By Chris Wright
As we usher in another one of these goddamn international breaks, we though it would be as good-a-time as any to take stock on the first two-and-a-bit months of Premier League action and single out the ten players that have impressed us most so far for a bit of overdue praise…
10. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa: Looked completely washed-up last season due to the prominence of Villa’s Bent/Downing/Young attacking triumvirate. Restored to the side after seeing his competition flogged over the summer, Gabby has already scored more in seven games this season (4) than he managed during the whole of the last campaign (3).
9. Tim Krul, Newcastle: With three clean-sheets in Newcastle’s first seven unbeaten games and only four goals conceded so far this season, Krul is currently sitting behind the meanest defence in all four tiers of English professional football. Aside from the favourable stats, the Dutch ‘keeper has also looked completely dependable when called upon.
8. Ramires, Chelsea: It seems like Ramires is still struggling to ‘get over’ with certain sections of the Chelsea support but, to my eye, the Brazilian has finally settled into his rhythm at The Bridge. Lightning quick acceleration across the ground, a constant terrier-like work-rate and, despite still being a little too wasteful, he’s also looked good for a goal or two.
7. Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle: Alongside Cheikh Tiote, Cabaye has formed a rigid partnership in the centre of midfield, providing a stable base for his side to build from – ‘stable’ not being a word often associated with Newcastle in the recent past. Does his fair share of the dirty work and also serves to provide the odd delectable snapshot or incisive pass to boot.
6. Sergio Aguero, Man City: Heralded as some kind of unearthed gem by the English press after bagging a brace on his debut against Swansea, eight goals in his first five league starts confirms what we (and almost all of the non-myopic footballing community) have known all along – Kun’s really rather good at this football malarkey.
5. Luis Suarez, Liverpool: Responsible for almost single-handedly revitalising Liverpool’s attacking pretensions since signing last January. Suarez is an absolute arsehole to defend against, relentlessly direct, hyperactive, deft-of-foot and, crucially, knows where the goal is. He’s also a diving, conniving son-of-a-gun but that just serves to enhance the appeal with his partisan crowd at Anfield. In short, he’s the kind of player you’d definitely want to see pitch up in your team rather than your opposition’s.
4. Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle: Written off as a shaggy-haired joke a couple of seasons ago after a shambling start to his career on Tyneside, Coloccini has slowly morphed into a combative, dominant centre-half – becoming an integral part of Newcastle’s nigh-on impenetrable back-line this season. Positionally astute, good in the air, a leader of men and currently in the midst of moulding a sound partnership with fellow Toon centre-half Steven Taylor.
3. Phil Jones, Man Utd: For all the world it looks like Jones should be your run-of-the-mill brutish, stout-looking centre-back clogger – though, in reality, United have signed themselves a rampaging ox of a defender who’s as comfortable on the ball as he is muscling strikers around on the touchline and flying into precision-timed last-ditch tackles. Well worth £18 million of anybody’s money and still only 19.
2. Ashley Young, Man Utd: Many thought the upper echelons of the Premier League would be a bridge too far for Young, but it already looks like the spindly winger has been playing at United for a couple of years. He’s still intermittently infuriating, runs like a toddler and looks like he could be spirited away by the lightest of head winds, but his delivery and quick interplay meshes well with that of his new teammates (especially the equally impressive Wayne Rooney) and he’s mucked in with a few goals to boot.
1. David Silva, Man City: The best player in the Premier League. Boom! It’s no wonder his City teammates call him ‘The Wizard’. Finds gaps, tangents and angles where there shouldn’t be any. Can go missing for 80-straight minutes then provide a scintilla of sheer, subtle beauty that makes you gush, blush and forgive him all over again. A playmaker in the truest sense of the word.
Honorary mentions: Wes Hoolahan, Juan Mata, Gervinho, Victor Moses, Edin Dzeko, Michel Vorm, Jose Bosingwa, Danny’s Welbeck and Sturridge…
Anyone missing who’s set your world on fire so far this season? You know the drill, just tell me how rubbish I am in the comments box below…