English Premier League: Robin van Persie and Each Team's Best Player So Far

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2011

English Premier League: Robin van Persie and Each Team's Best Player So Far

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    The English Premier League is rapidly approaching the midway point, and most teams will know by now where their ambition for the season must lie for the second half of the season.

    From Manchester City challenging at the top of the entire league to Bolton Wanderers, who surprisingly prop up the other 19 sides, everybody has had the odd standout player who has made a difference over the first half of the campaign and who is seen as key to fulfilling the team's hopes over the remaining five months.

    Here we examine which player from each team has been the most consistently excellent performer, any worthwhile honourable mentions—and which players have flattered to deceive.

    Premier League form only is taken into account for the choices, so as to offer all players an even chance across the board, though European/domestic cup exploits will certainly be recounted where appropriate.

    Thanks for reading.

Arsenal: Robin van Persie, Forward

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    Thirty-three goals and counting for 2011.

    Not bad going at all for the Dutch striker Robin van Persie.

    The Arsenal captain has netted 19 of those this season so far in all competitions, with 15 of those coming in the Premier League, making him the top scorer thus far.

    Van Persie has been in scintillating form for the Gunners and has won several matches almost single-handedly with his penalty area prowess, while even when he plays below-par recently he has still managed to find a goal from somewhere.

    His strikes have ranged from sumptuous free kicks to magnificent volleys, close-range tap-ins and everything in between.

    A top striker on top of his game.

    Arsenal, 5th

    Top Performer: Robin van Persie

    Honourable Mention: Alex Song. A great season so far for the midfielder who has been a stand-out performer in the centre, and has provided several assists for van Persie along the way.

    Disappointment: Marouane Chamakh has barely had a look in and looks disinterested when played, but Andrei Arshavin pips him to the biggest flop of the season. Terrible form, lacking energy and dropped from the first eleven.

Aston Villa: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Forward

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    Playing either up front with Darren Bent or attacking from the left flank, Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor has rediscovered his scoring touch this season and, until his recent absence, had looked a constant menace on the ball.

    His five Premier League strikes make him Villa's joint-top scorer with Bent and with five assists to his name as well, he is comfortably the Midlands side's biggest attacking threat.

    Pacey, strong and comfortable running at defenders again after a somewhat up and down last couple of seasons, Agbonlahor's form and fitness will be a key part of whether new boss Alex McLeish can improve on Villa's current 9th placing in the table.

    Aston Villa, 9th

    Top Performer: Gabriel Agbonlahor

    Honourable Mention: Shay Given has been kept busy on his return to regular first team football but looks like he has never been away. His injury is a blow to Villa.

    Disappointment: I have to go for Darren Bent actually. Five goals for him is not great at the half-way stage, and he has missed an absolute hat-full of relatively straight-forward scoring chances. Has had less shots than Agbonlahor (25-34), but unlike his strike-partner does not create many of those chances himself.

Blackburn Rovers: Junior Hoilett, Winger

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    In a side desperately short of quality in key areas, Junior Hoilett stands out with one or two others like sore thumbs in Blackburn Rovers' ranks.

    The tricky winger has netted three times and clocked up three assists in his fourteen appearances in the Premier League, including important point-earning strikes against Norwich City and Wigan Athletic.

    His runs past players in the final third are a hugely important asset for Blackburn and he is capable of game-changing moments of brilliance.

    If Rovers are to stay up this season they will need Hoilett at his best.

    Blackburn Rovers, 19th

    Top Performer: Junior Hoilett

    Honourable Mentions: Yakubu has to get a mention for his nine goals in ten games, and though his overall game is certainly better now with a few games under his belt in a row, early on it was almost a case of "stand still as long as you can until the ball comes near you so you don't get knackered moving about". Also a nod to Chris Samba who has been fairly steady this season, despite Blackburn conceding 34 goals—Samba has played in just 11 games though.

    Disappointment: Michel Salgado looked like he'd never tackled anyone before early on in the season, committing fouls and giving away penalties with alarming frequency. Since then though, Morten Gamst Pedersen's form has been rather woeful and the attacking midfielder has scored and assisted just once in the league this season. More is needed from Rovers from their more experienced players if they are to survive.

Bolton Wanderers: Nigel Reo-Coker, Midfielder

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    Oddly, for a team doing so exceptionally poorly this season, Bolton actually had two or three players in with a shout of taking the top performer title.

    Whether that is because those players are carrying the team or because the whole lot of them are underperforming to a similar extent, I'll let you decide.

