With the English Premier League at its effective half way point now is as good a time as any to look at the men who have commanded the limelight so far.
If the season ended today the following six players would be candidates for the shortlist for Player of the Season (in no particular order)-
David Silva – His form may have dipped slightly in recent weeks but Silva is surely still the first name on Mancini’s team-sheet. Fourteen assists and six goals don’t even tell the full story of the much-needed guile and creativity that he has brought to the Manchester City side this season.
Robin van Persie – It would be foolish to describe Arsenal as a one man team, but the collective intake of breath that echoes around the Emirates Stadium every time the Dutchman falls to the floor indicates just how important he is to their chances of ensuring Champions League football for another year. Twenty goals is an astonishing return at this stage of the season and he shows no sign of slowing down (and I still haven’t got him in Fantasy team!).
Michel Vorm – Another Dutchman, but one that was nowhere near as well-known as van Persie at the start of the season Vorm has kept nine clean sheets so far which, for a newly promoted club, is a formidable achievement. Clearly his defenders deserve credit as well but Vorm has shown enough individual heroics to merit a place on this list (and it says much about the strength of Dutch goalkeeping that Tim Krul is probably Vorm’s nearest challenger as keeper of the season so far).
Juan Mata – Chelsea may not be having the campaign that they hoped for but Mata has been one of the few bright spots. The challenge for manager Villas-Boas is surely finding a system that consistently brings out the best of the Spaniard, but even with frequent changes of role Mata has notched seven goals and nine assists and promises to get better as he adapts to the Premier League (and as his team mates adapt to him).
Vincent Kompany– His sending off in the cup tie against Manchester United may have blotted his copy book but Kompany has still been the best defender in the best defence in the League. The Belgian’s move from central midfield to back four is surely permanent, and he has given his side a reliable presence in front of Joe Hart that is probably one of the main factors in persuading Mancini to play a more open style of football. City may need him more than they need David Silva.
Demba Ba – A number of clubs were reported to have considered signing Ba at the start of the season but pulled out due to worries about his fitness, if that is the case then a number of clubs were wrong. The Newcastle United striker has been sensational scoring fifteen goals to help a team that many thought were relegation candidates challenge for a top six place. It’s not just the quantity of goals though that make Ba’s season so special, the quality too has been the equal of any in Europe. Newcastle are now faced with two problems: his absence for the Africa Cup of Nations and warding off bigger clubs keen for his signature.
Other nominations, or your choice from this list, welcome.
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