What if Todd Boehly's great vision became reality?

North vs South: Which half of the PL would win a football match in 2024?

The North-South divide is as old as England itself, and it’s not going anywhere.

England has been carved up and remoulded constantly for as long as society has existed. Churchill suggested several great self-governing areas; there were the Kingdoms of Northumbria, Wessex, Mercia etc.; and there was a time when Oxford and Cambridge Universities used the River Trent as an official border.

The South has fertile farmland, a warmer climate and, historically, easy access to continental Europe. The North has mountains, coal, and gravy. But is there a divide in terms of football in 2024?

We’re revisiting the old debate, last brokered into the mainstream by a certain Todd Boehly, by asking who would win in a North v South football match in 2024. There are some ground rules here:

We’re using Premier League players here, so it’s the ten northernmost clubs versus the ten southernmost clubs — if you think we’re going to start drawing lines and borders on maps, you’re dreaming.

One outfield player is permitted from each of the ten clubs, plus a goalkeeper of your choosing. This has not been easy, but let’s get into it.


GK: Alphonse Areola (West Ham)

Picking a keeper in the Southern half of the PL was surprisingly difficult but the ex-PSG man just about sneaks in ahead of David Raya for us.

RB: Malo Gusto (Chelsea)

The Blues 20-year-old right-back has been exceptional in a weird Chelsea team, this season. Reece James might genuinely have a problem on his hands when he returns from injury.

Moisés Caicedo of Chelsea in action during the EFL Carabao Cup match between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge, London, England on 1 November 2023.

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CB: Kurt Zouma (West Ham)

With the catlike agility of his Hammers teammate in goal, and the pace, strength, defensive nous and leadership of Zouma in front of him, this defence is shaping up nicely.

CB: Ethan Pinnock (Brentford)

Pinnock went from university, to working for a sports coaching company, and rose up through almost every level of the English football pyramid before reaching the Premier League and becoming a Jamaica international. You love to see it.

LB: Pervis Estupinan (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Hell of a player when fit and, in this hypothetical world, he is fit.

CM: Joao Palhinha (Fulham)

Coming back from the disappointment of a failed move to Bayern Munich and proceeding to make roughly 189,000,000 tackles in 25 games makes Palhinha our midfield enforcer.

CM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

The 15-year-old boy wonder has who left home for Madrid a decade ago has transformed into a man wonder in London, and he is pulling the strings for The South FC.

CM: Ross Barkley (Luton Town)

Renaissance Ross Barkley has been massive for Luton, this season, and if they manage to stay in the league, it’ll be in no small part down to their midfield powerhouse.

RW: Michael Olise (Crystal Palace)

If Michael Olise isn’t playing in the Champions League in the next three years, we’ll eat our website.

We toyed with the idea of Jarrod Bowen here, with Marc Guehi or Joachim Andersen slotting into CB instead of Zouma, but we couldn’t resists Hammersmith’s finest.

LW: Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur)

Two-footed, still rapid, lethal finisher, club legend, national icon in his home country, pretty much the first name we wrote on the team sheet for The South FC.

ST: Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth)

2023-24 has been Solanke’s true breakout season in the PL, with more than a goal every other game. Just the ruthless number 9 this XI needs.


GK: Ederson (Manchester City)

The Selecao tends to prefer Alisson, so we’re giving Ederson some love. Also, Caomhin Kelleher’s performances have almost made us forget Alisson was missing from Liverpool’s starting XI. City’s stopped gets the nod.

RB: Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest)

The Welshman’s delivery and passing range is going to be important for our Northern XI. Williams likes to get up the pitch and get involved in the attack, which we’re giving him licence to do in this team.

CB: Jack Robinson (Sheffield United)

To be honest, Sheffield United have really f*cked us, here. Easily the weakest squad in the league, but we reckon their highest-rated centre-back on FotMob will cope just fine next to his CB partner…

CB: Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

Best defender in the league, if not the world, over the past seven or eight years. He couldn’t not be in the team, and he’ll be captain, too, actually.

Arguably the most successful January transfer of all-time.

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LB: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)

Soon-to-be England international Branthwaite has played mainly as a centre-back for Everton, and he’s been outstanding, but we want balance in this team, and the youngster can play out there on the left whilst providing defensive stability with Williams bombs on.

CM: Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United)

Guimaraes is absolutely vital to Newcastle. In fact, if our painstaking research is accurate, Newcastle haven’t won a single Premier League match in which Bruno hasn’t featured since he signed in January 2022.

The Toon have one a grand total of one competitive game without Bruno, and that was against Tranmere in the League Cup.

Twinkle toes, brave, strong in the tackle, dynamic, exceptional vision and passing, and an eye for goal. The perfect midfielder, essentially.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

One of the best ever to do it. Probably gets in a Premier League all-time XI, and certainly gets into The North United.

One of the many excellent players to feature on this quiz.

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CM: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

Man United’s playmaker has, once again, been their standout in another odd season. He, Kevin, and Bruno #1 are going to cause havoc, we just need forwards willing to make the runs…

RW: Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Neto has been a revelation since signing for Wolves, and his direct running is gonna terrorise those Southern shandy drinkers.

LW: Luca Koleosho (Burnley)

The teenager’s career is just starting, but he is one to be very, very excited about. He’s been out since December with a knee injury, but his dribbling and lightspeed feet had Clarets fans drooling in the first half of the season.

Koleosho hasn’t been capped at international level yet, but Italy, the USA, Canada, and Nigeria will all be vying for his services in the near future.

ST: Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

Watkins is one of the most in-form strikers in world football, and he leads the North’s charge.

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