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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

EPL First Half Update: Best XI

As the Premier League cruises into the second half of the season, here’s a look back at the best XI from the first half of the season.

Goalkeeper: Lukas Fabianski (West Ham United)

Fabianski, along with co-newcomer Felipe Anderson, have given West Ham hope under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. Leading the Premier league in saves with 80, Fabianski has been a key addition to a West Ham team sitting only three points out of seventh in the premier league.

Formerly known to Arsenal fans as “flappyhandski,” Fabianski has put himself back into the premier league fold with a bang after suffering relegation last year with Swansea City, despite his solid play.

Honorable Mention: Allison (Liverpool)

Right Back: Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Simply the best right back in the world. Kyle Walker continues to show more and more comfort under manager Pep Guardiola, and his offensive contribution has given Man City an extra element to their already dominant offense.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)

Center Back: Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

Best center back in the world? He certainly is a headline in the conversation. Virgil van Dijk has led a Liverpool defense that has only conceded ten times in 21 games in the premier league this season.

Honorable Mention: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Center Back: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

Although unable to even get a game for his national team France, Aymeric Laporte has been a rock for Man City’s stellar defense. More importantly, Laporte has the skills to implement Pep’s “play from the back” system, which put more emphasis on defenders using their feet and making plays. Laporte completed more passes than any other premier league player in the first half of the season.

Honorable Mention: Harry Maguire (Leicester City)

Left Back: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)

Robertson, second on Liverpool in completed passes behind co-XI teammate van Dijk, has flourished ever since replacing often sketchy Alberto Moreno for Liverpool. There simply isn’t a left back in better and more consistent form in the premier league.  

Honorable Mention: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)

Center Defensive Midfield: Lucas Torreira (Arsenal)

Despite a slow start to life at Arsenal, 22-year-old Lucas Torreira is now considered one of the signings of the summer. Torreira has been a force for Arsenal, leading the team in both tackles and fouls drawn.

Honorable Mention: Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Center Midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)

Although hype is often given more to players like Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva is incredibly special and amazingly, still underrated. Silva’s contributions often don’t show on the stat sheet, but his masterful passing ability constructs too many City attacks to ignore.

Honorable Mention: Ngolo Kante (Chelsea)

Attacking Midfield: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

A personal favorite of mine, Eriksen is a wizard with his touch. Eriksen 0.84 goals involved in every 90 minutes (best among midfielders) is a clear product of his aesthetically pleasing play game in and game out. Spurs are flying, and Eriksen is the conductor to their currently unstoppable train.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

Winger: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Hazard, creator of the most chances in the first half of the premier league season, has cemented himself as a top player in world football. It will be an interesting summer for Hazard, Chelsea, and Real Madrid, but Hazard continues to show world class ability through the rumors.

Honorable Mention: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Winger: Mo Salah (Liverpool)

After a “rough” beginning to the 2018/19 campaign for Salah, “one season wonder” doubters were quickly silenced by the premier league’s second top goalscorer in the first half of the season. While Salah might not be on the same pace as he was during his astonishing first season with Liverpool, he is leading the front line of a Liverpool team looking as complete as ever.

Honorable Mention: Heung Son-Min (Tottenham)

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

Current co-leader in premier league goals with 14, Harry Kane is leading the line of a high-flying Tottenham team that see themselves only six points from the top. Kane, along with Erikson and Son, will need to keep supplying the goals for Spurs if they want to remain in the Premier League and Champions League title races.

Honorable Mention: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

-Shane Simmons

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