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Monday 18 November 2013

Baines 'the best left-back in Premier League,' says Allen

PLP pundits pick their Barclays Premier League players of the season so far

Ahead of the return of the Barclays Premier League this weekend, we asked Premier League TV pundits to select their team of the season after the first 11 matches of the season. The first selection has been made by Clive Allen, the former West Ham United striker and former assistant coach at Tottenham Hotspur.

GOALKEEPER

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Minutes played: 900; Clean sheets: 7; Save percentage: 83.87

Lloris has been in very good form this season. He is quick off his line, almost playing as a sweeper. He comes out and makes saves on the 18-yard line or to tidy up behind the defence so often, which is fantastic for the team. That a goalkeeper can do that allows the central defenders to get tighter to the players they are marking because they know when a ball goes over the top Lloris will be there sweeping up.

DEFENDERS

Bacary Sagna (Arsenal)
Minutes played: 810; Clean sheets: 2; Tackle success: 91.7
%
He has overcome his injury problems, is playing in a team who are playing some of the best football this season and has contributed well. He is quick, defends solidly and is also a threat with crosses when he gets forward.

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
Minutes played: 810; Clean sheets: 3; Tackle success: 80.0
%
Mertesacker has done very well in the heart of that Arsenal defence this year. He seems to have come to terms with the Barclays Premier League and has formed a great partnership with Laurent Koscielny. He is a big presence in both penalty areas and Arsenal probably would not have conceded against Man Utd had he been playing.

Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Minutes played: 990; Clean sheets: 6; Tackle success: 85.7%

I am going for Jagielka because of the start Everton have made to this campaign. He is simply a totally committed defender. There is nothing flamboyant about how he plays. He loves defending and blocking shots and is also aggressive in the opponent's penalty box. He is a model of consistency.

Leighton Baines (Everton)
Minutes played: 990; Clean sheets: 6; Tackle success: 82.4
%
Baines is probably the best left-back in the Barclays Premier League. He has regularly performed well but is also a provider with his free-kicks and the way he goes forward and works with Steven Pienaar down the left of Everton's attack. When you are a left-back you need to have someone playing in front of you who understands you, knows when to go infield to give you space or when to go outside when he comes to support. Baines and Pienaar have a brilliant relationship.

MIDFIELDERS

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Minutes played: 922; Goals: 6; Chances/assists created: 13

Ramsey is fit now; he has overcome all the injury problems which hindered him for a number of years and it is great to see him at the top of his game. He gets forward more than ever and has shown a great engine. He covers as much grass as anybody - his running power is phenomenal - and he has found his finishing touch as well. He has been brilliant and has been the player of the season so far.

Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Minutes played: 990; Goals: 5; Chances/assists created: 12

He is a class act and has been fantastic this season. He has scored some important goals, has great free-kicks, has a great engine and can defend for you. He is everything you want in a central midfielder. It seems Toure is strolling around but he covers a lot of ground, does a lot of work and has shown why City have invested that much money in him.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Minutes played: 963; Goals: 2; Chances/assists created: 28

Steven Gerrard has been instrumental to the start that Liverpool have had. Maybe he is not as dynamic as he used to be in terms of going from box to box but you now see his amazing quality in terms of his range of passing. Gerrard plays in a slightly deeper position now, orchestrating things, and has been outstanding.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Minutes played: 882; Goals: 4; Chances/assists created: 22

He has shown his tremendous dribbling ability and is probably one of the best players at cutting in off the wing. Some people in the UK maybe did not know too much about him before he arrived at Chelsea, although throughout Europe there were lots of people watching him. He has shown that he is more than capable of producing in the Barclays Premier League. He is a class footballer and it could be his contribution that could make the difference for Chelsea this season.

FORWARDS

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Minutes played: 835; Goals: 5; Chances/assists created: 17
A good player always shows what he is capable of when there are questions asked and Wayne has done that. Manchester United's pick-up in form has coincided with Wayne Rooney producing some of his best football.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Minutes played: 539; Goals: 8; Chances/assists created: 18

He is the hungriest striker in the Barclays Premier League. I like the positions he gets into. His first thought is, 'Can I score?' Whether it is a dribble and shot, a one-two and finish, or just getting into the right places at the right times, he has a got a great desire to score goals and as well as that: he is a top, top finisher.

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Key Points

  • The Barclays Premier League returns this weekend after the international break
  • Ahead of the fixtures, Premier League TV pundits select their team of the season so far
  • Here, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Clive Allen picks the players that have impressed him