That time of the year is upon us again; discussing which players have performed above the rest for the duration of the current season.
I’ll go straight into it with the position of goalkeeper. There has not been a stand-out candidate in my view, with each demonstrating a degree of inconsistency at some stage. After his return to permanent first team action, Joe Hart has certainly not let anyone down. Both Petr Cech and Simon Mignolet have pulled off brilliant performances in some games, but these would be often followed by moments of indecision. David Marshall has also impressed behind a shaky defence at best with some eye-catching saves. However, I think the overall winner should be David de Gea who, in an entirely mediocre season by Manchester United, has been one of the very few shining lights.
Not wasting much time at right-back, Seamus Coleman has been simply outstanding every time I have seen him and has added a goal-scoring touch to his game. The obvious choice for me.
Left-back holds slightly more competition I believe. Leighton Baines has played well whenever fit but has not quite reached the heights of last season where he would maraud down the left flank better than most wingers. No, I think the best left-back this year has been Luke Shaw. He has announced himself on the Premier League scene with a frighteningly mature head on such young shoulders. His efforts are destined to earn him a bumper switch to a Premier League juggernaut should he so desire.
The vast numbers of goals that have been scored this year are testament to a less than vintage year at the heart of many defences. Mertesacker and Koscielny have performed admirably in a usually leaky Arsenal back line which has been surprisingly solid for most of the year. Skrtel has been his brutal best while contributing 6 goals at the other end. However, his shirt-grabbing style lacks the panache of an award winner. Curtis Davies has been a commanding captain for Hull City; aggressive when necessary but primarily a calming influence.
I however believe that John Terry and Vincent Kompany deserve the award. Their teams look so much more secure with their presence as they marshal team mates through matches. Terry has rolled back the years to produce displays of a much younger man and Kompany’s front foot style is incomparable.
To go along with recent trends, I’ll pick three central midfielders. This leaves me with a fairly simple choice I believe. Praise should be given for Henderson’s relentless drive and energy, Huddlestone’s sense of control that he lends his side, and Lallana’s constant searching for killer balls. But none of these three can find a place in my final team.
Purely for his form until his hamstring injury at West Ham on Boxing Day, Aaron Ramsey deserves to be in. He gave Arsenal’s midfield something different; lung-busting runs that nobody else could provide, and of course his multitude of goals. Steven Gerrard’s game intelligence and adapting to a more restrained role has been magnificent. Prowess from the penalty spot has also not gone amiss. Finally Yaya Touré, the Ivorian beast. The best box to box midfielder in the world. Need I say more? Another dead-ball specialist and has influence on Manchester City should not be underestimated.
Wayne Rooney’s effect on any good Man Utd performance has been clear to see and Sergio Aguero has been scintillating when fit but injury has ravaged him a little too much to make the final three. I believe these places should go to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Eden Hazard.
The lightning quick feet of the Belgian have frightened defenders all year as he well and truly established himself in English football. He certainly has the skills but you rarely see him relying on step-overs like a young Cristiano Ronaldo. He can shift the ball between his feet quickly enough to dazzle his man and simply glide past before you know he’s even gone.
Daniel Sturridge has taken to life at Liverpool like a duck to water. He has reached 30 goals for the club in no time and despite a degree of injury disruption, has always come back firing immediately. This is epitomised by his return to action against Stoke City when he came off the bench to show his pace and determination to secure the 3 points for Liverpool in a crazy 5-3 victory. His partnership and understanding with Suarez has been telepathic at times, and it is indeed the second member of the SAS who is my Player of the Year.
No words can describe some of Luis Suarez’s performances this year. Returning from suspension at the start of the year as sharply as if he had never been away, he started like a storm and never let up for one minute. He may have the ability to nutmeg an opponent at will and score every type of goal from a 40 yard volley to a scrappy tap-in, but it is his desire and work-ethic which sets him apart. Defenders can never rest when he is prowling as they know the slightest stumble will be capitalised upon.
No player will have given more opponents nightmares as frequently as the prolific Uruguayan this year, giving all the justification required to be named Player of the Year.
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