The EPL Unsung XI

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By Andrew Winner
The Talisman

Here’s one man’s take on the EPL’s best eleven players for the 2007-08 campaign, with one catch. Players from the Big Four (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool) are ineligible. Let’s let some of the other guys get some recognition.

Goalkeeper:

  • David James, Portsmouth: The England No. 1 (by default, really), James helped Pompey break the club record for clean sheets in a season.

Defenders:

  • Joleon Lescott, Everton: Masterful in the air and an unexpected threat going forward, Lescott locked down an Everton back line that made life very easy for goalkeeper Tim Howard.
  • Martin Laursen, Aston Villa: The giant Dane, who like Lescott showed a propensity to score going forward, was rewarded with a new deal from Villa in January.
  • Micah Richards, Manchester City: The 19-year old lynchpin of City’s backline, his stellar play was responsible for the club’s superb start.
  • Matthew Taylor, Bolton: A versatile and rugged defender, who knows where Bolton would have finished without his services. On the final match day, scored the tying goal to eliminate Chelsea from title contention.

Midfielders:

  • Ashley Young, Aston Villa: Continued on the fine form of last year, scoring 11 goals this season and setting up a handful more.
  • Gareth Barry, Aston Villa: Barry’s strong play in the engine room for Villa and also for England during Euro 2008 qualifying make him one of the summer’s hottest commodities, with Liverpool one proposed suitor.
  • Stewart Downing, Middlesbrough: A dangerous left-sided player, Downing ended the season in style, with two goals against Manchester City.
  • Niko Kranjcar, Portsmouth: Pompey fans have already resigned themselves to the inevitability of Kranjcar’s departure to one of the Big Four.

Strikers:

  • Aiyegbeni Yakubu, Everton: The most prolific African scorer in Prem history, he notched another 21 goals in all competitions this year.
  • Roque Santa Cruz, Blackburn: Notched 19 league goals for an average team – would have been more if Benni McCarthy hadn’t taken most of the penalties.

Second Team:

  • Tim Howard, Everton
  • Richard Dunne, Manchester City; Sol Campbell, Portsmouth; Phil Neville, Everton; Nicky Shorey, Reading
  • Kevin Nolan, Bolton; Blumer Elano, Manchester City; David Bentley, Blackburn; Simon Davies, Fulham
  • Benjani Mwaruwari, Portsmouth/Manchester City; Kenwyne Jones, Sunderland

Andrew Winner is a freelance soccer writer based in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at: andrewwinner@gmail.com
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