Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
There have been some outstanding highlights this year including, The Queens Diamond Jubilee, London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games, Felix Baumgartner successfully completing the Worlds Highest Skydive and Titus Bramble still playing professional football.
So as the year is coming to an end it seems a good time to look back on the outstanding players in the Premiership so far this season. Below, are my top 10 performers after 18 games….
10. Jermain Defoe
During the summer Jermain Defoe was expected to either be off to see out his career at a lower Premiership club such as Queen Park Rangers, or find himself sitting on the Spurs bench.
It has been quite the opposite with the England striker getting first team action after Adebayor recovered from injury, with Defoe using the minutes to help his team finish the year strongly contributing 14 goals or assists in 18 starts in all competitions.
Playing as a lone striker is never easy but Defoe has shown it can be done without being the traditional six and a half foot target man.
9. Luis Suarez
The Uruguayan hero will always have his critics after his eventful time so far in England but you cannot doubt the talent, the menace possesses.
Suarez’s season really kicked off after his hatrick away to Norwich City and the goals have been flowing ever since. Having to carry a whole team cannot be easy but Suarez has led the line with class, even if he has got away with his teeth being offside on more than one occasion.
Currently number two in the goal scoring charts with 11 goals, the Liverpool forward is showing no let up of giving defenders nightmares for the second half of the season.
8. Kevin Nolan
West Ham United are exceeding expectation with their current league position, Kevin Nolan certainly has contributed to this as much as anyone in the Hammers’ team.
Captain Nolan has notched up goal after goal, always finding himself in the right place at the right time. Not only has he contributed with the goals but his role as leader on the pitch has been obvious, manager Sam Allardyce has hailed Kevin Nolan as a Captain Courageous and compared Nolan as being straight out of the same mould as Steven Gerrard.
If Kevin Nolan can build on this great form, then there is no reason we shouldn’t be expecting an England call-up in 2013.
7. Leighton Baines
Always in the national shadow of Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines is now taking the lead as one of the worlds top left backs, many a display this season for Everton have given him plenty of plaudits.
His left side relationship with Steven Pienaar brings the best out in both players and Baines has registered assist after assist as well as 4 goals.
This is his best season so far and shows no sign of slowing down, continuously being linked to Old Trafford, and recently admitting playing in Europe is something he desires more and more, could this be the last season we see the marauding full back at Goodison?
6. Mohamed Diame
Who saw this coming? One of the signings of the season after West Ham picked up the central midfielder for free from Wigan Athletic.
Mohamed Diame has been a power house in both forward play and defensive duties; he is a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira, the sort of player a lot of the top clubs are screaming out for.
What a bargain, most other clubs will now be kicking themselves for not seeing what the Irons did in the Senegal international. The all action midfielder did have some interest from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the summer and that calibre of club will surely come knocking again soon enough.
5. Santi Cazorla
Many would pay money just to watch Santi Cazorla, he oozes class and is a welcome addition to the Premiership. The Spaniard can be seen regularly having long range shots for Arsenal, with many finding the back of the net, and recently triumphing with a hatrick against Reading.
Take away the goals, his movement and passing ability is a joy to watch, a real play-maker.
Arriving in the summer, the £16 million signing seems a real bargain considering he would likely get into any team in the division. The exciting thing about Santi Cazorla is I don’t think we have even seen the best of him yet.
4. Juan Mata
After a busy summer and an almost tired start to his season, Juan Mata has been exceptional ever since, in a Chelsea team covered in controversy for another year.
The Spanish international has risen above his compatriots in the 2012-13 campaign. Mata has been asked to play wider on the right as well as centrally and has been just as creative and dangerous in both positions as well as from set pieces.
With Chelsea clearly looking to replicate that “Barcelona style” of football, who is better to be the face of that brand than Juan Mata?
3. Marouane Fellaini
2012 for Fellaini didn’t quite end as he would have hoped after finding himself in the suspension sin bin for three games after a mad 90 minutes verses Stoke City, apart from that his season so far has been absolutely outstanding.
Setting the standard early on with his man of the match performance against Manchester United, he has been one of the most dangerous players to come up against.
Still Everton’s record signing at £15 million, he has repaid every penny of that with match winning performances in many a game. This season he has been asked to play more forward, linking up with Nikica Jelavic, a partnership has been formed which has accounted for 14 of the 30 goals Everton have scored this season.
If this form continues Fellaini is going to become incredible hot property, where that lure of Champions League football could become irresistible.
2. Robin Van Persie
Sir Alex Ferguson does it again with the goal machine that is Robin Van Persie, comparing him to Eric Cantona recently, one of the highest accolades you can receive.
RVP has made the difference this season which is why Manchester United will finish the year top of the league. The 29 year old Dutchman has bagged 13 goals and 7 assists so far and has put the main man at the Theatre of Dreams, Wayne Rooney, in his shadow.
There is no doubt that if Van Persie can keep fit, he will end up the League’s top goal scorer and give United that next title. However at the end of the day we should just count ourselves lucky to have Robin with us after almost being murdered at Swansea.
Michu or Miguel Pérez Cuesta as I like to call him has got to be player of the season thus far, it is not very often that £2 million will get you a player of this calibre but Swansea have pulled off a massive coup.
The midfielder by trade who has found himself leading the line on more than one occasion, has been an absolute revelation with 13 goals so far from both positions, leaving him joint top scorer with RVP.
Incredibly cool under pressure, never panicking in the penalty area he is now finding himself valued at £20 million plus, as well as being mentioned by Spain coach, Vicente Del Bosque… and why not?