PFA Player of the Year: My Top 5 Including Stats & Video Evidence
Who will be crowned PFA Player of the Year for 2012/13? Tom Gatehouse sorts through, and discusses the nominees with video evidence. Do you agree with the Top 5?
The 2012/13 season is drawing to a close, and it is shaping up to be a spectacular end. While the title has been pretty much sown up by the irrepressible Man Utd, the battle for the remaining Champions League qualifying places shows no signs of letting up. At the other end, the black-hole of relegation is gearing up to swallow three more teams, and suffer them the ignominy of dropping down a division.
Although we football fans still have much to look forward to in the remaining months, there is the small matter of the PFA Player of the Year award; the crowning moment for one Premier League footballer, one that allows him to say that he was the best player in the league that season.
It will be a close fought battle between the six nominees, and you may expect a few surprises. Here is my prediction for the outcome of this particular race; the Top 5 Best Players in the EPL this season:
5. Michael Carrick – Midfielder – Manchester United
Man Utd’s midfield has seemed to be forever under scrutiny. Every season, their rivals strengthen in the middle of the park, yet Ferguson leaves his midfield largely untouched. Instead, he puts his faith in the likes of veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs; young, tenacious talent such as Tom Cleverly and Anderson; and most importantly this season, in the adaptable Michael Carrick.
His inclusion in the list of nominees was certainly most unexpected. While the others on the shortlist have snatched the headlines with astounding goals, wing wizardry and barn-storming displays of talent; Carrick has entered the hat thanks to his indomitable spirit, calm head, and masterful vision. He has been a metronome for the Red Devils this year, strolling around the pitch, keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. He has the discipline to track back and help his defence, and from that position, dictate the speed of play, often giving rise to devastating counter attacks.
Carrick has made 2,442 passes with a completion rate of 88% (Opta Sports)
While he will surely not be winning this award, it is refreshing to see that the man behind the scenes can be recognised for what has been a tremendous season of awareness, defensive aptitude, and intelligence.
4. Juan Mata and Eden Hazard – Attacking Midfield – Chelsea
When Chelsea splashed £32m on the 21-year-old Belgian, Chelsea were expecting many future headlines, and not only because of his fitting name. Eden Hazard arrived at the Bridge having turned down both Manchester clubs to join the, now former, European champions. While his performances have perhaps not been as singularly unstoppable as anticipated, it has been his blossoming partnership with Juan Mata that has really drawn out the fireworks.
Hazard has a 60% shooting accuracy (Opta Sports)
Mata, the only remaining magician from Chelsea’s exploits last season, has thrived with the influx of new talent, and has had his best season yet for the Blues. Together, ably assisted by young Brazilian prodigy, Oscar, ‘Mazard’ have terrorised clubs at home and abroad all season, ‘flicking and tricking’ their way through some very memorable performances.
Mata has created 79 chances for Chelsea this season (Opta Sports)
And while I am pairing two nominees together rather cheekily, most would agree that they belong like this. Much like how Xavi and Iniesta are at Barcelona, Mata and Hazard are the twin jet engines on the luxury Chelsea aircraft. Just imagine what it will be like next season with a new striker to bounce off of!
3. Robin Van Persie – Striker – Man Utd
Once the darling of the Arsenal supporters, Robin Van Persie has now found a new home, nestled comfortably in the loving embrace of their fiercest rivals. Man Utd’s unstoppable march to regaining the Premier League title has, in no small way, been thanks to the efforts of their new super-striker. Last year’s winner of this award, the Dutchman has scored 21 times in the league this season, and assisted 13 more.
Van Persie has scored a goal every 127 minutes (Opta Sports)
While his scoring exploits have slowed a little in the last few weeks, his ever present threat up front has never faded; and neither has the fear his opponents have for him. He has put Wayne Rooney’s future in doubt at the club, and cemented his position as top striker at the club with some ease.
Not just a goal scorer, his vision and awareness makes him an able ploy in tough matches. Able to hold up the ball like a centre-forward, showing strength beyond his stature, he has been a brilliant outlet for Utd this season, and his star is one that does not ever look like fading.
2. Luis Suarez – Striker – Liverpool
Initially known for his poor chance to goal ratio when he pitched up at Liverpool in 2011, the Uruguayan has utterly dispelled this spectacularly this season. Luis Suarez has become the new hero of the Liverpool fans and the envy of the rest of the league with an astounding season of brilliant goals and inspired displays. It has been an overwhelming performance from the striker this season, leading the line for a decrepit Liverpool side, and dragging them from the embarrassment of mid-table obscurity, to a position where they can harbour real European ambitions. He leads the Premier League goal scoring charts with 22, and has provided 9 assists for his teammates.
Suarez has attempted 279 runs and dribbles (Opta Sports)
He possesses an aggressive streak, and Suarez has been highlighted for wrong reasons as well as right since his arrival in England. While this aggression can often serve him well in tough, physical battles on the pitch, it can often get the better of him, and will certainly lower him in the estimations of many, despite his heroics this season.
Despite this, he is a worthy recipient of this award, and it would not surprise many if he did indeed collect at the end of the season. Only a certain Welshman can put a stop to this, in my book…
1. Gareth Bale – Winger – Tottenham
Wasn’t he an average left back? Arguably the most phenomenal transformation of a footballer in recent times, Gareth Bale has gone from ‘redundant fullback’, to ‘world-beating superman’.
What hasn’t the Welshman got in his locker? Blistering pace, devastating crossing technique, dead-ball mastery, Hasslebaink-esque shot power, raw determination…the list goes on.
Bale has supplied 240 crosses (Opta Sports)
If there was a Premier League equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, Bale would be it; and many say that the English top flight is the best in the world. Tottenham’s destroyer in their quest for Champions League football next year, he has bagged 17 goals and set up 7 from midfield.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said of the Welshman, “He just lights up the pitch.” It sounds to me that not even he can find the words to describe the 23 year-old. The 2010/11 winner is one of the favourites to win this year, and he just tops this list.
What do you think? It will certainly be close this year. Does Suarez deserve to top the list? Perhaps Van Persie should claim the crown once more? Get involved in the comments below!
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