Dong-won Ji, Yakubu Among Premier League's Surprise Stars

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIJanuary 1, 2012

Dong-won Ji, Yakubu Among Premier League's Surprise Stars

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    Dong-won Ji has emerged as a surprise factor in the Premier League title race with his last minute winner for Sunderland against Manchester City.

    The burgeoning 20-year old prevented City from steering clear from Manchester United after scoring his second goal of the season. He could now be the unlikely candidate fill the void left by Asamoah Gyan.

    With that in mind, here are the surprise stars of the Premier League this season.

Dong-won Ji

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    Two goals and one assist in 13 league matches doesn't sound most impressive.

    But in the case of Dong-won Ji, it's a very good record.

    This is especially seen as it equates to two goals and an assist in one start, or a direct goal-scoring contribution at least twice in every three games—meaning if he played every minute of every game, he should theoretically get 17 goals and eight assists come the end of the season.

    If he can now get into more games under new boss Martin O'Neill, young Ji—who has already scored eight goals and won 15 caps for South Korea—could well become a very lethal Premier League striker.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni

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    Proving he's more than just a flat-track bully, Yakubu Aiyegbeni could well be the man to save Blackburn Rovers and Steve Kean.

    His double against Manchester United at Old Trafford took his season's total in the Premier League to 12 goals in 14 games, meaning he is on pace to end the season with more than 30 goals.

    The 29-year old Nigeria international is looking like the bargain of the season, costing Rovers just £2 million after signing from Everton.

    He has proved his importance to the team by winning five Man of the Match awards this season, the second-most in the Premier League behind Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie.

Dimitar Berbatov

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    After winning the Premier League golden boot last season, Dimitar Berbatov has proved he's still got it.

    And he has shown why Sir Alex Ferguson shouldn't sell him to Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Valencia CF, Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi Makhachkala and all the other interested parties.

    His double against Blackburn Rovers takes his tally to six league goals this season, all of which have come recently—he's scored all six goals in his last three games.

    Stepping in to fill a temporary gap up front, Berbatov has taken his chance sensationally.

    He may not have time to catch up Robin Van Persie, Sergio Aguero, Demba Ba or even his teammate Wayne Rooney in goals scored, but Dimitar Berbatov could well end the season with 20 goals or more if given the chance.

Steven Fletcher

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    Out of all the goal-scorers in the Premier League this season, Steven Fletcher might be the most impressive, given his exploits have come for struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    The 24-year-old has eight league goals in 14 games this season.

    He's also one of the league's most consistent goal-scorers, not going more than two games without finding the net.

    At the moment, he's on course to break the 20-goal barrier, and could well become a big transfer target come the summer.

Wayne Hennessey

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    While Steven Fletcher has been fundamental for Wolves, none of his or his team's little bit of success could happen without Wayne Hennessey.

    Young goalkeeper Hennessey, 24, has been massively important for Mick McCarthy's side, winning five Man of the Match awards this season, putting him alongside Yakubu for second-most in the Premier League this season.

    And it's clear to see why, given that Hennessey has been better than the more celebrated keepers like Michel Vorm and Joe Hart.

    The Wales No.1 has made a staggering 90 saves this season, more than any other Premier League keeper, and has a 73 percent saves-to-shots ratio, the third best in the league.

Leon Britton

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    What puts Leon Britton in the same bracket as David Silva, Nani, Juan Mata, Yaya Toure, Luka Modric, Frank Lampard, Mikel Arteta and all the other celebrated playmakers in the Premier League?

    The Swansea City midfielder is the best passing-accuracy rate of any player in not only the Premier League, but in all of Europe.

    Spraying on average 58 passes per game, Britton has statistically started attacks and created play better than Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso, to name a few.

    This makes him quite possibly the most surprising star of the Premier League this season.