Top five wingers in the world

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid

Since the Portuguese winger moved to the Spanish capital he has gone from World Class status to legendary. His goals to games ratio since his then record-breaking £80million move is greater than 1 in 1 standing at 290 goals in 281 games.

Ronaldo is the current Ballon d’Or holder after a historical 2013/2014 season with Real Madrid as he helped fire them to their much anticipated La Decima Champions League title. His scoring record in the Champions League campaign was record-breaking 17 goals in 11 games, making him the competitions top scorer for the second consecutive season, helping take his total number of goals in the season to 67 goals in all competitions – which was the fourth consecutive season he had scored over 50 goals in all competitions.

Ronaldo has been viewed by many players, coaches, pundits and legends as the complete attacker with his pace, strength, fitness, goal scoring ability, his ability to use either foot as well as his aerial prowess. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation and hailed as one of the best players ever.

He has made 604 career club appearances, scoring 413 goals, having played for Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid. He has also made 118 appearances for the Portuguese National Team, scoring 52 goals and he has been Portugal captain since 2008.

He has won three English Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two English League Cups, one FA Community Shield, two UEFA Champions League titles, two FIFA Club World Cups, one La Liga, two Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup and he is also the current holder of the Ballon d’Or.

Neymar – Barcelona

Neymar has been a superstar since the age of 18 when he rose to the attention of Brazil (and the world) by shining consistently for Santos. The skilful winger gained notoriety for his pace, skill and playmaking skills and was linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid before eventually joining Barcelona in 2013.

Since breaking through as Brazil’s next big thing, a lot of pressure was put on the electric wingers shoulder’s but he has consistently shown he is up to the standard for both club and country. He is currently Brazil’s fifth highest goalscorer in their history despite only being 23.

Neymar is one of the first names on the Barcelona team sheet and has forged an excellent understanding with Lionel Messi and new arrival Luis Suarez, making one of the most fearsome attacking trios in world football.

Neymar has made 295 career club appearances, scoring 175 goals. He has played for Santos and Barcelona. He has also made 60 appearances for the Brazilian National Team, scoring 42 goals and being named vice-captain in 2013.

He has won three Campeonato Paulista titles, one Copa do Brasil, one Copa Libertadores, one Recopa Sudamericana, one Supercopa de Espana, three Supercopa de las Americas and one Confederations Cup.

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid

There was a fascinating stat for Bale when he was at Tottenham – he didn’t register a single win in his first 20 games for the club – fast forward to his final couple of seasons at Spurs and he was the reason for a lot of their wins and now he is rivalling Cristiano Ronaldo to be the main man at Real Madrid.

Now I won’t lie, when he first started to shine at Tottenham, I claimed he was over-rated. But he has proven time and time again that I was wrong – whether it be beating full backs for fun, drilling free-kicks in the top corner or lashing a shot into the back of the net. After a PFA Player & Young Player of the Year award, as well as the FWA Player of the Year award and an £86million move to Real Madrid in 2013, I think it’s safe to say he proved me wrong.

Bale’s outstanding attributes have always been his incredible pace, stamina and set piece ability, but when you add into that his efficiency in the final third with his passing and finishing which has consistently improved, you have one of the most lethal wingers in world football – not bad for someone who started out as a full-back.

The Welshman has made 326 career club appearances, scoring 96 goals. He has played for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. He has also made 45 appearances for Wales, scoring 14 goals.

Bale has won one UEFA Champions League, one Copa del Rey, one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

Barcelona’s acquisition of Suarez and the heavy speculation around the time meant that they could afford to let Sanchez go for the right price – and Arsenal certainly came up with the right price at £35million and I’m glad they did, as I’m sure 100% of Arsenal fans are.

Sanchez’s final season in Barcelona was a pointer of things to come as he scored 21 goals in 54 games in all competitions, the best season tally in his career so far.

Sanchez’s style of play which mixes flair, technical skill and a determination which has become synonymous with South American players has become an instant hit at the Emirates, endearing him to team-mates, coaches and fans alike – not to mention his stat of 18 goals in 32 games helping him in his first season so far.

The Chilean forward has made 414 career club appearances so far, scoring 111 goals. He has played for Cobreloa, Colo-Colo, River Plate, Udinese, Barcelona and Arsenal. He has also made 77 appearances for the Chilean national team, scoring 26 goals.

