Nev's XI of 2012/13

Gary Neville's Team of the Season

David De Gea - Man Utd

He was also the (PFA Team of the Year) players' choice. For me it's all been about the turn of the year; Man United have been the best defence since January with 10 clean sheets in 16 matches. His performances have improved massively and I think he deserves that goalkeeping spot.

Leighton Baines - Everton

Baines has been the outstanding left-back this season. I played against him when he was at Wigan a good few years ago and you knew he was good going forward but you didn't know if he had the aggression or mentality to know how to defend in David Moyes' Everton team - but he does.

Pablo Zabaleta - Man City

Every time I watch him play I think of myself and wish I was him. He plays football the right way and he's brilliant to watch. He's a leader and he's more than a right-back. Even though City have dropped below last season's standards, every time I've watched them he powers forward and fights for every challenge. For me he's the outstanding right-back.

Rio Ferdinand - Man Utd

Since Christmas he's been almost ever-present and has been the lynchpin at the back for Manchester United. The defensive improvements since Christmas have been centred around him and the composure that he brings. He's the first centre-back I picked.

Jan Vertonghen - Tottenham

He is a leader and you see it more in real life when you go to games at White Hart Lane. He's got his arms out all the time and he's pushing his back four up the pitch. At moments in the games he breaks forward, puts impetus into the performance and I've put him in because you don't see many centre-backs nowadays - or as many as you should - talking and organising. He does that for Tottenham.

Juan Mata - Chelsea

Neville's team of the season

Juan Mata has had a brilliant season and in my team I've pushed him on to the right-hand side, though I know he's played in different positions. He is the best player of his type in the Premier League this season, better than David Silva, Samir Nasri, Eden Hazard etc. He is really clever and good on the ball and has now added goals to his game. He is affecting matches and I think he has enjoyed the challenge of having Oscar and Hazard alongside him at Chelsea.

Gareth Bale - Tottenham

This is just an absolute shoo-in. Gareth Bale has been absolutely fantastic and people will say he hasn't played on the left wing, but I think he'll play on the left and right as much as he'll play off the front. If Spurs hadn't had him they probably wouldn't be in the top eight. He's been huge for them and it's been a phenomenal season, absolutely phenomenal. He's getting better and better and better.

Michael Carrick - Man Utd

I think Michael Carrick has been the outstanding central midfield player all season for the champions, Manchester United. He's been consistent, you could argue he's had his best ever season and Paul Scholes has left his side now and given him more responsibility.

Steven Gerrard - Liverpool

This position was the biggest problem to pick and I put it down to stats in the end. I went for Steven Gerrard because he's played the most minutes of any player in the Premier League this season, other than Leighton Baines, and he has the most goals and assists combined of any midfielder. He's been almost ever-present and has basically contributed nine goals and nine assists to his team. For many years he's been a central midfielder who can attack and defend in equal measure.

Luis Suarez - Liverpool

The front two pick themselves because Van Persie and Suarez have been the two outstanding centre-forwards of the season. Suarez has carried Liverpool and been their best player by a mile; he scores all different types of goals and is always involved in games.

Robin van Persie - Man Utd

United are not a one-man team but Van Persie has been brilliant. The challenge for him was to maintain the form of last season, when he was magnificent at Arsenal, and he has. People were expecting him to fail under the big pressure of playing for United and in a different style, but he has settled brilliantly.

Gary's top three goals of 2012/13

"It's not easy. The Bale goal (v Norwich), the Remy goal (v Wigan) and the Luiz goal (v Fulham) are not in my top three and I'm questioning myself as to why they're not in the top three because they're absolutely sensational goals...."

3. Robin van Persie v Aston Villa

I'm being hard on him because I almost expect it from him; we've seen it before. It was a sensational goal. The pass from Wayne Rooney and the run was right and it was the game that sealed the title for Manchester United. Because he's capable of that and he's special as a player and he's done it before, that's gone against him in some ways. It's a brilliant goal but he should be scoring them every week! He's quality!

2. Luis Suarez v Newcastle

This is probably the most difficult of all the goals in terms of technique. He was under pressure from Fabricio Coloccini, but brought the ball down on his chest and stunned it dead. That is the most difficult thing out of all the goals we've seen and then he took it in his stride and limbo'd out of the way. It's an absolutely sensational goal because technically, for me, it's the most difficult.

1. Matt Lowton v Stoke

The reason I've gone for this is not just because it's a special goal, but the meaning of this goal. When you look back at the end of the season if Aston Villa are to stay in this league then you'll look at this; 87 minutes against one of their main rivals for relegation and it took them out of the bottom three. They were on 30 points at the time and there was a lot of negativity around this young team, thinking they were going to go down, but this was a massive goal that gained momentum. It's a brilliant goal in its own right, but what it's done for them in the last few weeks has made it even more special. You dream of scoring a goal like that as a full-back.