This Premier League season has been one of the most gripping I can recall. Whatever team you support, you have been subject to dramatic finales and highs and lows. It is, as I'm sure you're aware, the players who provide you with the reason for suicide when you lose and the reason for uncontrollable laughter when you win.
There have been a great deal of improved players this season, though a few have really stood out. Over the past few seasons, many players have turned into greats, and this season, one player has seen his market value increase by 35 million, according to his manager.
These eight are my personal favourite. Enjoy.
The current West Brom stopper had a slow start to his career, which began in Oman, where he was born. After a few brilliant displays in his hometown, he attracted interest from Europe.
In 2003, Al Habsi became the first Omani player to play abroad and was even given the Best Norwegian Goalkeeper Award. Following this, Al Habsi was transferred to Bolton Wanderers in 2006, though he never really was given a chance to play. Therefore, when he was loaned out to Wigan Athletic in 2010, he was keen to impress. Judging by his appearance on this list, he's done a rather good job.
The shot stopper is certainly busy. Wigan Athletic are certainly keen to hide the fact that they have one of the worst defence records in the Premier League, though without their star goalkeeper, things may have been a lot worse.
His recent performances have provoked interest from other "bigger" clubs, including Arsenal, who are experiencing goalkeeping problems. They see this shot stopper as a possible solution, as he has shown patches of brilliance, and at 29, is relatively young. This interest is fully deserved, and his place on this list in my opinion is unquestionable.
The young Welshman's performance's in the Champions League have guaranteed him a spot on this list. Last season, Gareth Bale was showing signs of potential, though it is his galloping runs down the left flank this season, coupled with a great delivery, that have raised his market value— according to Harry Redknapp—up 35 million. His displays of dazzling skills and frightening speed have uncovered interest from Manchester United and Liverpool, though the 21-year-old signed a contract recently keeping him at White Hart Lane for four more years.
Unfortunately, injury has slowed the winger's progress, and at times, Bale has seemed extremely inconsistent. However, there is no denying that this young man has flourished during this season, and all signs suggest that he will continue to do so.
Bale has been the the media's main focus this season at times, and I feel that on occasion, they have made him out to be a player that he isn't. Player of the Year? No chance. His inconsistency (for whatever reason) has let him down. Comparing him to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo shows you that this man has a lot of work to do to reach the heights of world football, and it is up to him to show us if he can.
The cover picture gave this man's inclusion away, didn't it? No matter, as Samir Nasri has been nothing short of unplayable at times. His trickery, along with a fantastic passing ability and an uncanny eye for goal, ensured that Nasri cemented his place in the Arsenal midfield. The Frenchman has also seen his chances in the national side increase and is now a regular starter in the French XI, too.
His career, like many others, has been plagued by injury, which has prevented him from showing his fantastic ability before now. His enthusiasm for the game, unique talent and great guidance from Arsene Wenger will ensure that Samir Nasri continues to deliver match-winning performances, and with Cesc Fabregas's performances waning a little, the burden of carrying the gunners to hard fought victories may pass on to the French midfielder.
This young man has been labelled as the next Gerrard, Lampard, Fabregas and many more, but the fact is, he'll probably outstrip them. At 19, Jack is already an Arsenal regular and has four England caps.
Jack started his career at Arsenal, surprise, surprise. He was noticed early for having a natural ability and progressed through the ranks quickly. After a slow start to his very early career, Wilshere was loaned to Bolton, where he impressed. Bolton were keen to sign him on loan for this year, too, though there bid was rejected. Now, 10 years on from his first appearance in the Arsenal Academy, Wilshere has 32 senior Arsenal appearances and is on his way to greatness, no doubt about it.
A veteran, Scott Parker has been in near perfect form this season, particularly the later stages. His hard work in the middle of the field has really paid off, with the West Ham man earning an England cap, which was his sixth. Parker is regarded as one of the most consistent midfielders in England, and at 31, is still going from strength to strength.
