English Premier League: Who Will Win the 2013 EPL Player of the Year Award?
We're halfway through the current English Premier League season and already we've been witness to several breathtaking performances from a number of players.
Names that we expect to succeed like Robin van Persie and Steven Gerrard have done just that, but we've also seen the emergence of several players who we hadn't quite expected to do as well—names like Michu, Christian Benteke and Jan Vertonghen.
Either way, it's been a spectacular season to date and the player who walks away with the Premier League Player of the Year Award will certainly have to have done something special.
Last season, it was Vincent Kompany, who captained Manchester City to their first league title in 44 years; who will be the EPL's Player of the Year in 2013?
Read on as we count down from the top 10 players for the title so far this season and see who could be named the Player of the Year at the end of the 2012-13 season.
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Demba Ba, Chelsea
The once-Newcastle, now-Chelsea striker has been in superb form this year, netting 13 goals from 19 appearances to sit third on the goal-scoring lists. Is going to have shared time with Fernando Torres now, however, which will impact his goal-scoring opportunities.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Rooney has been superb for United this year, netting seven goals and seven assists so far, but simply missed too much of the season. He's only made 12 appearances so far this year, and with Robin van Persie dominating the attack, is unlikely to go on a goal-scoring craze.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
Gerrard leads the league in assists this season, and also has eight goals to match, but will be very hard-pressed to win the Player of the Year Award here given the goal-scoring options that are ahead of him in Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. Plus, a deeper-lying Gerrard is less likely to find himself in the goals and assists throughout the remainder of the season.
Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur
Jermain Defoe has been in career-best form for Tottenham this year, but won't be able to get himself truly in the running for the league's MVP. Defoe has netted 10 goals in 22 appearances this year, but with Clint Dempsey and Emmaunel Adebayor in the starting side, always faces great competition for picking up Spurs' goals this season.
Arsenal's midfield maestro Mikel Arteta has been positively excellent this season, but simply doesn't do enough to win the Player of the Year Award. He leads the league with a staggering 92.6 pass completion percentage, but has just four goals and two assists to speak of—despite being surrounded by a number of quality midfielders. An injury at the moment won't help his cause either.
10. Marouane Fellaini, Everton
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Everton's Marouane Fellaini was simply superb through the opening half of the season and was instrumental in the Toffees' strong run towards the top of the table.
Through his 18 appearances for the Merseyside club, Fellaini bagged himself eight goals, three assists and five man-of-the match awards, and was one of the best go-to attackers in the league.
Yet, one momentary brain-snap on Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross which saw him suspended for three matches (per The Independent) means that the Belgian simply won't win the award. There's just no way that the league would give it to him—not after that action.
Plus, eight goals through 18 games isn't completely unheard of either.
9. Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Hotspur
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Jan Vertonghen has been one of the best center backs in the league this season following his move to Tottenham Hotspur from Ajax over the summer transfer window.
The Belgian international ranks as highly in tackles, interceptions and clearances, and has been instrumental in Spurs' big run up the league table this year.
If Tottenham can finish inside the top four or even inside the top three, then Vertonghen will surely come into consideration for the award. However, anything lower than that, and the defender will be unlikely to be thought of as one of the players of the year, even though he has been.
That's just the way the award works.
8. Leighton Baines, Everton
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Leighton Baines has been the best left-back in the Premier League this season, and his ability to get down the wings into attacking positions has also been particularly impressive.
Baines has netted three goals and two assists from defense, and also averages a high number of tackles, interceptions and effective clearances per game as well.
The England international ranks amongst the best in the league for successful dribbles per game as well as goal-scoring opportunities created per game—both of which are remarkable statistics to be coming from someone playing in defense.
Baines also leads the league in accurate crosses per game, and has become focal to Everton's attack this season—something he'll need to continue to do if the Toffees are to continue their push towards Champions League qualification next season.
Like Vertonghen, it would seem unlikely that Baines will win the award if his side does not finish the season as one of the best teams in the Premier League.
7. Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
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Summer transfer Santi Cazorla has been excellent for the Gunners so far this year, and one of the best players in the league as well, but sees his ranking drop all the way to seventh here as a result of the North London club's current demise.
Cazorla has won five man-of-the-match awards as a result of his seven goals and six assists, and at times this year, has seemed like the only attacking option that Arsenal have.
The Gunners failure to sit inside the top four at the moment isn't helping his cause, and the North London club will need a very strong remainder of the year to finish that way at the end of the year.
You'd have to think that Cazorla would be instrumental in any run made by the Gunners, but whether it will be enough to win him the Player of the Year Award still remains to be seen.
6. David Silva, Manchester City
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After coming back from a horrific injury last season, David Silva has again been one of the best players for the defending champions this season, particular given all that's gone on.
Mario Balotelli has flopped spectacularly, Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure are away on international duty, Micah Richards is injured, Carlos Tevez doesn't look as devastating as last year and Sergio Aguergo has suffered two separate injury bouts.
