The Belgians are coming, you have been warned. If we didn’t already know about the remarkable number of talented players coming out of Belgium in recent years we do now. Many people have already earmarked them as dark horses for next year’s World Cup with a view to them becoming genuine contenders for the European Championships in 2016. The majority of Belgium’s golden generation are currently plying their trade in the Premier League and there might be more on the way.
When the most expensive goalkeeper in British history, Craig Gordon was released by Sunderland it wasn’t as much of a shock as it perhaps should have been. Whilst his injury history wasn’t great this was also largely down to the form of Mignolet. The shot-stopper has been in fantastic form recently for Sunderland and despite the relegation woes of Sunderland, Mignolet has kept an impressive 11 clean sheets. He was awarded the North East writers’ Player of the Year in January beating off the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye. He also been heavily linked to Arsenal in recent weeks and if Sunderland do go down there will be little chance for Sunderland to “keep” Mignolet.
Tottenham have had a habit recently of having some top quality centre halves. Ledley King and Younes Kaboul have been superb in recent seasons and Vertonghen could well enter that category. As with so many defenders that were bred in Holland one of Vertonghen’s biggest assets is his comfort on the ball. He is technically very good and not afraid to venture forward, which can be devastating as Manchester United found out in September. He has a tackle success rate of 80% and has only made one defensive error all season. He has quickly struck up a good understanding with captain Michael Dawson and looks like he could become a true legend at White Hart Lane.
It would probably be fair to say that this hasn’t been Thomas Vermaelen’s best season but that is largely due to the remarkable about turn in form of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Nevertheless the defender remains a key player for Arsenal and his national team. His first season in England was very successful as his ball playing skills and confidence won him many plaudits, in a similar vein to Vertonghen. He has still had a very good season as Arsenal continue to chase European football and he has won 81.4% of his tackles. He has also won 69% of his ground 50-50s.
In a similar vein to Vermaelen this hasn’t been a terrific season for Kompany. Last year he was arguably one of the players of the season across the division as he led his team to the title. This year the title has gone back to the red half of Manchester and Kompany’s form has definitely taken a hit. He shouldn’t be discounted as one of the finest defenders in the country, if not the world. He has made 49 interceptions this season and has won 66% of his aerial 50-50s. This is hardly surprising from a player who is so good in the air and such a fantastic reader of the game. Regardless of form he remains a vitally important player as captain of both club and country.
Perhaps one of the best decisions of Moussa Dembélé’s career was when he shifted into central midfield whilst at Fulham. Previously employed out wide or as a striker Dembélé’s finishing really was a problem but when dropped further back he is brilliant. He has become an instrumental feature of Tottenham’s midfield and their team doesn’t have the same cutting edge when he isn’t playing.
This season he has the fourth highest passing accuracy of all players in the division to attempt over 1000 passes. His accuracy stands at 91.27% and the fact that his passes go all directions indicate his importance as his team’s playmaker. One of the most improved Premier League players over the past few seasons.
One of those players who Everton fans must be fearing could leave following David Moyes’ appointment at Manchester United. Fellaini is Everton’s record signing and has been in fine form this season. He may have dropped off a little recently but he led from the off when he scored the winner as Everton beat Moyes’ new club in the first game of the season.
He has scored eleven goals overall this year which is a very impressive return for a midfielder. He has also weighed in with five assists which shows an improvement of a player who is not known for his creative side. His fantastic aerial ability and his awareness of his teammates have seen him revel in an advanced role this season. If he is to stay you can be sure he’ll help make sure Everton will not suffer from Moyes’ departure.
The second of Everton’s Belgium duo and one that has really shone recently. Mirallas took a little while to adjust to English football following his summer move from Olympiakos but now he is settled and playing well. He has scored four goals and assisted a further three this season with the majority of his impact performances coming in recent weeks. Mirallas is at his best when he is cutting inside from the right hand side and he has formed a good partnership with Seamus Coleman, in a similar fashion to Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar on the opposite flank.
One part of the Chelsea attacking triumvirate Eden Hazard certainly hasn’t let the pressure of his £35 million price tag get to him. The tricky winger has been a terrific buy for Chelsea and his recent form has suggested he could well be one of the contenders for Player of the Year next season. Hazard has contributed nine goals this season and has a shooting accuracy of 60%.
He has played over 1000 passes in the attacking zone alone and has a general pass completion ratio of 85%. He has embarked on over 120 dribbles, completing around half of them and he has created 61 chances for his teammates. His speed and close control make him a nightmare for defenders to deal with because it is all too easy for them to foul him, normally in dangerous areas.
As shown below he’s also second in creating the most goals for his team mates this season only one behind Juan Mata.
A while ago not many would have bet on Aston Villa staying in the Premier League, let alone be in 13th place but there they are and it is largely thanks to one man. Christian Benteke has been one of the signings of the season and he has perfectly justified Paul Lambert’s decision to play him over Darren Bent.
Benteke has scored 19 goals this season which is astonishing when you consider how many problems Aston Villa have had this year. The big forward has also provided four assists and created 51 chances. His link up play has developed well as the season has gone on and he has, rather unsurprisingly been linked with moves to numerous clubs.
Benteke also has the best shooting accuracy in the Top 5 scorers, as shown above, and his chance conversion is also the highest at 26%. Whilst Michu may have been the bargain of the season Benteke has been the surprise and will command a much higher fee because of his all-round play.
When Romelu Lukaku made the decision to go on loan after a frustrating first season at Chelsea surely not even he could have realised how a good a choice it would be. Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie were certainly the first choice forwards at the start of the year but Lukaku has played his way into the starting line-up.
14 goals is not the highest return around but given he has only started 19 matches (with a further 14 appearances from the bench) and you start to see why the teenager is so highly rated by those who have worked with him. Of all the players in the division to take over 50 shots this season only Theo Walcott has a better shooting accuracy. His efficiency with his shots suggests why he has scored so many despite starting so few.
Using the same variables – strikers to have attempted 50 shots or more – Lukaku has an impressive minutes per goal statistic too. He’s averaging a goal every 134 minutes which is the fourth best in the league for any strikers who have attempted over 50 shots. Again very impressive from the Belgian.
- Roland Lamah – on loan at Swansea from Osasuna
- Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea Keeper on loan at Athletico Madrid. Widely recognised as the man that will replace Petr Cech at Chelsea.
- Kevin De Bruyne – Another Chelsea player, this time on loan at Werder Bremen for the season. Another very highly rated player.
- Dedryck Boyata – Manchester City defender, hasn’t played in the Premier League this season but returned from a loan spell at FC Twente in January.
- Steve De Ridder – Plays at Southampton
- Florent Cuvelier – Stoke City player on loan at Peterborough this season.
- Adnan Januzaj – Youngster at Manchester United
As you can see there’s an abundance of Belgian talent in the Premier League. Next season will see the majority of these player come to the fore and sit right at the top of the statistical lists we have presented today. There’s no doubt that the Belgian national side will create waves in the coming years and the Premier League will be fortunate to witness a lot of their talent week in, week out.
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