Each Premier League club is where it is thanks to contributions from a whole heap of players, but there are some that are greater among equals. That’s what this is about: trying to find the most valuable player for each team. It’s actually harder than it looks, but thankfully I’m here to give it a shot.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey
It’s no coincidence that Arsenal’s traditional cliff-dive in form happened last year when Ramsey was hurt. He’s not only a prolific goal scorer, he’s also one of the main engines in midfield. His game has become exactly what Arsene Wenger thought it would when he signed him all those years ago, and now despite many protestations from Piers Morgan, the gaffer’s faith has been rewarded.
Aston Villa: Brad Guzan
Since Alan Hutton has been re-introduced, the goalkeeper for Villa will naturally be the team’s MVP. And no, this has nothing to do with the fact I’m a quite large US National Team fan. Guzan’s heroics were often a large part in why Villa stole enough road points to stay up last season since their home form was so woeful. The team still has many issues, so Guzan may once again have to be the hero.
Burnley: Danny Ings
When a team is promoted, they often have one or two prolific championship goal scorers that need to replicate their form in order to keep the team up. Burnley’s example is Danny Ings. Long linked with clubs away from Turf Moor, Ings has stayed the course and banged in 26 goals in total last season. While he probably won’t approach that number this year, he’ll need to get close to keep the Clarets up.
Chelsea: Nemanja Matic
He might be the perfect example of a Jose Mourinho player. Physically gifted, a destroyer in midfield but also possessing the tactical and technical game that is required to beat the big teams in England and Europe. He completely changed Chelsea’s game last year and it would not have been a stretch to say that if he was available during their Champions League run they may have well won it. He’s the Premier League’s best defensive midfielder, and that’s saying something.
Crystal Palace: Mile Jedinak
When your team is under-talented, sometimes it’s the graft and grit of the captain that can pull the team through, and Jedinak emerged as one of the Premier League’s best captains last season. He led from the front and by example anchoring the Palace midfield against far better opposition to steal points, and there was no better example of that than the comeback against Liverpool at Selhurst. His form even won him a goal in the World Cup for Australia.
Everton: Ross Barkley
Seeing what Everton is like without him gives you an idea of just how good he really is. His dynamism in attack is unparalleled in the Everton team (sorry Steven Naismith), and his ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and go win it was something Everton needed last year, and this year it turns out. They are clearly missing everything he offers to the team, and the sooner he gets back the better.
Hull City: Tom Huddlestone
While his game is too slow and plodding for Spurs now, his game fits the style of Hull City perfectly. As one of the 3 anchors in midfield in Steve Bruce’s 3-5-2, his deep passing game is unmatched in the Premier League in effectiveness and lethalness. The system that Hull plays covers up for his lack of ability to move in any direction with any sort of speed. While Hull added some real punch going forward on deadline day, Huddlestone’s punch will still be the strongest.
Leicester City: Leonardo Ulloa
The Foxes paid 8 million pounds for him, and he’s already repaid them well with 2 goals on the young season, and if the Foxes are to stay up, they’ll need way more than just 2 goals from him. He’s already proven to be an impressive poacher, and for a team that plays the way Leicester do, which is driven on wing play, they need that kind of player.
Liverpool: Raheem Sterling
Remember when he was about to be loaned out again, and then Liverpool had to pull back? I don’t either. Sterling has gone from near bust to England starter in the blink of an eye, and that’s incredibly impressive. Brendan Rodgers has worked his magic with him taking the raw ability and speed and turning him into an incredibly technical player with the ability to take players on and not just beat them by fleet of foot. Minus Luis Suarez, Sterling is going to have to step up even more and he already has.
Manchester City: Yaya Toure
Sorry for this one being way too obvious, but it’s still true. His goals and graft in midfield were crucial in Manchester City winning the title last season and there’s no doubt about that. With a true defensive midfielder next to him in Fernando, his game is opened up even more and that makes him even more lethal. He hasn’t got off to the fastest start this season (and this has nothing to do with not giving him a birthday cake), but he is still the Champions most important player.
