All-Star Football: Should the Premier League take a leaf out of the NBA's book?
Following the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, Ash Lewis takes a look at the mouthwatering prospect of a Premier League All-Star Game and what it might look like.
Last night New York played host to the main event of NBA All-Star weekend, as the East and West All-Star teams faced off in their annual battle to see who could defend the least. Despite having a Facebook feed now perpetually infested with fantasy football teams and all-star XIs, a Premier League All-Star game has never been a reality. Basketball and football are very different sports, so how would it work and most importantly, what would the teams look like in a Premier League All-Star Game?
As always, last night's game was a high scoring affair with some of the greatest talents in the NBA on show. Disregarding accusations that the teams don’t defend (that's a bad thing?) it remains a marquee event in the basketball calendar. It may not be one for the purists but the opportunity to see the best players of any sport team up in unusual combinations is going to be lapped up by fans.
It also remains a fantastic international platform for the sport and for individual players, with last night’s game being broadcast in 215 countries. The nature of the event means it’s also a perfect gateway into the sport for newcomers. I’ll never get back the hours I spent trying to replicate Kobe Bryant's through-the-legs effort in the 1997 dunk contest, although being able to dunk would have been a handy starting point.
However, in the world of our imaginary Premier League All-Star game, herein lies the greatest challenge. The NBA edition is a whole weekend of activity, with the main match joined by concerts, rookie games and the aforementioned Dunk Contest. I'm not sure football has the ability to replicate this authentically, or even the desire to see it happen. The simplicity and rawness of football is what fans love about it and probably why it is the biggest sport in the world.
So what if it was just the main event? Casting aside my pessimism for a few minutes, I canvassed the H+K Sports team for their All-Star teams. It would, of course, be North vs South, with some controversial carving up of the Midlands.
After receiving everyone's carefully crafted North & South XIs, I put together the players with the most votes and formed the teams you'll find at the bottom of the page.
However, before we get to that there are some honourable mentions. First up is James McCann-Ellerington's assertion that 7th placed Liverpool should entirely dominate the North:
And resident West Ham fan James Fenn picking possibly the most attacking team since Ossie Ardiles decided he needed 5,000 strikers:
Biased selection and idealistic managing aside, we managed to cobble together two sides that would put on a show. It would be a classic battle of attacking flair and pragmatism, with the North looking very top heavy and the South being heavily influenced by Jose Mourinho’s formidable Chelsea side. The dominance of the top three in this team also speaks volumes about the current state of play in the Premier League.
PREMIER LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME: SOUTH VS NORTH
The high number of players from Chelsea and Manchester City in particular highlights why the All-Star concept isn’t a reality in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to imagine the clubs, powerful and protective of their players as they are, buying into it before or during crucial stages of the season. For now, fans will just have to carry on enjoying the debate whilst every now and then distracting their gaze across the continent to the next best thing: El Clasico.
Think you can put together a better set of teams? Let us know @HKSports