Premier League 2013/14 Youngsters Team of the season
PAULO GAZZANIGA | SOUTHAMPTON, ARGENTINA, 22
Gazzaniga is one of the few young talented keepers in the Premier League, and one of the Southampton entrants on this list. The Argentine keeper is generally used as back up to Artur Boruc, and has served the Saints well when he has been called upon.
Gazzaniga made his first Premier League appearance this season at Stamford Bridge, as a Boruc injury meant that his services were required. That trait that has set him apart has been his reflexes. Gazzaniga has pulled off a number of good reflex saves, and his contribution should not be overlooked in what is ultimately a very successful season for the Saints. Gazzaniga has been a contributor in the Cups as well, playing a role in Southampton’s FA Cup run.
PHIL JONES | MANCHESTER UNITED, ENGLAND, 22
Phil Jones is a youngster who has become famous for not only his excellent and powerful defending, but also for his ability to provide the internet troll community with fodder. But Jones is rightly headed for a place in Hodgson’s squad for Brazil, after a number of good performances from him over the course of the season.
The Manchester United man is a very versatile player, and has served his managers by filling in at centre back, right back, and in midfield as and when required, and this, along with his physicality, make him a formidable opponent for any attacker. Jones is also very reliable in any position, and that’s probably why all his 26 appearances in the league this season have been starts. The youngster is also a bit of an attacking threat from set pieces, and has contributed goals in domestic and European competitions. The ex-Blackburn star has been described as the next John Terry by some, and if the next United manager trusts him at centre back next season, we may just see why. For now, the fact that he’s been good enough to make it into our Premier League Young Players Team of the Year as a right back should tell you all you need to know about his talent.
STEVEN CAULKER | CARDIFF CITY, ENGLAND, 22
Caulker was a player touted as a likely inclusion in the England squad, despite the fact that Cardiff have finished bottom of the table, and that gives you an idea of the talent that Caulker possesses.
The young defender has acquired experience that belies his years really, in his years with Swansea, Tottenham, and Cardiff, where he has experienced survival, a challenge for European places, and a relegation. Caulker is a defender who is strong, good in the air, and has very very good feet for any kind of man, let alone a big man. The defender has been a fixture in Cardiff’s side, playing in every game, and incredibly, picking up only 1 yellow card all season. He has also contributed in an attacking sense, scoring 5 times, a good number for a centre back. One even came against arch-rivals Swansea City. A number of his performances have left Spurs fans wondering why he was ever allowed to leave.
JOHN STONES | EVERTON, ENGLAND, 19
One of the many bright spots in an excellent season for Everton. The emergence of John Stones has come as a surprise to many followers of the beautiful game, and given Roberto Martinez the chance to add another feather to his cap.
Stones has been a regular presence in the on the bench throughout the season, and made a few fleeting appearances as a late substitute. The youngster got his real chance after the injuries to Jagielka and Distin. These unfortunate events gave the Englishman the chance to shine, and he made the most of it. The tough defender is somebody who makes it very difficult for the opponent, and has been dribbled past only 0.4 times per game on average. His pass completion of almost 90% is also very impressive, and important in Martinez’s passing style of football. Stones has also been a fixture in the England U21 side over the course of the season, with 7 appearances for the international side.
LUKE SHAW | SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND, 18
Southampton’s academy has produced a number of top players over the years, but the Saints can probably count Shaw as one of their best finds. The Chelsea fan is linked with moves to clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United in the summer, and not without reason.
Southampton have enjoyed a very good season, finishing in the top half of the league, and Shaw has been one of the stars. The youngster is one of the best left backs in the league, young or old, and was an obvious choice for this position. The youngster possesses a terrific turn of pace, is solid defensively, and a great contributor going forward. If he does indeed miss the flight to Brazil, it will be incredibly unlucky, and only because he has to contend with the likes of Cole and Baines. Regardless of what happens in the summer, Shaw is sure to enjoy many good years in football. Luke Shaw featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-out for in 2014, he was at #6 in our list of defenders.
JONJO SHELVEY | SWANSEA, ENGLAND, 22
This season started off with a transfer for Shelvey, as he left Rodgers’ Liverpool for Swansea. The team didn’t really live up to expectations, but Shelvey personally had a good season with the Swans.
