So what is ‘North Versus South’ all about?
Well it is Challenge number 1 – in the series of challenges I’ve set for all my fellow writers here at Undrafted. This one will be between Undrafted Tom (me) and Undrafted Ant.
We basically set out a topic of discussion and two or more writers will put forward their sides / opinions. Then through some excellent writing, we debate our side and why we have made the selections / decisions we have.
The first topic is one that has reigned supreme for a long time now. From terraces to changing rooms, from pubs to living rooms and everywhere in between. If you could only take one player from each team in the premier league and build the best 11 you can think of, who would you take?
Where does the challenge come in then you ask? Well we split the league in two and have gone North Vs South. As my ancestral home is North West England, I took the North whilst our editor? Ant took the South. We split teams by Ant taking the 10 most Southern teams. Whilst I took the 10 most Northern teams, with Celtic and Rangers giving us the elusive 11th player.
Without further ado then, the North picks for the one player, one club challenge. Remember Ant the North always remembers!
North 11– Tom
Goalkeeper – Aaron Ramsdale – Sheffield United
Goalkeeper was a relatively tough pick and the reason for this is that while Ramsdale is a talented keeper, there are a few who are better in the league, and in the teams, I had to choose from. The reason for this pick was more due to lack of alternatives from Sheffield United.
Ramsdale had a great season in goal with the relegated Bournemouth and joined Sheffield to replace the departing Dean Henderson. The problem though was that after the break of last season, Sheffield United had been found out and have yet to win a game this season. Ramsdale has obvious talent, but it was his lack of competition that won him this spot.
Right Back – James Tavernier – Rangers
Another suffering with not a huge amount to pick from, Tavernier gets the nod at right back here. While he never really had his chance in the premier league, he spent a lot of his career on their books, meaning he understands the league. James is great going forward too and can find the net when called upon as his 47 goals for Rangers can attest to.
He is in the golden patch of his career right now playing for the best Rangers side in a long time, one with serious ambitions of domestic success. He would fit well at right back and alongside some high-quality defenders should not be found wanting too often.
Right Centre Back – Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool
Okay can everybody please put down your pitchforks and hear me out? Joking aside, I understand that picking a defender to represent Liverpool seems crazy with the power they have in attack. The reason for the pick though is that this team has to function and so needs to be balanced. VVD when on form is the best defender in the league, maybe even the world, so he comes in here to captain our side.
He is a leader and Liverpool’s successes are equally at his feet as much as their electric attack. This has been evidenced dramatically this season after his injury. Liverpool look a completely different team without him and are much poorer for it. The likes of Salah, Mane or anyone of their other talents could have come here, but why would you not pick the best player from the best team.
Left Centre Back – Ben Mee – Burnley
Going from VVD to Ben Mee may seem a little anti-climactic, however looking at Burnley’s defensive record, their representative had to come from here. Club captain Ben Mee gets the nod over fellow standouts in Charlie Taylor and James Tarkowski for one very important reason. He has the uncanny ability to make all who surround him better.
Mee is club captain and for good reason, he is Sean Dyche’s leader on the field and in the dressing room. Mee is the unheralded hero in the back four, and he makes everyone around him play better. He is the reason Everton paid £25 million for Michael Keane and he is one of the main reasons why Burnley nearly got £50 million from Leicester for Tarkowski. If he can improve these defenders imagine what he could do next to VVD.
Left Back – Nelson Semedo – Wolverhampton
Okay so granted Nelson Semedo is a natural right back, however he has the ability to play left back as shown with Barcelona, so I am pretty sure he could play there for us. He was a hyped transfer arriving from Wolves this summer and joins a plethora of excellent Portuguese right back currently calling the premier league home.
He versatility is what makes him such a threat both in defence and in attack, but the important part of his game is his pace. This in itself frees up our right back Tavernier who is a much more prolific goal scorer to go forward with the attack. Semedo is underrated in his play because he came from La Liga without much fan fair, however he is an excellent player who can really add layers to a team.
Centre Midfield – Allan – Everton
A recent addition to a strong Everton side and one of the first names on my list Allan is a huge fan favourite, especially for any ultimate team players. Allan defines multitalented with the ability to play in the anchor role, sitting in front of the defence. He can however play as a box to box centre midfielder, or even further up as an attacking midfielder.
For our team we will be using Allan as more of a box to box midfielder, utilising his pace and his ability to break up and begin the play. Allan is like a multitool, he may not be the best in any of the positions he plays, but he can give even the best players a run for their money.
Centre Midfield – Kalvin Phillips – Leeds United
The final member of our squad that was from a team who did not really give us a standout player to pick. Leeds United has some excellent players, however they do not push out any of our attackers. Kalvin Phillips is a very good utility player and someone who can play a similar role in our team as Allan.
