How did the signings fare…

I haven’t posted in 40 days, so first thing’s first.. I’m so, so sorry! I’ve had to finish my degree and then had to get on with exams and then move back home which all took a lot of time but I’m back now and posts will be a lot more frequent, I promise.

As a punishment for missing so much I am going to do a rundown of how the Premiership signings fared last season. It’ll be in five instalments of four teams each, let’s go.

Arsenal

Lukas PodolskiA lot was expected of the German striker who finished the season with 16 goals in 42 games. Form dropped mid-season as fatigue kicked in which manager Arsene Wenger blamed on a lack of winter breaks in England. All in all, good first season.

Olivier Giroud – Signed as a replacement for Robin Van Persie, after a dry spell at the beginning of the season and doubts over his ability he finished the season with 17 goals and 11 assists in 47 games. Promising first season, must improve on finishing.

Santi Cazorla – Excellent first season as he racked up goals and assists in abundance and quickly became one of Arsenal’s key players. 16 assists and 12 goals in 49 appearances shows how important he became to Arsenal’s play in what was a great first season from the ambidextrous playmaker.

Nacho Monreal – Signed as an extra option at left-back after more injuries to regular Kieran Gibbs, showed reliability in his 11 appearances as well as good ability in going forward, scored in Arsenal’s 2 – 0 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

Aston Villa

Christian Benteke – One of the signings of the season by Paul Lambert as Benteke went on to establish himself as one of the most feared strikers in the league and maybe a move to a bigger club beckoning for the Belgian beast. He finished the season with 23 goals in 39 appearances and he was one of the major reasons Villa survived the drop.

Matthew Lowton – Good season from the young full-back who is a promising prospect for Villa. Got onto the score-sheet twice in his first season and one of these goals was a contender for goal of the season in a 3 – 1 win over Stoke City from all of 35 yards.

Ron Vlaar – Was named captain in the absence of club captain Stiliyan Petrov and was one of very few senior players to play regularly for the club. Presence at the back should be built on if Villa want to use their survival as a foundation for better things.

Brett Holman – Not the best footballer technically but quickly became a favourite with the Villa fans due to his hard-working nature and determination.

Joe Bennett – Another young full-back who was signed and thrown into a lot of first-team football early on, similar to Lowton, also similarly had a solid first season in which he impressed despite no top-flight experience.

Yacouba Sylla – Not utilised much in his first season in English football in which he only made 10 appearances but a hard-working midfielder who is solid on the ball. Good squad player.

Jordan Bowery – Only made 10 appearances and seemed to be a bit of a waste of a signing, only really used as a sub sparingly, needs to be loaned out.

Karim El-Ahmadi – Made 24 appearances for Villa last season and looked to be a good squad player, not the quality which Villa need to re-establish themselves as a top-half club but reliable nonetheless. Scored on his home debut in a 3 – 1 loss to Everton.

Ashley Westwood – Another promising prospect for Villa, a player who seemed to go about his business with little fuss whenever he played. Made 30 league appearances and his versatility proved useful.

 

Chelsea

Eden Hazard – Signed after a massive transfer saga which was settled when Hazard announced he was signing for Chelsea. Scored and assisted in quantity, including 13 goals in his 62 appearances. Candidate for PFA Player and Young Player of the Year in his first season in English football. Great first season despite massive price tag.

Oscar – Another youngster who arrived with a huge price tag at Chelsea but quickly formed an excellent partnership with midfield duo Juan Mata and fellow newbie Hazard. Scored 12 and assisted 12 in 62 appearances in his first season. Also scored Chelsea’s goal of the season with his strike against Juventus in the Champions League.

Victor Moses – Scored 10 goals in 43 appearances in which he was mainly used as a sub. Handy player in both cup runs as well as Chelsea’s successful Europa League run. Still a player with a lot of promise, hopefully will be given more of a chance this season.

Marko Marin – Player signed with huge promise and a big reputation in Germany but not played nearly enough for me. Only made 15 appearances all season and if Chelsea continue to spend must look to move on.

Cesar Azpilicueta – Reliable right-back who Chelsea initially used as back-up to Branislav Ivanovic who moved into the centre mid-way through the season. Azpilicueta made 48 appearances in all competitions and showed consistency throughout both in his defensive duties as well as going forward.

Thorgan Hazard – I can only help but feel he was signed purely because he is Eden’s younger brother…

Demba Ba – Signed to provide Chelsea with some goals from their striking department as Torres continued to struggle for form in the Premiership. But at the end of the season it looked as if Ba wasn’t the answer to Chelsea’s misfiring frontline as he finished the season with six goals in 22 appearances.

 

Everton

Steven Pienaar – Returned to Everton after a brief spell away at Tottenham and built a strong partnership with left-back Leighton Baines, seen at one stage as the best left sided partnership in the league. Scored 7 goals in 40 appearances, becoming one of Everton’s most creative influences.

Steven Naismith – Enjoying the Steven’s weren’t they? Made 35 appearances in which he grabbed five goals but his work-rate is his best asset which was utilised by David Moyes as he played him mostly in a midfield role.

Kevin Mirallas – Another brilliant prospect in the seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of Belgian talent. Scored nine goals in 33 appearances and added pace and trickery to the Everton frontline and looks to be an exciting player for the Toffees after a promising first season where he impressed.

Bryan Oviedo – Only made 15 appearances for Everton after signing from Copenhagen. Mostly coming on as a late substitute.

Thomas Hitzlsperger – Only made nine appearances after only initially signing on a short term contract, an extension was signed so Hitzlsperger could stay as an option in Everton’s midfield.

