EPL Mid-term MVPs for each team
To borrow one of the many well-known quotes of Yogi Berra, “It was like déjà vu all over again” – in this case, not once but twice. After watching Arsenal perform against Manchester City and even the one that came up short against Spurs, I really thought the Gunners were finally ridding themselves of the ghosts of the past. Then came yesterday’s Champions League game against Monaco and I seemed to be watching a replay of the second goal scored by Manchester United – and it happened twice!
While many among the Gunner faithful are calling for Arsene Wenger’s head, let me repeat my cry for Steve Bould to be drawn and quartered. While we are about it, how much can we salvage of that huge bundle we blew on Ozil? ‘Nuff said. I was so depressed I thought I would think of some other team for a change.
Well, why not all of them – well, at least most of them since I haven’t watched enough of all of them. That led me to the thought of Mid-Term MVPs. Rather than going with the popular choice, which is to pick the top scorers, this list is more about those who are making a difference to the level of the team. Along the way, I will hand out some honorable mentions.
Without a doubt, the one player who wants to win, not just every game, but every ball has been Alexis Sanchez. Indeed, thanks to him, I have seen Santi Cazorla picking up on the act, at least intermittently. Honourable mention: Coquelin – Perhaps the best “acquisition” in January. He doesn’t have the size of Patrick Vieira, but whatever they fed him at Charlton, he seems to have learned the defensive midfield role. The closest comparison would be Fernando/Fernandinho of Manchester City.
Nobody. That is one club that is really reeling, possibly out of the EPL.
Danny Ings has energized the club – yes, with his goals. What it has brought is hope to go along with what have been very competitive performances. Honourable mention: Manager Sean Dyche for keeping the faith in his system and keeping his players’ spirits up through the many weeks they spent in the cellar.
Yannick Bolasie – For his consistent creativity on attack, setting up chances for himself and his teammates. Honourable mention: Manager Alan Pardew, for his ‘je ne se quoi’ which somehow leads to points.
Steven Naismith – While most of the attention is focused on the flash and style of Ross Barkley or Kevin Mirallas, the tireless work rate and timely goals from Naismith are the only things standing between a surprisingly flat Everton and the relegation zone.
Elmohamady – There was once a statistic quoted by a commentator last season that said Elmohamady put in the highest number of crosses in the EPL and by a wide margin at that. I dare say that holds true this season as well. His entire game is simple – get up that right flank as often as possible and send in a cross. They are none too shabby on quality either.
Vardy – He is a super sub rather than a starter, but Vardy has the speed that can open up defences and pose some questions, something he has done every time he has come on.
The easy choice might be Raheem Sterling, though he has come off the boil due to the prolonged absence (till recently) of Daniel Sturridge. However, my choice is Emre Can. What? If you analyze Liverpool’s season carefully, the turnaround came when Brendan Rodgers was able to go to a 3-5-2, which was enabled by Can’s ability to transfer his skills to the right side of the back line. (This is what I meant by raising the team to another level).
Honourable mention: Jordan Ibe – You may remember how high I was on this kid and watching him perform through two full games, he displays the assurance of a seasoned starter. By assurance, I mean both confidence and the ability to back it up.
James Milner – Again, while most plaudits are justifiably expended on the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure, Milner is the workhorse they turn to – to close out a game, fill a spot, or provide a spark. Consistency and timely goals such as the last minute equalizer against Hull earned him my vote.