Premier League: Unsung heroes XI

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Goalkeeper - Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

This time last year, Villa were three points worse off and had played one extra game compared to now. Although their most notable progress has definitely been made in the amount of goals they are conceding.

By the end of November 2012 they had a goal difference of -11, compared to the minus one that it currently is. This is no small part thanks to Brad Guzan. He has figured for Aston Villa in all 13 games so far this season, keeping five clean sheets. Plus, he hasn't conceded more than two goals in any game in the Premier League.

This contribution is surely worth those three points to his team. In addition to his shot-stopping, he has given the Villa back line more security at set pieces such as corners. His 95% claiming success reflects his dominance in the box. A string of consistent performances make him the clear choice between the post for this unsung heroes team.

Right-Back - Kevin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City)

Cardiff have pulled off some shock results since being promoted to the Premier League - most notably the beating of Manchester City and their last gasp draw with Manchester United.

Théophile-Catherine is undoubtedly one of the standout players from these successes. He's been a rock at the back for the Welsh team, winning two thirds of his tackles and making 41 clearances in his ten appearances so far.

As well as this, making six key passes leading to one assist so far are stats not to be sniffed at for a player new to the Premier League.

Centre-back - Dejan Lovren (Southampton)

The Saints have certainly been the surprise package of the season so far. They currently sit in seventh, just two points outside the top four.

On top of this, they boast the joint best defensive record with leaders Arsenal, conceding just ten goals so far.

Lovren has been superb for Southampton this season. With a 74% tackling success and 69% success in aerial duels, he has been a massive component in assuring that his team are so hard to break down.

Centre-back - Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa)

The second Villa entrance to the unsung heroes XI, captain Ron Vlaar has proven to be a great signing for his team. He brings a great deal of solidity to the Midlands side's defence and like Guzan has been crucial to Villa letting in less goals.

A 70% tackle success rate and 50% aerial duel success rate is evidence that Vlaar is truly captain fantastic and just what Villa needed after losing two experienced defenders in James Collins and Richard Dunne.

Though perhaps the loss of these defenders could be the cause for Villa's habit of letting in so many goals, this crisis seems to be over with Vlaar an established member of the team.

Left-back - Luke Shaw (Southampton)

Luke Shaw is being tipped by many as one of the stars of the future. At just eighteen years old, he is already being linked with clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United for fees of up to £30million.

Praise indeed. He's a full back that likes to roam forward when he can but at the same time is disciplined and realises his defensive role.

Right Midfield - Morgan Amalfitano (West Bromwich Albion) 

Despite being in the bottom half, there have been some players from the Albion that have caught the eye so far this season. Amalfitano is one of them.

He first burst onto the Premier League scene with a beautiful solo goal at Old Trafford - sitting David De Gea down before chipping the ball over him exquisitely.

He retains the ball very well and is talented with the ball at his feet. Many of West Brom's moves go through him his pass accuracy of 77% with two assists from 21 key passes in ten games so far earns him a place in this team.

Centre Midfield - Paulinho (Tottenham)

One of Spurs' best signings in the summer, Paulinho brings a touch of samba to the north London side. He has a brilliant pass accuracy of 86% and has provided two assists in his 12 games so far.

At 25 years old, his £17million fee seems reasonable as he is bursting with natural talent and has plenty of time to adapt to the Premier League. He is influential to linking Spurs' play and could do a job in any team in the division.

Centre Midfield - Fabian Delph (Aston Villa)

Villa's third and final player in this team, Delph has a place in this team for the same reasons as Paulinho. He has a respectable pass accuracy of 82% and is key to his teams style of play.

Picking the ball up and carrying it forward is one of his main strengths, usually resulting in either a shot on goal or a useful pass to a teammate. Not only this, he can also contribute defensively by winning a tackle and breaking up the play.

His influence in the Villa side was displayed in the Midlands Derby a week ago when he was introduced whilst Villa were 2-0 down. They went on to draw 2-2, need I say more.

Left Midfield - Adam Lallana (Southampton)

This season really has been a productive one for Adam Lallana. Contributing two assists and three goals in twelve appearances, including a fabulous solo effort against Hull, has resulted in the talisman being called up into the England squad. 

He impressed on the international stage too. Lallana makes the Saints tick going forward and if he's not supplying a chance or taking one himself, he's linking their play. All of this along with his excellent work rate makes him a certainty in this team.

Striker - Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion)

Speaking of work rates, how about this guy? Shane Long is in deadly form for the Baggies right now. He swarms around defenders like a bee around pollen, looking to capitalise on any possible mistake they make.

With a great touch - as his recent goals against Aston Villa showed, and an eye for goal - he's a menace for any defence he comes up against at the moment. Despite not being the tallest of marksmen, his incredible leap means he can gather in and hold the ball up well.

If Long continues to remain in this form, West Brom could possibly find themselves creeping into the top half.

Striker - Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

The best had to be saved until last. The jewel in the crown of this team is undisputedly Wayne Rooney. Though United have not been consistently in title-winning form this season - he has.

Rooney has been their best player by far. He never leaves the football pitch without giving 100% in every single game. Goals, assists, passing- Rooney's your man. I'm sure all of us England fans will be hoping he can keep this form up for the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Whilst United fans will be overjoyed with his contribution so far this season, it's worrying to think where they'd be without him...

And so there it is! The players outside the top six who deserve to have their praises sung. Is there anyone you feel should have a place in this team that doesn't? Let us know in the comments below!

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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