Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:
In a season not dissimilar to last year, or the one before that, or any year during the Moyesian Era, the Toffees have been highly watchable, relatively competitive and mid table once more. Marouane Fellaini sits front and centre of a resurgent second half of the season that has seen the blue half of Merseyside salivating over their future prospects. Look no further than the Old Trafford frenzy that saw us a little overwhelmed with:
YEEHHHHH!!!! If Everton aren’t your new second team then step right up onto the bandwagon and join our merry forray as we celebrate a title race in earnest. AT LAST! Indeed, we could sharpen our focus onto Fellaini’s fuzzy frock that seemed to give the impetus for a transcendental performance of epic proportions. The Belgian provided the best display from a box to box midfielder that I can care to remember and has afforded pundits from all points of the Earth a Monday night/Tuesday morning to relish. Thanking you.
No longer do we have to feign interest in the scramble for 4th, or the glamour of the scrap between teams like Bolton, Blackburn and Villa to put themselves through another season of abject disappointment in the top flight.
I love you Marouane
Enough of that then…
Fulham have had a tumultuous year. At times devastatingly efficient, and at others, drastically lacklustre, Craven Cottage has certainly not been easy viewing for Fulham fans. Martin Jol has revamped his side with new faces with difficult names such as Progrebnyak, but more importantly, new positioning for several outstanding prospects. Swapping Belgian connoisseur, Dembele, with the swashbuckling Dempsey, has been a masterstroke, with Dembele developing towards a Xabi Alonso type figure, while our pick of the bunch, in Clint Dempsey, has been simply rampant. The American has been a revelation, completing a rights of passage towards European action at one of the supposed big four. Apparently Fulham are resigned to losing the man from the big US of A, already lining up new Dutch talent. They’ll have enormous size 14s to fill, however, with Dempsey’s return of 17 goals, 7 assists unparalleled within a mid-table outfit.
In truth, few players to pull on the famous red in 2011/12 deserve positive recognition, but of the maybe 3 players to enhance their reputations, Martin Skrtel has been the unclear standout. Skrtel has displayed the consistency that his salary warrants, but not much more. Resolute in the air, adhesive across the park (save the Drogba FA Cup goal) and dangerous aerially at the set piece, Skrtel has done more than simply offer a grammar-defying surname. Liverpool’s defence was hailed as the finest in the land on FFTD before Brazilian road block, Lucas, was forced from the stage by injury. Since then, Skrtl and Agger have established a robust centre pairing that at least bodes well for seasons to come. Marto deserves the plaudits for not dropping his standards under trying conditions.
It continues to astound that an air of negativity persists around Eastlands. City may have tipped their, at times, substantive lead into the garbage, and disappointed in Europe, but if you’ve been hiding in Hungary with Zoltan Gera, that Blue Moon progressing on its lunar orbit. Seriously progressing. Mr Mancini deserves much of the credit for banding his combustible set of stars into a committed unit. Despite golfing sojourns and the Balotelli, City have been the most dominant side throughout the year; irresistable across the pitch. From the ever-reliable Joe Hart to the ruthless Sergio Aguero, so many in their squad deserve a mention in this column; the ultimate accolade.
But there can only be one winner, and it has to be Yaya Toure who has been talismanic, providing a sturdiness across the centre of the pitch. One of Toure’s most striking strengths remains his discipline – fulfilling clearly defined roles for the team – never more evident than against Newcastle, where he wallowed, poised and ready, as a deep lying midfielder, until with startling effect, he was released forward to overwhelm the opposition and effectively win the title. Toure’s presence seems to preside over contests, with the Ivorian providing crucial interventions at key moments and discerning nuances within the ebb and flow of contests to utilise in his side’s favour. Opta Stats has developed a new methodology for determining the most impactful talent, citing the value of particular actions as variant. For example, the volume of goals is less important than the volume of winning goals, meaning the value of a goal is not a constant (scoring a winner is more impactful than Dzeko’s 6th in their 6-1 demolition). In this measure, it was Toure who featured atop the Man City combatants and near the summit of the wider Premier League pool of employees. To one of the more likeable figures in the English game, we salute you.