Parker has played for Charlton, Chelsea and Newcastle, though it is at Upton Park where fans witness the West Ham vice captain in vintage form. He started the season brilliantly, scoring three times in his opening six matches.
Following his excellent performances and England recall, Parker has been placed on the six strong shortlist for the prestigious PFA Player of the Year Award. He missed out on the PFA award but was named the FWA Footballer of the Year, an award he definitely deserves.
Whatever happens in the later stages of this season, one thing is for sure. Hammers fans certainly appreciate the role this man will play in the relegation battle.
To be perfectly honest, if you had asked me if I would have included Lucas in my list at the end of last season, I would have laughed at you. Yet now, it is clear to see the potential this young man has got.
When signed in 2007 for around five million, I was expectant. Brazilian attacking midfielder, the next Kaka, maybe. Yet when he pulled on the red jersey and started playing, i was appalled. I was mildly humiliated to see a player looking lost out on the Anfield pitch, misplacing simple passes and making horrific challenges. It was only the patience of Rafael Benitez that kept him in the side, as the Liverpool faithful were calling for his head, me included. Nice way to start your career, isn't it?
For his first two seasons, nothing improved for the Brazilian, who looked out of place in a Liverpool side that was at one point challenging for titles, a team with Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Steven Gerrard in midfield! It is plausible that the midfield trio made Lucas look sub-standard in comparison; in fact, I'm sure they did.
Why? Because when Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso left, Lucas was finally able to make the midfield role his own. Playing alongside an influencial skipper, Steven Gerrard, Lucas was able to pick up vital lessons about performing admirably in midfield.
Playing deeper than Gerrard, Lucas is the holding player in the Liverpool XI, making big tackles and clever passes. This enables Gerrard to move forward with Raul Meireles while still maintaining decent cover. His age, enthusiasm and ability at this moment in time could see him develop into the next Gerrard; after all, this man is in the Brazilian national team, so he's only going to get better.
Go on, slaughter me... Done? Then I'll start my justification.
People don't seem to appreciate the players in the "lesser" teams, just as they don't hammer in 30 goals a season and have a market value worth twice the GDP of Ireland. Yet this man has delivered a consistent run of good performances, playing in a West Brom side that are struggling.
Bought for one million, Odemwingie was subject to racist chants from his old club, Lokomotiv Moscow. This was not to put him down, though, as the striker scored a late debut goal against Sunderland on the opening day of the season. More admirable performances and goals brought Odemwingie the September Player of the Month award, a considerable achievement considering it is his debut season in England.
Odemwingie has delivered a constant run of good performances, making him a fan favourite.
The striker has pace, trickery and an eye for goal, and I feel that this man will be influential for West Brom in the future, wherever they're playing.
In my opinion, this man was the transfer of the season. His 12 goals have given United another great striking option, and this man seems to score all kinds of important goals. Late winners, for example, against Everton or goals that make United more comfortable.
His partnership with Wayne Rooney already seems to be flourishing, and I get that feeling that the pair of them will be together up front for a long time. Hernandez is pacy and seems to have to have that eye for goal, that striker's instinct, that lands him in the right place in the right time to score poachers goals. In some ways, he reminds me of Michael Owen; how he can be quite all game and then pop up with a brilliant piece of skill to win a match.
Constantly hailed by Sir Alex, the forward will develop to become the next Old Trafford Hero, though it is important not to place to much pressure on him at such a young age, as it may hinder him. This would be a great shame, as he is a great player to watch.
The 22-year-old has also enjoyed a good start to his Mexico career, scoring twice in the World Cup and having at least another two a head of him.
One of my favourite players this season, Javier Hernandez, or Chicarito (Little Pea), is a definite for this list.
There you have it. There may be some you don't agree with, which is perfectly understandable. There may be some you felt were missing, in which case, feel free to comment. Don't forget that this list was for players who I felt improved, not players who have been consistently good, like Didier Drogba. There were also other players who have done brilliantly this season. Sturridge and Welbeck have been great, but I felt didn't make it into the top eight.
Thanks for reading, guys.