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English Premier League XI that has exceeded expectations

We all subconsciously know that Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez would score a truck load of goals. We all know that Juan Mata and David Silva will orchestrate a mind boggling number of goals. But, at the start of this season, we didn't expect these from a Michu or a Shaun Maloney. So, here is the EPL XI that has exceeded expectations this season.

We all subconsciously know that Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez would score a truck load of goals. We all know that Juan Mata and David Silva will orchestrate a mind boggling number of goals. But, at the start of this season, we didn’t expect these from a Michu or a Shaun Maloney. So, here is the EPL XI that has exceeded expectations this season.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

Brad Guzan

It was a close call between Asmir Begovic and Brad Guzan and I chose the latter because of two main reasons – Begovic is naturally more talented than Guzan and Begovic has a stronger defence than what Guzan has.

Despite these, Guzan has managed a staggering 100 saves compared to Begovic’s 83. Shay Given is a fine Goalie and I often think that he is under-rated. But Guzan has affirmatively sent Given to the bench through his performances. The fact that Aston Villa are still only three points from the drop zone despite Guzan is something that amazes me.

Right Back: Angel Rangel (Swansea City)

Rangel has been a regular in the Swansea City side all season. He has made 26 appearances in the league and has been very good defensively. He averages 2.6 tackles per game (bettered only by Rafael and Pablo Zabeleta at RB), 2.8 interceptions per game and 4.8 clearances per game (best for any RB in the league).

For a player who has never played above the Third Division of Spanish Football before making a move to Swansea six years back, these statistics are indeed impressive.

Centre Back: Brede Hangeland (Fulham)

He has been very strong on the air and his passing is shockingly accurate for a defender. Hangeland has made 237 clearances in the league so far, which is around 9.1 clearances per game. This is a stat that any central defender would be proud off.

Fulham have conceded 454 shots in the league this season which is the third worst by any team and they still occupy a respectable 10th position, and that is because of Hangeland’s clearances and 2.8 interceptions per game.

Centre Back: Jonathan Evans (Manchester United)

Okay, a cagey choice, but still I had to go with it.

Jonny Evans is by no means Manchester United’s best defender. He is behind Namanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and at times Chris Smalling in the pecking order. But, in terms of statistics, he is the best central defender in the Premier League. If you don’t call that exceeding expectations, I don’t know what else qualifies.

With almost 9 clearances per game, 15 shots blocked on target, at least 2.7 interceptions per game amongst other impressive statistics, he certainly deserves a place in this list.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Williamson (Newcastle United), Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland), Chico (Swansea City)

Left Back: Ben Davies (Swansea City)

Ben Davies is arguably one of the best left backs in the Premier League this season alongside Patrice Evra, Gael Clichy and Leighton Baines.

Statistically speaking, Davies is on par with the other three. Davies came into the Swansea first team only because of an injury to Neil Taylor and now, he has officially become their No.1. At just 19 years of age, he can only get better.

Central Midfield: Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)

Morgan Schneiderlin (R)

Morgan Schneiderlin is the perfect holding midfielder that any team would want. Defensively, he averages 4.2 tackles per game, 3.9 interceptions per game and an impressive 2.8 clearances per game.

Schneiderlin also makes on average around 55 passes per game with an accuracy of 88%. He also has scored 5 goals so far and at least one key pass per game.

Given the fact that he does all these for a team that is very much in the relegation battle, makes it all the more interesting.

Central Midfield: Ramires (Chelsea)

Last season, Ramires was very impressive for Chelsea but this time around Chelsea filled their team with young and energetic players from all around the world. But despite all that, Ramires has established his authority in the team.

He has around 86% successful passing, his runs into the box have been well timed and he has also scored some very important goals. His presence in the Chelsea midfield is the thing that gives them stability which they otherwise lack. His ability to play anywhere in the midfield is also very remarkable.

Honorable Mentions: Mark Noble (West Ham United), Claudio Yacob (West Brom), Steve Sidwell (Fulham) and Leon Osman (Everton)

Left Wing: Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers)

Taarabt’s threat in counter attacks, his long balls and set piece ability is rivalled only by an elite few in the Premier League. And, given the fact that Taarabt plays for the team that has been languishing at the bottom of the league table ever since day 1, this is very impressive.

He takes at least 3.5 key shots per game and on average, 3 of his assists have been converted to shots on target per game. He has scored only 4 goals and has made only 4 assists all season but, his team itself has scored only 26 goals.

Central Attacking Midfield: Michu (Swansea City)

Pretty obvious choice, right?

Michu could well be the bargain buy of the season. To get 18 goals out of a player who was bought for a mere $2 million is nothing short of exemplary. Michu’s goals have propelled Swansea to a decent position in the league and also have brought them the Capitol One Cup.

Who would have thought!

Honorable Mention: Shaun Maloney (Wigan)

Right Wing: Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspurs)

Aaron Lennon

Everyone of us know that Lennon has pace. But he has never been good until this season. With Bale on the other side of the wing, the Spurs’ game has been a delight to watch.

Four goals and seven assists in a team where you are not the main creator is a very impressive stat. With at least 1 shot on target per game, 2.3 key passes and a 87% shot accuracy, his involvement in the Spurs team is indeed very impressive.

Striker: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)

Benteke has been a beast in front of the goal. 17 goals in all competitions with at least 3.2 shots per game, Benteke has really impressed us all.

He has done this with considerably low support than all the other strikers in the league. His aerial duels, long balls and sheer strength are his strong talking points. If he manages to avoid the offside trap and holds on to the ball more efficiently, he could be of the best strikers in the league.

Honorable Mentions: Ricky Lambert (Southampton), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom)

So, what do you think about the list? Do you think any other player deserves to be here? Let us know in the comments section.

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