    Nigel Reo-Coker has been very strong and as consistent as anybody for the Trotters in midfield and his energy and, in the word of boss Owen Coyle, "guts" are exactly what Bolton will need from mid-December to mid-May to get themselves out of the mess they are in now.

    This time last season Bolton were sitting pretty in sixth place in the league, having lost just three matches from 17. This season, they have won just three times, losing 12 of their 15 games.

    Bolton Wanderers, 20th

    Top Performer: Nigel Reo-Coker

    Honourable Mentions: Ivan Klasnic has been the goal threat, notching seven goals in 13 games, while Chris Eagles has been lively, hitting a remarkable 45 shots in 15 games, scoring three times in the process.

    Disappointment: Take your pick from the centre backs; England man Gary Cahill has been in wretched form, seemingly unable to mark any player with an ounce of movement from set pieces, while David Wheater has been dreadful. The only bonus with him is that he has been suspended twice, meaning he hasn't been able to play in all the games.

Chelsea: Juan Mata, Forward

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    An unbelievably gifted player who is arguably the face of the "new Chelsea", Juan Mata has settled into the rhythm of English football very quickly and has set about making himself one of the new "undroppables" at the London club.

    Plenty of flair, a quick change of direction and wonderful close control make Mata a real threat in and around the penalty area, coming in off the left flank as he loves to do.

    Would possibly thrive even more if given a central, roaming role, but the one he plays in now gives him a certain amount of freedom still and he has used it to devastating effect already this season, setting up seven goals for his team-mates in 13 games, and scoring three himself for good measure.

    Chelsea, 3rd

    Top Performer: Juan Mata

    Honourable Mention: Daniel Sturridge has come back from his loan spell at Bolton and, having served his suspension at the beginning of the season, won himself a regular spot in Chelsea's first eleven. Has yet to nail down the centre-forward role, but that will come eventually if he continues his progress which has so far seen him hit seven goals in ten games.

    Disappointment: Fernando Torres. Did you expect anybody else? The £50 million striker has added two league goals to his grand total of one from last season—that's three league goals in close to eleven months for Chelsea.

Everton: Royston Drenthe, Midfielder

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    It says everything about Everton's season so far that their best and most exciting player is someone who has appeared for them only eight times, and is only on loan for the season.

    The Toffees have hardly got going this season and some desperately stodgy football has seen them struggle to piece consecutive victories together and show any kind of lengthy consistency.

    Royston Drenthe arrived in August on loan from Real Madrid and lit up Goodison Park with his direct running, willingness to shoot from range and fierce left boot, which has so far brought him two league goals and three assists in the Premier League.

    Everton, 12th

    Top Performer: Royston Drenthe

    Honourable Mention: Tim Howard has been a sound presence in goal again, behind a functional and capable but ultimately limited defence and midfield lines. Meanwhile top scorer Apostolos Vellios has managed three goals from nine shots!

    Disappointment: Tim Cahill has been hugely out of sorts this season. Averaging almost two shots per game in the league, he has yet to score this term and indeed at any point for Everton since last January. He hasn't even gotten himself sent off this season yet.

Fulham: Mark Schwarzer, Goalkeeper

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    The first goalkeeper on the list to take the prize, Mark Schwarzer has been a steadying influence in a season of change for Fulham, keeping six clean sheets in his 15 Premier League games and making an average of almost four saves per game.

    The veteran stopper, now 39, might be set for a short spell on the sidelines following a neck/back injury after the fall pictured on this slide, and that would be a real blow for the Cottagers.

    Martin Jol's plans are taking their time coming to fruition and the more experienced players like Schwarzer are key in keeping things ticking over.

    Still a very agile shot-stopper and an imposing presence, Schwarzer has been very impressive again this season.

    Fulham, 14th

    Top Performer: Mark Schwarzer

    Honourable Mentions: Clint Dempsey has really tested the general goalkeeping population of the Premier League this season, clocking up 60 shots so far. They have brought him four goals, while he has also claimed three assists, and is Fulham's most reliable and consistent attacker. Moussa Dembele always looks a threat though lacks real finishing skills, and Danny Murphy has again been classy and key in the centre of midfield.

    Disappointment: Bryan Ruiz. A big money, last day signing for Fulham who was supposed to help them move onto another level—all he's really done this season so far is help keep the bench warm. One goal, albeit a rather splendid one, from his ten games is not really the return Fulham were hoping for.

