The PFA Player of the Year shortlist was announced yesterday with few surprises among those selected. Here is our lowdown on the six nominees, starting with our choice for the award:
The Six Nominees
Robin Van Persie – Arsenal (Our winner)
What can you say about the Arsenal forward. Van Persie notched 35 goals in the 2011 calendar year, just one behind Alan Shearer’s Premiership record. It’s fair to say that Van the Man carried the Gunners through that early season wobble, leading from the front and by March, Robin had scored 46% of Arsenal’s Premier League goals. A return to form for Arsene Wenger’s men has coincided with a slight dip in Van Persie’s displays, but only because everyone is used to the exceptionally high standards he sets normally. Arsenal may have turned their season around, but it would be worrying to think where the side would be without Van Persie, indeed this season they have been the definition of ‘one-man team’ thanks to his 27 Premier League goals. For this reason alone, Van Persie is the obvious winner, he may well have saved his side from total collapse and any potential move to Barcelona this summer could spell disaster for the Gunners.
David Silva – Manchester City
Two months ago Silva appeared to be the nailed-on winner of this award, as he seemed to be providing the artistry that could guide Manchester City to their first Premier League title. The diminutive Spaniard was instrumental in everything good City did, scoring six goals from midfield, but also providing 13 assists, the joint highest in the division. City have scored the most goals in the Premier League this season, notching 85 so far, and you wouldn’t be surprised if Silva had a hand in almost every single one. Unfortunately for the Blues, he has looked jaded in recent weeks and his dip in form has coincided with City’s capitulation in the title race, something that is no coincidence. Had City gone on to lift the trophy, their playmaker may well have picked up this award as well.
Sergio Aguero – Manchester City
Considering the records of other illustrious Argentineans playing in the Premier League, most notably Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo, Sergio Aguero can be proud of what he has achieved this season. His debut against Swansea in the first game of the season showed England exactly why Mancini forked out £35 million to bring him to the Etihad Stadium, as he scored twice in a scintillating half an hour cameo as a substitute. His form has continued consistently throughout the season, helping Aguero to a total of 21 goals in his first year. His link-up play with David Silva has been exceptional and Roberto Mancini will rue the fact that none of his support strikers can take the pressure off Aguero. Segio will be key to any title hopes next year, if City can ward off interest from Real Madrid.
Joe Hart – Manchester City
It’s been another exceptional year for the England number one, who continues to display a level of maturity between the sticks that defies his 24 years of age. 14 clean sheets in 34 games shows just important Hart is to Manchester City and it is testament to his ability that City haven’t splashed out on another goalkeeper. Hart often keeps the Blues in games with important saves, while he has also solved England’s problems in goal. Already one of the best in the world, everyone in football hopes Hart will continue to improve and add his name to likes of Shilton, Banks and Seaman as one of the greatest England’s ever seen. He can start by winning the inevitable penalty shootout England will face in this summer’s Euro 2012.
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
Surprisingly for a man who has scored 24 Premier League goals this year, Wayne Rooney has rather gone under the radar a bit this year, despite the fact that he is almost as important to Manchester United as Van Persie is to Arsenal. With Chicharito struggling to replicate the form he showed last year and Berbatov and Owen proving to be world class benchwarmers once again, the onus has fallen on Rooney to lead the line week in, week out. He has done so with great efficiency, and as expected, is a regular source of goals for Sir Alex Ferguson. He has been a huge part of United’s sensational rise to the top of the table, although his season has partly been overshadowed by his stupid behaviour in Montenegro. Let’s hope England are still in with a shout when Wayne can take to the pitch for the final group game.
Scott Parker – Tottenham
The PFA writer’s Player of the Year last year was inspirational despite suffering relegation with West Ham and this earned him a bargain move to Tottenham for a mere £5 million. Redknapp got himself the deal of the season here, as Parker replicated his form for the Hammers with some steely displays in the heart of the Spurs midfield. It is noticeable when Parker isn’t playing, indeed Spurs have looked vulnerable at the back without his protection, while he is also a good outlet from which to start attacks. Although Spurs’s season has taken a disastrous tumble of late, Parker can still look back on a good year’s work and prepare for leading his country into battle this summer.
And six unlucky not to be nominated…
Has proved his value to United once again with 13 assists, the joint highest with David Silva. His formidable partnership with Rooney is only getting stronger and yet people still don’t fully recognise his importance to United. Just imagine if he had a left foot as well…
If Hart gets recognition for his job in saving City defensively, then Kompany surely deserves a mention too. Exceptional in everything he does, the Belgian’s importance to the Blues cannot be underestimated, just look how the team fell apart when he was suspended. Slightly better captain than Carlos Tevez as well…
If we’re talking about one-man teams, then Fulham could well come under that category. Their American forward Clint Dempsey has been on another level this year, bagging 16 goals, the highest figure by a Fulham player in the Premier League. Any chance of Fulham sustaining a mid-table position relies on Martin Jol keeping Dempsey at the club.
The ‘Grant Holt for England’ bandwagon may have started as a bit of a joke thanks to Rooney’s suspension, but the big target man’s 15 goals this year has made this a distinct possibility. He may be the wrong side of 30, but Holt has played a huge part in helping Norwich to a wonderful debut season and a call-up would cap a wonderful return for a man who has scored in all four divisions in England.
Hatem Ben Arfa
All the talk on Tyneside has been of the two Dembas, Demba Ba for the first half of the season and Papiss Demba Cisse for the second. Both have been exceptional in helping Newcastle to the verge of the Champions League, but there is a common denominator in their form. Hatem Ben Arfa. He has repaid Alan Pardew’s decision to sign him with a broken leg in some style and perhaps scored the goal of the season against Bolton. Watch out England if France select him for the Euros.
The current holder of the award can only settle for a place on the young player’s shortlist this time around, but his victory last year was perhaps a reflection of his European performances for Spurs rather than his Premier League ones. Bale has still been brilliant at times this season, notching 9 goals and 8 assists to confirm his position as one of the leading players in the Premier League. Bale will hopefully play a big part for the Great Britain Olympic side, indeed he could be one of the stars of London 2012.