Following the announcement of the nominations for PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, James Dutton and Greg Johnson looked at some of the notable omissions…
David De Gea
10 clean sheets
This will be the season in which David De Gea ditched the dodgy keeper tag. His body of work this year has consisted of the usual box office blocks and “how did he do that?!” saves, complemented by a growing maturity and presence over the often unsettled backline directly ahead of him. Although De Gea’s gloves won’t have won the title for United alone, he’s certainly banked points that would have otherwise slipped through the unconvincing grasp of his team this year. Compared to his Premier League peers, no other goalkeeper has been so consistent in a side of such inconsistent style and form.
7 clean sheets
Pablo Zabaletta may win votes running on his ticket of endearing workmanship and heart, but this season Rafael has shown that he is far more than just a player of South American soul and spirit. Now the tenacious protector of United’s right flank, the Brazilian has answered his critics with a year of balance. Once a risky attacking gambit, Rafael has become an assured first-choice right-back to be relied upon at either end of the pitch.
7 clean sheets
The lack of competition in the transfer market that enabled Spurs’ capture of the imperious Belgian centre-back will mystify many given the impressive nature of his debut season in England. Having solidified Spurs’ previously shaky defence as a more than able long-term replacement for Ledley King, Vertonghen is quietly transforming our conceptions of the modern day centre-back.
7 clean sheets
While his defensive partner often prefers to influence the attacking play by charging up field, Evans has been a howitzer firing from behind United’s lines over the past few years. A genuine ball-playing defender blessed with the vision to spot and deliver arcing balls to the forward flanks, this season the Northern Irishman has finally come of age as United’s first choice centre back. Consistent and composed at the back, he’s also become something of a goal threat at set pieces.
8 clean sheets
Baines’ omission from the PFA nominations list is little more than a crime against humanity and common decency. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but his continued excellence as Everton left-back has finally broken Ashley Cole’s stranglehold of the position at international level. His surging runs, exquisite deliveries and set-piece expertise have taken the Merseyside club’s potency to another level.
Despite a severe lack of league playing time this season, Milner has been a player transformed for Manchester City. As the season has progressed he has been entrusted more and more by Roberto Mancini, missing just one game since Boxing Day, and becoming the archetypal ‘big game player’ as evidenced by important goals at the Emirates and Old Trafford.
Finally free of the diminutive shadow of Tim Cahill, the Belgian’s full capacity has been unleashed, leading to Everton’s resurgence as serious European contenders.
Another who has profited from the departure of a high-profile team mate. Whilst Joe Allen has struggled to recreate his fluency at Liverpool, Britton has cemented his position as the standard bearer of Swansea’s free flowing footballing ethos.
The two-footed Spanish magician has been a revelation at Arsenal, becoming the focal point of their attacking mindset. Not only is the former Malaga man a joy to watch, but he has the substance and end-product to match the reputation that he earned during his time in La Liga.
Apparently the Spanish midfielder-cum-forward only cost £2million. Who knew?
The 31-year old’s belated entrance to Premier League football has been a resounding success, spearheading Southampton to mid-table serenity. Lambert also joins the coveted club of English strikers who enjoy a stellar first season in the Premier League alongside such luminaries as Kevin Phillips, Andy Johnson, Marcus Stewart, Michael Bridges, Michael Ricketts and Grant Holt.