With just over eight games of the Premier League season to go attention starts to turn to who is going to be recognised at the Professional Footballers’ Association’s (PFA) end of season awards.
The main award up for grabs is the PFA Player of the Year Award – first won by Leeds United’s Norman Hunter in 1972.
Since then, as of 2014, the accolade has been given out 41 times, with only Arsenal’s Thierry Henry and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo managing to win it in consecutive seasons.
There will be a new winner this campaign though, with last season’s trophy going to Luis Suarez, who has since swapped his days playing in the Premier League with Liverpool to turn out at Camp Nou for Barcelona.
Therefore, loveaflutter takes a look at some of the favourites to pick up the PFA Player of the Year Award for the 2014/15 season.
Picked up last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year Award and has to be in with a good shout for the top prize if, as expected, Chelsea win the Premier League in 2015. He was often criticized by manager José Mourinho last season for not carrying out his defensive duties from his role in the right-side of Chelsea’s midfield.
However, he has improved that aspect of his game. His teammate Cesc Fabregas, with 16, has plenty more assists than Hazard (7), but the Belgian international has managed to find the back of the net in 11 Premier League games this season. That is more than anybody else in the Chelsea midfield and in recent months his strikes have proved crucial, with the goals against Hull City, West Ham United and Aston Villa all proving to be match winners.
David de Gea.
If you are to ask most Manchester United fans where would their club would be this season without their Spanish international goalkeeper the answer, more often than not, would be a long way off qualifying for the Champions League. De Gea has been the match winner for the Red Devils on numerous occasions this season. The 24-year-old keeper is a brilliant shot stopper, but has improved his decision making and catching ability in recent seasons as well. His standout moment this season came in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. De Gea made three decent stops against Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling as Louis van Gaal’s side beat their bitter rivals.
With only one goal in the last seven Premier League games, Sanchez’s form towards the end of the season might see him miss out on the top prize. In the first half of the campaign the Chilean, who had impressed so much at the 2014 World Cup, was slow to get off the mark, but found his form around October with seven goals in seven Premier League games. He has hit doubles against Burnley, Stoke City and Sunderland. However, he has only managed one goal against the so called ‘top teams’ in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
If the 21-year-old striker doesn’t win the main award, then he will no doubt pick up the PFA Young Player of the Year trophy this season. Kane has found the back of the net 19 times this season already – which is level with Chelsea’s Diego Costa in the goalscoring charts. His strikes have earned him a call-up to the England side and pushed Tottenham Hotspur back into the shake-up for a Champions League place next season.
Scored his first hat-trick for Spurs in a recent 4-3 win over Leicester, but his best moment of the season came when he netted a double against Arsenal to give his side a 2-1 win in the North London derby. Unlike Sanchez, Kane has managed to score goals in the big games.
As the joint-top scorer in the Premier League, Costa can’t be ruled out of contention for the top prize. However, he arguably has better service at Chelsea than Kane does at Spurs and added to that his disciplinary record, including a three-match ban for a stamp on Liverpool’s Enre Can, might work against him. The Spaniard has been a focal point of the Chelsea attack though and led the line at the Stamford Bridge well.
An outside bet for both the PFA Young Player and PFA Player of the Year Awards. However, the 22-year-old Brazilian has really hit form this season at Liverpool, scoring some cracking goals and being a creative spark in the Reds’ midfield. Teammate Raheem Sterling has also caught the eye and will no doubt be one of the names mentioned when it comes around to handing out the award for the best young player of the 2014/15 season.
However, you have to feel Liverpool would need to push their way back into the top four before the curtain comes down on the season for the top prize, the PFA Player of the Year Award, to be handed to a player at Anfield for the second season in a row.
Won the young player of the year award while at Arsenal in the 2006/07 season. He tops the charts for most assists this season in the Premier League but, with only two Premier League goals to his name, he will more than likely missed out on the top award this campaign.