North v South: Premier League fantasy match-up


Football is perhaps one of the few areas left in public life where tribalism is not only accepted but encouraged, and even necessary.

As such, we've taken the Us v Them mentality usually reserved for individual clubs and applied it country-wide, to determine whether the north or south of England can lay claim to producing the best players in the Premier League.

The centre point we've used to divide the nation in half is Fenny Drayton (just north of Birmingham, just south of Leicester) - apparently, this is the central point of England. Here goes...


NORTH: Joe Hart - Shrewsbury

England goalkeeper Joe Hart
(Francois Mori/AP)

The Manchester City goalkeeper is England's first choice and the obvious candidate to step up for the North team. He didn't have the best Euro 2016 and with Hexham-born Fraser Forster on the bench he does have competition for his place.

SOUTH: Jack Butland - Bristol

Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland warms up before the pre-season friendly match at the Pirelli Stadium
(Barrington Coombs/PA)

Butland is the up-and-coming goalkeeper in the country and while he plays in Stoke he was born in Bristol to ensure he slots in the South team. The South are a bit short on goalkeepers, with former England and Manchester United shot-stopper Ben Foster the next best bet.

Verdict: We'll give this one to the North simply because Hart is England's number one goalkeeper at the moment ... although that could change after those two blunders he made at Euro 2016.


NORTH: Kyle Walker (Sheffield), John Stones (Barnsley), Gary Cahill (Dronfield), Danny Rose (Doncaster).

England's Danny Rose and Kyle Walker
(Mike Egerton/PA)

There's a South Yorkshire feel to this back four, with Walker, Stones and Rose all born within a ... er, ... stone's throw of each other. Gary Cahill wasn't born too far away either, over the Derbyshire border in Dronfield. It's a pretty steady looking defensive group too, with three of Roy Hodgson's first-choice defenders from Euro 2016 ... which on second thoughts maybe isn't such a good thing.

SOUTH: Nathaniel Clyne (Stockwell), Chris Smalling (Greenwich), John Terry (Barking), Ryan Bertrand (Southwark).

England manager Roy Hodgson with Chris Smalling and Nathaniel Clyne
(Owen Humphreys/PA)

Strangely, with all of the North's defenders born so close to each other the same is the case for our selection from the South. All of them were born inside the M25! Smalling is the standout defender, with Euro 2016 team-mates Clyne and Bertrand alongside him. John Terry might not be available for England but he is for this team and starts, with little central defensive cover in the team.

Verdict: This one goes to the North too. The South have England's best central defender but after that it's the ageing John Terry and not much else. The North's full-backs are England's first-choice too.


NORTH: James Milner (Leeds), Jordan Henderson (Sunderland), Ross Barkley (Liverpool), Danny Drinkwater (Manchester).

EvertonÂ's Ross Barkley celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game
(Jon Buckle/PA)

The North field a workmanlike midfield, with Everton's young gun Ross Barkley providing the X factor. With Fabian Delph and Michael Carrick and professional stopper Lee Cattermole on the bench there's plenty of cover in central midfield while out wide Jesse Lingard and Aaron Lennon are in reserve.

SOUTH: Adam Lallana (St Albans, Hertfordshire), Eric Dier (Cheltenham), Jack Wilshere (Stevenage), Dele Alli (Milton Keynes).

England's Dele Alli, Adam Lallana and Eric Dier
(Nick Potts/PA)

The southern midfield definitely has more flair, with Dele Alli and Jack Wilshere ready to pull the strings while Eric Dier does the hard work behind them. They have a stack of depth with the likes of Mark Noble, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek offering a number of options - and that's not even including Raheem Sterling (who grew up in London but was born in Jamaica).

Verdict: We love a midfield that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and it's hard to look past the South team for that. Having Dier to protect the back four while the other three go about their work should provide the type of proactive movement that England sadly lacked against Iceland in *that* last-16 clash.


NORTH: Wayne Rooney (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Sheffield).

England captain Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy
(Owen Humphreys/PA)

Jose Mourinho says Wayne Rooney's best position is in front of goal and who are we to argue. He is joined up front by Jamie Vardy, who has the pace to stretch a South defence that might be a little light on pace with Terry in their team. Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll provide the cover and different options if the North need a late goal.

SOUTH: Harry Kane (Chingford), Daniel Sturridge (Birmingham).

England's Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge during a training session at St George's Park
(Nick Potts/PA)

Daniel Sturridge will be pleased to know that he moves in from the wing to play up front alongside Harry Kane in our team. And don't worry Harry, we'll be letting one of those attacking midfielders take the free-kicks and corners. You just get yourself in the box where you belong.

Verdict: While both North and South contain one each of last season's standout strikers, Wayne Rooney's waning ability and Daniel Sturridge's propensity for magical moments mean the South edge this one.


NORTH: Steve Bruce (Corbridge):

 Steve Bruce
(Richard Sellers/PA)

Steve Bruce is out of a job at the minute so he may as well have this fantasy post. The xx-year-old came second to Sam Allardyce for the England job and he has all the credentials to lead a bunch of northerners out to battle.

SOUTH: Sam Allardyce (Birmingham):

England manager Sam Allardyce poses for a photograph
(Martin Rickett/PA)

You don't necessarily associate Big Sam with the South, but geography says that Birmingham is in the lower half of the country.

Verdict: Big Sam got the nod to be England boss and Big Sam gets the nod from us too. Big Sam.


NORTH: Fraser Forster (Hexham), Phil Jagielka (Manchester), Leighton Baines (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Warrington), Michael Carrick (Wallsend), Marcus Rashford (Manchester), Danny Welbeck (Manchester), Andy Carroll (Gateshead).

SOUTH: Ben Foster (Leamington Spa), Calum Chambers (Petersfield), Luke Shaw (Kingston-upon-Thames), Theo Walcott (Stanmore), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Portsmouth), Ryan Mason (Enfield), Michail Antonio (Wandsworth), Jermain Defoe (Beckton).