It's been performances from guys like Silva that have kept City in the title hunt this season. Only five points down on Manchester United, City are certainly in the hunt again this year, but you must wonder whether Silva is really in the running for the award or simply making up the numbers.
He has certainly been excellent, and his three goals and five assists have come at ideal occasions for City, but with the the Citizens nowhere near as dominant as they were last year, it would seem unlikely that a Blue player wins the Player of the Year Award again.
Unless they win the title, that is.
5. Juan Mata, Chelsea
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Inside the top five now and we come to Chelsea's midfield maestro, Juan Mata, who has once again been at his clinical best for the Blues this season.
Known more for his midfield mastery than his attacking dominance, Mata has stepped up in the goal-scoring column this year when his side needed him to—bagging eight goals on the season so far to go with his eight recorded assists.
Mata ranks as one of the highest in the league when it comes to goal-scoring chances created per game, with only six players currently above the Spanish international.
Given Fernando Torres' inadequacies in front of goal this year and the shift that happened under the change of managers, Mata has done very well to post the numbers that he has done, but also to keep the Blues in the race for a top four spot.
If Chelsea can keep hold of their third-place and perhaps even close the gap on the Manchester clubs a little, then Mata is definitely in consideration for the league's MVP award.
4. Michu, Swansea City
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Why isn't Michu first on this list?
That will be the general consensus from a number of people following the Spaniard's incredible rise to form this season—seemingly out of nowhere.
However, when you look at the numbers and what Michu has actually achieved this season, the year has not been as special as it might first have seemed for the 26-year-old.
First off, the fact that Swansea bought him for £2 million has nothing to do with how he fares in the Player of the Year race.
The price tag for which he was purchased has been used to justify a number of things, but it does not even come into consideration here when discussing how good somebody is—not how effective Swansea's summer transfer window was.
Second of all, Michu has netted 13 goals and an assist in 22 appearances. Luis Suarez and van Persie have all netted more goals than he has—and they've done so with less appearances to their name and more assists well. His record is strong, but it isn't incredible.
And perhaps most importantly, Swansea are only in ninth position. They are not in contention for a Champions League berth or even a Europa League spot, so unless Michu's performances are particularly off the charts, he will not win the award.
He still comes in fourth here because his year has been incredible, but I would be surprised to see him win the Player of the Year award given his current situation and record.
3. Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur
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The top three here pretty much picks itself and it's Welsh winger Gareth Bale who emerges in third spot out of three men in question this season.
Bale has netted nine goals and an assist from his 19 appearances this season for Spurs, which, given the defensive attention that he attracts, is a very strong feat indeed.
He also ranks inside the top 10 across the league for accurate crosses per game as well as goal-scoring opportunities created per game.
The 23-year-old has won the second most man-of-the-match awards this year—leading the North London club into the four and in the running for that elusive Champions League berth.
And if they can finish there, or even in third position ahead of Chelsea, then Bale will have to come into consideration for the Premier League Player of the Year award.
2. Luis Suarez, Liverpool
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Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been absolutely fantastic for Liverpool this year, but particularly in the last few months, having lifted the club back into the top half of the table once more.
Suarez has netted 16 goals and three assists from 22 appearances without a great deal behind him in midfield, without any disrespect there to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen.
The Uruguayan averages a league high 5.9 shots per game—more than an entire shot more than the next highest striker—and has also picked up the most yellow cards out of any player in the league this season (yes, even more than Gareth Bale).
Having said all of that, Suarez's season has been simply superb and it would take a brave man to suggest that he hasn't been a huge difference for the Reds this season.
I can't quite see him winning the award here for a couple of reasons which we'll explore in a minute, but the main one being Liverpool's current standings.
Similar to Michu, Suarez would need to comfortably win the league's top goal-scorer and keep the Merseyside club in fifth or sixth position to even come close to winning the award.
If the Reds were in Champions League contention, then absolutely, Suarez would be the first choice on this list. But seeing as they aren't, he drops down to the second favorite here for the award.
1. Robin van Persie, Manchester United
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Which leaves only Robin van Persie, and he is the current favorite to take home the Premier League Player of the Year Award this season.
What he has done at Manchester United has been incredible, and fortunately for Red Devils fans, there is still a vast majority of the season yet to come this year.
Van Persie has netted a league-high 18 goals and six assists from just 20 appearances this season—winning a league-high six man-of-the-match awards.
However, his biggest impact has come at United, where he has justified his starting spot ahead of a number of strikers (including Wayne Rooney) and has led the Manchester club to a five point lead on top of the Premier League ladder.
The Dutch international has been the go-to guy for the Red Devils all year, and for me, has done more than Suarez to justify his selection as the favorite.
If the season continues as it has done so far, Robin van Persie will win the Premier League Player of the Year Award in 2013, perhaps making up for the award that he should have won last year.
But that's a story for another time.
Who do you think should win the Premier League Player of the Year Award?
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All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com