For all of the moaning and whining about American sports lacking the heart and soul of football by blokes down at the pub, those across the pond do at least come up with cool and creative ideas.
One of these is the NBA’s All-Star game, which was a suggestion already put forward informally to the Premier League a couple of years ago by Romelu Lukaku in a north vs. south format.
Such an event is unlikely to ever take place in football – everyone would pull out and be in favour of having a winter break instead, regardless of how much money they’d get from increased viewership, regardless of the honour of playing in such a novelty.
It’s still an interesting concept though, and with the NBA switching their All-Star selections from a conference format to the two players with the highest votes picking teams like they’re in a draft, 90min trusted ?Sean Walsh and ?Chris Deeley to do the honours. Let us know who you think would win/please direct your criticisms to them and only them.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Alisson (GK – ?Liverpool): The think-pieces and voices about the Brazilian being too bored in the Liverpool goal are flying about, but they’re not without foundation – the guy’s had bugger all to do recently.
Ricardo Pereira (RB – ?Leicester): The age of the flying full-back is still here, baby. Strap yourself in for a wild ride with Riccy P of the Foxes.
Caglar Soyuncu (CB – Leicester): Vague Joaquin Phoenix lookalike Caglar Soyuncu has claimed an even bigger honour than an Academy Award – a place in Team Sean.
Fernandinho (CB – ?Manchester City): Manchester City’s best defensive midfielder has become Manchester City’s best defender, ageing like a fine wine, maturing like some smelly cheese.
Andy Robertson (LB – Liverpool): When he’s not busy putting crosses ?on a plate for 90min’s Hunter Godson, Robertson’s putting crosses on a plate for the European champions.
Wilfred Ndidi (DM – Leicester): It’s always satisfying when an old Football Manager wonderkid becomes good in real life – Ndidi’s been at the heart of Leicester’s rise this season alongside some fellow FM16 alumni.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM – Manchester City): The best player in the ?Premier League this season bar none.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM – Liverpool): Reliable? Check. Tenacious? Check. Handsome? Checkity-do.
Mohamed Salah (RW – Liverpool): If you did a manual version of player-cam on Salah then you’ll see what you can’t on the TV – a player who’s thinking about how to be the biggest menace possible for 90 straight minutes.
Sergio Aguero (ST – Manchester City): Maybe the best player in Premier League history? Discussion for another time, but he’s been one of the two best strikers in the division this season for sure.
Son Heung-min (LW – ?Tottenham): Sean would have picked Marcus Rashford if he wasn’t injured, but he is, so he’s had to settle for a par-for-the-course Son.
Substitutes: Vicente Guaita (?Crystal Palace), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (?Manchester United), Jack O’Connell (?Sheffield United), Joao Moutinho (?Wolves), James Maddison (Leicester), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Raul Jimenez (Wolves).
Goalkeepers & Defenders?
Dean Henderson (GK – Sheffield United): Hendo #1, ready to keep out anything that comes at him. Unless it’s a shot by Wijnaldum, in which case it’ll go right through him like vindaloo.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB – Liverpool): Trent, could you become the best right-back in the world at the age of 21? TAA.
Joe Gomez (CB – Liverpool): It’s taken far too long for people to appreciate Joe Gomez’s ability. Playing in the strongest back line possible at this moment probably (definitely) helps, mind.
Virgil van Dijk (CB – Liverpool): A defender should never win the Ballon d’Or but Virgil van Dijk gave it a good bloody go last year. Good for him.
Ben Chilwell (LB – Leicester): Chil Benwell, one of the only names written in pen over pencil for England’s starting XI at Euro 2020.
Jordan Henderson (DM – Liverpool): People are trying the ol’ ‘speak it into existence’ regarding Henderson and the PFA Player of the Year Award, but he’s at the very least been a key performer for what could go down as the best club side ever.
Mateo Kovacic (CM – ?Chelsea): Shaking off the shackles of Maurizio Sarri’s reign and ‘Barkley off Kovacic on’ jokes, the Croatian midfielder has been one of the calm and senior heads in Frank Lampard’s first season back at Stamford Bridge.
Jack Grealish (CM – ?Aston Villa): Captaining his boyhood side in a cup final later this month is the least Grealish deserves, and his inclusion in a starting XI here is definitive proof that he’s better than James Maddison, we reckon.
Raheem Sterling (RW – Manchester City): Been in a bit of a rut recently, but Sterling was one of the league’s best players in 2019 and top 10 in Europe for sure.
Jamie Vardy (ST – Leicester): A Premier League title already under his belt, a belated Golden Boot would top off an incredible second half of Vardy’s career.
Sadio Mane (LW – Liverpool): The main Mane (hey, Van Dijk came up with it first). As the old man saying goes, he can go either way and is good in the air – what more do you want?
Substitutes: Bernd Leno (?Arsenal), Jonny Evans (Leicester), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Adama Traore (Wolves), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea).