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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


Player of the Season (half-time edition)

Written by on January 13, 2012 | 17 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League

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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17 responses to “Player of the Season (half-time edition)”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Bolton’s Paul Robinson?

  2. Russell Berrisford says:

    SL-Oops, I forgot about him.

  3. Tom H says:

    Man City hasn’t lost with Wayne Bridge in the lineup… in fact he hasn’t been culpable for a goal this whole season!

  4. Tom H says:

    Seriously though my vote would be for Van Persie with Kompany and Silva right behind him. You can see how much trouble Arsenal have had scoring goals when he’s not on the pitch. I would find it hard to give Player of the Season to a goalkeeper.

  5. Ed Gomes says:

    Let me first say that I absolutely dislike RVP. Even more so than Arsenal itself.
    That being said, if he continues on this tear, he’ll win the award going away. Especially if Arsenal earn a Top 4 spot, or just contend for it

    I absolutely love Silva and what he brings to a team.
    But dare I say that YaYa might just be more important to City. They need his toughness and drive.

    Surprised no Spurs player was mentioned.

  6. soccerlogical says:

    ED – Any particular reason for disliking RVP…. just curious.

  7. Understated nomination – Tiote?

  8. Russell Berrisford says:

    ED- I thought about Bale, Parker, Van de Vaart and Modric for inclusion.

    I think it’s one of Spurs strengths that they have so many players playing well without relying on anybody to be outstandingly brilliant.

    I’m willing to bet that they will have somebody on the season end list though.

  9. Tom H says:

    Bobby – I think unless you see Newcastle play every week, it is hard to get an accurate idea of just how good Tiote is.

  10. Ed Gomes says:

    SL, I admit in most likely looking bad for this one, but lets see if I can explain.
    He’s Dutch and plays for Arsenal. LOL.
    Disclaimer: I do like Sneidjer a lot
    Let me elaborate. The Netherlands has the players to play beautiful football with an edge to it. Frankly if you are a fan, you would say that they play exactly that way. As an adversary I tend to think that the Dutch are one of the chippiest of not out right dirty teams. They can move the ball around and look absolutely great. At the same time you’ve got Roben and others flopping about. They commit and somehow get away with some of the dirtiest fouls. And lastly they whine non stop to the refs, and act as if they do nothing wrong. They always try to come across as the “good guys” that play “beautiful football”.
    I guess I would have more respect for them if they accepted and embraced their true style of play instead of acting otherwise.

    As for RVP, I feel that he’s protected by Arsenal. Trust me I get it, since he’s what they need now and for the future. The problem is that I think that his ego has a lot to do with the under development of certain players. You can be clear that he wasn’t too thrilled with the whole Henry “magical comeback”, as others were. Especially if he sees him standing next to him on the field.

    Off Topic Question;

    Is Arsenal’s troubles due to Wenger’s ways?
    Is Arsenal’s fortune due to Wenger’s ways?

    I’ve always felt that Arsenal has always lacked a leader, since Vieira tried to be and was shipped out. I think that Wenger always gives his players an out when they have failed. There’s never any tough love coming from the manager, hence Arsenal never having the fortitude to fight through adversity. Yes they will now be able to come back and make a race of it, but when the chips are down they have proven to fail.
    Now is Wenger getting a ton out of a little, or is he holding back progress himself?
    Him dismissing the Spurs this past week may also come back to bite him in the ass.

  11. Astronomer says:

    Ed Gomes,
    I read your post about the Dutch with a cynical smile. The reasons that you gave for disliking the Dutch are very similar to the reasons that I use to justify my intense dislike, nay, hatred of the Argentinians.

  12. Astronomer says:

    Tom H,
    You said that you would have problems giving such an award to a goalkeeper — I think that many people would agree with you (and just not about goalkeepers, but about defenders in general). I think that’s unfair to players who ply their trade in those positions).

    That is why I have always felt that all best player awards (be it the Balon d’Or or the FIFA Footballer of the Year award) should be split up into two awards — one for defensive positions and another for offensive positions.

    That would go a long way toward redressing the injustice that goalkeepers and defenders (and defensive midfielders) have to face in trying to win these awards.

  13. Ed Gomes says:

    Astronomer, I get it. It all depends on who you root for. Unfortunately there’s more teams like I described than not, especially at the club level.

    As for the awards you’re wrong Astronomer. You can’t win without scoring. Your goalie could stand on his head and a defender can stop every goal from happening, but it would still be a draw. Defense is about cohesion, goals could come from a piece of magic.

  14. Astronomer says:

    Ed Gomes,
    Yeah, right — as if defenders and goalkeepers cannot create magical moves of the tactical variety. If defense was all about cohesion, then you would not have people raving about great goalkeepers (like Buffon, Kahn, Schmeichel, or Casillas) and great defenders (like Maldini, Nesta, or Baresi) who create/created pieces of defensive magic throughout their careers.

    In fact, these pieces of defensive magic frequently enabled their respective teams to eke out a draw or win by a score of 1-0 as opposed to losing a match outright.

    It is thinking like yours that leads to defensive players getting the short end of the stick when it comes to these best player awards.

    And that is why I proposed breaking up these awards into two categories — one to honor a standout defender and another to honor a standout attacker.

  15. Astronomer says:

    Ed Gomes,
    Let me also remind you of this well-known phrase: Offense brings spectators, defense wins championships.

    And frequently it is pieces of individual magic by goalkeepers and defenders that have contributed to the enduring popularity of the above phrase.

  16. Ed Gomes says:

    Astronomer, that’s a phrase for the NFL not football.
    In football defenses usually loses you championships.

    I don’t disagree in splitting up the awards, although I thought that there was one for goalkeepers already.

    As for the defenssive moments of magic, they come off of having a cohessive defense. Meaning you know how to react as to where your teamates are. The same goes for goalie set up on shots.
    By the way it’s usually a great piece of creativity that brings those great saves or defensive stops.
    Please don’t think I’m diminishing defenses. I am a great believer in having a great cohessive defense. I have always been of the belief of having a mature experience back line. What I have found amazing is how hard the usually strong units have fallen. I know that tactics have something to do with it, but many experienced backs and/or lines have just crumbled thsi season.
    Which leads me to ask, who exactly has looked so great in those positions this season?

  17. John Bladen says:

    Ed: Unfortunately, your description of the Dutch in International football also applies to several other nations.

    After what had been a pretty good (but not spectacular) World Cup two summers ago, the Spain-Holland final was a disgrace to the sport.

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