Who would play in a Premier League All-Star Game

With the Premier League, NHL, and NBA all just passing the halfway points of their season, and the latter two getting ready for their midseason All-Star games, it got me thinking: Who would play in a Premier League all star game? Obviously, this game would feature the Premier League’s best XI against some random MLS team getting ready for the upcoming season.

Just kidding.

This hypothetical game will not have commissioner’s picks or even fan voting, simply because there are enough Manchester United fans in the world who can stuff the ballot box enough to guarantee Marcus Rashford starts at striker.

Unlike the NHL and NBA, the Premier League does not have conferences. Therefore the teams have to be decided in advance, I opted for a simple North vs. South matchup. However since the teams in the league change every year, an arbitrary border has to beScreen Shot 2017-01-24 at 8.24.39 PM created to ensure 10 teams on each side. This year, that border is the M6 motorway, which runs through the midlands.

This puts Leicester City as a team on the north, and West Brom competing for the South.

Here are the teams where each team can choose from:

North                                         South

Burnley                                         Arsenal
Everton                                         Bournemouth
Hull City                                       Chelsea
Leicester City                              Crystal Palace
Liverpool                                     Southampton 
Manchester City                         Swansea City  
Manchester United                   Tottenham 
Middlesbrough                          Watford  
Stoke City                                    West Brom
Sunderland                                 West Ham 

Here are the teams:

North Team: 4-2-3-1 formation 

Goalkeeper: David de Gea (Manchester United)

Is Tom Heaton having a fantastic season? Absolutely. But like any all star team, reputation proceeds you, and David de Gea is arguably the best goalkeeper in the league. That, plus the fact that he’s had a fine season and is totally deserving, give him the nod here.

Defenders: RB Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) CB Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City) CB Michael Keane (Burnley) LB James Milner (Liverpool) 

Yes, I know there are two Liverpool fullbacks here which is ridiculous because Liverpool’s defense is questionable at best but here’s the thing. No one in the north can defend. Clyne gets in because of name recognition while Milner gets in because, well because as much as everyone thought the James Milner at left back experiment would never work, he’s been Liverpool’s most solid defender.

Otamendi gets in because he’s the only reason Manchester City aren’t completely inept defensively, while Michael Keane gets the nod as probably the only person who actually deserves it.

Holding Midfielders: Joe Allen (Stoke City) Ander Herrera (Manchester United)

These may be controversial. Joe Allen is having a fantastic season at Stoke and with all their underperforming stars, he’s the reason they’re still middle of the table. As for Herrera, he’s the lynchpin of United’s midfield. He’s the man willing to do all of United’s dirty work. He runs down and presses everyone. He does Michael Carrick’s running for him, allowing the Englishman to sit back and do what he does best, and his defensive cover allows Paul Pogba to roam the field freely which has spurred United’s recent surge.

Attacking midfielders: Robert Snodgrass (Hull City > Burnley) Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City) Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

You may not know it, but Snodgrass is having a fantastic season. It just so happens he’s at Hull and no one notices but he certainly deserves a place. As for Mane, the month of January has shown us just how valuable he is to Liverpool. As for De Bruyne, what actually has to be said. The man is a game changer and despite all the talent at Manchester City, he’s proven to be the most important man on the field.

Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Strikers jobs are to score goals. Zlatan has 14 goals in the league (19 in all competitions), which shows he’s doing his job. If Jose Mourinho would simply play a 4-4-2 with Marcus Rashford next to Ibrahimovic, and allowing Zlatan to show off his passing skills, then we’d see how good he actually is.

 

South Team: 4-2-3-1 formation

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

The other goalkeeper in the “arguably the best goalkeeper” in the league conversation. This was a no brainer.

Defenders: RB Kyle Walker (Tottenham) CB Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) CB Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) LB Danny Rose (Tottenham)

It certainly looks like there’s a bias here but the truth is, Koscielny has been one of the best center backs in the league now, while not only do Tottenham have the best defense in the Premier League for the past two years, they have the best players. There could certainly be an argument made for Bellerin over Walker, but Walker has the most assists from all fullbacks, that counts for something.

Holding Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) Eric Dier (Tottenham)

We all know Kante is really good. But look at Leicester City last year and look at them this year. He’s literally that important. On the other side there is no player more important to Tottenham (or England) than Eric Dier.

Attacking Midfielders: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) Dele Alli (Tottenham) Michael Antonio (West Ham)

Sanchez has spent most of the season as a striker but for this he drops into his natural position of an attacking midfielder. Dele Alli is once again showing why Tottenham pulled off the steal of the century by signing him from MK Dons at just £5 million. As for Michael Antonio? In every All Star game there’s one player who sneaks in there simply because he had a good start to the season and the game is being played at the (roughly) halfway point. Antonio is that guy.

Striker: Diego Costa (Chelsea)

I hate Diego Costa. You hate Diego Costa. We all hate Diego Costa, but the bottom line is he scores goals in bunches and is the reason that Chelsea are where they are in the league. His inclusion in this squad goes without question.

About Pauly Kwestel

Pauly is a Producer for WFAN in New York and the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has been writing about the beautiful game since 2010 and can be followed on twitter @pkwestelWFAN

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