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With Steve McClaren's starting XI for England's clash with Israel on Saturday still a mystery, Opta have chosen to examine every eligible player who has performed in the Premier League this season and come up with a side based objectively on who has performed in the opening month of the new campaign. Some of the names are familiar, but there are also a few surprises in the team.

 

Goalkeeper Steve Harper (Newcastle United)

 

Harper has achieved an impressive 83 per cent saves-to-shots ratio in the Premier League so far this season and has a 100 per cent catch success rate. He has also managed to keep a clean sheet in two of his four games. It is worth noting, however, that if Kasper Schmeichel was the top-rated eligible player but the young keeper has already announced that he will play for Denmark.

Defenders Micah Richards (Manchester City), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Anthony Gardner (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

 

The centre-back pairing may raise a few eyebrows as Rio Ferdinand is partnered by Tottenham's Anthony Gardener. It is well known that Ferdinand is one of the most accomplished passing defenders in England, and the 28-year-old defender has a 90 per cent passing accuracy this season. Meanwhile, Gardner has been successful in 80 per cent of his tackles this season and has made 48 clearances for the North London side in the four games in which he has appeared.

 

The full-backs Micah Richards and Ashley Cole have both made solid starts to the season. Richards has won each of the 15 tackles that he has made so far this term in the Premier League. He has also made 52 clearances and has a superb passing accuracy of 91 per cent. Cole's pass completion of 87 per cent is also excellent.

 

Midfielders Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

 

The Opta central midfield is all too familiar with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard filling the positions as they have in many games in the past. Lampard has managed to score in three of his four matches so far this season in the Premier League and Gerrard has a good passing accuracy of 73 per cent which could no doubt be used to good effect to feed the strike partnership. The chance of either man playing in reality has of course been vastly reduced by the pair's respective injuries.

 

With Ashley Young and Stewart Downing on the wings, the strikers will definitely get chances to score. Together, the two wingers have mustered 65 crosses so far this season and Young alone has managed two assists.

 

Strikers Emile Heskey (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Johnson (Everton)

 

Up front are the two men who in the real world look likely to be battling for a spot alongside Michael Owen. Emile Heskey has been an all-rounder this season so far, having scored one goal and assisted another, whilst also making another seven key passes for Wigan Athletic.

 

Johnson, on the other hand, is yet to find the net in the Premier League for Everton this season, despite attempting 12 shots, with an impressive 75 per cent accuracy. The diminutive striker has nonetheless managed to assist two goals and make four further goalscoring chances for his Everton team-mates.

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With Steve McClaren's starting XI for England's clash with Israel on Saturday still a mystery, Opta have chosen to examine every eligible player who has performed in the Premier League this season and come up with a side based objectively on who has performed in the opening month of the new campaign. Some of the names are familiar, but there are also a few surprises in the team.

 

Goalkeeper Steve Harper (Newcastle United)

 

Harper has achieved an impressive 83 per cent saves-to-shots ratio in the Premier League so far this season and has a 100 per cent catch success rate. He has also managed to keep a clean sheet in two of his four games. It is worth noting, however, that if Kasper Schmeichel was the top-rated eligible player but the young keeper has already announced that he will play for Denmark.

Defenders Micah Richards (Manchester City), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Anthony Gardner (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Cole (Chelsea)

 

The centre-back pairing may raise a few eyebrows as Rio Ferdinand is partnered by Tottenham's Anthony Gardener. It is well known that Ferdinand is one of the most accomplished passing defenders in England, and the 28-year-old defender has a 90 per cent passing accuracy this season. Meanwhile, Gardner has been successful in 80 per cent of his tackles this season and has made 48 clearances for the North London side in the four games in which he has appeared.

 

The full-backs Micah Richards and Ashley Cole have both made solid starts to the season. Richards has won each of the 15 tackles that he has made so far this term in the Premier League. He has also made 52 clearances and has a superb passing accuracy of 91 per cent. Cole's pass completion of 87 per cent is also excellent.

 

Midfielders Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

 

The Opta central midfield is all too familiar with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard filling the positions as they have in many games in the past. Lampard has managed to score in three of his four matches so far this season in the Premier League and Gerrard has a good passing accuracy of 73 per cent which could no doubt be used to good effect to feed the strike partnership. The chance of either man playing in reality has of course been vastly reduced by the pair's respective injuries.

 

With Ashley Young and Stewart Downing on the wings, the strikers will definitely get chances to score. Together, the two wingers have mustered 65 crosses so far this season and Young alone has managed two assists.

 

Strikers Emile Heskey (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Johnson (Everton)

 

Up front are the two men who in the real world look likely to be battling for a spot alongside Michael Owen. Emile Heskey has been an all-rounder this season so far, having scored one goal and assisted another, whilst also making another seven key passes for Wigan Athletic.

 

Johnson, on the other hand, is yet to find the net in the Premier League for Everton this season, despite attempting 12 shots, with an impressive 75 per cent accuracy. The diminutive striker has nonetheless managed to assist two goals and make four further goalscoring chances for his Everton team-mates.

Just goes to show that stats can talk complete bollocks. Spurs defence has been fucking awfull so far this season and Gardener playing so much has been a big part of that.

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