Every Premier League Team's Most Valuable Player so Far This Season
Premier League season 2012-13 is rapidly approaching its finale.
Clubs are battling for positions across the table. At this stage, we can begin to garner exactly who is having the most influence over each side. Perhaps a player has scored an obscene amount of goals or dominated midfield. Maybe he has shored up defence or produced a string of amazing saves.
Who are the Premier League MVP's so far this campaign? Read on to find out.
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla's class is summed up by how quickly he adapted to English football. Similar to Juan Mata, the former Malaga man plays with the assertion of a Premier League veteran.
Arsene Wenger has placed plenty of reliance on Cazorla this season. In 29 starts and one substitute appearance, the Spaniard has netted 12 goals and produced seven assists. Arsenal have spread the goals around this campaign, but Cazorla currently heads their top-scorers chart.
Second MVP: Jack Wilshere
Aston Villa: Christian Benteke
Christian Benteke has been an absolute revelation since putting on the claret and blue shirt of Aston Villa. Paul Lambert has barely rested the youngster, who has started 26 games and made two substitute appearances for the relegation-threatened side.
No wonder the big clubs are circling (via The Daily Mirror). With Villa teetering on the brink of a first Premier League downfall, Benteke's 14 goals and two assists outline him as too powerful for the Championship.
At 22 years old, the Belgian forward could go on to become a Premier League legend if he continues to rescue Villa in important matches.
Second MVP: Brad Guzan
Chelsea: Juan Mata
Juan Mata has become Chelsea's key talisman in a transitional period. With the influence of furniture including John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole waning, Roman Abramovich's club need new leaders to step up.
The former Valencia man has done just that. A busy schedule has seen the Spaniard start 23 games and make four substitute appearances with a total of 10 goals and 10 assists. This symmetry says it all about a man who appears to handle himself and opponents with the utmost respect on the pitch.
Second MVP: Eden Hazard
Everton: Leighton Baines
Leighton Baines can be used as a metaphorical representation of Everton. Hard-working, intelligent and occasionally rather stylish (despite the haircut), the England international is a key component of David Moyes' attacking and defensive strategy.
Five goals and four assists across 30 starts is impressive for a defender. Even more noticeably, Baines' defensive contribution and partnership with Steven Pienaar defines an Everton side that is pushing for a European finish.
Second MVP: Marouane Fellaini
Fulham: Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov was a forgotten man at Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side moved the Bulgarian on without so much of a whimper. Martin Jol wasn't complaining and readily took the striker to Craven Cottage. What a decision that proved to be, as Berbatov's 13 goals and three assists have helped Fulham to escape the clutches of relegation.
Second MVP: Mark Schwarzer
Liverpool: Luis Suarez
Was it ever going to be anyone else? Luis Suarez has been in sensational form this season and currently leads the Premier League top-scorers chart.
Thirty appearances have seen the Uruguayan forward notch up 22 goals and four assists in an exciting season for Brendan Rodgers' side. If Liverpool grab points, you can bet Suarez is involved in some capacity.
Second MVP: Steven Gerrard
Manchester City: Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta is a normal man. He's a man whose steady rise to the top is as unassuming and determined as his effort for Manchester City.
Key players such as Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure have regularly missed games this season.
In a team of changing faces, Zabaleta has led from the back with the will of a winner. The Argentinian defender has even grabbed two goals and two assists in City's chase for a second successive Premier League title.
Second MVP: Matija Nastasic
Manchester United: Robin Van Persie
Although Robin van Persie's impact has subsided over recent weeks, nobody can deny the Dutchman has had a fantastic opening season for Manchester United.
The 29-year-old has used his experience to help guide Sir Alex Ferguson's side to the Premier League summit. Important goals against Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester City and many others have seen Van Persie net 19 strikes so far.
Add eight assists and a heavily deflected winner against Sunderland, and United's MVP is certainly RVP.
Second MVP: Michael Carrick
Newcastle United: Yohan Cabaye
Choosing an MVP for Newcastle has been difficult this season. Many players have suffered key injuries and failed to string together a consistent run of games.
Alan Pardew's squad received a heavy influx of French influence during the January transfer window and has been largely unsettled for the entire campaign.
Yohan Cabaye has only accumulated 18 starts and a single substitute appearance. Although Hatem Ben Arfa's explosive influence has been missing, Cabaye's ability to hold the midfield together is conspicuous in its absence.
Second MVP: Papiss Cisse
Norwich City: Sebastien Bassong
Norwich City have endured terrific highs and lows throughout the season. An unbeaten run is now being matched by a winless streak that has seen Chris Hughton's side plummet down the table.
While John Ruddy was certainly on for the MVP title before sustaining a long-term injury, Sebastien Bassong has exerted himself in the Canaries' defence.
The former Tottenham man needed a fresh break and has reminded everyone why his strength and awareness tempted the White Hart Lane club to sign him from Newcastle in 2009.
