Predicting the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year Shortlists
The penultimate month of the English football calender brings a certain amount of reflection.
Clubs poll their Player of the Season, teams of the year are considered and, more prestigiously, shortlists appear for the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year.
This is one of the ultimate accolades for professional footballers, with their ability recognised and voted for by their fellow peers.
An imperious season at Tottenham saw Gareth Bale top both categories last year, with Robin van Persie a deserving recipient in 2012.
Each award has a shortlist of six names announced in April, and only players aged 23 or under at the start of the season are eligible for Young Player of the Year .
Before 2014's nominees are revealed, here's a look at the potential final six contenders for each award.
All stats via WhoScored.com.
Young Player of the Year: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling has been a key part of Liverpool's irrepressible surge up the table.
Having burst onto the scene early last season, the 19-year-old suffered a dip in form throughout much of 2013, playing fewer minutes and often staying on the bench.
As this current season's progressed, however, Sterling's played an increasingly prominent role, becoming a key part of Liverpool's relentless attacking power.
He's supplied ammunition for Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez and often been the third member of the Reds' potent three-pronged attack.
Sterling won't win this award but has a strong chance of making the shortlist.
Young Player of the Year: Jordan Henderson
Liverpool's rampant form is likely to see many squad members championed, with so many playing at such a consistently high level.
Just 12 months ago, Jordan Henderson was often considered a scapegoat for mediocre performances; this season, he's proved himself worth every penny of his extravagant transfer fee.
His industry has been behind much of the high-octane, high-energy pressing game that's made Liverpool so successful. His passing and creative contributions have also progressed dramatically, as have his international prospects.
Only Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have provided more assists (7) for Liverpool this season, and while he won't win this award, he deserves a nomination.
Young Player of the Year: Aaron Ramsey
These nominations will remember the season as a whole and not just the Premier League's current landscape.
For that reason, Aaron Ramsey must earn a nomination. Before losing pace in the title picture, Arsenal spent the majority of the year topping the table, often spurred on by his scintillating form in midfield.
In 18 Premier League games, Ramsey contributed eight goals and six assists—playing a direct part in 14 of the 36 goals scored in those games.
Arsenal won 12 of those 18 matches but only seven of the 14 matches since.
Had he avoided injury, the Gunners would find themselves closer to the title, while Ramsey would have a much stronger case for this award.
Young Player of the Year: Ross Barkley
Few players have progressed as much as Ross Barkley this season. Twelve months ago, he was enduring loan spells in the Championship, having made just the four career Premier League starts.
Under Roberto Martinez, however, it's been a very different story.
Barkley's broken into the Toffees' first-team and played a key role in what's been a successful season for the club.
He's also become an England international—at just 19—and seems likely to make the trip to Brazil this summer.
He's an outsider for this award, but his rapid rise is sure to be acknowledged with a nomination.
Young Player of the Year: Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge will be many peoples' choice to scoop the PFA Young Player of the Year.
The former Chelsea striker has shown a new degree of potency in front of goal, already notching 20 Premier League strikes this season.
His consistent production can sometimes be masked by the exceptional form of Luis Suarez, but his goal tally is better than any player at any other English club.
That alone deserves recognition, but it's Sturridge's development as a more rounded player, willing to interchange and link up with others, that's made him one of the Premier League's best.
He may just miss out on this award, but Sturridge has had a hugely successful campaign.
Young Player of the Year: Eden Hazard
The top choice to be crowned best young player of this current campaign is Chelsea's Eden Hazard.
The Belgium international has flourished under Jose Mourinho, especially during the middle part of the season.
His first year saw more punctuated, explosive acts of brilliance; 12 months on and his influence has become far more sustained and decisive.
Hazard already has 14 Premier League goals—five more than last season—and has created more chances (87) than anyone else in the English top flight.
At just 23, he is already one of the Premier League's top performers.
Player of the Year: Wayne Rooney
Turning attention towards the major prize, Wayne Rooney's performances may narrowly earn him a nomination for PFA Player of the Year.
While his team has suffered without Sir Alex Ferguson, individually, Rooney's still produced a consistent season for the Red Devils.
Only three Premier League players have scored more goals and just one has more assists—all of whom feature ahead of him on this list.
Sergio Aguero, Adam Lallana, Aaron Ramsey and John Terry are other strong contenders that will be hoping Rooney misses out.
Player of the Year: Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is yet another Liverpool player to make this list.
After a slow start, the Reds' skipper has adapted well to a new, deeper role, mopping up in front of his defence before locating his attackers with his precise delivery.
He averages more passes per game than any Liverpool player, dictating their tempo, and his 11 goals and nine assists are top returns in both categories.
While he won't win this award, lifting a first Premier League trophy would provide every consolation for the Reds' captain.
Player of the Year: Daniel Sturridge
The first repeat contender, Sturridge's season has been up with the Premier League's very best, let alone those 23 and under.
He won't take home this award, but is a certain nominee and should finish with the most votes among English players.
Player of the Year: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard is the most likely recipient of the Young Player of the Year award and, as with Sturridge, has been right up with the very best in the division.
However, to claim a rare double—a feat achieved only three times before, by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andy Gray—the Chelsea man faces stern competition.
Hazard seems unlikely to earn both awards, but a top-three finish would still mark an impressive second season in English football.
Player of the Year: Yaya Toure
Few players have the ability to single-handedly rouse a team the way Yaya Toure regularly does for Manchester City.
Any time his club struggles for direction, a run, tackle or shot from Toure is so often the catalyst for a revival—as was especially evident during the Capital One Cup Final.
This is a trait shared by many previous winners of this award. At his best, Toure is unplayable and the leading midfielder in the Premier League.
He has enjoyed his most productive season in England, scoring more goals (17) than any midfielder and more than double his return in any other season at City.
Toure is a guaranteed nominee, and is the choice of many to lift the award.
Player of the Year: Luis Suarez
As impressive as the other candidates are, the PFA Player of the Year has a clear and distinguished favourite.
Luis Suarez has been in a league of his own this season and should comfortably claim this prize.
Currently on 29 goals from 27 Premier League games, no player in Europe's major five leagues can match his devastating return.
Six goals in his final six games would see him bag the most goals in any Premier League season while no player has won the Golden Boot scoring more goals than matches played.
If his stunning scoring feats aren't enough, he's also added more assists (11) than any other player, making him directly involved in just under half of Liverpool's 88 goals.
Suarez's individual season has been one of the best in Premier League history and he should become Liverpool's first PFA Player of the Year since 2006.