Top 15 Players of the Premier League Season
Now that the Premier League season has come to its thrilling end, the time has come to take stock of the past nine months of action in the English top flight.
After 380 games and a Premier League record 1,066 goals, Manchester City are champions, and as such it is only fitting that they have the most players represented in the 15 here.
Players who have put in star turns since arriving in England in January—namely Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse—are not included as they have not been playing all season.
No doubt there will be plenty of disagreement about certain players here. Please feel free to add your own names or complete lists below.
15. Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
The Ecuadorean winger missed a good chunk of the first half of the season through injury, but he certainly made up for lost time.
In just 27 league appearances this season, he racked up 13 assists, second only to David Silva as the most creative player in the division.
He only scored four goals, but one of those was a vicious swerving strike from a wide angle that broke the deadlock in the final 10 minutes of a match away to Blackburn, which kept United’s title hopes alive.
14. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
No one player could ever have a hope of replacing Cesc Fabregas, let alone the erstwhile Arsenal captain and Samir Nasri too, but Arteta certainly proved to be a valuable deadline-day signing for Arsenal last summer.
The Spaniard proved at 29 years of age that he was not too old to make the step up in his career that had appeared to have eluded him, adding a calm, intelligent and slick presence to the Arsenal midfield that saw him fit right in.
He did not have the most productive season, but he scored with exactly 50 percent of his 14 shots on target in the league this season for Everton and Arsenal and was an effective yet unsung presence for the Gunners while Robin van Persie claimed the plaudits.
13. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)
The goals of Demba Ba in the first half of the season and those of Papiss Cisse in the second have grabbed most of the attention as far as Newcastle have been concerned over the past year, but Cabaye’s influence has been no less vital.
The French midfielder arrived at St James’ Park for just £4.8 million last summer from Lille, but he immediately set about becoming the deep-lying maestro for the Magpies.
Cabaye may have only four goals and six assists on paper, but his contribution in both dictating Newcastle’s tempo with the ball and helping defend so doggedly off it cannot be underestimated.
12. Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Say what you like about Luis Suarez—and plenty has been since he arrived at Liverpool almost 18 months ago—but the guy has certainly had an impact.
The stats may not look like much—11 goals and three assists in the league for Liverpool in his first full season in England—but they cannot reflect how much of a thrilling and dangerous presence he is whenever he is on the ball, or how one of those goals was scored almost from his own half.
Strip away the controversy from the Uruguayan and you are left with a player who was the only thing standing between Liverpool and complete mediocrity this season, and is sure to remain compulsive viewing next season.
11. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
It has been a mixed season for Bale, whose uneven campaign reflects that of Spurs in a lot of ways, but he has still been too much for most of the teams in the Premier League to handle this season.
Manager Harry Redknapp’s experimentation with the Welshman was perhaps a little unnecessary, but back out on his favoured left wing he has been a nightmare to play against, as evidenced by his 10 league goals and as many assists.
Bale remains one of the most highly-coveted young players in Europe, and Spurs may face a fight on their hands to keep him if they do not reach the group stages of next season’s Champions League.
10. Juan Mata (Chelsea)
It should not really be a surprise to see a World Cup-winning player thrive in the Premier League, but Juan Mata's first year in England with Chelsea has been a joy.
The Spaniard has been an exemplary performer for Chelsea all season, even through their lowest ebb under former manager Andre Villas-Boas.
With six goals and 13 assists in a debut campaign that could yet end in Champions League glory, Mata has already established himself as a bona-fide Premier League star.
9. David Silva (Manchester City)
It has been a season of two halves for the Manchester City playmaker. As the club laid waste to all before them before Christmas, Silva was the creative fulcrum of Roberto Mancini's expensively assembled side.
Although it would appear that the rigours of a full Premier League campaign have taken their toll, the diminutive Spaniard still ends the season as the division’s most creative player, having laid on 15 assists for teammates in addition to his own six goals.
We can only hope that the man Manchester City’s other players call ‘Merlin’ returns next season fitter and stronger so he can maintain his magical early-season form for a whole season.
8. Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur)
For all his undoubted talent, taking Adebayor on loan from Manchester City was something of a risk for Tottenham.
There were question marks over the Togo striker's attitude and work ethic, which saw him leave Arsenal under a cloud and got him frozen out of the City squad.
He has more than repaid the faith shown in him by manager Harry Redknapp, scoring 17 goals—including their fastest of the season in their final game against Fulham—and setting up another 11 for Spurs this season. He has been so good, in fact, that it is hard to imagine Spurs not trying to sign him on a permanent basis now.
7. Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
One of only two players in the 15 here who play for teams that finished outside of the top six, Dempsey took his game up a level on his sixth season at Fulham.
‘Deuce’ scored a career-high 17 goals in the league this season, making him the highest-scoring American in Premier League history.
Dempsey’s goals were enough to fire Fulham up to ninth place on Martin Jol’s first season in charge, and they will be hoping they can convince him to stay in the face of inevitable interest from other clubs this summer.
6. Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
It is hard to know exactly why City’s captain was not higher in the running for the major individual awards this season, although at least there was some compensation in him being awarded the rather less prestigious Barclays Premier League Player of the Year award.
Kompany has been exemplary virtually ever since he joined from Hamburg four years ago, and has taken on the added responsibility of the club captaincy with admirable ease.
Of the Belgian centre-backs three league goals this season, one of them helped earn a 1-1 draw at Liverpool and another secured all three points in the recent Manchester derby win, which proved to be so pivotal in the title race.
5. Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Surrounded by a host of supremely talented, multi-million pound signings, the goalkeeper signed from Shrewsbury Town for an initial £600,000 has not looked out of place at all.
Ever-present for the champions in the league this season, Hart registered a phenomenal 17 clean sheets as the blue half of Manchester ended its wait for a league title.
The City defence must of course take its fair share of the credit, but Hart delivered vital saves at crucial times that turned draws into wins and ultimately brought the silverware to the Etihad Stadium.
4. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Manchester United may have ended the season without a trophy, but it was not for want of effort from Rooney.
The England striker has had his best ever season for United in a personal capacity, scoring a career high of 27 league goals.
Those goals included nine match-winning strikes, most recently his header at Sunderland on the final day,which for so long looked like it would seal a 20th title for United.
3. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
What an incredible time of it Sergio Aguero has had in his first year in English football. ‘Kun’ arrived in the Premier League as that rarest of things—a ready-made international superstar.
He arrived for a fee befitting his status—a monster £38 million—and immediately set about justifying it with two goals on his debut against Swansea.
That brace saw the first of his 23 league goals this term, which came from just 52 shots on target. No prizes for guessing which one of those 23 strikes will live longest in the memory.
2. Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
The engine room of the juggernaut, Toure has at times been a force of nature in the City midfield as he rampaged from box to box.
It is surely no coincidence that City’s performances took a major dip while the rangy Ivorian was away at the African Cup of Nations midway through the season.
After scoring the winners in both the semifinals and final of the FA Cup last season, Toure again came up with vital goals in the 2-0 win over Newcastle on the penultimate weekend of the season.
1. Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
Was it really ever going to be anyone else? The reigning PFA and FWA Player of the Year was always nailed to top this list, just as he has so many others all year.
A stunning haul of 30 Premier League goals and a further 10 assists have dragged Arsenal up to third place despite their worst start to a league campaign in more than 50 years.
The worry for the Gunners now is whether they can hang onto him this summer. If the Dutchman does decide to leave, he will virtually have his pick of clubs.