Phillips is definitely the more defensive of the two players and will therefore absolutely take that roll on our team, player one up, one down is the perfect strategy when attacking. Phillips has the potential to become and real force in the premier league and learning alongside Allan is something that will help him thrive.
Attacking Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Surprisingly De Bruyne was a contested pick on this team, with Bruno Fernandes showing up in the league, it was a difficult choice between the two. It all come down to the type of production I personally would be looking for from my team. What I would be looking for is production in terms of passing and assists, this is a place where KDB flourishes.
De Bruyne’s array of passing is second to none and he is potentially the best attacking midfielder in the world today. With him making the passes forward to our attack it will be all goals all the time. He is a stronger pick here for my teams play style than the more direct Fernandes.
Right Winger – Allan Saint Maximin – Newcastle United
The only player on the Newcastle squad outside of Dubravka who gets a look in for this team and this to due to his ability to beat his fullback and dribble at players. Saint-Maximin is an extremely tricky player, and while naturally right footed he would usually play on the Left Wing.
Why then have we swapped him onto the Right Wing? Well because for our team he will be running at players and running down the line. He is strong and fast and therefore he is useful for making players panic when they are defending going backwards. He is like a more polished Adama Traore and benefits our team the most with his ability to make a player miss.
Striker – Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
The pick for the man up top, our main goal scorer can only be one man… it’s Jamie Vardy. There are few players better in the league for finding the net, so he is definitely going to give us the production we need from him. He plays very well as the lone man up top, and he will have practically unlimited production from all of the players around him.
He has shown in recent years his ability to find the net from almost anywhere on the pitch and coupled with his pace he can become unplayable. Balance is key when creating any team and if our opponent has not accounted for this, then Vardy will have a field day against a weaker defence.
Left Winger – Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
The reason why picking KDB over Fernandes was made easier was because of the ability to have Marcus Rashford at Left Wing. A really great all-round attacker, with the ability to play either Wing, through the middle and even in attacking midfield means he can help the team from anywhere. Having Rashford out on the wing instead of through the middle is also important to utilise his creativity.
The reason for Rashford taking the Left Wing as a natural right footed is player is because we would want him to come instead onto his stronger foot. He is a huge threat when running at players, especially at the top of the box and we know he knows how to find the net. This feels like the best way to utilise Rashford to get the most out of him.
South 11 – Ant
Goalkeeper – Alphonse Areola – Fulham
If we are going to beat the Northern boys, the Goalkeeper position is going to be key. A position that cannot be underrated. You only need to look at Chelsea when they had Kepa in goal, compared to when Mendy came through the door. Completely different outfit.
So we went with Areola from Fulham which was a relatively easy decision. Currently on loan from Paris Saint-Germain the French keeper has been a revelation in goal this season. Parker recently hailed Areola’s “big presence” as crucial to Fulham’s push towards Premier League stability.
With tonnes of experience at the highest level, I feel the team will be in very capable hands.
Right Back – Ryan Bertrand – Southampton
Solid. Consistent. 7 to 8 out of 10 a week. That’s how I would describe Ryan Bertrand. I still think Chelsea missed a trick letting Ryan Bertrand go all them years ago. The only downfall here is we are going to have to play him on the right side of defence. Mainly due to lack of options across all the teams I had to choose from.
This comes with it’s limitations going forward playing a left sides player on the right. But tactically I would have my Left Back marourding forward and Bertrand holding back to stop any counter attacks from forming.
Right Centre Back – Ben White – Brighton
Youthful and energetic, Ben White was any easy choice to play Right Centre Back. After all the transfer rumours over the summer, hats off to Ben White keeping himself completely grounded. He could have forced his way out of Brighton but he chose to show them loyalty and repay the faith they have in him to adapt to the physicality and intensity of the Premier League.
He doesn’t look to just bully opponents in isolated incidents, instead, he attempts to dominate the space in general. He’s then able to suffocate the opposition, reclaim the ball and quell attacks almost instantly due to his positioning.
There’s also the additional bonus that he is a really great footballer with the ball at his feet. This helps with how I want my team to play which is possession based football out from the back.
Left Centre Back – Thiago Silva – Chelsea
With all the money Chelsea spent over the summer it was out of contract Thiago Silva that has made the real difference. Coming to the Premier League at 36 and putting in performances like he has on a regular basis is a joke. You can tell he wants to leave his mark, and help the team achieve bigger things. In a one off game against the North in a derby of this magnitude, you want a man that’s done it all to take his seat at the heart of your defence.
