Happy new year to all the readers of Sports 24 Seven – All Things Jabu, I hope your sport wishes come true and the Springboks mend broken hearts! To kick start our 2017 coverage, the 7th year of the blog, I decided to put together an XI from the current Premier League squads that wears the shirt number 17. Of course it has to be the current players so Alexis Sanchez, who wore 17 last season, cant be included. Out of interest two teams dont have a number 17 leaving me with a squad of 18 to select what I believe would be a relatively competitive side. Here is my Premier League 17 XI to kick off 2017.
GK – Paul Robinson (Burnley)
Fortunately there was one goalkeeper who wears the number 17, the veteran Paul Robinson. Robinson, who has scored a Premier League goal when he was playing at Tottenham, signed for Burnley in January this year as cover for first choice Tom Heaton. He did, however, make his debut in November, four years after his last Premier League appearance. A relatively reliable man in the sticks is not the worst start here.
LB – Daley Blind (Man Utd)
Although many feel Blind’s best position is defensive midfielder, its at left back that he made my team. The Dutchman has started to excel in line with the upturn of the Manchester United form and has become a vital cog in the Mourinho machine. He has got a Premier League goal and a couple of assists to his name this season in his 13 appearances and comfortably makes our “17” XI.
CB – Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)
When you talk about the Premier Leagues best defender there will be talks of Jan Vertonghen, Laurent Koscielny and maybe even David Luiz. But one name that will not part from that discussion topic is the name of Dutchman. Southampton signed him for a reported 13 million and the talks are that Chelsea and Man City are willing to spend 60 million to purchase him. Enough said.
CB – Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
The days of breaking Aaron Ramsey’s leg and ripping Adebayors calf are well behind him, although the reputation has not really left him. The Stoke City captain has been at the club for nearly 10 years now and has featured in 280 odd Premier League appearances. Surprisingly has still only made one appearance for England, but that is unlikely to change.
RB – Danny Simpson (Leicester City)
DM – Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
When all the talk of Ngolo Kante was doing the rounds as the best DM in the league, very few spoke about the brilliant Gueye at a struggling Aston Villa. Instead Everton have scored by securing the Senegalese signature for just 7 million. Incredibly in 2016 Gueye made more tackles than any other player in the Premier League and is a very suitable DM for our “17” XI.
DM – Didier Ndong (Sunderland)
Sunderland broke their club record fee when they signed Didier Ndong for 13.6 million from FC Lorient. Although he is still taking time to settle into the English game, the Gabon star has already featured 16 times for the struggling side. Of course he is heading off to the AFCON now which his country is hosting and will be sorely missed by David Moyes men.
RW – Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
The Chelsea flop has been nothing short of sensational since his return to England. He featured just three times for Chelsea before being sold to Wolfsburg for 18 million. He would return to England for 55 million to feature for Man City and scoring 16 goals in 41 appearances for the Citizens.
CAM – Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Look he makes this team as the Newcastle and France Sissoko, because he has failed to shine since joining Tottenham for a ludicrous fee. He has made 10 appearances for Spurs, which have all been bitterly underwhelming, but just remember how he starred in a French side featuring Griezman, Pogba and Payet.
LW – Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)
The nephew of Jay Jay Okockha has just scored the second for Arsenal as I write this. The Nigerian youngster has really taken his opportunity at first team action after joining Arsenal when he was in Primary School. He is now a regular starter and is equally adept at the no 10 role or off the wing.
FW – Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
He may be flattering to deceive at Crystal Palace, but the Belgian has scored more headed goals in the last two years than anyone else in the Premier League. After a failed venture to Liverpool it feels like Benteke is still trying to find the confidence that saw him net 42 goals in 89 appearances for Aston Villa. Still not a bad option for our striking position.
Of course what would make interesting reading is a World Number 17 XI, or even a legends number 17 as the likes of Steven Gerrard, Emmanuel Petit and Cristiano Ronaldo all wore the number at some point!