We’re over half way through this season’s 2014/15 Premier League campaign, and at this midway point it’s worth taking a look at who are the front runners for this years Premier League Player of the Season Award. After all, if asked at this stage of the season last year, most of us would have said Luis Suarez, and been right. If you take a quick look back at the winners over the last 10 years you’ll find the likes of Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have all picked up the much esteemed award. Who then, would be your current pick to take the award this season? We take a look at the early favourites:
Arsenal’s £35 million summer signing from Barcelona has been in scintillating form this season, with 17 goals and 8 assists so far this season. In an era where many foreign imports are said to need a season to ‘bed-in’ to the frantic Premier League, Sanchez has made no such excuses, it’s a worrying thought for Gunners fans where they might be this season if it weren’t for the Chilean. With a devastating combination of terrier-like determination twinned with electric feet and an unerring eye for goal, Sanchez has firmly established himself as a fan favourite at the Emirates. Should Shanchez continue in the same vain he will certainly be a candidate for the award come May.
Chelsea find themselves sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League in January, thanks in no small part to this man. Fabregas has returned to English football as if he’d never been away. In fact, the Spaniard seems to have developed his game at Barcelona, as one may expect, and come back stronger than ever. A linchpin in Mourinho’s table-topping Chelsea side this season, Fabregas has picked up no fewer than 17 assists, 14 of which have come in the league. That’s 6 more than nearest rivals; Leighton Baines and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who both have 8 assists to their name this season. Fabregas has shown himself to be one of the game’s most skilled creators, as well as having 4 goals in all competitions. Setting Chelsea back a reported £25 million, Fabregas looks a steal and should his form continue he will surely break Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a single Premier League season.
Chelsea’s other nominee is fellow summer signing Diego Costa. Arriving from Atletico Madrid on the back of a season in which he scored 36 goals in 52 games, meeting Costa’s £32 million release clause seemed like a no-brainer to many in the football world, and it has proved to be just that. Rugged, powerful and clinical, Costa seems tailor made for the demands of Premier League football and has made light work of his first season in the English game. A cloud still remains over the Spanish-Brazilian forwards fitness issues, with suggestions earlier in the season that he could only manage one game a week, which saw him rested for some of Chelsea’s Champions League ties. There can be no doubt however, over his ability once he gets on the pitch. Costa has 15 Premier League goals to his name, making him the current Premier League top scorer and how often do we see the man leading the scoring charts pick up the Player of the Year Award.
Costa’s biggest rival for the Golden Boot come May, is likely to be one Sergio Aguero. In a season that has been halted time and again by niggling injuries, it hasn’t stopped the little Argentine from scoring for fun once more. With 14 goals this season, he’s only one goal behind Costa despite seeing a fraction of the game time. In a campaign typified by a remarkable hat-trick against Bayern Munich, Aguero has 19 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season, a quite formidable record. If Aguero can keep himself fit from now until May you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be well in the running for the accolade, and rightly so.
In such a tremendous half season for the Saints it would seem wrong to not have one Southampton player feature on this list. Graziano Pelle has 8 goals to his name this season, Jose Font and Toby Alderweireld have been rocks at the back, and Morgan Schniderlin has been nothing short of sublime in the middle of the park, but the pick of the bunch for me has to be Dusan Tadic. The Serb arrived from FC Twente in the summer for a measly looking £10.9 million, given his early performances for the club. Nicknamed the ‘Assist King’, Tadic led the assist charts in Holland last year for Twente and has continued in a similar vain on the south coast this season. Tadic has 7 assists to his name so far this season, having netted 3 times as well. Ronald Koeman has suggested that he’d like the 26-year-old to be a little more selfish and get himself on the score sheet more often, and having scored the crucial goal at Old Trafford last week, perhaps Tadic is taking heed.
QPR may find themselves down in the relegation zone in January but one fears how their season would look were it not for the goals of Charlie Austin. With 13 goals this season, Austin has scored one more league goal than Alexis Sanchez and two more than the entire Aston Villa squad. The departure of Loic Remy may have had some Rangers fans a little concerned over their sides goal scoring prowess but Austin has been prolific to say the least. Steve Bruce is likely to be ruing the fact that Austin failed his medical at Hull City, whilst Harry Redknapp will be praying nothing happens to his front man, as it did last season. One doubts Austin will pick up the award come the end of the season but should he continue to score goals at his current rate he deserves genuine consideration.
John Terry, Nemanja Matic & Eden Hazard: One is reluctant to include a whole host of Chelsea players but in truth, Mourinho’s side have had a number of very strong performers. The years don’t appear to be catching up with John Terry, who’s starred at the heart of Chelsea’s back four. Nemanja Matic has provided comprehensive cover for that back four. A rare breed in the modern game, Matic loves to defend and reads the game expertly. The Serb is also well aware of his limitations and is always willing to offload the ball to a more talented teammate. There is little left to be said of Eden Hazard, overlooked by myself most likely because we expect so much of the Belgian that he can do little to surprise us now. Simply a class act.
David De Gea, Moussa Sissoko, Morgan Schneiderlin: Any doubts that hung over De Gea when he arrived in England have been well and truly banished. His development at Manchester United has been tremendous. Quite possibly the best shot stopper in the game De Gea is arguably second only to Manuel Neuer in terms of the worlds goalkeepers. Sissoko has been a real driving force in Newcastle’s midfield this season. The former Toulouse man has pace, power and some ability to match, Newcastle fans can only hope Mike Ashley doesn’t cash-in as he so often does, should a potential suitor come calling. Schneiderlin as alluded to earlier has been integral to Southampton’s remarkable season. The Saints will be glad they went to such effort to retain the Frenchman in the summer, and Schneiderlin himself may be glad he stuck around, given the sides current standing.
Harry Kane, Gylfi Sigudsson, Stewart Downing: Few players have made a bigger impression on the Premier League this season than Harry Kane. Following fairly unremarkable loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester in the last few years, some Spurs fans could be forgiven for having little hope for their academy product, but Kane has been a revelation. He has 8 goals so far and appears to be just getting started. Sigurdsson returned to Swansea in the summer having spent a year on loan at the club two seasons ago and has continued the fine form that earned him a move to Tottenham. 8 assists says it all and the Swans will be delighted to have their Icelandic creator back. Stewart Downing has finally realised the ability many saw in him at Middlesbrough years ago. Big Sam has moved Downing centrally and he has thrived there. Impressive league form earned Downing his first England cap in over two years and with 4 goals and 7 assists this season you’d have to say he deserved it.