Despite Monday’s Manchester Derby result, the Premier League season is set to draw to a close in rather anticlimactic circumstances, with Manchester United still holding a 12 point lead which is unlikely to result in the kind of end of season drama seen during the final day of the 2011-2012 campaign. With that said, there is still plenty to play for in regards to individual awards. With just a handful of games left to play, let’s take a look at the leading candidates for the right to be named PFA Player of the Year.
Juan Mata – If Manchester United have lacked creativity and their City counterparts have been hunting for consistency in midfield, Chelsea fans can revel in the continuously impressive displays located at the head of the 3 amigos partnership. After a stellar first season at Stamford Bridge, the Spanish international has gone on to prove that he is no one season wonder. With 10 league goals and as many assists already under his belt, Juan Mata has pulled the strings in a Chelsea side that continues to undergo a revolution, following the high profile departures and downward turns of previous regimes. Alongside Hazard and Oscar, Chelsea are capable of paralysing opposing defences and with Mata leading the march, Champions League qualification and cup success are still very much on the horizon for a Chelsea side who have been long written off during a difficult campaign. Should their season end well, few could argue that Mata will have been the driving force behind one of the season’s most unexpected turnarounds.
Luis Suarez– following a year in which Luis Suarez was a leading pantomime villain both on and off the pitch, the talented Uruguayan has knuckled down and begun demonstrating his true value to Liverpool FC and the English Premier League as a whole. With the head down determination of Kevin Keegan, Suarez is the kind of player capable of making the impossible possible. Leading the way for this year’s golden boot with 22 goals already, Suarez is starting to make more friends with his “unplayable” in-game attributes and is suddenly more likely to make the back pages for all the right reasons. If the current Liverpool side can be described as resurgent, Suarez is without doubt the spark of an Anfield revolution.
Robin Van Persie – Despite being highlighted as the key catalyst behind Manchester United’s title drive this season, Robin Van Persie has failed to find the net in the last 11 Premier League games, with many questioning whether injury or a simple loss of confidence is hampering his current performance. Despite still putting in decent displays in his last few games, there is no doubt that several chances befell the Dutch maestro against Chelsea in the cup, ones he would have gladly gobbled up during his first few outings in United colours. 15 games into the season, Van Persie looked to be a shoe-in for a repeat performance as the PFA Player of the Year. A recent baron spell means he is still a contender, but perhaps less worthy than his fellow competitors for the honour.
Michael Carrick – Perhaps a somewhat bias addition to my list, Michael Carrick has proven more than capable of filling the significant boots of Paul Scholes, with the United faithful finding their singing voices in support of the fact. This season, with impeccable vision, total control and an ability to retain the ball at all costs, watching Michael Carrick’s performances really have made it hard to believe it’s not Scholes.
Gareth Bale – Despite still being a young performer on the global footballing stage, Gareth Bale is already beginning to age like a fine wine. Dual displays against Inter Milan just a few of seasons ago shot Bale to worldwide recognition and laid the path for becoming a true Premier League great. This season, Bale has taken great strides to prove that such performances are more than mere fluke. Whilst he is still a long way from consistently dominating games in the manner that Messi and Ronaldo are able to achieve, his pace, power and goal scoring ability ensure that he is currently the hottest property in the Premier League. Tottenham may be hard pushed to keep hold of their prized asset once the transfer window opens in the summer, but if they do so, he is an individual capable of pushing them on to greater things in the 2013-2014 season. If he were to do so as the PFA Player of the Year, his value will continue to sky rocket.
Michu – If you are looking for value in the market, few could argue against Michu as being the signing of the season. When Michael Laudrup paid out just 2 million in the summer, few Swansea fans could have imagined that they would be adding one of the most clinical finishers in the Premier League to their dynamic squad. However, with 17 league goals already accredited to his name, the Spanish international is fast becoming a Welsh hero. Bringing Carling Cup success to the Liberty Stadium and forcing his way into the Spanish international team, Michu is without doubt the surprise package of the 2012-13 campaign.
So, there you have it, the key candidates for the PFA Player of the Year Award. With just a couple of weeks to go, we won’t have to wait long to find out who the Premier League elite have voted as the cream of the crop in the English game. Who do you think deserves to take this year’s trophy? As always, we eagerly await your thoughts…