Picking a Premier League 2012-13 Flops XI
The Professional Footballer's Association announced its Team of the Year on Sunday night, so it's only right to consider who would make it into the Premier League Flops XI for the 2012-13 season.
Plenty of high-profile players have failed to inspire confidence this year. Former champions have plummeted, usually reliable individuals have sagged under pressure and a handful of the usual suspects have performed as badly as expected.
Resisting the urge to include a lineup made entirely of QPR players, here are the floppiest flops from the current campaign.
GK: Joe Hart, Manchester City
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Joe Hart's brilliance played a massive part in securing Manchester City's first Premier League title last season. The England No. 1 consistently pulled his team out of trouble with stunning saves and won his second successive Golden Gloves award for most clean sheets (via MCFC.com).
This season, he is likely to secure that award for a third year. Despite the undeniable honour, Hart largely has his defence to thank for the lack of goals conceded (via OptaJoe). Although occasionally brilliant, the 25-year-old has made a number of personal errors throughout the year.
After his recent mishap against West Ham, Hart can now be held accountable for five goals Manchester City have conceded this season. Mistakes against Sunderland and Southampton cost Roberto Mancini's men vital points in a title race that never hinted at ending in City success.
As confirmed in our recent in-depth look at Hart's seasonal statistics, it hasn't taken much to beat a keeper who was perhaps over-hyped after a phenomenal 2011-12 showing.
RB: Jose Bosingwa, Queens Park Rangers
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Things change quickly in football.
This time last year, Jose Bosingwa and his exceedingly overgrown monobrow were on the verge of Champions League glory with Chelsea. Twelve months later, the Portuguese international's football career is blotted with QPR's Premier League relegation.
It wasn't long ago the 30-year-old competed with the best full-backs in the world. Mark Hughes signed Bosingwa in August 2012 on the proviso that he possesses "a winning mentality" (via BBC Sport). As we know, Hughes was sacked and is no longer at the club, and hilariously, Bosingwa took until February 2013 to notch up his first Premier League win with the club.
At the time of writing, the former Chelsea man has experienced just two Premier League victories with the Hoops. His form has followed the trend of many QPR players and settled on inconsistency and sloppiness.
Will Bosingwa represent Tony Fernandes' side in the Championship? It's going to take someone mighty brave to grab him from two remaining years at Loftus Road.
CB: Johnny Heitinga, Everton
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Johnny Heitinga's season was summed up at Old Trafford. With Sylvain Distin injured in the pre-match warm-up, David Moyes had no choice but to draft the Dutch defender into the starting lineup.
Manchester United fans gleamed with joy, Everton supporters sighed with anxiousness.
There was a reason for this reaction. One week before travelling to Manchester, Heitinga performed disastrously in Everton's disappointing 3-3 draw with Aston Villa. The 29-year-old, who represented The Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, openly admitted this display was the worst game of his Merseyside career (via The Liverpool Echo).
Despite being used sparingly, Heitinga's poor form started long before the Villa game. He gifted Newcastle a goal in the 2-1 win at St. James' Park and generally summed up exactly why he plays second fiddle to Distin and Phil Jagielka.
Heitinga's confidence has improved lately. Even so, his erratic form has become too evident for the Goodison Park crowd to show him prolonged faith. You could say his Toffees career has become unstuck.
CB: Christopher Samba, Queens Park Rangers
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I have very little to say about Christopher Samba.
As covered in the "Premier League's 8 Biggest Busts from the January Transfer Period," any club that is willing to pay the Congolese defender £100,000 per week to play football needs to live with the consequences.
Not to mention he cost £12.5 million; a fee even Anzhi Makhachkala director German Tkachenko lauded as ludicrous (via Metro). Just to put that into perspective, QPR pay Samba £5.2 million every 12 months.
Think of the ways this could be better spent. Perhaps a local charity could benefit from the money. Maybe Tony Fernandes could repay some of the fans who journeyed to Loftus Road for every home game. He could even buy an unlimited supply of Haribo Tangfastics to try and give his team extra energy on the pitch.
Needless to say, Samba's arrival and subsequent performances did very little to help QPR maintain Premier League status. The pick of his displays came in the 3-2 loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage, where Samba not only caused a penalty for the first goal, but he also gave the ball away for the second.
LB: Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal
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Robin van Persie's summer transfer freed Thomas Vermaelen up for the Arsenal captaincy. Arsene Wenger wanted to provide the gifted Belgian with a springboard towards becoming a Gunners legend, but unfortunately, the complete opposite happened.
Vermaelen's season has been crippled with poor form. Despite comfortably bossing one of Arsenal's centre-back positions in previous years, it's somewhat cruel that he fits into this team as a left-back. Deployed across the back four throughout the year, Vermaelen just hasn't shown the qualities that outlined him as Arsenal's leader.
Many will remember the defender's decision to set Robin van Persie up at Old Trafford. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the Dutch forward had moved to Manchester United by this point. Vermaelen's positioning, distribution and overall play has struggled when up against world-class talent this season, as highlighted in the Gunners' defeat to Tottenham in March.
In fact, the 27-year-old's name has only featured once in the starting lineup since that day at White Hart Lane. Wenger's decision to keep faith with the Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny pairing looks to be far steadier for the time being.
CM: Cheik Tiote, Newcastle United
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Cheik Tiote's first couple of years at Newcastle suggested he is a wholehearted, determined and combative midfielder.
He is the kind of player who will put his body on the line to ensure his team end up with a positive result, even if that means racking up a ridiculous number of yellow cards in the process. This season, the traits that once linked Tiote to Manchester United haven't been so impressive (via The Daily Mail).