Liverpool: Luis Suarez, Forward

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    Liverpool don't have anyone who has been close to Luis Suarez's level of brilliance this season.

    While his goal tally for the season stands at five in the league and eight overall, his all-round contribution to the Reds' attack has been incredible.

    Getting through an amazing amount of work each match, Suarez never gives opponents a moment's rest and wilfully finds gaps and spaces with the ball at his feet when there seems to be none.

    A gifted dribbler and compulsive shooter when the goal is in his sights, Suarez often seems to be doing it all by himself—and as several teams have already found out, he's definitely capable of doing so.

    Liverpool, 6th

    Top Performer: Luis Suarez

    Honourable Mention: Daniel Agger is playing arguably the best football of his career this season and has so far stayed clear of the injuries which have blighted his career until now. On top form he is one of the best two or three centre backs in the league; that Liverpool have the best defensive record in the league now is at least partly down to Agger's upsurge in leadership, form and fitness.

    Disappointment: Depends which way you look at it. Steven Gerrard has played four times in the league this season after failing to completely shake off his ills. Then there is Andy Carroll, who with two goals in 13 appearances has failed to live up to his number nine shirt, has not yet held down a regular spot in the first eleven and has not forged any real kind of partnership over a sustained period with Luis Suarez. On balance, Carroll would have to edge it.

Manchester City: David Silva, Attacker

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    Along with Juan Mata and Luis Suarez who have come before him, David Silva is one of the several players who have been head and shoulders above the rest of the Premier League this season.

    After an impressive if not consistently spectacular debut season last year in which he scored four and claimed seven assists, Silva has this season been in scintillating form and has already bettered those statistics after just 15 games, having scored four and made eight goals in the Premier League.

    Silva's inventive passing, fabulous close control and prodigious work-rate when not in possession have made him the kingpin of Manchester City's expensive side; he is the one who makes them tick.

    With no Champions League to play in after the new year Silva could be one of those rested for league games on a regular basis—and if so, his skill in top form can push City on towards their first Premier League-era league title.

    Manchester City, 1st

    Top Performer: David Silva

    Honourable Mentions: Micah Richards has been in wonderfully attacking moods this season, marauding down that right flank with regularity and finding himself in goalscoring positions on many occasions, though he has claimed only the one goal thus far, plus five assists. Mario Balotelli's impressive strike-rate has seen him claim eight league goals in 11 games, though his all-round game still needs further improvement, while new-boy Sergio Aguero has found the transition from La Liga to Premiership easy enough, hitting 11 goals in 14 games—though he is yet to complete a 90 minutes.

    Disappointment: Not sure that the team sitting top of the league would have too many disappointments, and handing the 'award' to Carlos Tevez seems too easy, so I'd have to plump for new signing Stefan Savic, who has looked ill-at-ease at times in the centre of defence in his few appearances, and a lost little boy in midfield.

Manchester United: Wayne Rooney, Forward

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    Recently-ended goal drought aside, Wayne Rooney has been in spectacular form this season from the moment Manchester United's campaign kicked off.

    11 goals in 14 games is impressive enough in the league, while he has 14 in all competitions.

    A run in August-September saw him score hat-tricks in successive games as he notched nine goals in just six games in that period.

    His all-round play brings an awful lot to United's game which, without Rooney and winger Nani, can at times be overly predictable and machine-like. The English forward brings a mix of flair and determination to the team which prompted Alex Ferguson to give Rooney a midfield role earlier in the season as United struggled for numbers and creativity from deep, but it is certainly further forward where Rooney is at his best.

    Manchester United, 2nd

    Top Performer: Wayne Rooney

    Honourable Mention: Nani certainly runs Rooney close enough. Has had the odd spell this season where he cannot influence games enough and for that reason misses out, but is still an exceptional performer and when on his game can win a match in a heartbeat. Has five goals and five assists this season.

    Disappointment: Dimitar Berbatov has featured just five times in the Premier League this season for United, failing to score, despite being the joint-top goalscorer last season of the entire division. Looking at disappointments another way, losing Nemanja Vidic for the season is a big one indeed, as is the probable loss for the remainder of the campaign of midfielder Darren Fletcher through illness.

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Goalkeeper

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    Newcastle United enjoyed a fine first four month of the season and found themselves in the upper reaches of the Premier League until recently, and that was in no small part thanks to the efforts of Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul.

