2012 has been quite a year for football. Didier Drogba and Petr Čech won the Champions League, Pound Sterling FC won their first ever league title on goal difference, England managed to get into the opposition half two times at the Euros and Robin Van Persie ended the year seven points clear.
Hurts me even more as an Arsenal fan but I have conducted my very own 2012 unbiased Premier League Team of the Year.
GK: Wojciech Szczęsny (I’m kidding) Joe Hart (Runner Up: Asmir Begovic)
Now I know many may think Hart’s season so far has been pretty poor but with Manchester City winning the title, the Englishman played a big part in their success. He may not be able to scare opposition penalty takers but in open play, he has kept some phenomenal clean-sheets, including the all-important 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
So much so that he has won the Barclays Golden Glove (most clean-sheets) for two years running. At just 25 years, he has plenty to offer and I don’t see him losing the number one shirt at the Etihad any time soon.
DR: Pablo Zabaleta (Runner Up: Kyle Walker)
Quietly Mister consistent, Zabaleta has gone about his business and become one of the first names at the back for Roberto Mancini. Not only does the Argentine provide assurance in defence, his natural ability to sprint forward and join the attack has proved an integral part of Manchester City’s play.
Playing on both the left and right sides at full-back and with The Citizens lacking real width of late, the 27-year-old’s versatility provides it. If Mancini stops rotating for once and gives the good defenders a solid run in the team, the title race may not be over just yet.
DC: Gary Cahill (Runner Up: Ryan Shawcross)
Moving from Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea has been the best move of Cahill’s life. Having won the F.A Cup and Champions League in the first six months of his career at Stamford Bridge, you can say it’s been a pretty good 2012 for the England international.
Striking up a great partnership with John Terry, the £7m signing made his transfer fee seem a steal as he gained credit for developing into one of the best centre-backs in the league. Mostly because he’s English. But also because he’s very good.
DC: Vincent Kompany (Runner Up: Phil Jones)
How can you make a 2012 best team while leaving Man City’s extraordinary captain out? Kompany was an absolute rock in defence for Mancini and fully deserved his and City’s first league triumph. Winning the Premier League player of the season as a defender requires great attributes and undoubtedly the Belgian is one of the world’s most sought after stars.
Although it hasn’t been the greatest start to the current season, Kompany’s injury meant he has missed some crucial games. And with his absence, City don’t share confidence in replacements Kolo Toure or Matija Nastasic, emphasising just how crucial the 26-year-old is to their cause.
DL: Leighton Baines (Runner Up: Patrice Evra)
It’s the illustration of how good a left-back you must be if you overtake Ashley Cole’s position in a Team of the Year. It’s not that I don’t like Ashley, I don’t, but Baines has shown exactly why he is next in line to be Cole’s replacement for England. Forever being linked to Manchester United and Chelsea, it is at Everton where the 28-year-old has made a real name for himself.
The first name on the team sheet, Baines has an incredible knack of being in the right place to deliver one of his pinpoint crosses, be it from open play or from a deadly free-kick position. He may be the only English player you would have faith in to smash in a penalty too.
DMC: Yaya Toure (Runner Up: Scott Parker)
Before you say anything, remember City did have a very good team so most of their players do deserve to be in this list.
I know he is regarded as an attacking midfielder too but it is in defence where Toure made his career and his ability to pick out a pass is one of the key attributes for a good defensive midfielder. An extremely prominent figure in Manchester City’s title-winning side, Toure’s six goals were vital to securing the trophy.
Especially as it was on goal difference.
AMC: Juan Mata (Runner Up: Santi Cazorla)
Chelsea may have finished seventh last year but when they do turn the style on, they are one tough side to beat. Roberto Di Matteo may have lost the chance to defend the Champions League title but under Rafa Benitez, the Blues look a rejuvenated club. Torres is scoring and it is mostly because of his compatriot, Mata.
The 24-year-old has the essence of Xavi/Iniesta (delete as appropriate) in him and will be crucial for Chelsea this season. His link-up play with Eden Hazard and Oscar has been fun to watch and makes for a more attractive Chelsea than before.
AMC: David Silva (Runner Up: Yohan Cabaye)
Nobody can deny Spain have some very good midfielders and the Premier League are simply lucky to have such players grace England. Silva only featured sporadically for Spain during Euro 2012 but for Manchester City, he was and is still indispensable.
Silva had the most assists last season with fifteen and alongside Yaya Toure, he is part of the best midfield in England. Still only 26, Silva has a lot to offer yet and whether Man City can retain the title will be down to how well he plays.
LF: Gareth Bale (Runner Up: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain)
The Tottenham man has finally been finding some consistency in his play and with Spurs pushing for a Champions League place on a regular basis, Bale has his chance to shine with the best. They may have just missed out on Europe’s top competition by a penalty but they look to be more competitive this year.
With scintillating performances against Inter Milan which shot the 23-year-old to fame, Bale works with pace to his advantage and is one of the trickiest wingers in the league. This was the breakthrough year for the Welshman and 2013 looks to be even brighter.
But he should probably leave Spurs.
RF: Robin Van Persie (Runner Up: Luis Suarez)
Right, let’s get this one out the way. It’s pretty obvious why the Dutchman’s in here and while some fans may still find it hard to believe he’s in a Manchester United shirt (sigh), he has a phenomenal record for goal getting. You could say he’s the third best player in the world right now with 46 goals in his last 59 league games.
Van Persie’s goals have come at crucial moments for Arsenal and Manchester United in the past two seasons and he looks to be the difference between both Manchester clubs. Will he, and I may be trying to tempt fate, stay injury-free though?
ST: Didier Drogba (Runner Up: Michu)
Drogba deserves to be in the Team of the Year simply because if it wasn’t for him, Chelsea would have been knocked out the Champions League at the group stage. Such was the importance of the Ivorian’s presence that only he could have equalised against Bayern Munich with the Blues only attack.
The 34-year-old may have left the Premier League but he won’t be forgotten any time soon and with rumours persisting of his return, could another club benefit?