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Potential Areas of Improvement for Every Premier League Team's Best Player

Laura GreeneFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

Potential Areas of Improvement for Every Premier League Team's Best Player

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    Each Premier League team has at least one standout player, though "the best" is often a subjective choice.

    Over the following slides we have picked out the leading player from each side in the top flight and suggest possible areas of improvement—should they exist.

    Feel free to add your thoughts below!

Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey

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    Until he suffered a thigh injury on Boxing Day, Aaron Ramsey was easily Arsenal's best player of the season.

    He attacked the 2013/14 season with gusto, brimming with confidence and far outstripping his previous goal tally of 11 goals over five years by scoring 13 in just 27 games.

    Arsene Wenger kept his faith in the Welsh international, who'd had his share of detractors. Wenger gave him a contract extension in 2012 and has reaped the rewards.

    Ramsey has become a better player over time, returning as a stronger and more confident individual since breaking his right leg in two places in February 2010. Physically (when fit) he is at peak condition and has been a key member of Arsenal's midfield this term.

    In order to improve, Ramsey needs to follow the trajectory he is already on. If he can stay upbeat despite the lengthy injury layoffs he will be guaranteed a starring role upon his return to the Gunners' midfield. 

Aston Villa: Fabian Delph

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    Fabian Delph has come on in leaps and bounds under Paul Lambert at Aston Villa. Signed by the Midlands club in 2009 from Leeds United, Delph's progression was patchy at best until the former Colchester United and Norwich City boss came on board.

    Initially, injuries restricted Delph's appearances at Villa to just 36 games before he moved back to Leeds on loan in 2012. He came back into the fold under Lambert in 2012/13 and has since established himself as one of the side's key players in central midfield.

    This season, Delph has been the side's best player. An ever-present in Lambert's side, he has missed just three games all season through injury and yellow-card suspension, he scored an excellent goal in Villa's 1-0 home win against Chelsea and there has even been talk of a place in this summer's World Cup squad, as reported by Greg Makin in the Express.

    The 24-year-old's tackling has markedly improved over the last 12 months. In addition, he passes and dribbles well and he is a tireless worker for his team. To improve it's simple: With six goals to his name at Villa Park, Delph needs to score more. 

Cardiff City: David Marshall

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    In a season of ups and downs at Cardiff City, David Marshall has been the standout player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

    The first keeper to make 100 saves in the Premier League in the 2013/14 season has been a rock for the Bluebirds and every inch the Premier League goalkeeper.

    Marshall moved to the Welsh side in 2009 and was instrumental in their promotion to the top-flight last season. He has played every minute of every game for the Bluebirds this season.

    In terms of improving, there is not a lot to be found wanting in his game. He is a solid all-rounder with good concentration and excellent reflexes. He has already pulled off what is arguably one of the saves of the season against Aston Villa's Andreas Weimann on February 11.

    The one area that needs attention would be his defense from set pieces. While it's also an indictment of his side's defence (who have conceded 58 goals this season), Marshall often looks rooted to the spot when free-kicks are taken against Cardiff.

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

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    This season, suggesting that Eden Hazard has a skill to improve is akin to giving Lionel Messi dribbling tips.

    The Belgian has been not only one of the best players at Stamford Bridge this term but one of the standout players in the Premier League.

    After putting pen to paper with Chelsea in 2012, Hazard enjoyed a positive but hardly revelatory first season in England. This term, under Jose Mourinho, he has been exceptional, with an improved work rate and taking up of defensive duties. And his 16 goals (in all competitions) and 10 assists make him the side's top goalscorer and creative force.

    "He's the best young player in the world," said Jose Mourinho, following Hazard's hat-trick against Newcastle last month, as reported by Dominic Fifield in The Guardian.

    Hazard could be better still if he took more chances in front of goal. Next season, if he hasn't reached the milestone already this term, he should be aiming for 20 goals in a season.

Crystal Palace: Mile Jedinak

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    Last season's Player of the Year at Crystal Palace, Mile Jedinak's physical defensive displays for the Eagles have been crucial to the side's battle to stay in the Premier League.

    He's not perfect and can often be singled out for criticism when Palace are losing. However, the defensive midfielder is good in the air, he is strong in the tackle and he brings a sense of fierce determination to Tony Pulis' side.

    One thing that lets the Australian down is that he often looks completely exhausted—perhaps this is because he has played almost every minute of every game for Palace this season, or maybe it's got more to do with his international duty with the Socceroos.

    Whatever the reason, the 29-year-old picks up needless yellow cards, and his passing leaves a lot to be desired. If he works on his passing skills he could lay claim to being one of the best defensive midfielders in the division.

Everton: Seamus Coleman

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    With James McCarthy close behind him, Seamus Coleman has been Everton's best player this season. 

    The transition from David Moyes to Roberto Martinez has been a smooth one, and Coleman has shone for the Toffees this term.

    The 25-year-old has scored six goals from right-back in open play, has been excellent defensively and seems to have found consistency in his game under Martinez.

