What would a combined top 4 XI look like?

It has been yet another wonderful season in the Barclays Premier League, and with still plenty to play for in the remaining four fixtures of 2014/2015, there promises to be more twists and turns. There are up to seven teams who are fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table, while Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton face a real battle to secure a place in next season’s Europa League. However, it is the battle at the top which has certainly caught fire, with just two points separating three teams who are competing to avoid facing a Champions League play-off and earn the right to finish runners-up behind soon-to-be-crowned champions Chelsea. Jose Mourinho’s team have thoroughly deserved to lift the title after remaining at the summit for most of the season, and with six of their stars making it into the PFA Team of the Season, it shows that Chelsea have been by far the best team in the Premier League. It is often around this time of the season that fans and media pundits alike formulate their own best eleven based on performances across the entire league, but compiling a team consisting of players from the top four clubs would make for interesting reading. Although a recently compiled Liverpool Arsenal combined 11 was rather even and reflected that both clubs are on a par with one another, adding Chelsea and both Manchester clubs in the equation makes a big difference to a team which fits into the popular 4-2-3-1 formation.

Goalkeepers

David De Gea and Thibault Courtois have enjoyed wonderful seasons at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively, and it is incredibly difficult to separate two supremely talented goalkeepers.

De Gea was included in the PFA Team of the Season, but it should take nothing away from Courtois who has made a huge contribution in a team who have conceded a mere twenty-seven league goals – only Southampton have conceded less.

Both players would be deserving of a place in any top four XI, but as there can only be one goalkeeper, the fact that Manchester United would not be where they are in the table without the ever-increasing catalogue of outstanding saves De Gea has made throughout the season would slightly tip the balance in his favour.

Defenders

With the second-best defensive record in the Premier League, it makes Chelsea’s entire backline a shoe-in for every position in the back four.

Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta have been instrumental to Chelsea’s season going forward and in defence, while John Terry and Gary Cahill have been outstanding at the heart of the back four, particularly Terry who has been a leader among men.

Laurent Koscielny and Vincent Kompany would be the only defenders from the other three teams that would come close, but the former has endured an injury-hit season and excelled in less games, while the latter, despite being one of the best centre-backs in Europe, has endured a disappointing season and performed well below his best.

Midfielders

Nemanja Matic would be an automatic pick for one of the two holding roles due to the superb role he plays in Chelsea remaining defensively strong and providing the protection for the more attacking players to express themselves, but the spot next to him could be an interesting debate.

Moving Cesc Fabregas, who was surprisingly omitted from the PFA Team of the Season, forward to a central attacking role would open a space for Michael Carrick or Francis Coquelin who have played major roles at their respective clubs. Manchester United play so much better when Carrick is pulling the strings and moving the ball forward quickly from midfield, while Coquelin may have saved Arsene Wenger millions by emerging as a dominant defensive midfielder they have been crying out for.

Carrick’s quality puts him just ahead of Coquelin, with Eden Hazard an obvious choice further forward to the left of Fabregas following another wonderful season for the Belgian who was named the PFA Player of the Year.

Although David Silva, Willian and Santi Cazorla have shown flashes of brilliance this season, Alexis Sanchez most certainly slots into the team in the right-sided attacking midfield role due to a scintillating season for the Chilean who has been consistently outstanding in his first season in the Premier League.

Striker

Diego Costa would be a definite shoe-in for many fans who believe the former Atletico Madrid striker has been pivotal to Chelsea’s surge towards the title before a hamstring injury ended his season, but the league’s top scorer Sergio Aguero deserves to be picked ahead of Costa.

Manchester City have come nowhere near defending their title as they have underperformed throughout the season, but Aguero is the only player who have emerged with flying colours following another superb season in front of goal, without him, Manuel Pellegrini’s side would not have got anywhere near the top four.