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A Premier League All-Star Game? South Side Starting XI

In part two of A Premier League All-Star Game? Cal Dymowski, Philly Football Daily’s Premier League contributor, offers his potential Starting XI for a South Side All-Star team. 

You’ve had a week to digest my picks for the North Side team, a side that’s attacking prowess would strike fear into most international teams.

In fact, I’m willing to bet the North team would probably win a group at the upcoming World Cup in Russia. Chat me in the comments, and let me know which group you would want to the see the North Side in, and how far they’d go at Russia this summer.

Now it’s time for the South!

Here’s a reminder of how the teams would be split up:

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I elected for a classic 4-4-2 formation with the North, but the South has different players, with different strengths. A 4-4-1-1 seems to be a unique formation that would benefit this team. However, my backs will be treated as wing backs. I’m a big fan of those, and the South is FULL of them.

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Harry Kane is an obvious no-brainer on this list.

He’s second in the league in goals scored with 24, and has claimed the last two Premier League Golden Boot awards. He’s a true striker with a keen eye for goal, and his ability to score with both his feet and head make him dangerous at any moment.

Watch out for his range as well. Kane has 3 goals outside the box this season.

Wingers: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Christian Eriksen is everything you want in a winger.

Eriksen has the ability to drop into the center of the park to receive the ball, and has shown great attacking skill. The Denmark international has racked up 7 goals and 8 assists this season, and ranks 12th in the league with 1,757 total passes.

He’s an experienced veteran that brings leadership, and has extreme confidence on the ball.

Eden Hazard’s speed and skill are what sets him apart from the rest.

Hazard can change directions in a flash, and he is always looking for an opportunity to go at opposing defenders. Hazard’s 11 goals this season are one thing, but his 79 accurate long balls show that Hazard is always seeking to feed his teammates and pile on the offensive pressure.

Oh, he’s really good at dribbling and controlling the ball as well. Just watch for yourselves:

 

Central Attacking Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

The World Cup winning German is definitely a featured player in this team. Despite a rift with manager Arsene Wenger (Out?), Ozil has still played exceptionally well this season.

Mesut Ozil is currently tied for 8th in assists with 8, and the German has created 12 big chances this season for the Gunners. Now I know this All-Star game is based off of a ‘What have you done for me lately?’ basis, but I can’t overlook the simple fact that in 141 career Premier League appearances, he’s got 82 wins. 58% of the games he plays in comes out to three points.

Ozil definitely has something in him that changes a team’s fortunes.

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Two straight Premier League titles, a Player of the Season award, and a stud in a strong French team, I would not only choose N’Golo Kante in the squad, but he would be my first overall pick and my captain, too.

Kante has 391 total tackles since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, and he has changed the culture of the Chelsea midfield with his defensive-minded approach. He’s very smart, physical, and reads the game so, so well.

He’s, quite honestly, a manager’s dream.

 

It’s hard to duplicate 18 goals and 7 assists from a season ago, but Dele Alli has tried his best. Alli started slower this season than most expected, but he has since proven his quality as the campaign has dragged on.

Alli’s chemistry and familiarity with Kane makes him a dangerous assist man. I also like his movement throughout the pitch. He can play central, move out wide, cut in sharply, and he’s always is ready to take on a defender.

Just 21, he’s arguably the league’s most promising young player, too, racking up 6 goals and 9 assists so far this season. And 99 appearances in the Premier League at that age is also not too shabby.

Defensive Midfielder: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

This pick will definitely get some backlash, but I love Oriol Romeu.

Romeu’s size and physicality create issues for strikers and attacking midfielders alike. He’s been one of the few bright spots for a Southampton squad who find themselves sitting in the relegation zone.

He’s won 193 duels, 77 tackles, made 46 clearances and no errors leading to goals. The Spaniard is a rock for a Saints squad that desperately needs more tenacious players like him.

Defenders: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

I like wing backs that can push high up the pitch, and Marcos Alonso epitomizes just that.

