It’s nearly Christmas, which means we are almost at the halfway point in the Premier League season.
It’s been the craziest campaign in living memory so far, with Leicester riding high at the top of the table, Jamie Vardy breaking records, Crystal Palace and Watford challenging for European football, Chelsea battling relegation and Louis van Gaal under immense pressure just to keep his job at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho now being touted as a potential replacement.
Nobody would have predicted any of this happening, and this thrilling season shows no signs of letting up.
In our ‘Team of the Season So Far’, there are contenders that nobody would have even thought of at the start of the campaign, and the attacking nature of this XI reflects the madness of the season, with old stars flopping and new ones emerging.
Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)
The Stoke City number one has been in stunning form all season, pulling of David De Gea-like saves left, right and centre. He has kept this new attacking Stoke City side in several games this season.
At just 22 years of age, Butland has a bright future ahead of him and may very well put Joe Hart under severe pressure soon to keep his number one England jersey.
Defender: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
The young Spaniard has been a revelation for the Gunners with his lightning pace going forward and an impressive defensive maturity for a youngster. He has that right-back position nailed down at the Emirates.
Defender: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Smalling has dramatically developed into an excellent defender in the past few months and has been arguably the main reason behind United’s early-season impressive defensive record.
Smalling has several qualities including pace, strength, leadership and an ability to read the game. More often than not he gets the better of strikers and he is sure to be a vital player for United in the next few years, perhaps even as a future captain. An impressive rise from non-league football.
Defender: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Belgian international has been one of the signings of the season as Tottenham stole him from under the noses of Southampton.
It seems a surprise that Atletico Madrid did not hang on to him, but Spurs fans will not complain. Like Smalling for United, he has been a rock at the back all season.
Defender: Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
The Austrian international is one of four Leicester City players in the team. The experienced left-back was signed from Schalke on a free transfer.
He might have gone unnoticed but his defensive solidity, commitment and success rate in one-on-one situations deserves praise.
Midfielder: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
Like Fuchs, Kante’s performances have been overshadowed but he has been absolutely outstanding for the Foxes. The central midfielder is only 5ft 6in and is quite nimble.
He looks like he has the energy to play 24/7 with incredible speed and stamina to get around the pitch, from protecting the defence to bursting forward. Signed from French side Caen for £5.6 million, he is a vital cog in Claudio Ranieri’s machine.
Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
One of the more praised Leicester players, the Algerian winger has simply been breathtaking and he is blessed with incredible skill, balance and speed.
Mahrez appears to be the full package and will attract interest from the big clubs. With 13 goals and seven assists, Mahrez has arguably been player of the season so far.
Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The German has his critics but he is the king of assists with 13 in total and counting. There is no doubt that Ozil is one of the most creative players in world football although his inclusion makes this team look unbalanced, he deserves his place for being at the centre of much of Arsenal’s attacking play this season.
Forward: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
The most talked about man in English football this season is the first of three strikers in the team and is top of the Premier League scoring charts with 15 goals. Vardy’s story is simply magnificent, going from non-league football to the heights he is at now.
Breaking a renowned striker like Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record is an incredible achievement and now he looks set a secure a place at the Euros. Vardy’s pace, determination and work rate is an example to all and makes him a nightmare for any defence.
Forward: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
The big Belgian is currently putting Vardy’s record under threat and has finally become more consistent, scoring 13 goals for Everton so far this season. He is still young yet and could become a Premier League great in terms of goalscoring.
Lukaku has the strength of a beast, powerful pace and holds the ball up very well, showing him to also be a creative force. He looks like he is worth every penny paid for him and Chelsea could regret letting him go.
Forward: Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Another striker on fire with twelve goals, Ighalo has formed a formidable strike partnership with Troy Deeney at Watford, showing that 4-4-2 is not out of date at all.
Ighalo was brilliant in the Championship last season so perhaps his performances in the Premier League should not be as much as a surprise as they are.
Vincent O’Shea, Pundit Arena
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