Manchester United: Wayne Rooney
Now captain of club and country, the expectations on his shoulders are even more immense than they were before. In a team of newly minted galaticos, he has the responsibility of keeping the dressing room together in the face of media pressure and fan pressure. Leading Manchester United to a revival would be an impressive accomplishment, and Rooney wearing the armband would win him plaudits he’s never won before.
Newcastle United: Remy Cabella
When Yohan Cabaye departed for the oil bucks of the Parc De Princes, it left a gaping void in the Newcastle United that they didn’t replace until this summer, and it showed. Now Cabella is charged with filling that void and being the creative influence in the side. He’s already shown flashes and glimpses of that ability already, and for Newcastle fans they hope that can continue. He may not be Cabaye good, but if he’s 75% of that with the players around him Newcastle can challenge for Europe.
Queens Park Rangers: Sandro
It’s amazing that I’m writing this about a player that hasn’t even played a minute for his new club, but Sandro’s role to QPR’s survival this season is absolutely vital. Since ‘Arry’s insisting on playing Glenn Hoddle’s 3-5-2, and since they have only old decrepit centerbacks, Sandro has to anchor the midfield and protect the back 3 from the disasters like we saw against Spurs. If he can do that, the R’s have a chance to stay up. If not… imminent disaster awaits.
Southampton: Morgan Schneiderlin
Southampton’s insistence on not selling him paid off, and while he is disappointed to not be playing higher up (see Hotspur, Tottenham), he is such a crucial player to Southampton’s success. He’s already scored goals this campaign, but it’s his pressing ability and midfield clean up ability that are so crucial to the tactical system that Ronald Koeman wants to pursue. If his head is in it, then Southampton has themselves a dynamic midfield presence… at least until January.
Stoke City: Mame Diouf
Stoke wanted him last season and couldn’t get him, and he’s already proven to be so valuable to them this season, and see the goal against Manchester City as proof positive of that. Stoke have a very good array of forwards, but Diouf leads the line and that line will need to score more for Mark Hughes this season in order to take them higher in the table.
Sunderland: Someone that can score a goal
Their first 3 goals this season have come from midfield, and minus Fabio Borini, who was their most important forward last season, someone needs to step up and take the reins. Will it be Steven Fletcher, he oft on the trainer’s table? Will it be Connor Wickham, who hopefully isn’t the Tyneside version of Haley’s Comet? Or will it be Jozy Altidore, the man who has not settled at all after his big move? It needs to be someone, and right now it’s no one.
Swansea City: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Boy how he has changed the fortunes for Garry Monk’s side. Somewhat out of the frame at Spurs, he goes back to South Wales and begins to totally exert his will as Swansea won their first 3 games comfortably. His guile fits in perfectly to the Swansea way of playing football, and his link-up play with Wilfried Bony has already been exceptional. If he continues this form, we may see an incredibly resurgent Swansea City side.
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris
He certainly was the MVP last season since Tim Sherwood didn’t understand tactics and therefore Spurs decided not to defend ever, but his role has changed this season. He is one of the more silent leaders in the squad despite not wearing the captain’s armband. His goalkeeping style is also crucial considering the way Spurs like to high press and get after teams, so if there are gaps his sweeper keeper style will be so important to keeping Spurs as Champions League challengers this season.
West Bromwich Albion: Saido Berahino
Despite making many signings to improve the quality of the forward line, Berahino emerged last year as an important player and he’ll stay that for West Brom all the way through the season. He may be the consistent forward if Brown Ideye or Georgios Samaras struggle this season, and his ability to finish was very important last season. It’ll have to stay that way if West Brom are going to stay up this season.
West Ham United: Kevin Nolan
West Ham through and through, Kevin Nolan is the emotional heartbeat of the squad. Despite the calls from fans for Big Sam’s head, he has kept the squad level-headed and eyes on the goal during all of that, and with some new big money additions to the squad this season, his role is even more important. West Ham shouldn’t be in relegation trouble, but if they are, they’ll need Kevin Nolan’s leadership to get them out of it.
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