Paul Merson Includes Gary Cahill In His Premier League Team Of The Season
Gillette Soccer Saturday pundit Paul Merson has included some surprise names in his Premier League 'Team of the Season' line-up.
The former Arsenal, Aston Villa and Portsmouth midfielder joined fellow pundits Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas in the debate and, after much deliberation, they all came to a final decision.
Merson opted for Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson in goal, while three of his Liverpool teammates, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk featured in the back four.
And perhaps his most surprising choice was the other centre-back. Crystal Palace defender Gary Cahill, who has been solid for Roy Hodgson's side this season, made the cut - but why?
"This might be a little left field, but Cahill goes in alongside Van Dijk." Merson told Sky Sports.
"He's been outstanding for Crystal Palace. He came in last summer and you've got to remember he didn't play much football at all last season for Chelsea. He was completely frozen out at Stamford Bridge and he really shouldn't have been considering what he did for the club and what a good player he was.
"To then go to Palace where you are playing in a team that only gets 35 to 40 per cent possession, compared to Chelsea's 60 per cent, and to defend as well as he has, he deserves credit. He has marshalled that defence and he's a key reason Palace aren't deep in a relegation battle."
Merson went for a midfield three of Jordan Henderson, Kevin de Bruyne and Gini Wijnaldum, another decision that has been questioned following the form of the likes of Fred, Jack Grealish and Matteo Kovacic.
But the 52-year-old was insistent on choosing Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum ahead of other candidates.
"He's got to go in for me." Merson said, while discussing the Dutchman.
"Another outstanding performer for Liverpool. I put him down as a big-game player. He gets big goals in big games. There are a lot of players around who score a lot of goals, but if you weigh their goals up, they'll get the third or fourth in a 4-0 win, or they'll get the consolation goal in a 5-1 defeat.
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"Another really top player, who goes under the radar in Jurgen Klopp's team."
Finally, the pundit opted for a front three of Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy and Sadio Mane, deciding against the inclusion of Roberto Firmino alongside his Liverpool teammates.
"Many people will go with the Liverpool front three, but I have to make room for Jamie Vardy." he said.
"It's freakish what he's done for Leicester this season. He took a big gamble by saying he wouldn't play for England again to look after himself and extend his career.
"After doing that, though, he has produced at the highest level. He's recaptured his form and is back to the Vardy we all knew, and that Vardy is an absolute nightmare to play against. He's a prime example for any kid out there who wants to play football at the highest level. To come from where he's come from, it's an incredible story."
Here's how the other three pundits, Le Tissier, Thompson and Nicholas, lined up.
:large_blue_circle: Ederson- Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 8, 2020
Charlie Nicholas explains his Premier League Team of the Season :point_down:https://t.co/gdRWPi8cdE
:soccer: Aubameyang- Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 8, 2020
Fair to say Phil Thompson's Premier League Team of the Season would score goals... https://t.co/jyfmYiyFTe
Matt Le Tissier and the Soccer Saturday panel have all picked their Premier League Team of the Season :point_down:https://t.co/c0Pv4fWl6Z- Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 8, 2020
Let us know your Premier League 'Team of the Season' in the comments. This should bring plenty of discussion!