He has won two Chilean league titles, one Argentinian league title, one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana titles, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and one FA community Shield.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

There was a huge transfer saga before the Belgian finally decided to move to Chelsea – and I mean one of the biggest transfer sagas I remember. But Hazard eventually revealed he would be moving to Chelsea and immediately made people question his ability –  by saying:” I hope I don’t become a big-money flop.” But Hazard has proved to be anything but a flop since his £32million move to London. 

Hazard has gone on to be one of the best players in the Premier League consistently since his move from Lille and last season his contribution at Chelsea was recognised as he was named  2013/2014 PFA Young Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year.

Hazard’s style of play means he can play as an attacking midfielder or winger. He possesses excellent pace and acceleration which is coupled with his ability to pass or shoot with both feet making him one of the most unpredictable players in the league, meaning he can create goals and score them in abundance.

He has made 341 career club appearances, scoring 94 goals. He has played for Lille and Chelsea. He has also made 53 appearances for Belgium, scoring 6 goals.

He has won one Ligue 1 title, one Coupe de France and one UEFA Europa League.

PFA Winner, Team of the Year and recent games!

So over the weekend the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year was announced with Gareth Bale winning both. Am I the only one who thinks this is some kind of joke? Fair enough on Young Player of the Year, the only person really in touch with Bale was Benteke and I couldn’t see him winning it due to the club he’s playing for being in a kind of relegation scrap. Did you know only two players in the top European leagues have scored more goals than Benteke in 2013? Those two players are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

For Player of the Year I thought it would easily be between Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez, and with Van Persie recently winning the league title and leaping to top of the goalscoring charts I expected him to win his second gong in successive seasons. But no, the PFA had other ideas.

I also heard whispers that Luis Suarez was booed at the PFA awards, now I know he bit Ivanovic but come on people, a bit of class and dignity please?

Moving swiftly on to PFA Team of the Year:

Goalkeeper: David De Gea – purely there on his form since Christmas of 10 clean sheets in 16 games. Before that, a bit shakey and definitely not the best keeper in the league.

Right back: Pablo Zabaleta – Consistent and reliable at the back for City, probably the only player in their team to perform consistently well all season. Special mention to Ivanovic who has also played well at right back this year, until shuffling into the centre.

Centre backs: Jan Vertonghen – If Swansea hadn’t signed Michu, Vertonghen would have been my signing of the season, adding stability and steel to the Spurs backline and forming an excellent partnership with Michael Dawson.

Rio Ferdinand – Not so sure on this one, maybe because of his late season form too and a title-winning year for the veteran centre back.

Left back: Leighton Baines – Another brilliant season from the Toffees’ left back.

Right midfield: Eden Hazard – Slotted into the Premiership well, high number of goals and assists coming with his high price tag. Excellent partnership with Juan Mata and Oscar in Chelsea midfield.

Centre midfield: Juan Mata – The most effective player in the Premiership

Michael Carrick – The fulcrum through which Manchester United based their attacks

Left midfield: Gareth Bale – PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, scintillating season for Tottenham

Strikers: Robin Van Persie – Top scorer in the league and Premiership trophy winner, giving Man United another dimension up front.

Luis Suarez – Carrying an average Liverpool team all season, having his best scoring season for Liverpool so far.

Now onto the weekends action.

I’m pretty sure that Reading and QPR both assumed each other would survive the drop this season. Oh, they didn’t? Well neither team played like they were battling relegation on Sunday and it showed as they both played out one of the most boring 0 – 0 draws I’ve ever witnessed and were subsequently relegated. Rumour has it that Arsenal’s chief scout was in town to watch Loic Remy play as well.. Good audition ay Loic?

And onto the big one of many Arsenal fan’s season, the game against Manchester United. Although many Man United fans don’t see Arsenal as a threat anymore you can guarantee they still look forward to games against the Gunners due to the long standing rilvary from years gone by.

And here’s a question for my fellow Gooners: what would you rather have happened, Van Persie win the league at the Emirates, or have to do a guard of honour for him? I would rather what actually happened so we wouldn’t have had an even bigger blow to our team’s spirit. Now that the guard of honour happened maybe it will signal big change at Arsenal and spur on the club, or I might be getting ahead of myself.

Anyways, we are no closer to finding out who will join the Manchester clubs in next seasons Champions League as both North London clubs drew and Chelsea beat Swansea, but with Tottenham and Chelsea’s run of games, Arsenal could have a sniff, with the Blues and Spurs coming head-to-head next week it could come down to that as to who finishes where in terms of the Champions League race.

Here’s a nice picture for you all, my personal guard of honour to Manchester United and Van Persie:

Guard of Honour

Well done Robin

 

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.

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!