Why the Premier League have the Players Player of the Year vote long before the actual end of the season in this day of instant technology is totally beyond me, however the archaic voting system still sticks to the old style where the only way to submit your vote was through the post.
So we ended up with the final six candidates for best player of the season, and that final six included:
He’s the top scorer in the Premier League and Tottenham’s talisman. When you look at Kane’s goal scoring for this Premier League season and then consider that he had only scored 1 in 9 to begin the season, it is incredible that he has made it to 22 so far. That means that Kane has been able to bad 21 goals in his last 24 league games, easily the best in the league.
One of the most amazing things about Harry Kane is that for once the English press aren’t fawning over an English player who is having a little bit of success (see Andy Carroll scores a hat trick after doing nothing for over a year and is now being tipped for the Euros) and to describe Kane’s last two season as a little bit of success is in itself playing down his achievements. Back to back 20 goal seasons in his first two years, if this was a foreign import people would be wetting their panties over his success.
Kane will ultimately come up short for the award, which is a shame because he has had a great year and deserves some sort of recognition…
The little midfielder who could, N’Golo Kante. Clearly Kante is the buy of the season, coming into Leicester at around £5m, a fee which now seems like more than a steal. Kante has been a vital part of Leicester’s success, his ever present pressing in the midfield is a big part of why Leicester have been able to propel themselves to the top of the league. It is incredible that a player can do so much running for 90 minutes, his fitness is sublime. He tackles left, right, centre, left again, right again…you get the picture, he is nonstop.
If I were to have one criticism of Kante, it is that he doesn’t add much other than his high energy pressing in the midfield. That isn’t really his fault of course, when Leicester are very much a long ball counter attacking team that tends to cut out the central midfielders. It does seem silly to ask if a player can take a step up from the team who are odds on for winning the league, but this is an unusual season, and I don’t really know the answer either. Kante has shown that in a team of Leicester’s ability he is an incredibly useful asset, however for a team which holds a lot of the ball (most big teams) I’m not so sure that he would be nearly as effective, this may be his level and there is nothing wrong with that.
Kante has had a great season and is more than deserving of being on this list; however he will come up short because there is someone more deserving.
‘And your 2016 Players Player of the Year is Riyad Mahrez!!!’ If this isn’t what we here at the awards ceremony then the fix is officially in. There has been nobody who as came anywhere close to being as good as Mahrez has this season, it isn’t even close. 16 goals and 11 assists speaks pretty much for itself, however it isn’t just in his impressive statistics which I think Mahrez is deserving, but rather his silky play in a not so silky team.
The thing is that there are a lot of good teams who are missing a special player, and Mahrez has been exactly that for Leicester this season. A player who can turn a game in the blink of an eye, a player who can unlock the tightest of defences and a player who can win you the game and stand up when things aren’t going your way, Mahrez has been all of these things this season and more. If Leicester do go on to win the league, then the first man they should be thanking is Riyad Mahrez.
I look at Ozil’s stats of 6 goals and 18 assists and I think to myself ‘wow that’s very impressive’, I then look at Ozil’s actual play in at least half of the games this season and I start to think the opposite. I have several problems with Ozil, the first being the shit about him being the assist master, when assists are one of the worst metrics of how good a player is. To expand on that point, if I pass it to you and you then run 50 yards and score I get an assist, when in fact I did almost nothing. What makes assist an even more annoying statistic for me is that things such as goal saving blocks, last ditch tackles or clear cut chances created aren’t given nearly as much weight despite being more than arguably more important.
My second issue with Ozil this season is that he was very good in the first half of the season but has been totally anonymous in the second half of the year. What I really hate about Ozil is how petulant he is when he feels that others aren’t up to his level, the problem being that his form has dropped off massively from the turn of the year but he never gets picked out as lacklustre because he’s ‘Mesut Ozil, the guy who wasn’t good enough for Real Madrid!’
My third issue with Ozil is that he disappears against the big teams or to put it differently, when things aren’t going Arsenal’s way Ozil has a tendency to disappear and go missing. The problem is that when you’re trying to challenge for the league, the last thing you want is your apparent star player to go missing when the going gets tough, and sadly for Arsenal that is exactly what Ozil does.