Alonso has a wicked left foot, as demonstrated in his free kicks this season. He’s got great pace and vision that couples well with his ability to recover. I also admire his vocal leadership on the pitch, constantly communicating with his keeper and other defenders.

Hector Bellerin is the fastest player in the league, and the Spaniard can pop up at anytime.

Bellerin’s always looking to take the ball from the back and move it up the pitch. He’s amazing on the give and go as well, reading the opposition and moving without the ball. His close down speed on 50/50 balls? Majestic. Go to the 1:09 mark below.

 

RIGHT?!

Jan Vertonghen is the perfect center back for this squad.

If you haven’t noticed, I prefer players with great skill and passing ability. The Belgian definitely checks off the passing box, leading Spurs with 2,022 passes this year.

Additionally, in the 17 wins he’s appeared for the London club, 13 have been clean sheets. He’s the anchor of a staunch Tottenham defense that’s only surrendered 25 goals this year. But what sets him apart from other center backs is his successful recovery rate, getting back and making a play 67% of the time he’s been beat.

Don’t test Jan, he’ll get ya.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)

Tough decision here, between Thibaut Courtois and Hugo Lloris, but in the end I went with the lankier of the two.

Courtois’ huge frame and vision allows him to stop virtually any type of shot that comes his way. Just look at the paws on that man! Despite Chelsea’s struggles midway through this year, the Belgian (yes, another Belgian on this squad) has 57 saves and 13 clean sheets for the Blues.

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Courtois after a match. (Courtesy: Goal.com)

Substitutes: Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Richarlison (Watford), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

I love Dusan Tadic and his quality on the ball. He’s sadly just not strong enough to beat out some of the others in this Starting XI. However, Tadic is a game-changer who could come in in a close match and be the difference.

He’s a real goal threat, too, especially from free kick range. Just ask Arsenal.

 

Lloris is a leader and a Premier League veteran. His winning experience and management of the game make him a great addition to the squad, and an awesome mentor to Courtois.

Honestly, I may flip a coin between him or Courtois, if the match were to go into penalties. Lloris has 58 saves and 13 clean sheets, making it a pretty close call …

I’m a big fan of Wilfried Zaha.

He makes some irrational decisions, and he can play out of control at times, but both his energy and pace are incredible. I compare him to Alabama Men’s Basketball player Collin Sexton (shoutout March Madness): both have immense skill, fire and ability but play on a mediocre team.

If Zaha was on another club, we’d probably be discussing whether he’s a definitive starter.

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Alabama’s Collin Sexton, the Zaha of college basketball. (Courtesy: USA Today Sports)

My family plays Fantasy Premier League on Togga, and for the longest time my dad was in first. That reason was Watford’s Richarlison (And Kevin de Bruyne, but that’s another thing).

The Watford striker has come out of his shell this season, netting 5 goals and 4 assists in 31 appearances. He’s got a crazy defensive work rate as well, recording 58 tackles this season.

Cedric Soares is a great backup because he plays in the wingback position. Soares has great speed to him. The Saints are a squad mired in poor form, but Cedric is definitely a bright spot in the darkness of the relegation zone.

I put him on the bench. Will I rue it? Maybe.

Toby Alderweireld’s season has been riddled with injury, but when the Belgian is fit, he’s a stud. 5 clean sheets in 10 matches this year, and a threat off the corner kick, too. Just watch below. Is it clear why he’s in the squad, despite playing so few games?

 

Well there’s the South Side squad. Filled with players from Chelsea and Tottenham, but let’s be real here: they’re the best two clubs in the South (sorry, Arsenal).

Again, my team is based off my preferences, so if you disagree, make your own damn team!

I’m serious. Make your own team and Tweet me @caldymowski with your picks. Let’s compare and debate. Bonus points if you include players not from Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham.

Thanks for indulging in Romelu Lukaku’s brainchild with me. Check out the squads and let me know what side you’d root for or manage, and what the final score would be.

Now it’s time to get Premier League management on this. Cheers.

-Cal