    His reflexes and instinctive saves had helped Newcastle concede only 12 goals in their first 13 games, before injuries saw their previously-unchanged defensive line-up altered, contributing somewhat heavily to seven goals being put past Krul in the past two matches.

    Nevertheless, he has made countless important stops and blocks prior to that which have seen his side take three points when they might only otherwise have taken one, or less, and his bouncing style of saving the ball has frustrated many an otherwise-prolific forward when he perhaps thought he had already scored.

    After their great start Newcastle will be seen as something of a scalp now and Krul's abilities will likely be hugely tested over the coming month or two, but until now he has certainly been the Magpies' stand-out performer.

    Newcastle United, 7th

    Top Performer: Tim Krul

    Honourable Mentions: While Krul stops the ball at one end, Demba Ba puts it away at the other. After a barren start to his Newcastle career, Ba has netted 11 goals in has past 10 Premier League games, including a hat-trick against Blackburn and another away to Stoke City. Somewhere in the middle of those two players, Yohan Cabaye is pulling the strings in midfield to great effect and looks set for a great debut season in English football.

    Disappointment: Many who watch football outside the Premier League will have been looking forward to seeing Davide Santon get a run in the top flight in England, but until recently he has been unable to break into the team. Injuries have given him the opportunity, now we may see if the highly-rated full-back is able to justify the hype which has surrounded him for a couple of seasons already.

Norwich City: Bradley Johnson, Midfielder

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    Bringing just the right combination of technical ability and team-first ethic to the table, central midfielder Bradley Johnson has been a superb acquisition for Norwich City and is a constant menace to opposition defences with his cultured left foot and ability to pass from range.

    Covering good ground every game and always willing to put the boot in when needed, Johnson is as happy doing the dirty defensive work for his team as he is directing the passing game that Norwich love to display.

    His two goals and three assists have all come in matches that Norwich have taken at least a point from, if not the full compliment of three, proving that he is having an important effect on the team when it matters.

    Norwich City, 10th

    Top Performer: Bradley Johnson

    Honourable Mentions: Steve Morison, after initially struggling with the step up to the Premier League, has found his goalscoring boots in recent times, notching six altogether in the league, the same as fellow burly forward and club captain Grant Holt. On loan right-back Kyle Naughton has also been a shining light of Norwich's attack-first policy with many raiding runs down the flank, and Anthony Pilkington's goals from the flank will prove an important component of City' armoury if they are to go on and survive their first season back in the big time.

    Disappointment: Disappointment, but certainly not a surprise: the loss through injury to former Everton forward James Vaughan. Vaughan is a talented striker but has never been able to put a run of games together because of a wretched history of breaking down. His latest set-back, a knee injury will see him miss out until February at the earliest.

Queens Park Rangers: Heidar Helguson, Forward

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    Every newly-promoted club to the Premier League needs one thing in particular to survive: someone who can score goals.

    Heidar Helguson looks like he is proving himself to be that man for Queens Park Rangers.

    Recently the Icelandic striker hit his 100th goal in English league football; that being just one of his six strikes this season—in just nine games.

    Not bad at all considering he is averaging less than three shots per match so far.

    Strong in the air, mobile and with a certain single-mindedness which sees him not too bothered about getting hurt in the challenge; Helguson has caused no end of problems for deep-defending teams this term so far, and has pushed himself ahead of the likes of Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell to be QPR's main striker.

    Queens Park Rangers, 13th

    Top Performer: Heidar Helguson

    Honourable Mentions: Something else every promoted side needs: a midfielder who can win the ball back. Shaun Derry isn't flashy, except for his exceptionally manly handlebar moustache during Mo-vember, but he is the one in midfield who wins the ball back, keeps people organised, and lets the more advanced and technically-able players do their thing further forward. Mr. Important in the QPR team.

    Disappointment: Adel Taarabt. Flopped at Spurs, lit up the Championship, has been supremely rubbish back in the Premier League. Basically has shown he is a tricky show-pony, but ultimately incapable of producing at the business end of the game. If Paris S-G's rumoured interest is genuine, I expect Neil Warnock will bite their hands off for any offers of £6 million and upwards, let alone the ridiculous £15-20 million fees which were thrown around last summer. Ten games, no goals, no assists. Oh, and he was stripped of the captaincy when Joey Barton arrived.

Stoke City: Jonathan Walters, Forward

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    Irish forward Jonathan Walters has been a huge success story since switching from Ipswich Town to Stoke City last season.

