Top ten most disappointing players in 2014/15 – Premier League

Here is my list of ten players who great things were expected of this season but they’ve failed to deliver.

1) Yaya Toure – Manchester City

Last season the Ivorian powerhouse was a key factor in City winning their second Premier League title. He scored 20 goals in the league campaign, only the second midfielder ever to do so, and was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award. He was also included in the PFA Team of the Year as he helped guide City to the league crown, having his highest scoring season in the process with 24 goals in all competitions.

This season, Toure has disappointed City fans with his lackadaisical approach to matches, he has only scored nine goals all season but his impact in games has faded away from the dominance he has had in previous seasons. In the Manchester derby he registered just over 11 kilometres travelled in the game which was the fourth highest of everyone on the pitch, the problem for City and Toure was the slow, lumbering pace at which he travelled. 

2) Adnan Januzaj – Manchester United

Last season Januzaj was one of United’s best players but in all honesty I think he was such a phenomenon because of the Red Devils, quite frankly, awful season. Januzaj scored four goals in his first full season in the first team but it was his exciting play which made the fans buzz about their new teenage sensation. A brace in a 2-1 win away to Sunderland in his first start gave Januzaj the confidence to express himself in what was a new era without Sir Alex Ferguson and he certainly gave the United fans hope.

Summer signings of Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and the emergence of fellow Belgian Marouane Fellaini in the United squad have limited 20-year-old Januzaj’s chances and his appearances to just 18 so far this season, mostly from the bench, and he has notched no goals. His off-the-boil performances have been questionable, just like his ability to stay on his feet as his tendency to dive has given him a reputation among opposition teams, fans and match officials. He has picked up four yellow cards for diving in his short career so far, the same amount of first-team goals he has scored.

3) Tim Howard – Everton

The American international had a good season in 2013/14 which is what he has become renowned for since his move to Everton, steady if unspectacular. He has kept over 100 clean sheets for Everton and was just two games short of Neville Southall’s record of 212 consecutive Premier League in 2013; he accumulated 210 consecutive appearances which dated back to 2007 and he was behind the third-best Premier League defence last term. Howard’s real excellence came in the World Cup where he broke the record for most saves made in a World Cup match with 15, in a 2-1 loss to Belgium.

Evertonians would have hoped that Howard would have come back from the World Cup in fine form continuing from his quarter-final heroics and last season’s consistency. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case as several high-profile mistakes, injury problems and only keeping four clean sheets mean that Howard has failed to deliver for the Toffees. At 36 years old, Everton may start thinking about a replacement for their stalwart.

4) Per Mertesacker – Arsenal

The BFG (you know what it stands for) was in good form last season, forming an excellent partnership with Laurent Koscielny. His influence was cited as a factor behind Arsenal’s excellent start to the season and he was club captain in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta. Mertesacker was an essential part of Arsenal’s defence as they kept the joint most clean sheets in the league, conceding the fourth least amount of goals. Mertesacker also went to the World Cup with Germany and returned a world champion.

Mertesacker’s form this season has been less than convincing, his early season form saw people question his ability and assume a World Cup hangover. His poor form lately has seen him briefly replaced by January signing Gabriel Paulista to ease the pressure on the 30-year-old German’s shoulders. Some Arsenal fans have called for Mertesacker to be sold at the end of the season as his shortcomings this season have often led to Arsenal conceding goals and invaluable points.

5) Dejan Lovren – Liverpool

The Croatian centre back had an outstanding season last year with Southampton after signing from Lyon, even scoring the winning goal at Anfield against Liverpool in a 2-1 win. His partnership with Jose Fonte was one of the most impressive in the league and he was the fifth highest ranked player from the Premier League in 31st position in Bloomberg Sports’ Power 50 list.

Lovren moved to Liverpool after much speculation about his future, becoming the third player to move from Southampton and Liverpool in the summer transfer window. He cost Liverpool £20million and Liverpool must have wished they bought Fonte instead after some questionable performances from Lovren who instead of being the commanding, no-nonsense centre back to replace Daniel Agger has made some high-profile errors which have compounded Liverpool’s struggles at the back this season.