John Stones – Erm.. didn’t make an appearances after signing in January… *Tumbleweed*

Next four teams coming up tomorrow! Also a top five centre-backs in the World coming up later!

 

PFA Player of the Year nominations

The Player of the Year nominations have come from the PFA and I have one problem. Why is Hazard in there and not Michu? Don’t even get me started on the Young Player of the Year nominations. A post on the Young Player nominations will be coming soon but let’s get started on this first round:

  • Robin Van Persie – Manchester United

Now, I don’t do this without a lot of hatred and quite frankly, jealousy. Van Persie left Arsenal in the summer with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, not just jumping ship to Arsenal’s rivals but with a £24million price tag on his head. But RvP was able to take the challenge in his stride and he picked up where he left off from last season, getting his second PFA nomination in the process.

He won this award last year and gave a good shout of winning it again, despite going on a recent purple patch in front of goal he was still able to be a key component in grinding out results for United in their march towards a 20th league title.

Van Persie has scored 27 goals in 43 appearances so far this season, and when United guaranteed him a £1.5 million contract bonus if they won a title in the next four years, I think he may have seen it as a bit of an added incentive maybe? But Van Persie has led United from the front and looks to have been the catalyst in their latest title charge, imagine how different the title race had been if he had opted to join City instead of the red half of Manchester.

BEST MOMENT: Scoring the hat-trick against Aston Villa which ensured Man United’s 20th league title. As if it had been in doubt lately.

  • Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

Another one I’m jealous of, but for different reasons, I’m jealous that Arsenal don’t have him on the left wing causing havoc. Bale has proved to be Spurs main man seeing as when he’s not playing they seem to be a different team, he just seems to make them flow.

He has yet again been Tottenham’s main man but the pressure was cranked on Bale last summer when Spurs sold Rafael Van Der Vaart and Luka Modric who were the club’s other creative outlets. But Bale has shouldered the burden well, even when Spurs didn’t strengthen their striking ranks in the summer or January he has still been the main man at White Hart Lane in their chase for a Champions League spot.

Bale has scored 23 goals in 39 games so far this season, also adding assists to his tally as well making him one of the most effective players in the Premiership. His importance to Tottenham was highlighted in their 3 – 1 home win over Manchester City when on his return from injury he provided and assist for Clint Dempsey as well as getting on the scoresheet himself.

BEST MOMENT: Scoring two goals in Tottenham’s 3 – 2 win over West Ham United, his second was a candidate for goal of the season as he hammered the ball in the top corner from 30 yards.

  • Luis Suarez – Liverpool

Luis Suarez’s class has never been doubted since his move to L,iverpool and that has been highlighted even further this season as he has added a midas touch to his overall incisive play. At one point without his goal’s this season, Liverpool would have been bottom and battling relegation, isn’t it lucky they just so happened to have him around then?

Suarez’s tally of 30 goals in 45 games so far this season has been his greatest goalscoring return since joining Liverpool but I fear that his tally will not grow anymore after his nibbling of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm in Liverpool’s recent 2 – 2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield.

But we can’t let that overshadow what has been an outstanding season for the Uruguayan frontman who has come to the fore as one of the most lethal players in the Premiership this season.

BEST MOMENT: Becoming only the third ever Liverpool player to score 20 league goals in a season after scoring a hat-trick against Wigan in a 4 – 0 victory at the DW Stadium.

  • Juan Mata – Chelsea

Juan Mata has really stepped up this season for Chelsea and has become a part of one of the most fluid attacking midfield trios in the Premiership alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Mata’s contribution to Chelsea has been the biggest in terms of how many goals he has had a direct part in, with 18 goals and 34 assists in 56 games so far this season, making him the most effective player playing for a Premiership team.

Mata’s impact for Chelsea has improved no end since his switch in position since the days of Roberto Di Matteo, his latest role which has been more central has encouraged him to have more freedom on the pitch, allowing him to interchange with his midfield partners to devastating effect.

BEST MOMENT:  Scoring twice and providing an assist in Chelsea’s 4 – 2 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

  • Eden Hazard – Chelsea

Eden Hazard’s Chelsea career started off with a flourish and it looked as if he could have been a signing of the season as Chelsea were touted as early title contenders. Hazard got six assists and two goals in his first three games for Chelsea which signalled that he could have an amazing impact in the Premiership.

Hazard’s impact on the Premiership has wavered somewhat but he still has a good return nonetheless with 13 goals and 18 assists in 57 appearances so far this season, which isn’t a bad return for his first season in English football, although his price-tag came with a certain expectation for Chelsea fans, along with the rest of the Premiership’s fan base.

The Belgian winger’s early season form is probably why everyone’s seen Hazard’s latest form as a bit of a drop but he hasn’t done too badly as it is, lighting up the Premiership with some great interplay as well as some great individual moments.

BEST MOMENT: Grabbing three assists in Chelsea’s early season 4 – 2 win over Reading at Stamford Bridge.

  • Michael Carrick – Manchester United

While Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have been lighting up the Premiership with their new found partnership up front for United, it would have been easy for Michael Carrick to be overlooked in his defensive midfield role.

Carrick has been the fulcrum for which Man United have based their attacking fluidity on and has been just as important for them as their devastating strikeforce. Carrick has also shown his versatility after having to move to centre-back during the early games of the season while Man United went through a defensive crisis of sorts.

Carrick’s nomination is justified as he has kept the Manchester United title challenge ticking over in midfield with an 88% pass completion rate which is one of the highest not just in the Premiership but in the top European leagues.

BEST MOMENT: His actual nomination amongst the flair players and goal scorers which fill the rest of the shortlist show just how good of a season Carrick has had.

Who do you think should get PFA Player of the Year? Cast your vote below!