five games, and also chipped in with a couple of assists. He also has also made the second most amount of passes for his side, which for a winger underlines his influence.

Central Midfield- Steve Sidwell (Fulham)

Steve Sidwell's performances this season have in some ways been remarkable. Since making a name for himself at Reading, spells at Chelsea and Aston Villa proved rather underwhelming. Indeed even his first three seasons at Fulham belied the player who has emerged over the last few months.

With Fulham staring relegation in the face, and with three managers in as many months, Sidwell has been driving force for Fulham in their fight against the drop. He has made more appearances this season than any other Fulham player, and scored seven goals, equalling his combined total for his last three seasons.

Central Midfield- Kevin Nolan (West Ham)

Kevin Nolan is a captain who leads by example. Perhaps this is why Big Sam has taken him to three different clubs and made him captain at all three. He is the epitome of a midfield general, taking games by the scruff of the neck and dictating the tempo. He does his bit all over the pitch, contributing 7 goals and 7 assists for his team.

His hard tackling ways did come a cropper over Christmas, as he received 2 straight red cards in a month, but since then he has, spurred on by his manager, done exactly what a captain should do- lead.

Left Midfield- Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

Although naturally a central player, Eriksen has been employed out wide at times this season. Here is a player who has, despite difficulties on and off the pitch for the club, has maintained a level of quality.

One of the six players signed last summer before the sale of Gareth Bale, with 7 goals and 9 assists Eriksen has established himself much easier than the other five signings, most notably Roberto Soldado and Eric Lamela.

Like several of the players on this list, his underlying contribution to his team's cause makes the chances of the club keeping hold of him increasingly unlikely, even a club like Spurs, who are fighting at the top end of the table.

Striker- Wilfried Bony (Swansea)

With SAS taking all the striker headlines this season, some people may not realise just how big a contribution Bony has made for Swansea this season. With 16 goals from 32 appearances, he has averaged precisely a goal every two games.

Quite where Swansea would be right now without him probably doesn't bare thinking about for manager Gary Monk, but it's is something he may have to think about come next season, as the big clubs at home and abroad will surely have taken notice.

Striker- Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)

Ok, so a fair few Southampton players have had their share of the plaudits this season, after all Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana were in the PFA's XI. But Rodriguez's progress this season, compared to last, has not had the credit it deserves.

Whilst strike partner Rickie Lambert has been fairly consistant (15 goals last season, 11 this season) Rodriguez only scored 6 last season, compared to leading the club scoring charts this season with 15.

His only negative will undoubtedly be that picking up a long term injury has cruelly denied him a chance to represent England at this year's World Cup.

So there you have it! Our alternative XI, all picked for a variety of reasons, but all because they personally had a defining season for their respective clubs.

What do you think of our XI, are there any unsung heroes you think we missed? Tweet us @football_trade with your suggestions!

OB

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