Without a doubt he will be wearing my captains armband. My whole squad will look up to him as their leader! Let’s hope his English is good enough by now to take the pre-match changing room ‘hype’ speech.
Left Back – Patrick van Aanholt – Crystal Palace
Van Aanholt is very underrated in my eyes. He has been a solid Premier League full-back for six seasons now with Sunderland and Crystal Palace. Defensively sound and pops up with the odd goal every now and then.
The attacking outlet he gives that Palace team from the LB position is very impressive to say the least. With Bertrand staying back on the right, Van Anholt will have the licence to roam forward and cause the oppositions full back all sorts of problems.
Central Defensive Midfielder – Scott Brown – Celtic
Our Scottish war veteran comes in the form of Scott Brown. If I wanted a guy to come in and do a job / follow my gameplay then Brown is my man. With the passionate energy and ability to put the boot in, he is a man I can trust to set the tempo.
Alongside Thiago Silva he will demand the upmost from the rest of the team and will not settle for second best. Probably look at substituting him in the second half as he will probably tire very easily.
Central Defensive Midfielder – Declan Rice – West Ham
West Ham have a golden boy in Declan Rice. Every time I watch this guy I want him in my Chelsea team more and more. What a prospect he is! Really he should be playing Champions League football. I can’t help but think he is being held back at West Ham. Let’s see what happens in the summer of 2021.
Alongside Scott Brown I should have a very stable midfield that offers alot of balance throughout the game. Their ability to sniff out danger and relieve the back four will be something I’m really counting on.
Declan also has it in his locker to pass through the midfield lines with ease and put a decent ball into the box.
Left Midfielder – Son – Tottenham
Best footballer in the Premier League! Statement of the year. Since Hazard left I can’t think of an attacking winger that offers more than Sonny Son Son. What a fantastic footballer he is, everything about his game is amazing.
Not only can he make a man miss a tackle with his quick feet and trickery, but he also has end product every time. I’d put my house on him scoring a one on one attempt. He also has the ability to product a wonder goal out of nothing. He is a major part of the game plan. With the overlapping Van Aanholt he should get plenty of space to operate.
Central Attacking Midfielder – Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
When you look at the Aston Villa team there’s one guy that stands out from the crowd – Jack Grealish.
He wears short socks for a reason!
“Obviously your socks are supposed to go above your calves. But one year when I was here, the socks once shrunk in the wash. So they wouldn’t go higher. That season, I ended up playing really well. So it became a superstitious thing for me. I thought ‘I’m going to keep doing this because I’ve done well”.Jack Grealish
Aston Villa fans will argue that Jack Grealish has always been a top player, but the numbers of the current campaign paint a picture of a player who has certainly made some form of step up in recent times.
The 25 year-old is technically entering what are commonly recognised as peak years of performance and the stats show that. In the Central Attacking Midfielder role he will have the licence to cause the opposition all sorts of problems going back towards their own goal.
His 196 is at least 67 more than any other player in the division, with the top five consisting of Grealish, Pedro Neto, Solly March, Kevin De Bruyne and Adama Traore. No player is more inclined to advance up the field by carrying the ball than the Villa skipper.
More impressively, players tend to either carry the ball into the final third or carry it into the penalty box; very few showcase both to a high level but Grealish does. It was a weigh up between him and Mason Mount but I couldn’t leave out Thiago Silva from the lineup. Therefore, Grealish was a no brainer.
Right Midfielder – Matheus Pereira – West Brom
People are probably thinking what a strange choice. But last season this man was West Brom’s player of the season as they cruised to promotion.
Pereira was involved in 24 of his side’s goals last season, scoring eight and providing a further 16 assists. A look at the underlying statistics only adds to Pereira’s appeal of securing a place in the South 11. He created 116 chances last season, more than any other player in the Championship.
With the ability to also operate as number 10 he can easily interchange with the other attackers. This is a defenders nightmare. His unbelievable technical ability on the ball provides that bit of class we need on the right side of midfield. All ill be demanding of him is to beat his man, and whip a ball across the face of the defenders. This allows for our lethal striker to do what he does best…..finish his dinner.
Striker – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal
Despite the goal drought this man is experiencing right now, he is a cold born killer in front of goal usually. Striker wise he is up there with the very best so this was without a doubt any easy decision. I did lean towards Kane but the idea of having Auba and Son in the same team made me wet.
The struggles he is experiencing at Arsenal right now stem from the lack of creativity from the centre of the park, with their inability to open up the opposition. With the capability to also operate off the left, there is the hope that he can provide rotation with Son throughout the game to give the Defenders food of thought. Having his pace on the counter attack will be great for when one of my two Centre Mid’s steal the ball back and knock one in behind.
So who would win between the North and the South? You decide!
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