For the goalkeeper spot, I have to go with Darlow. The Newcastle keeper has made countless crucial saves to stop his side from conceding. Darlow first broke into the first team towards the end of last season with injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot. He took his chance well and made a very strong case for himself. However, Darlow is only called into action when necessary with the very solid defence in front of him. This season he has made 45 saves and kept nine clean sheets so far. He’s also conceded 18 goals, an average of 0.82 a game.
In the right back slot, I’ve chosen Norwich’s Ivo Pinto. Pinto is the most valuable right back in the league at £3.4 million (according to transfermarkt). The Portuguese full-back has made 46 interceptions and won 34 challenges which shows his defensive solidarity but he’s also created 18 chances and made four assists which shows the attacking side of his game, which is crucial in the modern full-back.
Next, we have Jamaal Lascelles. The English centre-back has been a rock at the back. Lascelles is only 23 but has shown an incredible amount of maturity, the reason he was given the captain’s armband. He always admits to his mistakes and organises his back line well. Plus his solid performances are the icing on the cake for one of the best defenders in the league.
For the other centre back, I’ve chosen Pontus Jansson. The Leeds defender on loan from Torino has been instrumental in Leeds’ push for promotion. The Swede has been a rock in defence, making countless key tackles. Leeds would be mad to not pursue him when his loan ends.
In the left back spot, we have Aston Villa’s Jordan Amavi. I’m personally a fan of Amavi and think he could get a move away to a bigger club. Amavi possesses a great deal of pace and has a good understanding of the game. He is good at reading the game and making interceptions. When he gets further forward, that’s when he shows his best ability. He can beat a man and put a good cross into the box. He reminds me of Gareth Bale when he played left back early in his career (obviously, I’m not saying he’s the next Bale).
On the left, I’ve picked Anthony Knockaert. The Brighton winger has been top class this season and he was someone I desperately wanted Newcastle to sign in the summer. The French winger has netted nine goals and set up five this season. He would be a great addition to any Championship side.
How could I leave Jonjo Shelvey out of this side? The man is honestly a genius. He is the best player in the league, no doubt about it. Newcastle rely on him a lot and evidently struggled during his suspension as he is the heartbeat of the side. Every single chance comes from something he’s created and is one of the only positive playing players. He would walk into any side in the Championship, maybe even a few Premier League sides. Nothing short of a maestro.
Next to Shelvey, I would have Aaron Mooy. The Australian midfield plays for Manchester City but is currently on loan at Huddersfield. Man City boss Pep Guardiola hailed him as “amazing”, that must mean a lot coming from one the best managers in the world. Mooy has played 29 games and created 62 chances, that’s an average of over two per match. He’s another Shelvey-esque player, driving the team forward from midfield and dictating the play. I think it would be worth Guardiola’s while to recall him from loan.
On the right, I opted for Wolves’ Helder Costa. The Portuguese winger moved from Benfica in the summer of 2016 and has scored eight goals already. Costa has proven to be tricky for defenders to handle. He poses a constant threat to teams and makes things happen which is dangerous for the opposition. Some bigger sides should stand up and watch this lad because he is quality.
Up top. I picked Chelsea loanee, Tammy Abraham. The English striker who is currently tearing apart defences, bagging 18 league goals. He’s only 19 and scoring goals for fun (albeit in a lower league) so Chelsea really need to seriously consider playing him next season. However. I hope he doesn’t fall victim to Chelsea’s loan system and is given a proper run in the first team.
Finally, we have Dwight Gayle. What more can be said? 20 goals in 23 games, the first Newcastle player to score 20+ goals in a season since Alan Shearer. Taking the risk to drop down a division has paid off massively with him getting regular game time and regular goals. The Englishman has torn the league apart and has been the driving force in Newcastle’s title hopes. Let’s hope he stays for many seasons more.
Do you agree with this team? Tweet me! @MITROVlC