This year's PFA player of the year shortlist has been announced, and there are a few surprises.
The obvious contenders include Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (who has been on the shortlist for five successive seasons without a win), and teammate Fernando Torres (who has scored twenty nine goals in an astonishing debut season in England).
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese winger, who is clearly the best player in the world on attacking ability alone, is the obvious favourite to take a clean sweep this year.
Also on the shortlist are Arsenal's diminutive goalscoring Spanish playmaker Francesc Fabregas, and his team mate Emmanuel Adebayor.
But the big surprise is the identity of the sixth player on the shortlist: Portsmouth and England number one David James. The stopper is there purely on merit of his breathtaking saves and ultimate professionalism, which sees him being the best in his field at the age of 38.
The surprise isn't that he is actually on the list, its that the PFA has actually waranted putting a player from outside the traditional top four and over the age of thirty to claim the prize.
The other surprise revolving the man with the best name in the world (Check the author's name) is that not one person would begrudge him this win. That is saying something, when he's put up against other players that repeatively pit themselves against the world's finest in the champion's league. James has only seldomly appeared in that league with Liverpool back in the nineties.
But what about the arguments for the other players.
It is very hard to look past Cristiano Ronaldo winning it, but Torres is the bookies' second favourite for the prize which usually accompanies the football writers award.
The cases and arguments:
He is still going strong, and is undoubtedly keen to add a FA Cup winner's medal to make up for the Spice Boys final he lost as a Liverpool player to Manchester United. The current England number one is being considered by Tottenham to replace former England keeper Paul Robinson.
The Togan has had far and away his best season since signing from Monaco two years ago. Over twenty goals in all competitions, and two goals in the semifinal of the champions league against Liverpool, means Adebayor has his best goals return ever.
A master of the art of heading the ball, his fast, good feet and eye for goals helped Emmanuel to carry the brunt of Arsenal's goalscoring duties since Christmas. But his goals have seemingly dried up in the league leading to Arsenal's collapse across the competitions. He is also considered only the third or fourth best striker playing in England, after Ronaldo (if you call him a striker), Torres and Drogba.
The Spaniard who signed a new seven year contract with the Gunners last summer is growing into the complete attacking midfielder. His goal return of close to 15 goals this season is over double the amount of goals he managed in all of his previous seasons since he joined from Barcelona in 2003.
He is a tailsman and a constant threat for Arsenal with his glorious range of passing and now shooting aswell. When he is injured, the Emirates club really misses him. I don't think Cesc will win this year, but will probably finish in the top three if not win the young player of the year award (Fabregas is still only twenty), but he definitely will be a future winner.
The Liverpool captain is the red's heartbeat and the ultimate, most complete midfielder in the world. He scores, creates, tackles and inspires others. It says something for the quality of the list this year that I think that Stevie G will finish third.
A one man club player, he'll be at Liverpool until they don't want him anymore (which is unlikely). He's been the archetect of many a win for the Anfield club, including in the champions league final of 2005 and the FA cup final of 2006. Gerrard already has over twenty goals in all competitions this seasons and is one of the reasons that his newest team has been such a hit.
The player that has probably had the best debut season of any foreign import. Almost thirty goals in not many more appearances, makes this player the second highest score scorer this year (after Ronaldo).
Torres' main asset is his blistering pace and the way he can cast the ball under his spell at his feet. Torres is also strong, good in the air, and a hard worker, always tracking back and helping out his team mates whenever he can. Torres' consecutive hat tricks against Middlesborough and West Ham has statisticans loking through the History books. But the youth of the list this year means that Torres, Fabregas and Ronaldo are all in the running for the young player of the year award too. And finally....
What is there that i can say about the Portuguese trickster? He has over thirty goals this season! He is absolutley brilliant! He never gives opposing defences a minute to think and he can score so many different ways. He can take it round four players and the keeper, from long range or with his head.
Ronaldo is also becoming a very unique free-kick specialist with his special manipulation of the ball during flight and the way he hits the ball from dead. Ronaldo will win for sure, he is everything that is good about United, and that pains me to say coming from a Liverpool supporter.
But for once, the list includes no players from Chelsea, the premiership's richest club accustomed to having at least two players on the list every year. The rest of England breathes an emphatic breath of fresh air in the Stamford Bridge direction. Haha.