6) Rio Ferdinand – QPR

After leaving Manchester United last summer following a 12-year stint at Old Trafford where he forged a name as one of the best centre backs of the Premier League era, not to mention becoming one of the most decorated centre backs too winning honours including six Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League. His contract expired with the Red Devils and he moved to QPR where he was expected to give some high-level experience at the heart of a defence that was expected to be shaky.

Ferdinand’s season has been awful and he has looked every bit of his 36 years of age. He has had a couple of spells out injured and his partnership with Steven Caulker was meant to be a successful one but it had been anything but with QPR languishing in an around the relegation zone for most of the season. Ferdinand also announced in October 2014 that he expects to retire at the end of the season. 

7) Mario Balotelli – Liverpool

The Ghanian-born Italian has always been able to show his talent at past teams and there’s no doubting his ability but there have always been question marks over his attitude and discipline. In his time at AC Milan, Balotelli went through a streak of scoring 12 goals in 13 games, he also started off his time with AC by scoring four goals in three appearances equaling Oliver Bierhoff’s record. Balotelli’s form with Italy was also good in this time giving him many suitors across Europe.

Balotelli signed for Liverpool for £16million and was expected to help fill the boots of the departing Luis Suarez but the 24-year-olds past problems have caught up with him again with his attitude and work-ethic being called into question many times. He has only scored four goals in 21 appearances, with just one of those coming in the league; even that took him 13 appearances.

8) Elaquim Mangala – Manchester City

24-year-old French centre-back Mangala was bought for £31.8million, making him the second most expensive defender in Premier League history and a lot was expected of the Frenchman after he shone at FC Porto, winning consecutive Primeira Liga titles. Reported interest stemmed from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City before the blue half of Manchester pipped any would be rivals to the signature of the promising defender.

Mangala’s City career started well with a performance described by BBC Sport as “colossal” against title rivals Chelsea on his debut. However, six days later against Hull he conceded a penalty and scored an own goal and his performances have disappointed the City faithful ever since. The physically imposing central defender has failed to make much of a positive impact in the first team, failing to permanently hold down a starting spot alongside captain Vincent Kompany.

9) Falcao – Manchester United

When United signed Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco the Premier League stood up and took note of the sleeping giants. For years, the Colombian has been one of European footballs hottest properties; from his time with Porto to his stint in Monaco, the lethal frontman has always scored goals having a scoring record of 155 goals in games in Portugal, Spain and France combined. 

Falcao has endured a torrid time in Manchester having only played 23 games all season and only finding the net four times. His injury troubles have given him lengthy spells on the sidelines and he found himself playing for the under 21s which is a step down from the player who fans thought was going to fire them back to greatness. For £350,000-a-week and a substantial loan fee the fans and the club would have expected more, I can’t see United making his loan move permanent at all, let alone for the fee reported. 

10) Vincent Kompany – Manchester City

Another City player to make it onto my countdown, not very surprising considering their extremely disappointing season so far. Kompany was back to his dominant best last season as he captained City to his, and their, second Premier League crown in three years. He was included in the 2014 Premier League Team of the Year which was a reward for his fine form during the season.

The Belgian has had a season to forget at the heart of the City defence as he has failed to consistently produce the dominant displays which became so synonymous with his style of play. Injuries and inconsistent form from the captain have been replicated across the City squad who have been in and out of form in their attempted defence of their Premier League title and I think Kompany’s form  has personified City’s failings this season; back to their dominant best on occasion, but not often enough.

PFA Young Player of the Year

So along with the PFA Player of the Year nominees, out came the Young Player nominees too. There’s a couple more I don’t agree with, Danny Welbeck for instance who so far has less league goals this season than Per Mertesacker. Jack Wilshere has also proved how important he is to Arsenal since his return but I don’t think he’s done enough to be nominated for this award, but anyway, let’s get started.

Christian Benteke – Aston Villa

Since his £8million move in the summer, Benteke has become an integral part to Villa’s survival hopes and it’s hard to see him staying at the Villains whether they stay up or not.

