F365's Premier League Sidelined XI

There are some big names not playing an awful lot of football - from Jonny Evans to Shinji Kagawa, via Sandro and Michael Essien. Take a look at the barely used...

Last Updated: 17/10/13 at 16:33 Post Comment

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We haven't included new signings, by the way


Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)
We start with a slight cheat as Jack Butland has clearly not been usurped at Stoke, but rather faltered in his own usurping when Asmir Begovic failed to exit in the summer as expected. It looked very much like Butland was leaving Birmingham for Premier League football and a chance at being on the England plane to Brazil next summer. Instead, he's ended up at Barnsley - the worst team in the Championship - on loan. He will have his fingers crossed (it's hard in gloves) that rumours of Begovic being sold are more than paper talk.


Right-Back: César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
"Azpilicueta is playing many games for Chelsea. He has a lot of energy, defends well and is always willing to attack. We have a lot of hope for him," said Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque when handing Azpilicueta his first senior call-up in February. But that was before the de-Spanification of the Chelsea side by Jose Mourinho, who has only given one start to Azpilicueta - in the Capital One Cup. Those 90 minutes against Swindon are unlikely to get him to the World Cup. Branislav Ivanovic has arguably been Chelsea's player of the season so far so nobody is expecting Azpilicueta to nudge out those sculptured buttocks any time soon.


Centre-Back: Jonny Evans (Manchester United)
From United's most consistent centre-half last season under Sir Alex Ferguson to a bit-part player under David Moyes, who is so in awe of the much-feted Rio Ferdinand-Nemanja Vidic partnership that he seems determined to use it wherever possible, regardless of their fitness. Thus, Evans sat on the bench as United played three games in eight days - culminating in that embarrassing 4-1 thwacking by Manchester City - and only played his first club football of the season in the Capital One Cup. Does he really have to prove himself all over again?


CB: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
11 minutes. That's how much football the Belgian has played in the Premier League this season as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny establish themselves as the Gunners' first-choice pairing. Vermaelen claims he's not worried - "people ask me if I panic because I'm not playing a lot but I'm not" - but in the next breath admitted that he would have to re-assess in January. With Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Daniel van Buyten, Nicolas Lombaerts and Jan Vertonghen showing off Belgium's embarrassment of riches at centre-half (look at England's options in that position and weep), it's getting perilously close to panic time.


LB: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
When you see that the Spaniard has played five times in the Premier League this season, you might be fooled into thinking that Mr Monreal has played a key part in Arsenal's blistering start. Well done, Nacho. But those five appearances have added up to a glorious 49 minutes as Monreal has become the go-to guy for shoring up/timewasting in the final seconds. And that's unlikely to change as long as Kieran Gibbs retains form and fitness. Astonishingly, he's still in the reckoning for Spain's World Cup squad while Gibbs is a distant third choice for England. England must be better than Spain.


RM: Gaston Ramirez (Southampton)
The Uruguayan is not the only player sidelined at Southampton this season (step forward, or rather back, Jack Cork and Jos Hooiveld) but he's definitely the most expensive at £12m. He has been a victim of Saints' more defensive line-up featuring Adam Lallana or James Ward-Prowse in the wide-right position. Here's what his agent said this week: "Napoli is a possibility. Gaston really likes the chairman, Nicola Cortese, but not the coach, Pochettino." We suspect he'd like the coach a whole lot more if he occasionally started a Premier League game.


CM: Michael Essien (Chelsea)
Ah, the strange case of Michael Essien, covered in more depth by Daniel Storey here. He has returned from his loan spell at Real Madrid - where he was wanted by Jose Mourinho - to re-join Chelsea, where he is quite obviously not wanted by Jose Mourinho. Essien has not played a minute in the Premier League as Mourinho has preferred Frank Lampard, Ramires and, the ultimate rejection, even Jon Obi Mikel. His only football has come in the Capital One Cup against Swindon; you know when you're named in the same team as Ryan Bertrand that you're in the stiffs.


CM: Sandro (Tottenham)
We're big fans of Sandro here at F365. Unfortunately for Sandro, we're not currently in charge of the Tottenham team (one day, Sandro, one day). The kung-fu kicking, guitar-playing Brazilian has not started a single Premier League game this season as AVB has opted for the rather more adventurous partnership of Paulinho and Mousa Dembélé. Meanwhile, Sandro has been reduced to Europa League and Capital One Cup duty, while kissing any slim hopes of a World Cup spot goodbye.


LM: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Yes, he did start Liverpool's last Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace but a combination of factors (Lucas Leiva's suspension, Glen Johnson's injury) saw him used as a right wing-back, Brendan Rodgers presumably thinking that he could probably handle Marouane Chamakh. He could. Otherwise, Sterling has been limited to a bit-part role with Jordan Henderson, Victor Moses and Philippe Coutinho all used in the wide areas. Sterling is very much a victim of Liverpool's vastly improved squad - this time last year he was starting every Premier League game and preparing to make his England debut.


IN THE HOLE: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
The less Kagawa plays, the better he becomes in the eyes of Manchester United fans. Never mind that he started only 17 Premier League games last season (11 in his preferred central role) and never mind that, by his own admission, he failed to do himself justice, it is David Moyes who has sidelined the Japanese trickster by playing him in just one Premier League game - against West Brom, when he was substituted after 45 minutes. There's simply no room for Kagawa in a United side that features Wayne Rooney in the No. 10 position and relies heavily on crosses from out wide. It's enough to make Jürgen Klopp cry.


CF: Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham)
While everyone else on this list is at least playing some football - even if they've had to go to Barnsley - Adebayor has not kicked a ball in anger all season after being sent to train with the reserves. It's easy to forget that he actually ended last season in the Tottenham first XI before going off for a summer that's never really ended. There have been rumours that he has asked for £1m to rip up a contract that is currently costing Spurs around £100,000 a week. With the chance of finding a buyer slim, Spurs might be well advised to cut their losses and write that cheque.

Sarah Winterburn

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