Premier League best XI for 2014-15

Forward Diego Costa among top players at each position heading into season

Updated: August 15, 2014, 12:44 AM ET
By Adrian Melville | ESPN Insider

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDaniel Sturridge will be relied on to shoulder more of the scoring load for Liverpool.

Prem previews: Breakout players | Best IX | Betting guide

The Premier League season begins Saturday, and there is plenty of interest in the stars who make this league the most popular in the world.

Managers are looking to build around these players, as their individual talent level and leadership skills are fully linked to team success. While circumstances such as injuries, team performance and tactical shifts can always influence how these impact players perform throughout the season, the top talent always has a way of revealing itself at every position.

Below is my preseason Best XI, based on the players' talent level, recent performance and ability to assemble within a standard 4-4-2 formation.


Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois

Club: Chelsea Age: 22 | Country: Belgium

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will have a difficult decision to make in goal this season, as Courtois and incumbent Petr Cech are arguably the two best goalies in the Premier League. Courtois returns to Chelsea after leading La Liga with 20 clean sheets for Atletico Madrid, and his 79 percent save percentage throughout Atletico's run to the UEFA Champions League final confirmed that the 22-year-old is composed enough to handle the biggest stages.

Courtois had a solid 2014 World Cup for Belgium, and throughout the tournament he demonstrated how good he is at closing down shooting angles with his 6-foot-5 frame. He should be the starter for Chelsea, and is poised to be the team's No. 1 goalkeeper for years to come.

Second team: Tim Howard (Everton, 35, United States)


Left Defender: Leighton Baines

Club: Everton  | Age: 29 | Country: England