149 games, 441 games, 66 nationalities- it can only be the Barclays Premier League and we are not even half way through the current season which could turn out to be the most exciting in years. Teams are battling for safety, the title and European spots which will all add to the exitcitment but I look at some players who have performed so well thus far but weren’t expected to steal the limelight…
Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
The young Dutch shot stopper has quickly become one of the top ‘keepers in the league. His fine performances have helped Newcastle to their best ever start in donkey’s years and their excellent start could result in European football.
He has kept four clean sheets which doesn’t seem a lot but his saves have earned the points for Pardew’s men.
Highlight of the season: Putting in a man of the match display at Old Trafford to pick up a point and with stand a late onslaught by the champions.
On average he has made 5.71 saves per match and has caught 67% of them and only fumbled an amazing 2% all season. On the official Premier League site, fans have given him a rating of 7/10 this season. At just 23 he has a lot of big things ahead of him and Newcastle might face a lot of competition in order to keep him in the North East.
Once the “boo” boy of Anfield, Lucas’s recent season ending injury has caused great concern in the red half of Merseyside. Such worries which have emphasised the progress which he has made and how he has become one of Kenny Dalglish’s main men. After the news that he would miss the remainder of the season, Jamie Carragher admitted that the Brazilian is just as important as someone like Luis Suarez and will be missed greatly.
The 24 year old is a defensive midfielder who hasn’t found the net this season but has had six shots at goal while he has set up one goal. I am not sure that too many Reds fans would have predicted the impact he has made and all his unsung work comes in his own half. Liverpool have kept four clean sheets whilst he has played while Lucas has made countless clearances, blocks and tackles.
Highlight of the season: Controlling the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park which Liverpool won 2-0.
The Brazilian failed to impress in his first season following a big money move but he has pushed aside his critics this campaign and has become one of the first names on AVB’s team sheet. He is a box to box midfielder who uses the ball well and is not afraid to shoot. Perhaps not your typical Brazilian but he is just as valuable as the step overing South Americans. At just 24 he has a big career ahead of him and could become a Stamford Bridge legend if he builds on his progress.
He has scored five goals so far, created 2 goals and has had 34 shots already which is more than he had in the whole of last season. . Attacking isn’t the only side of his game though as he has been deployed as a box to box energetic midfielder. Chelsea have kept 5 clean sheets while he has played and Ramires has made five blocks and 7 penalty box clearances.
He has been given a 8/10 fans rating which emphasises the impact he had made.
Highlight of the season: Scoring his first double for Chelsea against Swansea. The turning point in his Chelsea career might well have been scoring a brace in the 4-1 win over the Swans in September- a performance which might have convinced AVB that he is worth is place.
David Hoilett (Blackburn Rovers)
Blackburn might be in the relegation zone and had a troubled season to date but the young Canadian has been the leading light in a dismal campaign. The 21 year old has already made 80 appearances in England but this season he has made his breakthrough for Rovers. He has scored three goals but more importantly has created five of Rovers’ goals while he has whipped in 30 crosses for his forwards to feed off. He has shown pace, trickery and raw talent so far and Blackburn will find it hard to keep hold of him even if they do stay up.
He only has a fans rating of 6/10 but Hoilett has really been an unsung hero with a lot of his work going unnoticed as Blackburn’s form has been poor and Yakubu has been scoring most of their goals.
Highlight of the season: Scoring a brilliant individual goal against Norwich. Hoilett picked the ball up on the left before jinking his way inside to unleash an unstoppable drive past John Ruddy.
Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
As well as Tim Krul, Coloccini and Cabaye, the Senegal striker has been one of the reasons why Newcastle lie in the upper regions of the table. He was hampered by injuries during his time at West Ham but when he did play he impressed and having been turned down by Stoke, Newcastle pounced to replace Andy Carroll and did their risk pay off. Ba has scored eleven Premier League goals already and has given Newcastle an outlet as well as a prolific goal scorer.
He has made just 26 Premier League appearances to date for West Ham and Newcastle but has scored 18 goals in England already. Not only has he found the net on eleven occasions, the French born striker has set up four goals while having 37 shots.
He is averaging 0.69 goals per game and incredibly all his goals this season in the league have come inside the penalty box with two of his goals coming from the spot. 44% of his goals have come inside the six yard box and his goals have been spread across the whole 90 minutes with 10% of his goals coming in the last ten minutes.
He is not just a one trick pony either, he has scored with his head, left and right foot on his way to two hat tricks. Fans have given him a rating of 8/10 for the season so far.
Highlight of the season: Scoring a hat trick against the club that turned him down after a trial. Stoke wanted to sign him in 2010 before he joined West Ham but after having a medical, the medial staff turned him away. He hit back though with a memorable hat trick at the Brittania Stadium.
Steven Fletcher (Wolves)
The 24 year old Scot has been on the fringes at Molinuex since joining from Burnley a couple of seasons ago but this campaign he has come into his own and proved to be one of Wolves’ key men. With his lethal left foot and a great heading ability, Fletcher is a danger to any defence and despite Wolves currently lying in 17th position, they will be confident they can pull away from the drop zone with players like Fletcher in their squad.
He has scored eight goals this season but has had just 20 shots which shows his conversion rate and his goal scoring ability. Most of his goals have come in the second half, mainly because he has been used a lot as a sub but that has changed in recent weeks.
96% of his goals have come inside the box while half of them have come from his head which emphasises his aerial threat as well as scoring 3 goals with his dangerous left foot. He has been given a rating of 7/10 for the season so far.
Highlight of the season: Scoring a brace against Sunderland. Wolves were 1-0 down at home to fellow strugglers Sunderland but the Scottish international turned the tide with a fine header and then a sublime half volley finish to bag three vital points.
Others who deserve a mention:
Michel Vorm (Swansea), Alejandro Faurlin (QPR) Grant Holt (Norwich), Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Joe Allen (Swansea), Seb Larrson (Sunderland), Yakubu (Blackburn)
All stats correct on 13th December and provided by EA Sports and Opta.