Shelvey has disappointed at times with some of his performances, but also managed to put in wonderful performances at times. The 2-2 draw early in the season against ex-club Liverpool was symptomatic of his style and consistent inconsistency. His managers this season, Monk and Laudrup have used him as a central midfielder and an attacking midfielder, and the player has responded well, with a good performance this season. Shelvey has 31 league appearances with 6 goals, and 7 assists, and his energetic and passionate play is certainly not something that hurts Swansea City. Shelvey, like a lot of us, will be eager for August to come around so he can continue his development.
JORDON MUTCH | CARDIFF, ENGLAND, 22
The fact that Cardiff are going to be in the Championship next season represents an opportunity for a number of Premier League sides to pick up some of the good young talent that they possess. Mutch is one such player who might be tempted to move back to the Premier League.
Mutch has been one of the few consistently good players at Cardiff City this season. The young Englishman has put in decent performances regularly over the course of the season. His versatility has also helped his managers, as he has been deployed as a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder, and a right sided midfielder at times. Mutch has managed 7 goals and 6 assists in his 34 appearances this season, with a terrific performance in the 6-3 defeat to Liverpool being the highlight. Despite the defeat, Mutch really shone for Cardiff in that game, with 2 goals and an assist. He had also scored at Anfield and Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.
ROSS BARKLEY | EVERTON, ENGLAND, 20
Barkley is the second Everton player to feature in this team, and one must say that his performances have warranted a place in the XI. Barkley has been one of the most exciting finds in English football, with his passing, speed, strength, dribbling and shooting making him one of the best young talents in the world.
Martinez took over at Everton and finally gave Barkley a good run in the first team, and the youngster has repaid his managers faith many times over. Barkley has started in 25 of his 35 appearances this season, and has generally been deployed in the row of 3 attacking midfielders behind the striker, Romelu Lukaku. Barkley has performed impressively, with 6 goals and 2 assists in 32 appearances for the club in the Premier League. Barkley’s performances have been impressive enough for many to call for his inclusion in the World Cup squad, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise to see him included.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN | TOTTENHAM, DENMARK, 22
Eriksen is one of the most vaunted young players in World Football, and many were excited to this young player join the Premier League. Spurs haven’t had a great season, but Eriksen has enjoyed a fairly impressive debut season, and has settled into life at the Premier League level well.
Eriksen has a very impressive 7 goals and 9 assists in 24 appearances in the league this season, with injuries blighting his season a little. Initially, he took a little while to really find his groove, but with time, Eriksen’s influence has grown, and Sherwood has him and Adebayor to thank for keeping Spurs in 6th place. The Dane has put in some good performances, scoring important goals against West Brom, and a brace in the 3-2 comeback win against Southampton. He has also been notching up the assists in the second half of the season. Now that he’s finally settled, Eriksen is only going to get better next season, and if Spurs do appoint a world class manager, he will be one to watch out for.
RAHEEM STERLING | LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, 19
Sterling is a player who has symbolised everything good about the Liverpool side of this season. Energetic, pacy, skillful and always looking to take the attack to the opposition, Sterling has emerged as one of the most exciting and watchable players in England.
At the start of the season, Sterling wasn’t even a guaranteed starter, but as the season wore one, Sterling has gone on to become one of the most important players at Anfield. His performances in big games, especially the home tie against City was the stuff of dreams, and he looks certain to be included in Hodgson’s World Cup squad. All in all, he has 9 goals and 7 assists in his 32 appearances, playing all across the front line, but numbers don’t really do justice to the amount of improvement Sterling has shown. Sterling will be looking at next season eagerly, as it brings with it the chance to do his magic at Champions League level.
ROMELU LUKAKU | EVERTON, BELGIUM, 20
Lukaku started the season at Chelsea, but was sent on loan to Everton on the last day of the transfer window in August. While at the Merseyside club, the Belgian has impressed one and all, and many have questioned Mourinho’s decision to send him away.
In terms of numbers, Lukaku has 14 goals and 8 assists for Everton in his 32 appearances. He has been an important component of Martinez’s system, proving useful as the fulcrum of the Everton attack. He developed a good partnership with his attacking midfielders, especially Ross Barkley, and this was key for Everton. He has also delivered in big games, getting goals against the likes of Arsenal, City and Liverpool, and will be looking to cement his place in a Chelsea side that desperately needs a good striker. Before he can do that though, Lukaku will have his sights set on taking Belgium far at the World Cup which begins in a month. With Benteke injured, Lukaku will be expecting to lead the line for his country, and score a few goals for his much hyped team.