The Ivorian's entire season has been hampered with sloppiness. His decisive passing and confidence on the ball has been exchanged for repetitive mistakes that continue to halt Newcastle's attacking momentum. Tiote has averaged 2.5 successful tackles per game; a statistic made less impressive when you consider his average of 2.3 fouls per match.
Six yellow cards and one red in 21 appearances has followed. Tiote's off-the-field problems seemed to have seeped towards the pitch, analysis that is further backed up by the Magpies' terrible campaign (via The Guardian).
CM: Charlie Adam, Stoke City
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Before Charlie Adam joined Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson said his corner kicks were worth £10 million alone (via Goal.com).
Stoke City rescued the Scotsman from a dismal spell at Anfield last summer. With Ferguson's quote in mind, it seems the rest of Adam's footballing ability reduces his fee down to £4 million (via The Daily Mail).
The 27-year-old continues to play in the shadow of his Blackpool days. Despite the suggestion that Adam may thrive as the most important player in a smaller team, his debut season for Stoke has been full of disappointment. Just three goals and one assist in 25 appearances ensures his 12-month spell as one of the Premier League's hottest properties is well and truly forgotten.
Like many of the Britannia Stadium's playing staff, Tony Pulis has tried to reveal Adam's defensive capabilities. He currently averages 1.1 successful tackles per game and an average of 1.9 fouls every time he steps onto the pitch. Seven yellow cards also indicates he is more suited to attacking duties.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong for Adam. He should be at the peak of his career right now, but like many at Stoke, he suffers under a breed of football that limits creativity.
RM: Antonio Valencia, Manchester United
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It's scary to think none of Manchester United's wingers have been in good form this season. Ashley Young has struggled with injury, Nani has struggled with being Nani and Antonio Valencia has been found out.
The Ecuadorian undoubtedly deserved to win awards last year. His clean sweep confirmed a treble triumph that couldn't be argued with at Old Trafford (via The Daily Mail). This season the former Wigan winger has never looked like receiving the same amount of plaudits again.
Much of this stems from his sudden inability to deliver crosses. Valencia has never been a prolific goalscorer, but his power down the right flank often opens up goalscoring opportunities for his colleagues.
Or at least, it used to.
Valencia has just four assists and one goal in 27 appearances this season. For comparison, Rafael has three goals and three assists in the same amount of games. Patrice Evra has five assists and four goals in 32 appearances. Even Jonny Evans has scored two goals more than Valencia in six appearances less.
He may be a champion, but next year is a huge season for Valencia. Perhaps his insistence on cutting inside on his right foot has finally backfired.
LM: Scott Sinclair, Manchester City
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We all saw it coming.
Deep down, Scott Sinclair probably saw it coming too. The English winger—who enjoyed a fantastic 2011-12 season with Swansea—decided a move to Manchester City would push his career to the next level. In reality, the 24-year-old has taken a major step back.
Just two Premier League starts and nine substitute appearances has seen Sinclair contribute nothing of significance to Roberto Mancini's cause. Swansea nabbed the Capital One Cup in his absence, and although City are favourites to secure the F.A Cup, Sinclair's contribution is non-existent.
Sinclair really could have pushed on at Swansea this year. He came off the bench to score a fine goal on the opening day of the season for his former club, but times have moved on. Michael Laudrup has progressed the squad towards silverware and an excellent Premier League finishing position.
A number of clubs continue to sniff around Sinclair (via The Daily Mirror). In all honesty, was his City tenure ever going to end any other way?
ST: Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham Hotspur
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Has Emmanuel Adebayor fallen out of love with football?
His demeanour suggests such an observation is possible. In a season that has seen Tottenham's domestic and European charge stunted through a lack of striking options, the Togolese striker just doesn't seem bothered anymore.
Adebayor's laziness doesn't sit well alongside the hyperactive energy of Gareth Bale. The former Arsenal man has just three goals in 21 appearances and has let his team down in plenty of vital situations. Most memorable of all came at his old stomping ground, where Adebayor's early red card saw Spurs destroyed 5-2 by their North London rivals.
Andre Villas-Boas will certainly look to strengthen his attacking options in the summer. Although he has publicly backed Adebayor in recent times, it's likely the Portuguese manager is disappointed with his forward's output, especially after a fantastic loan spell last year (via The Daily Express).
ST: Nikica Jelavic, Everton
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Nikica Jelavic was a revelation when he joined Everton in January 2012. David Moyes finally added a clinical goalscorer to a team that notoriously suffers with a lack of cutting edge.
One season down the line, Jelavic has all but forgotten how to put the ball in the net. Worse still, his questionable form has seen the Croatian drop to the bench in favour of Victor Anichebe. Just seven goals and two assists in 34 appearances has seen Jelavic fade from the limelight, even though his stunning goal sunk Manchester City to a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park recently.
Everton have spread the goals around this year, with Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini contributing to a decent season for the Toffees.
Jelavic's dismal run can be put down to "second season syndrome" for now, but the former Rangers striker certainly has an important season ahead of him.
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Here's a list of players who are among the Premier League's floppiest. They should consider themselves lucky not to be included within the worst of 2012-13's startling lineup:
Pepe Reina (Liverpool)
Ali Al-Habsi (Wigan Athletic)
Stephane Mbia (QPR)
Samir Nasri (Manchester City)
Fernando Torres (Chelsea)
Fabio Borini (Liverpool)
Grant Holt (Norwich)
Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich Albion)
Do you agree with my Premier League Flops XI for the 2012-13 campaign? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter right here:
All statistics in this article are courtesy of WhoScored.