Everyone knows Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa have been quality this year. But who has perhaps flown under the radar to some degree this season in the Premier League?
James Milner – Manchester City
The skill and attacking potential of James Milner often goes unnoticed as he is surrounded by big names such as Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva. This lack of time in the limelight has seen Milner become a squad player for City rather than a starter but he has still been crucial this season. Milner has made 30 appearances in all competitions for City this season scoring 5 goals, creating 6 assists and possessing a successful passing rate of 80.4%.
Milner also broke the record for most distance covered in one game this season when he covered 13.56km in their 4-1 win against Stoke. City may be slipping in and out of form this season but he appears to be one of their most consistent performers so far. No surprise then that Manuel Pellegrini is rumoured to be interested in offering the winger a new contract.
Although, Milner has responded to contract talks by stating he will only stay if he is guaranteed more playing time; “I love it here and I would love to stay at City but first and foremost I am a footballer I am a footballer and I want to play football”. If Milner does choose to move on from City in the summer, he would be an absolute bargain for any club.
Mamadou Sakho – Liverpool
Sakho was a regular on the Liverpool bench during their dreadful start to the 14/15 campaign but he took full advantage of the first team opportunity given to him when Rodgers decided to drop an unimpressive Dejan Lovren. Since becoming a regular in Liverpool’s starting line-up, Sakho has shown his influence through the squad’s massive defensive improvement since December.
They’ve only lost one game when Sakho has started for them while they have lost six times when he hasn’t started for them. With the Frenchman in defence, Liverpool have only conceded 8 times in 11 games while they conceded a whopping 21 in 15 games without Sakho.
Liverpool’s points per game average was a dreadful 1.4 without the Frenchman and is now an average of 2.2 points per game with Sakho in their side. This shows that the 25 year old is currently one of the most influential defenders in the league but often doesn’t get the credit that he is due.
Olivier Giroud – Arsenal
Arsenal have never truly replaced Thierry Henry with Robin van Persie coming the closest to an Henry replacement before opting to break Arsenal hearts with a move to Manchester United. While Giroud may lack the skill and class of past Arsenal forwards, his statistics would say he is one of the top strikers in English football.
He’s netted 49 times in 91 starts in his Arsenal career which putting his goal per game ratio up there with the best attackers in England. This season, the striker has struggled with some injuries but has still managed to score 11 times in 17 appearances in all competitions. The 28 year old no longer disappears in big games, scoring against Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton and Manchester United this season.
Nemanja Matic – Chelsea
Many people questioned Chelsea resigning Matic in January 2014 for a whopping £21m, having only let him leave for Benfica three years earlier. This season, Matic has developed into one of the most consistent central defensive midfielders in European football and his statistics show that he is influential both defensively and offensively.
Defensively, Matic makes an average of 1.7 interceptions, 1.3 clearances and 0.9 blocks per game while offensively he has scored 3 times, made 3 assists and has an impressive successful passing rate of 87.7% this season. It is no surprise that the midfielder has won 4 man of the match awards for Chelsea this season.
Adrian – West Ham
The Spanish goalkeeper was more or less unheard of when he joined West Ham in 2013 on a free transfer from Real Betis. Since then, Adrian has become West Ham’s first choice keeper and one of their most reliable and consistent players.
Last season, Adrian made 88 saves, 10 clearances and kept 6 clean sheets in 20 Premier League appearances. This season, the 28 year old has already surpassed these numbers as he has made 94 saves, 22 clearances and kept 6 clean sheets in 27 appearances which shows he has had a part to play in why West Ham are currently sitting in the top half of the Premier League.