My Underrated XI
Goalkeeper: Asmir Begović
The Bosnian doesn’t receive too many compliments but has been one of the league’s best goalies since establishing himself as Stoke’s first choice at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, taking over from Thomas Sorensen. Still only 24 years of age he has a big future ahead of him, and has the potential to play in europe more regularly. Highlights.
Left back: Benoît Assou-Ekotto
A mainstay under Harry Redknapp, the Spurs left back is remarkably consistent in his both his attacking forays as well as his defensive discipline. Surprisingly he never seems to be mentioned in the same breath as Cole, Evra or Enrique when talking about the league’s best left backs, which is a shame because he seems a Champions league player and is worthy of more recognition. Highlights.
Right back: Danny Simpson
Part of the Newcastle defence that performed so admiralry throughout the past season, Simpson has been a solid if unspectacular option at right back. Despite highlights, such as the goal line clearance against former club Manchester United, Simpson is likely to leave the Toon soon, after not having his contract renewed. Although he doesn’t fit in with Alan Pardew’s modern, continental Newcastle side, he certainly won’t have trouble finding a new club this summer. Highlights.
Center back: Steven Caulker
After a promising season in the Championship, Tottenham loanee Steven Caulker has made the step up to the Premiership well, cementing a place in the Swansea back 4. Composed on the ball and brave in the tackle, he fit Brendan Rodgers system well and another loan at the Swans would do him good. That said, with Ledley King set to retire, Michael Dawson becoming ever more injury prone and William Gallas looking creakier by the day, another centre back is needed at Tottenham and he could be a cheap, viable option for Redknapp to chew over. Highlights.
Center back: Laurent Koscielny
The classic case of a player being underrated by every fan, besides his club’s own, Laurent Koscielny has just come of the back of a wonderful season with Arsenal, guiding the Gunners to a 3rd place finish. Often finding himself having to cover for Thomas Vermaelen’s positional woes, Koscielny always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time, reading the game well and making crucial interceptions. Highlights.
Right mid: Joey Barton
While he is better known for his meaningless tweeting, prison stint and violent outburst on the last day of the season, people seem to forget that Barton is quite a good player. A determined attitude coupled with a good range of passing and a proficient free kick means Barton was something of a coup for QPR when he signed for them on a free last summer. Although he faces an 8 match ban when he returns next season, Mark Hughes should consider keeping him, if only for his undoubted talent. Highlights.
Center mid: Steven N’Zonzi
Unfortunate to be playing in such a dire side, N’Zonzi was one of Blackburn’s few shining lights. A good tackler with a high work rate, he doesn’t deserve to be playing in the Championship next season and will hopefully get the move he is worthy of. Potential transfer destinations include clubs in Russia and Italy, but it would be a shame to see him leave the Premiership. Arsenal and Chelsea have both registered an interest, whether or not either move materialises is another question. Highlights.
Center mid: Gareth Barry
Even after being part of the title winning Manchester City team, many are of the opinion that Gareth Barry is still a average/poor player. This is not the case. His job may be an unspectacular one, carrying the ball from the defence into Yaya Toure and the attackers further forward with short simple passes, but it is also one of the most important to the team. Rated highly by Roberto Mancini and Fabio Capello, it remains a mystery why he is not more popular. Highlights.
Left mid: Leon Osman
At 31 years old, Leon Osman has been a regular at Everton for the last 8 seasons scoring 33 goals , yet has never been called up to play for his country. His form this season has been decent chipping in with 5 goals helping Everton to a 7th place finish, 4 points above Liverpool. The most memorable of those would be the winner against Man City completing an impressive second half comeback (link). It was a wonderful header and deserved the praise it got. Highlights.
Striker: Ivan Klasnic
Klasnic began the season well, at one point topping the scoring charts, but faded away towards the end of the season due to the competition from David N’gog, Kevin Davies and Marvin Sordell. A classy finisher with 8 goals and 4 assists in the 16 starts he made this season, he scored important goals, such as the late winner against QPR, in an ultimately doomed campaign for Bolton. Now a free agent it will be interesting to see if he says in English football, maybe dropping down a tier, or look for one last payday abroad. Highlights.
Striker: Jon Walters
A £2.5 million pound signing from Ipswich two years ago, Walters arrived with good reputation for linking play well and an eye for goal. He has lived up this status and helped Stoke to comfortable 13th and 14th place finishes in his two seasons at the Britannia. Thriving on knockdowns from towering target men Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones his touch is assured, passing precise and shot powerful. Highlights.
*I know Osman and Barton aren’t in their best positions but they both can play out wide.