Ozil is a good player, however he is overly inconsistent and goes missing when it really matters, he has really impressive stats for this season but the honest truth is that he is probably the league’s most over rated player. I say that not because I think he’s shit but rather because he is talked about is if he is world class and he is actually nowhere near it. I understand why he made the top six but he wouldn’t have made mine.
What an incredible season that Payet has had this year, if it weren’t for that pesky Kante he would be a shoo in for signing of the season. Payet has propelled West Ham to challenging for a top four position with his 9 goals and 8 assists, to the extent that they are going to be sort of disappointed if they only come out with a 6th. The biggest compliment that I could give Payet is that when he was out of the team at the back end of last year West Ham weren’t nearly as competitive, as soon as he came back in, they were back to where they were beforehand, he has been that important to them.
If Payet had been able to play more games over the whole of the season who knows how well he would have done in this award, and even more interestingly how well would West Ham have done. Leicester have shown that it wouldn’t have beyond the realms of possibilities that a title challenge may have been in reach and a top 4 would almost certainly have been achieved, although I’m sure most teams could point to a massive injury costing them points this season.
I’m not so sure that Payet would make it into my top 6 players of the season as things stand because I feel that he missed too many games, he’s close (probably 7th) and I more than understand why he was nominated but not quite for me.
I don’t rate Jamie Vardy as a player whatsoever, he’s a one trick pony, who has despite limited abilities managed to get into the rodeo, yet despite all that, I can’t deny that he has had a remarkable season. The thing about Vardy is that he has bagged 21 goals this season (2nd most at time of writing) and broke the goals in consecutive games record for the Premier League (because football started in 1992).
Vardy has been pretty average since he broke the goal scoring record, however although the goals have dried up you can’t deny the work he has put in. Unlike other people on this list, even when Vardy is playing poorly he still makes the runs in behind and the pressing that have been so vital to Leicester’s success this season. Vardy may come across like a total prick but you have to give it to him, he definitely seems like a team player and is more than willing to sacrifice padding his stats for the good of the team.
So I have said that I wouldn’t personally have had Ozil and Payet in my final six, ‘so who are the two men who are replacing them?’ I here you mutter under your breath in a disparaging manner, well I would replace them with Moussa Dembele and Toby Alderweireld.
Dembele has been an absolute rock in the midfield at Spurs this season, he does the dirty work so that expressive players like Eriksen and Alli can make mugs of opposing defenders, however much like Kante it is Dembele’s work breaking up play and covering the backline which have allowed them to do so. One of the things which I have been most impressed with Dembele this season, is that he has developed the ability to take control of a game in the middle of the park and dictate play, something which I always thought he sort of struggled with. Much like Payet, Dembele has only made 24 starts (and 2 sub appearances) but his importance to the high press that Spurs play has been vital for their title challenge, so he just edged it.
Alderweireld has been the best defender in the league by quite some distance. His partnership with Vertonghen has been a massive part of Spurs’ success this season, and his performances alongside Wimmer showed that he is a truly quality centre back. It should also be noted that Alderweireld is one of only four outfield players who haven’t missed a single minute of Premier League football this season, a true iron man who has led the line for Spurs and really deserves recognition for his excellent second season in the league.
The weird thing about my top 6 is that it contains 3 Leicester players and 3 Spurs players, not something I did deliberately by the way. The other weird thing I’ve found about this year’s Premier League is that I think that Mahrez is the clear winner and I’d put Kane as number two, however after that I don’t really think there is much between a whole host of players. I think you could make really good arguments for Eriksen, Alli, De Bruyne (if he had more games) along with the other six named in the post for being deserving of a place in the top six and I’d at very least understand your point. Needless to say it’s been a very unusual season.
There you have it, your nominees for PFA Player of the Year are Kane, Kante, Mahrez, Payet, Ozil and Vardy, it shouldn’t really matter because Mahrez should win and this should all be a formality. So do you agree that Mahrez will win? Then leave a comment and share those thoughts! Maybe you thought I was too mean to poor little Mesut or maybe you just wanted to tell me how ugly Jamie Vardy is, all comments are welcome!