The 2014-15 Premier League campaign has been thrilling this season. We are now 21/38 of our way through the season, with clubs having already endured a slew of matches over the holiday season. January signals the opening of the transfer window, allowing teams to make necessary improvements to mount a title challenge, or in some cases stave off relegation. This list will focus on the league’s best players that have demonstrated their talents among the best in their respective professions. These players have been key factors in the success of their teams.
Premier League football is considered by many to be the highest caliber domestic league in the world. Players from across the globe flock to these 20 clubs scattered across England and Wales to ply their trade as professional footballers. On the highest level of the game, the stakes are enormous, with clubs spending millions of pounds to acquire players who in turn earn salaries that can be as much as £300,000 per week. Clubs rely on the success of their players to fuel increased profits, and these players are the driving forces behind their teams.
Now that we are slightly past the halfway point of the season, clubs are beginning to fall into the rhythm of the grueling schedule. Teams will be gearing up in January to mount title challenges and fight for spots in European competition over the last few months of Premier League competition. As it currently stands, Chelsea are at the top of the league, and their dominance is reflected in the selection of players. The following players have been outstanding in several aspects of the game and contributed significantly to their club’s success.
We decided on using a simple 4-4-2 to decide our team.
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12 Goalkeeper - Fraser Forster
After a very successful stint in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic, Fraser Forster transferred to Southampton on a £10 million move. His return to England has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season, helping Southampton to their current position in third place. Forster has played a major role in this run up the table, keeping a clean sheet in 10 matches so far this season while making 42 saves. He has played every minute of Premier League competition for the Saints and been a stalwart performer behind the defense.
11 Right Back – Branislav Ivanovic
Branislav Ivanovic has been in Jose Mourinho’s squad at the right back position for all of Chelsea’s Premier League matches this season. Ivanovic plays every minute and has been a steady performer on both ends of the pitch. Offensively, Ivanovic has contributed two goals and two assists, with goals against Burnley and Everton to start the season. He was the star of Chelsea’s victory against Arsenal thanks to his stellar defending and ability to win balls in the air. Ivanovic will remain a crucial defensive player for Chelsea as they enter the latter stages of the season.
10 Center Back – John Terry
At the age of 34, John Terry is still producing the league’s best defensive performances on a weekly basis. Along with Ivanovic, Terry has been present for every minute of Chelsea’s Premier League season. Recently, he has scored three goals for Chelsea in the Premier League, bringing his season total to five in all competitions. Terry has a passing completion percentage of 91.6%, making him the third most accurate passer in the entire league. His security with the ball at his feet allows teammates to pass to him without fear and allows Chelsea to shut the game down once they build a lead.
9 Center Back – James Tomkins
James Tomkins may have only played in 14 Premier League matches for West Ham, but his impact has been crucial to their meteoric rise up the table. West Ham has cooled off in recent weeks to their current position in seventh place, making a challenge for European competition. Tomkins has been at his best since the beginning of November, delivering stellar performances against Stoke, West Brom, and Leicester and helping them secure a valuable win against Liverpool. Along the way, Tomkins has contributed 3 assists and scored the winning goal against West Brom.
8 Left Back – Gael Clichy
Gael Clichy is over halfway through yet another stellar season in the Premier League. He has settled in fantastically at Manchester City and helped them with performances in crucial matches that have allowed them to climb into second place. Clichy has been the man of the match on several occasions for City this season, notably matches against Newcastle, Manchester United, and Southampton. Recently, he had a two assist night to lift his team to victory over Sunderland. Clichy’s ability to contribute on both ends of the pitch make him an important part of City’s plans going forward.
7 Right Midfield – Alexis Sanchez
When Alexis Sanchez made the blockbuster move from Barcelona to Arsenal this August, many questioned how long it would take him to settle into the Premier League style of play. Sanchez has performed at full speed from the beginning and has been one of the most exciting performers in the league so far this season. Sanchez has scored an incredible 12 goals and assisted on 7 more during his 19 matches this season. This Herculean effort has come along with five man of the match performances, which have elevated Arsenal to their current spot in fifth place.
6 Center Midfield – Yaya Toure
When Yaya Toure participates in matches for Manchester City, it is extremely unlikely that they will lose that match. Toure is a dominant presence in the center midfield, possessing excellent passing and dribbling skills along with an ability to shoot from virtually everywhere. He is the 11th most accurate passer in the league, but has excelled in goal scoring with a total of seven so far this season. He will now travel away from the City squad for the African Cup of Nations and it will be interesting to see how they will cope without him.
5 Center Midfield – Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas has been a revelation for Chelsea this season. This summer, he was their prized purchase, and he has been paying dividends virtually from the beginning of the move from Barcelona. Fabregas currently leads the Premier League in assists with 14, which is six more than Gylfi Sigurdsson and Leighton Baines, who share second place. Chelsea’s new midfield maestro has been perfectly complimented by Nemanja Matic, and the pair have a physical edge, along with a refined attacking flair that has allowed Chelsea to dominate Premier League competition.
4 Left Midfielder – Eden Hazard
There is no doubt, Eden Hazard has been the best and most exciting player in the Premier League so far this season. Hazard has been virtually unstoppable for Chelsea, often attracting multiple defenders who spectacularly fail to dispossess the slick Belgian playmaker. He has been the highest rated player in the league up to this point with a WhoScored average of 8.0 in his 21 performances. Hazard has scored eight goals and distributed four assists to his teammates, while being the most frequently fouled player in the league. Hazard possesses unbelievable dribbling ability that allows him to dance through opposing defenses with ease. Be sure to watch him as he continues his fantastic season into 2015.
3 Striker – Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero has continued to be one of the best strikers in the Premier League for yet another season. Aguero possess quickness, deadly finishing ability, and supreme positional awareness, which have made him one of the most phenomenal strikers in recent memory. Aguero has scored 14 goals so far in the Premier League campaign and helped his team with three assists. In a team of superstars, Aguero’s relentless work ethic has allowed him to propel the team into their current second place spot. If he continues at his current pace, he may bring the Premier League title back to Manchester.
2 Striker – Diego Costa
Last season with Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa had trouble staying fit due to nagging injuries. This season after his move to Chelsea, Diego Costa has been a consistent producer, participating in 18 Premier League matches. He has netted 15 goals so far in the campaign and along the way earned a total of 7 yellow cards, proving he does more than just torment opposing defenses. Costa’s instinctual finishing has been a lethal weapon for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea squad, and he is a major reason they currently sit in first place.
1 Manager – Ronald Koeman
When Ronald Koeman signed a three-year contract in Southampton in June, he then watched as his squad was chopped up and sold off. He rebuilt his team during the summer transfer window, making six signings who have had significant impact on his squad this season. Newly acquired Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, and Dusan Tadic have been fantastic for the Saints so far this season, and new goalkeeper Fraser Forster has been world class. They have been defensively solid, facing the least amount of shots of any team in the league. All of these elements have allowed Koeman to navigate his team to their current position of third. They have been one of the most surprising teams of the season, and their continued success will throw a wrench into England’s traditional top four.
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