    According to an interview the player gave to Kevin Kilbane in the Daily Mail, the Spanish manager has given him the confidence to get forward and onto the scoresheet:

    The new manager has come in and he has been fantastic. He is so positive and he said 'I want you to score goals as a full-back because you have the physical attributes to get up and down' — and I have been working every week on the training ground to improve.

    It is just confidence, I suppose. Last season when I got in the box I would be looking to make an assist or put a cross in. Now I am not afraid to shoot.

    Coleman just needs to continue his development and remain confident. If he can work on being better in the air he really will be able to lay claim to being one of the Premier League's best full-backs.

     

Fulham: Steve Sidwell

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    Picking Fulham's best player of the season is no easy task. It's been a turbulent campaign at Craven Cottage in which many of the side's players have underperformed.

    Steve Sidwell gets the nod. If nothing else, his consistency and work rate sets him apart from his teammates in a season in which the Cottagers have played under three different managers, sit bottom of the Premier League and have conceded 70 goals. 

    Times are not rosy in this part of SW6.

    With six strikes to his name, Sidwell is the side's top goalscorer and has been a mainstay in the center of the park for Fulham this season. 

    At 31, is it too late for Sidwell to improve on any one particular skill? Probably.

    However, should his side get relegated this season, he can perhaps draw on the experience he had getting Reading promoted to the Premier League in 2006 to get Fulham back up at the first time of asking. The fans will thank him for it.

     

Hull City: Curtis Davies

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    Curtis Davies has impressed for Hull City to such an extent this season that he's been handed the captain's armband and was even been mooted as a potential defensive option for Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, as reported by Bill Cooper in the Mirror

    It has been an excellent first season for Davies at the KC Stadium, and he is rated highly, as seen on WhoScored.com, who currently have the 29-year-old down as the Premier League's highest-ranking defender.

    He's a goalscoring centre-half, strong in aerial duels, tackling and interceptions, and he's also reliably consistent in his performances. As one of the most highly rated English defenders in the Premier League, Davies just needs to keep on doing what he is doing.

    He has shown that he can be a goal threat in the league and FA Cup this season, so he should keep working on getting up front to increase his tally.

Liverpool: Luis Suarez

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    To ask Luis Suarez to improve upon his skills would be like suggesting that the Great Wall of China should be a little taller or longer.

    Why change what has been so close to perfect this season? It's scary to think that Suarez has not yet reached his peak. This term he has scored 28 Premier League goals and assisted a further 20.

    A list of his attributes set against his weaknesses on WhoScored is a stark reminder that the Uruguayan really has no deficiencies. 

    This time last season we could have pointed towards his disciplinary issues, but he seems to have eradicated that part of his game. Or perhaps his PR, which saw him flirt with the idea of a move away from Anfield, could have been more polished.

    Alas, there's nothing to improve on this season, Luis. Simply an "A" for effort.

     

Manchester City: David Silva

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    Among Manchester City's many stars, David Silva stands out as one of the brightest. Despite missing out on nine games through injury and yellow-card suspension, the Spaniard has bagged eight assists and five goals. According to EPLindex.com, he creates a chance for his side every 22 minutes.

    At 5'7" with a small frame, the attacking midfielder is quite lightweight. One of the only areas found lacking in his game is the ease with which he can be muscled off the ball. At 28, it's unlikely that this will drastically change.

    However, his finishing could. With a shot-accuracy rate of just 48 per cent, per Squawka, Silva could have a lot more strikes next to his name if he was more clinical in front of goal.

     

Manchester United: Wayne Rooney

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    Picking Manchester United's "best player" of the season is a bit of a misnomer. It has not been a good campaign, and many of the club's biggest names have underperformed for new manager David Moyes.

    However, Rooney stands out as the best of a below-par bunch. As we already know, his strengths are many: He's a tireless worker, and in addition to the 13 Premier League goals and 12 assists this season, he's more than capable of world-class efforts like that strike scored against West Ham this week.

    One skill he could potentially look to work on is his relationship with Robin van Persie. Take this month's 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion, for example. RvP completed only one pass to Rooney over 90 minutes, with just three passes going the other way (h/t Brendan McLoughlin of the Daily Mail).

    It's been a similar story over the rest of the campaign: When playing together Rooney and van Persie operate as two lone attackers, neither really linking with the other. If Rooney could form more of a classic partnership with the Dutchman it could provide part of the answer to Moyes' woes.

Newcastle United: Mathieu Debuchy

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    Mathieu Debuchy has been one of Newcastle United's standout players this season. The 28-year-old's performances at right-back have won him plaudits and, it seems, interest from the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, according to ESPN.co.uk.

    A solid defender, he is good in the air and a very strong tackler. The Frenchman's fitness levels are incredible, and he's a tireless worker for his side.

    One glaring issue with his game is discipline, or lack thereof. Debuchy missed out on three games this season against Norwich, Manchester City and West Ham.

    His lunge at West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob in January was a horror tackle, earning Debuchy his second Premier League red card in 36 appearances.

    Last month, Debuchy also pulled off an embarrassing dive when playing against Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park.

    To improve, the 28-year-old needs to eradicate these aspects of his game.

Norwich City: Martin Olsson

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    Brought into the club last summer from Blackburn Rovers, Martin Olsson spent four of the first five games of the season on the Norwich City bench.

