TEAMtalk's Top Men

TT's Top Men: London boys get the nod

Tuesday 3rd April 2012 7:49

Cisse: Celebrates his selection for TEAMtalk's Top Men

Cisse: Celebrates his selection for TEAMtalk's Top Men

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Three Spurs stars, two Chelsea heroes and a pair of Magpies are among TEAMtalk's Top Men, our elite Premier League XI from Matchday 31.

Every Tuesday, we'll pick our Premier League team of the weekend, explain our selections and then invite you - our loyal army of readers - to pick your team of top men who caught your eye with dazzling displays or powerful performances from Saturday March 31-Monday April 2.

You can choose any formation and there's no limit on how many players you can pick from each team - so have a think, then get involved.

Danny Mills' Top Men (4-4-2): De Gea; Ivanovic, Perch, Alcaraz, Alonso; Larsson, Taarabt, van der Vaart, Bale; Torres, Cisse.

TEAMtalk's Top Men (4-3-1-2): De Gea; Ivanovic, M Williamson, Kaboul, Bale; Valencia, Pienaar, M Petrov; Van der Vaart; Cisse, Torres.

Goalkeeper

David de Gea (Manchester United): The 21-year-old Spaniard is now firmly established as United's number one - and has looked a class act between the stick in recent months.

His displays have steadily improved since the turn of the new year - and he provided the platform for United's late win at Ewood Park on Monday night, pulling off string of fine saves to deny Junior Hoilett, Marcus Olsson, Grant Hanley and Morten Gamst Pedersen before Messrs Valencia and Young bagged the goals to leave Man City sobbing.

De Gea has solved his issues with decision-making on crosses and corners, and although a few of his saves were 'ones for the cameraman', his flying one-handed save to keep Hoilett's 20-yard rocket out was simply sensational.

Simon Wilkes

Defenders

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea): The 28-year-old was Chelsea's saviour once again scoring twice in the second half against Aston Villa to secure yet another victory for Roberto Di Matteo's revitalised Blues.

A fortnight prior the Serbian's heroic extra time goal against Napoli secured progression to the Champions League quarter-final and he was at it again this time in the Midlands. Ivanovic has proven to be an instictive finisher in the penalty area and showed no mercy against Villa when presented with the opportunity to score.

Displaying all the composure of a seasonesd striker Ivanovic was on hand to turn home Juan Mata's corner after it was flicked on by Fernando Torres before finding space to cooly nod in Florent Malouda's cross and keep Chelsea's top four dream alive. Jak Penny

Mike Williamson (Newcastle): Charged with the daunting task of keeping ex-Geordie hero Andy Carroll under wraps, many expected Williamson to crumble up against Liverpool's £35million hitman.

Surprisingly the 28-year-old enjoyed a relatively trouble-free afternoon at St James' Park, turning in arguably his finest display in a black and white shirt and nullifying the threat of Carroll who failed to get any change from his former team-mate.

Williamson has come in for a lot of criticism from his own supporters this season but his bravery in the air and commitment in the tackle will go a long way to winning over the Toon Army. JP

Younes Kaboul (Tottenham): We pondered partnering James Perch with Williamson at centre-back - but were swayed by Kaboul's towering display against the free-flowing Swans at White Hart Lane.

The classy Frenchman played alongside William Gallas at the back for Spurs but was the defensive leader for Harry's hosts - and was only denied a goal at the other end of the pitch by a fine save from Michel Vorm. A top, top player.

SW

Gareth Bale (Tottenham): Due to our team formation and Bale's versatility, we're including Welsh wing wizard Bale at left-back, giving him licence to tazz down the left flank with Pienaar providing protection.

Bale was back to his brilliant best at the Lane, running with pace at defenders, unloading left-footed bombs on goal and playing a big part in Rafael van der Vaart's opening goal for Harry Redknapp's hosts.

The return to fitness of Aaron Lennon means Bale is likely to start most games in his favoured left-wing position - and we reckoned he'll continue to shine during the run-in, helping Spurs to that all-important third-placed finish.

SW

Midfielders

Antonio Valencia (Manchester Utd): Despite spending a large portion of the season on the sidelines, Valencia has emerged as United's key player in recent weeks.

A raft of injuries have limited the 25-year-old Ecuadorian to just 16 Premier League starts but he showed no ill-effects and was in inspired form against Blackburn on Monday night, giving brothers Marcus and Martin Olsson a torrid time on the right-hand side with his pace and direct running down the line.

His impressive display deserved a goal and he duly obliged late on, drilling the ball past Paul Robinson from just inside the area before turning provider and teeing up Ashley Young to seal the victory and give United a firmer grip on the title as the season draws to a climax.JP

Steven Pienaar (Everton): There's a thought that Pienaar should never have left Everton following his ill-fated spell at Tottenham.

Back at Goodison Park on loan the South African schemer is showing just why Harry Redknapp was so desperate to sign him 12 months ago.

The 30-year-old has been in dynamic form linking on the left of the Toffees' midfield and was instrumental in their win against West Brom on Saturday.

His influence out wide was too much for the Baggies to handle and David Moyes will be keen to ensure he remains at Goodison beyond this season.

JP

Martin Petrov (Bolton): It was quite poignant that on the day football paid tribute to Stiliyan Petrov it was his fellow Bulgarian and namesake Martin that produced one of the performances of the weekend.

The 32-year-old was a constant menace down the Bolton left in their victory over Wolves on Saturday, giving right-back Richard Stearman an afternoon he'll want to forget in a hurry.

Petrov has blown hot and cold during his time with the Trotters but he was the man to drag them to a priceless three points in the bottom-of-the-table clash at Molineux, holding his nerve to score a vital equaliser from the penalty spot before providing the assist for Marcus Alonso to put Bolton on course for a vital victory in their relegation battle.JP

Advanced midfieder

Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham): If you can find a goal that was executed as calmly and without effort as van der Vaart's against Swansea on Sunday, we'd like to hear about it.

The Dutchman's 11th strike in all competitions this season was a joy to behold as he elegantly stroked Ashley Williams' half-clearance into the top corner, putting the finishing touch to a lightning fast Spurs counter-attack involving usual suspects Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.

Van der Vaart turned provider later in the game, teeing up Emmanuel Adebayor from a corner to earn Harry Redknapp's men an important three points in their Champions League crusade, and proving just how important he is at White Hart Lane. JP

Strikers

Fernando Torres (Chelsea): It's incredible to think that Torres went six months without a Premier League goal prior to Chelsea's win at Aston Villa.

It all came to an end on an emotional afternoon in the Midlands as the Spaniard finally ended his top-flight drought with a finish that encapsulated all the hallmarks of a striker that used to strike fear into defenders across Europe

Latching onto a neat throughball Torres instinctively fired the ball across Shay Given and into the far corner. It was the icing on the cake for the 28-year-old whose overall performance once again suggested he's getting back to his best under Roberto Di Matteo. JP

Papiss Cisse (Newcastle): The Geordies love a goalscorer and boss Alan Pardew may have unearthed one of the most potent yet to wear the famous black and white number nine shirt.

Cisse has taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water, scoring seven goals in in six starts - including a brace in the win over Liverpool on Sunday. The 26-year-old has proved himself to be a deadly penalty area poacher and put the Merseysiders to the sword with two expertly-taken goals at St James' Park.

Having already been likened to ex-Magpies hitman Andy Cole, the Senegalese international has certainly provided a cutting edge in the final third as the club chases a remarkable top-six finsh.JP

That's our team, now pick yours!

By Simon Wilkes and Jak Penny

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