    His great work-rate and versatility makes him an attractive proposition for Tony Pulis' side, but his ability on the ball and ability to find the back of the net have made him a real top class act over the past twelve months.

    This season has netted six times for Stoke, four in the Premier League, along with another four league assists.

    His partner in attack has rotated mainly between Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones, but whichever one starts, it is always Walters who is with them, such is his importance to the team now.

    On a personal level he is having probably the best season of his career at both club and country, having played and scored in the UEFA Europa League and also having qualified with Ireland for the 2012 European Championships, for which he must surely be a dead cert to make the squad.

    Stoke City, 8th

    Top Performer: Jonathan Walters

    Honourable Mention: Robert Huth has had an impressive season in defence for the Potters, showcasing his strength, reading of the game and aerial prowess. Not the quickest and will never be regarded as a great, but certainly at the top of his own game this season and clearly enjoying being a big part of a successful team.

    Disappointment: Toss-up between two summer signings; Wilson Palacios in midfield (three league appearances) and Cameron Jerome up front (five league appearances, no goals or assists). I'll go with Palacios because he's only managed one more appearance than the completely hopeless Salif Diao.

Sunderland: Stephane Sessegnon, Attacker

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    Stephane Sessegnon just about tips the scales in his favour for Sunderland on account of being slightly more consistent with his exciting performances, but Sunderland haven't exactly had a lot of shining beacons of brilliance yet this season.

    The diminutive Benin attacker is given licence to attack from a central role at his club, playing just off a striker usually, and loves to run at defenders from just outside the penalty box. His good pace and tricky control make him a danger, but he needs better players running off him to maximise his potential.

    Two goals and three assists is no mean feat in a side which has scored just 18 goals in 15 games, but there is certainly plenty more to come from Sessegnon—and Sunderland.

    Sunderland, 16th

    Top Performer: Stephane Sessegnon

    Honourable Mention: Sebastian Larsson just misses out, despite having better goal statistics, on account of continually following up a good performance with a completely average one. His five goals and two assists owe some debt to his prowess at set-pieces, but a missed penalty recently could have made it even better.

    Disappointment: Wes Brown continues his career-long habit of playing well for three games and disastrously for the next couple, but £5 million signing Craig Gardner hasn't even established himself in the Sunderland side yet, scoring just once in eight games and not showing the kind of form which saw him be such a big part in the Birmingham team which won the League Cup last season.

Swansea City: Michel Vorm, Goalkeeper

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    Something else which can help a newly-promoted side stay up: a mean defence.

    How about clean sheets in half your Premier League games? That's what Michel Vorm has achieved (almost) with his seven shut-outs in 15 games, making 60 saves along the way, including a penalty save in Swansea City's most recent victory with the score standing at just 1-0 at the time.

    Vorm's athleticism, good reflexes and strong stature have made him a candidate for signing of the season after he set the Swans back just £1.5 million.

    Swansea City, 11th

    Top Performer: Michel Vorm

    Honourable Mentions: Several players to fit in here. Joe Allen first up, a terrific midfield playmaker who is calm on the ball as you could wish, can find a pass at any distance and gets himself into the box in support of his front-men. Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair have been real threats on the flanks, while Danny Graham has notched five goals so far in his first season back in the Premier League after signing from Watford.

    Disappointment: Not sure that Swansea could have too many thus far to be honest, but the continued absence through long-term injury of Ferrie Bodde will doubtless dismay Swans fans. Bodde is a talented passer of the ball who fits perfectly with the Swans' way of playing, but through injury has featured just four times in the league in the past two and a half seasons. On loan defender Steven Caulker has also perhaps not forced his way into the side to showcase his talents as might have been hoped by now.

Tottenham Hotspur: Younes Kaboul, Defender

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    Spurs have rocketed back from their early season woes to find themselves comfortably in the top four of the Premier League, knocking on the door of the top two clubs from Manchester even at times.

    Their attacking football has won plaudits aplenty, but the foundations for their recent success comes from the other end of the pitch.

    Younes Kaboul, once much-maligned and already once previously sold by Spurs, has been a real rock for them at the back for much of the season and, though he established himself as a first pick almost by default as being the only fit centre-back left, he has unarguably gone on to take his chance in a big way.

    Only Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs have a better defensive record this season than Spurs, and for all the talent they possess at the other end, it must be recognised that Kaboul has been imperious at the back for them and is a massive presence on the field.

    He still has moments of his old nonsense, but they are becoming fewer, and his good moments are all the better for it.