    Since then, he has played every minute of every game for the Canaries.

    An assured left-back, Olsson has been one of the most consistent performers to turn out for Chris Hughton's largely inconsistent side. He supports his side's attack and is strong in defence—everything he does, he does well.

    There has been a marked improvement from his days at Blackburn Rovers, where he featured in only 29 Championship games last season. At 25, he has years ahead of him and needs to stay on an upward trajectory to fulfill his huge potential.

     

Southampton: Dejan Lovren

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    Dejan Lovren has been one of the Premier League's most impressive summer buys, with his performances for Southampton garnering him much praise.

    To suggest that there are areas of his game that need work is splitting hairs: He has been a key member of the Saints' defence, a leader and a scorer of important goals in a 1-0 win against Liverpool and a 2-2 draw against Sunderland.

    Lovren has picked up six yellow cards this season, which is one area of his game that could perhaps be improved. But a look back at the 2012/13 campaign at Lyon, where he picked up three red cards and four yellows over 23 Ligue 1 and Europa League games, suggests that his discipline has already improved. 

     

Stoke City: Asmir Begovic

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    Asmir Begovic has been at the Britannia Stadium for four years now, where he has developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.

    According to The Telegraph's John Percy, Real Madrid are keen on signing the Bosnian keeper at the end of the season, and he has also been linked with a move to Manchester United and Manchester City.

    An excellent shot-stopper with great reflexes, one area in which Begovic excels is his ability to deal with long-range efforts. 

    Last season's Stoke Player of the Year, Begovic is well-liked at the club. However, in order to get even better, a move away from the Potteries should beckon for him this summer.

Sunderland: Adam Johnson

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    Choosing Sunderland's best player, based on this season's performances, is like being forced to pick your favourite One Direction song. 

    There's not a lot to choose from.

    Fabio Borini, on loan from Liverpool, has been the side's brightest spark, with Adam Johnson probably just edging out anyone else in terms of the side's best contracted player.

    Johnson is currently the Black Cats' top scorer with nine goals (in all competitions) and has impressed under Gus Poyet, being the player most instrumental in their battle to avoid the drop.

    Compared to last season's five goals all season, six goals in his last eight games speaks volumes about what he is adding to a Sunderland side so lacking up front.

    Johnson's biggest problem is his inconsistency. A player whose hunger has been questioned in the past, he needs to knuckle down and have an entire season on his game. 

Swansea: Wilfried Bony

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    Wilfried Bony has defied expectations this season. When a player signs from the Eredivisie with an impressive goal tally to his name, it is often taken with a pinch of salt in the Premier League.

    But in what has been a difficult campaign for the Welsh club, Bony has delivered. The physical centre-forward has adapted to the English top flight as the season has gone on, putting away 21 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions.

    Good in the air, incredibly strong and a great finisher, the Ivory Coast striker provides a real handful for the opposition. 

    He had a rather slow start to life in the Premier League, with eight of his league goals coming since the turn of the year. He needs to work on maintaining his fitness and hit the ground running in 2014/15.

Tottenham Hotspur: Christian Eriksen

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    After spending big on a variety of players over the summer, it looked like Tottenham Hotspur may have had many candidates for "best player" by this stage of the 2013/14 season.

    The campaign is not yet over, but Christian Eriksen looks like he can be singled out as one of the side's top performers. The 22-year-old playmaker has plenty of potential, and his burgeoning partnership with Roberto Soldado is one thing that will excite Spurs fans about the future.

    Eriksen has been played on the left on seven occasions in the Premier League, rather than in his preferred central role. Hopefully over the summer reinforcements will arrive to enable him to cement his place as a No. 10.

    His corners need work, as does his finishing, but his creativity, vision and skill on the ball bodes very well for seasons to come at White Hart Lane. 

West Bromwich Albion: Chris Brunt

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    Losing Chris Brunt to injury was a huge blow to West Bromwich Albion this month. The side's captain, who has scored two and assisted a further five this season, would be key to the Baggies' hopes of staying up.

    The Northern Ireland international has one of the best left feet in the division, creates plenty of chances and is excellent at set pieces. 

    He has a wealth of experience, and Pepe Mel's side will struggle without him. It's a side bereft of goalscorers.

    Next season, Brunt needs to show more leadership on the pitch. As the Baggies' team captain, he needs to find his voice, lead by example and make his presence felt. His teammates and the club's fans need it.

West Ham: Kevin Nolan

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    Just when you thought Kevin Nolan's career might be nearing its end, he almost single-handedly propels the Hammers up the Premier League table.

    Sam Allardyce's side were flirting perilously close with relegation until they hit form in January and embarked on a four-match unbeaten run. The man behind this was Nolan, who scored five times and bagged one assist over the course of a month.

    It has been some revival from the man who had to sit out four games over the Christmas period due to two separate red-card suspensions.

    He'll never be the perfect player, but he's obviously enjoying his football and helping West Ham towards safety. The skills he needs to work on are many, most notably his tackling and disciplinary issues.

    Perhaps more importantly, Nolan needs to improve his goal celebration...

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