Scoring 19 goals in 36 appearances so far this season has seen Benteke become somewhat of a hot property in the Premiership, especially mixing his goalscoring exploits with his phenomenal physical attributes.

He has been a problem for defences since he joined the Premiership and has courted interest from European football chasing clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.

BEST MOMENT: Being instrumental in Villa’s 3 – 1 win at Anfield over Liverpool, scoring two goals and assisting another.

Romelu Lukaku – West Brom

The giant Belgian striker joined Chelsea last season and was dubbed ‘the new Drogba’ which is quite a billing to live up to, but you can see why Lukaku has drawn comparisons to the Chelsea hero as his physical attributes are similar to that of the Ivorian.

He has spent this season on loan at West Brom and has proved to be an astute loan acquisition by Steve Clark, leading the Baggies’ front line admireably for a player of such a young age.

Lukaku has scored 13 goals in 45 appearances this season and is hotly tipped to have a bright future at Chelsea when he returns. The date of his return has not been set however, as he has revealed he would like to spend another season away from Stamford Bridge for more experience.

BEST MOMENT: Coming on as a 70th minute substitute, scoring a goal and assisting Marc-Antoine Fortune in West Brom’s 4 – 2 win over Sunderland in November.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

This list of nominees just seems full of the Belgian team doesn’t it? Not for bad reason though as all of their young players seem to have taken the Premiership by storm this season.

Chelsea winger Hazard has been put up for both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards and it seems he stands a better chance of winning the Young Player gong as the speedster looks to build on his impressive first season in English football.

In his first season, Hazard has scored 13 goals and notched up 18 assists in 57 games so far this season for Chelsea, as well as striking up an impressive trio alongside Chelsea’s other midfield stars Oscar and Juan Mata.

(SECOND) BEST MOMENT: Putting on a man of the match performance as Chelsea beat West Ham 2 – 0 at Stamford Bridge, scoring an impressive solo goal as well as assisting a Frank Lampard goal as well.

Gareth Bale – Tottenham

Another Young Player nominee who has been put up for the Player of the Year gong is Tottenham’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale. His importance to Spurs has been highlighted this season as whenever he isn’t in the team, Tottenham don’t appear to flow as well as they do with him.

The Welshman has had to shoulder a lot more pressure this season with the departures of creative outlets in Rafael Van Der Vaart and Luka Modric, mixed with Spurs inability to sign a striker should have made it tough for them this year, but Bale has taken the pressure well and become one of the hottest properties in world football, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United reportedly interested.

Bale has scored 23 goals in 39 appearances so far this season and has shown his improvement as a player dramatically offensively after reverting to a more attacking position last season.

(SECOND) BEST MOMENT: Scoring Tottenham’s second goal in their 3 – 2 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford, their first win at Old Trafford since 1989.

Danny Welbeck – Manchester United

I’m not really sure I can justify this one, but I can certainly have a go.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like Welbeck as a footballer. But being a striker and only scoring one goal in the league, and two goals altogether all season is not nomination for PFA Young Player of the Year material.

Welbeck has proved to be a good back-up choice for Manchester United this season behind Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney and whenever he has played he has always given 100% and never moaned about his role at the club so his commitment can’t be questioned.

BEST MOMENT: Opening the scoring at the Bernabeu in Man United’s 1 – 1 draw with Real Madrid, becoming the first Englishman playing for an English team to score there since Alan Smith in 2001.

Jack Wilshere Arsenal

Again, I’m not sure why Wilshere has been nominated, he was injured until late October and was recently out for another six weeks, but his importance to Arsenal’s midfield has been highlighted, especially when they have seemed to lack any drive.

It is clear to everyone that Wilshere will become an Arsenal legend and potentially a future England captain as his desire and passion mixed with his technical ability and composure make him a joy to watch when he’s pulling the strings in midfield.

BEST MOMENT: Scoring the only goal of the game and putting in a man of the match performance to beat Swansea 1 – 0 in the FA Cup.