    Tottenham Hotspur, 4th

    Top Performer: Younes Kaboul

    Honourable Mentions: Quite a few again. Gareth Bale has been in fine form, scoring five and setting up four, while right-back Kyle Walker is one of the most in-form defenders around at present. Scott Parker has been a real presence in midfield, winning plenty of loose balls back for Spurs, and up front Emmanuel Adebayor, while not always a 90-minute player, has still scored eight goals in 12 games.

    Disappointment: Roman Pavlyuchenko has gone from bit-part player to can barely-be-bothered-to-pretend-to-care player and obviously wants a route out of Spurs, but maybe the biggest disappointment is the injuries which have restricted midfield quartet Niko Kranjcar, Tom Huddlestone, Sandro and Steven Pienaar to just twelve league appearances between them—half of those for the Brazilian.

West Bromwich Albion: Shane Long, Forward

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    West Brom splashed out big money in the summer to land Reading striker Shane Long, and the Irish forward has repaid them with five goals in his first 13 Premier League games.

    Quick and direct, and no respecter of reputations, Long is able to cause problems for defenders through his tenacity and endurance as much as his ability on the ball.

    Certainly knows where the goal is and doesn't think too much of trying to win a cheap foul along the way, Long is doing a good job for West Brom and is one of the first names on the team-sheet when fit.

    West Brom, 15th

    Top Performer: Shane Long

    Honourable Mention: Chris Brunt is a reliable player for the Baggies and is capable of striking a mighty shot from distance. Only one goal to his name so far this season, but has also claimed four assists.

    Disappointment: Ben Foster has hardly shined since moving to West Brom on loan from Birmingham, but the lack of goals from striker Peter Odemwingie, just two in 11 games, is a cause for concern following his 15-goal haul last term.

Wigan Athletic: Victor Moses, Forward

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    With one goal from 48 shots this season, it can certainly be argued that Victor Moses needs to work on his finishing a little, but the fact is that the former Crystal Palace trickster has been far and away Wigan Athletic's stand-out player in what has been a fairly torrid season for them.

    Given a starting role this season after being mainly an impact substitute last year, Moses has flourished playing either side of a front three and creates shooting opportunities for his team-mates with his winding runs, pacey off the ball movement and strong work rate.

    Of course, it is a problem that his team-mates have been extremely poor this season in the main part, but maybe that is part of what has allowed Moses to grow. Individually, he has improved no end, but boss Roberto Martinez needs more than just one impressive player.

    Wigan Athletic, 18th

    Top Performer: Victor Moses

    Honourable Mention: Mohamed Diame is a really talented midfielder who can break up play and rampage forward with equal effectiveness, but he is held back by a reckless streak, inconsistency and a penchant for giving the ball away at vital moments. On top form he can win games for Wigan. In his lesser-concentrating moments, he can lose them.

    Disappointment: Who else, Hugo Rodallega. Nine goals last season in 34 games; no goals at all this term from ten games and 27 shots. Relegated to the bench in recent weeks and not even called upon as a substitute, the Colombian is clearly going through a crisis of confidence but Wigan need him to get back to scoring ways to pull them away from the drop zone.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Steven Fletcher, Forward

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    Wolves' in-form front man Steven Fletcher has really hit the Premier League goal trail over the past eight months dating back into last season, with six goals in ten games this season and 11 in his last 16.

    The powerful Scottish striker is at home challenging in the air and has a great left foot, allied to the super work-rate you would expect from a Wolves player.

    Though he has played out wide as an extra midfielder when needed he is undoubtedly better as a central striker and Wolves will need his continued goalscoring form for a while longer yet if they are to pull away from the relegation zone.

    Wolves, 17th

    Top Performer: Steven Fletcher

    Honourable Mention: Utility man Stephen Ward has proved a useful asset for Mick McCarthy to call upon, operating equally in midfield, at left-back or as an extra forward. With two goals to his name this season he clearly knows how to find the back of the net, even though his usual position is on the left side of defence, and his stamina and good link-up with whichever midfielder is ahead of him make him an integral part of this Wolves team.

    Disappointment: Roger Johnson has so far not lived up to expectations following a £7 million move from Birmingham City, but it is forward Kevin Doyle who has been the most below-par so far for Wolves, notching just two goals in his 14 games; indeed Doyle has only registered 21 shots so far, indicating that perhaps he needs to focus rather more on his attacking game at the moment to earn his side the points they desperately need.