Premier Player of the Season – Six Top Flight Contenders

City sits atop the league, two points ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool, a lead given to them after the Gunners suffered a brutal 0-2 loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates last week. As the season winds down, and City heads towards their fifth league title in a row, we have a chance to look back at all the amazing matches played this season. More specifically though, we can begin to look at which players have made the most impact in those matches and take a guess at who will be this season’s Player of the Season. Here are our top six candidates for this year’s award starting with #6:

6. Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

Undoubtedly Liverpool’s most influential player this year, Mohamed Salah has netted 17 goals and 9 assists this season. The Egyptian forward has been a crucial part of Jurgen Klopp’s final season and his so-called ‘farewell tour’, causing trouble for defenders all over the league who have struggled with his quick pace and technical prowess on the ball. 

There’s been another spike in rumors about this being Salah’s final season with the club, as more massive offers from Saudi teams persist, alongside his contract coming to an end. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll see an exit from Salah, as offers dating back to December and January have already been rejected. This year it’s not likely he’ll get chosen, but never say never, because a winning season next year with a new manager could win him the award if he continues to thrive as the Reds star striker. 

 

5. Rodri – Manchester City

The defensive midfielder has been one of the biggest impact players in Manchester City’s lineup, the quality he brings to the position alongside the leadership he carries as one of the team’s senior players. Over the course of this season, the only games that City have lost have been games where Rodri wasn’t playing: against Arsenal, Villa, and Wolves. In fact, Rodri hasn’t lost a game he’s played in for over 12 months, for either club or country. 

His impact comes from his physicality, aggressive pressure on defense, and composed, quick decision-making, allowing him to control the game and slow down the tempo when his team is pressured on offense. Rodri’s versatility in the midfield and overall impact on games make him one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and one of the best players in the league this year. 

 

4. Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Don’t let his unbelievable last season dampen his performance this season by any means. The bar was set so high last season, scoring 36 goals in English Football alone, but even so, Haaland leads the league in goals this year (alongside Cole Palmer) as one of the most effective strikers in the league, with 20 Goals and 5 assists. His positioning in and around the box and movement in the final third have led to goal after goal this season, however, his technical capabilities have been cited by Pep Guardiola as an area where he could certainly improve. 

Despite this, his resilience towards critics and negative feedback has brought light to his strong character, proving to pundits although his technical skill is questionable, his scoring abilities are not. Injuries that affected him in early January have led to him playing fewer matches than some other players on the list and, while downtime is important when teams play are involved in European competitions, fewer opportunities to separate himself from the competition could make a difference in his candidacy for this year’s award. 

3. Cole Palmer – Chelsea 

After being signed from Manchester City, Palmer has done nothing but score for Chelsea this season. He has clinched 9 out of 9 penalty kicks, netted 11 non-penalty goals, and assisted 10 for his club, tying with Ollie Watkins at 30 Goals+Assists, the highest in the league. But “Cold” Cole Palmer isn’t just a fun nickname, remaining unshaken by pressure from defenders and the whistles of opposing fans. 

His impact at Chelsea has been massive, and beyond the stats, he’s been such a key player in many of the more important games for the club. His more recent hat-trick against Manchester United showed Chelsea fans a glimpse of hope for the future, scoring a 101’ minute, game-winning penalty and sending shockwaves through Stamford Bridge. He’s a consistent performer who can give and take chances on the ball, so if he doesn’t win the Player of the Season award, he could certainly earn himself the Young Player of the Season award. 

2. Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa

Ollie Watkins has been a force of nature for Aston Villa this year, and he’s been a massive part of Unai Emery’s mid-block, counterattacking system. He’s scored 19 goals this season, putting him just behind Erling Haaland and Cole Palmer, who are tied for the most goals this season at 20. He’s also one of three other players topping the league this season with 10 assists, which makes him, by the stats, one of the most effective strikers in the league, at 30 G+A. 

Villa has had phases this season where they’ve struggled with consistency, making for some shaky wins and tough losses, which can be attributed in part to their roster’s lack of depth. But, after netting two goals against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this last week, Watkins has proven to be a game-changing player, whose performance has been clinical in helping Aston Villa secure a top-four finish this season. 

 

1. Phil Foden – Manchester City 

Phoden has had another phenomenal year, and is one of the frontrunners for the Player of the Season award, at only 23 years old. Foden has the agility, speed, technique, and creativity to stand out as one of the best players in the league for the next few years. His performance in the league has continued to astound fans and coaches alike, as his 14 goals and 7 assists don’t sum it all up. 

His versatility on the pitch makes him stand out, playing in the winger or wing-back position, even Pep Guardiola describes him as “more of a midfielder”. A description that couldn’t be more accurate, as he can not only take on defenders, but his ability to open up the field and navigate tight spaces adds another layer of quality to an already talented midfield. He’s certainly a player to watch closely for the remaining games this season, City’s relatively easy final games could be the perfect opportunity for Foden to collect a few more for the stats sheet and show the league he deserves that award more than anyone.

 

 

 

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