As we draw towards the end of the season, the contenders for PFA Player of the Year will soon be revealed. It has been an extremely open Premier League season for the first time in many years. Each of the teams at the top have had one stellar performer throughout the season, and there a number of a players who deserve a mention.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Daniel Sturridge has had an excellent season for the Reds as they attempt to secure the title. Since joining Liverpool in January 2013, Sturridge has shown that he can score goals consistently in the Premier League. When he first joined Liverpool, there were reservations about whether he would be able to play with Suarez or be shifted to the wing as he so often has in his career. This season, the qualms have been dispelled as Liverpool’s fluid front line has scored an abundance of goals. Sturridge has managed 20 league goals this season in just 24 games.
He has scored a goal every 96 minutes, a ratio that puts him up there with all the top European leagues’ best strikers. His seven assists show what a well-rounded player he has become. This is even more impressive, as they have all come from open play. Sturridge’s performances have not been overshadowed by his teammate Suarez, and that is a great achievement in itself.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Yaya Toure has further enhanced his already tremendous reputation with some stellar performances this season. The Ivorian has been at the forefront of City’s title push, showcasing his skills and cementing his place for many as the best midfielder in the league. After great early season performances from Sergio Aguero were hindered by injury, Toure has taken over the position as his team’s talisman. This season in particular he has added even more goals to his repertoire. Toure has scored 17 league goals this season, just one goal less than his combined total of 18 from his last three seasons at the club.
Unbelievably, he has scored all of his seven clear cut chances this season and has a chance conversion of 41%. It is statistics like this that show Toure’s importance, especially whilst Aguero has been injured. Toure’s passing has also been exceptional. He has managed an open play pass completion of 90%, as well as 80% pass completion in the final third. This shows how high in quality his performances have been this season, and he is definitely a strong contender for the award.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Eden Hazard has been the main bright spark in a good season for Chelsea. The Blues are still in contention for the title, and that is in some part due to Hazard’s performances this season. Hazard has built on his performances from last season and has become Chelsea’s main attacking threat going forward. A return of 14 goals and seven assists shows the great season that the Belgian has had. In a time where Chelsea’s strikers have not scored many goals, Hazard has stepped up to the plate to become the club's top scorer.
It’s not just going forward where Hazard has excelled for the Blues, as any Jose Mourinho player knows they are going to have to put in the hard work defensively, and that is something that Hazard has adapted to well. His willingness to track back under Mourinho has made his all-round game even better. With his dribbling skills, creativity and goal scoring ability, Hazard is sure to become an even better player in the future. This season has showcased more of what is to come.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Steven Gerrard has played a different role this season to the one we have been used to over the years. Playing in front of the defence is not what we had associated with the England captain, but it is a role that he has performed exceptionally well. In a season where Liverpool could finally end their league title drought, Gerrard has been an extremely important cog in their machine.
Now at 33, Gerrard has been around for a long time and understands the discipline needed to play such a role. Playing further back has not hindered him from playing passes forward. He has played 35% of his passes forward and 1054 of his passes have been in the attacking zone. Gerrard has also managed nine assists this season, seven of which have come from set pieces. His delivery has been an extreme vital tool for his team. He has also scored 11 goals, his highest total for five years. His assured nature from the penalty spot has helped Liverpool to many a victory this season. If he is to finally win the Premier League, Gerrard can rest in the fact that he has played a large role.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Luis Suarez has showcased talents this season to justify why he is seen as one of the best players in the world. Suarez missed the first six games of the season for the Liverpool through suspension, but since returning to the team he has been unplayable. His appetite for football is almost unquenchable. He has been one of the hardest working players in the league this season, giving defenders not a moments rest, but also showing flashes of supreme quality. His goal scoring record is putting him on course for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season. He currently has 29 goals in just 27 games at a ratio of a goal every 84 minutes.
This record cannot be beaten by any other player in the top European leagues. Even more phenomenal is that not one of these goals has come from the penalty spot. He has also been a source of creativity. He leads the Premier League assist charts with 11 assists including 10 from open play. It has been a while since there has been a player playing at the level Suarez has this season, and this is the reason why he is favourite for the award.
John Terry (Chelsea), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) and Sergio Aguero (Man City), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)