Second MVP: John Ruddy
Queens Park Rangers: Julio Cesar
How do you pick an MVP for a side that has been terrible all season?
Adel Taarabt probably thinks he's the MVP. He isn't. Loic Remy has the ability to be the MVP, but he isn't either.
Instead, Julio Cesar takes the plaudits for enduring a hellish campaign. The former Inter Milan stopper made a bold decision when joining QPR and should be applauded for his efforts since taking up residency in the Loftus Road goal.
Second MVP: Loic Remy
Reading: Adam Le Fondre
Similar to QPR, Reading's campaign is heading towards the inevitable. It's a situation that has prolonged itself through the efforts of one man: Adam Le Fondre.
The Premier league super-sub has produced numerous goals from the bench. This includes doubles against Everton, Newcastle and Chelsea, all of which added points to Reading's measly total. It's amazing to think Le Fondre has only been granted 10 starts as we head into the final run of games.
Second MVP: Hal Robson-Kanu
Southampton: Rickie Lambert
Rickie Lambert averages one goal in every two Premier League games. His performances have defied expectations and often thrust Southampton over the finish line with their opponents stumbling uneasily behind.
Recent goals against Liverpool and Chelsea sum up Lambert's talents. The 31-year-old has worked his whole life to be a top-flight player and isn't going to let the chance slip away easily. Mauricio Pochettino's captain has the right attitude to extend his Premier League success if Southampton maintain their status for a second season.
Second MVP: Morgan Schneiderlin
Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross
Ryan Shawcross has had a good season, but it's difficult to provide any Stoke player with real applause after a difficult run of results.
The Englishman was the heart of a defence that conceded just five goals in 12 games from Oct 27 to Dec 29.
Things haven't been so smooth since this exceptional succession of results. Tony Pulis' side have dropped themselves into a relegation battle that seems largely unnecessary. Stoke are just four points above the bottom three, but without Shawcross, Robert Huth and Asmir Begovic, they would be even deeper in trouble.
Second MVP: Asmir Begovic
Sunderland: Simon Mignolet
Sunderland's dismal season has been underlined with the recent sacking of Martin O'Neill. New manager Paolo Di Canio will be looking for huge performances in the Black Cats' final stretch of games, and it's Simon Mignolet who is most likely to step up.
The Belgian keeper has performed admirably under pressure this year. Mignolet's defence rarely offer him respite, but the 25-year-old has done a great job of keeping Sunderland in tight games. Scouts must be watching.
Second MVP: Steven Fletcher
Swansea City: Michu
Michael Laudrup's decision to bring in Michu has worked out in spectacular fashion. The cool Spaniard has arguably been the signing of the season in a year that has seen him produce 16 goals and two assists for an entertaining Swansea side.
Michu also played a key role in the Welsh side's Capital One Cup victory.
He has become the central figure in a dynamic attack that offers pace, vision and agility. Michu doesn't feel pressure and offers the Swans a calming influence in the biggest games. Will Laudrup be able to keep hold of him once the summer transfer window opens?
Second MVP: Chico Flores
Tottenham Hotspur: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is pointing the way to the Champions League in that photo. The Welshman will carry his entire team towards Europe's top club competition on his back if he has to.
This has been a defining season for the former Southampton man. Seventeen goals and three assists in 27 starts has seen the rest of Europe stand up and take notice—much like they did when he regularly yoinked Maicon's pants down in the Inter Milan clashes during the 2010-11 season.
Tottenham's season rests on the brink of greatness. If one man is going to propel them there, it will be the versatile forward who continues to evolve his game.
Second MVP: Sandro
West Bromwich Albion: Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku is finally recognised as a Premier League player. Questions over the forward's development arose when he left Chelsea on loan, but the Belgian powerhouse has answered them emphatically.
The 19-year-old has completed 15 starts and 13 substitute appearances for the Baggies. His 13 Premier League goals outweigh Fernando Torres' seven and compete with Demba Ba's 15. With so many years left in his development, Lukaku is looking to represent the best of the Premier League's future.
Now he just needs to settle at a club.
Second MVP: Ben Foster
West Ham United: Mohamed Diame
Look at Mohamed Diame's eyes. He is staring into your soul.
He will tackle you. He will destroy you. He will let you skip past him only to destroy you again. He'll even get down on his knees and hypnotise you into writing how often he destroys you.
I have nothing else to say. Apart from Diame will destroy you.
Second MVP: Kevin Nolan
Wigan Athletic: Arouna Kone
Arouna Kone's importance to Wigan's Premier League survival grows with every game. The 29-year-old has scored 10 goals in 24 starts and two substitute appearances this campaign, including vital winners against Newcastle and Norwich.
Similar to Le Fondre, Kone's goals have prolonged Wigan's life. Unlike Le Fondre, Kone's goals may actually keep his club in the Premier League for another year.
Second MVP: James McCarthy
Do you agree with my selection of Premier League MVP's? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter:
All statistics in the article are courtesy of Whoscored.