Date: 22nd December 2016 at 12:06am
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Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have produced the Team of the Half Season as we head towards the Boxing Day midway point in the 2016/17 Premier League.

With 17 games played as we head towards Christmas Day this year, there are no great surprises in their selections really – the sides you expect to feature in Sky’s favoured Top Five it seems all relatively figure one way or another although (maybe expectedly) nobody from Arsenal features for former Manchester United right back Neville, but he does only select one Red Devil and one Citizen in his selection.

For former Liverpool defender Carragher, a number of similar players feature – as do clubs – but he does go for an Arsenal element to the squad, also only picking one Red in his selection but no Manchester United player.

Neville’s favoured XI for the 2016 portion of the season is as follows:

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), David Luiz (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United).

Carragher went for:

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), David Luiz (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Southampton), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal).

Speaking to Sky Sports to explain their selections, Neville said.

‘My team is dominated by Chelsea with three out of the back five. In midfield I have gone for Fernandinho alongside Kante because he has been excellent in central midfield for Manchester City. It was Lallana, Mane or De Bruyne on the right. I couldn’t decide between those three, but I went for Lallana because I felt he shaded it. Hazard is a no-brainer and I went for Ibrahimovic and Costa up front.’

With Carragher adding.

‘I’ve gone with maybe a surprise selection in goal with Jordan Pickford at Sunderland. The reason I’ve gone for him is, besides Jermain Defoe, he is maybe Sunderland’s most important player and I can’t really say that about another keeper in the league. The rest was fairly straightforward. I don’t think the defending has been great, so there’s no surprise I’ve got two Chelsea players there. I think Azpilicueta is the best defender in the league and if there was any full-back in the league I’d want in my team it would be Azpilicueta. You know what you are getting week in and week out. David Luiz has been outstanding and deserves to be there and I think Van Dijk is the next big-money signing from Southampton.’

As they both point out, the form of Chelsea topping the table as we go into the New Year has a huge baring on the selections largely and each of them talks about the form of David Luiz when neither of them were overly sold on him being an Antonio Conte type of player when he returned to the club over the summer.

With the make up of the Premier League table at this point and the individual form of others who make the mix, I don’t think any of the selections are that left field but clearly there will be people out their wondering why other well performing players so far this year didn’t make the cut – but the interesting element will come at the end of the season depending on which teams and players drop off, and which come more to the fore in the New Year.

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