It’s fair to say this could turn out to be the most exciting Premier League campaign we’ve ever seen, with six sides still in the title race (just about), and just 10 points separating 10th-placed Bournemouth and bottom-side Hull City.
But enough about the teams, today we’re looking at individual players, and we’ve picked out five names that have both impressed and surprised us the most during the first-half of this campaign.
And our list begins with arguably the best free transfer in the history of the Premier League…
OK, we tried to think outside the box a little when compiling this list, and we know that mentioning a name like Zlatan is quite the opposite of that.
But nobody expected the big Swede to have such an impact for Jose Mourinho’s United.
He’s scored 45.8 per cent of their league goals this season, and without him, the Red Devils would be 10 points worse off.
Only Jermain Defoe at Sunderland has been more influential for his side, and rival fans should look away now, because Ibra reckons he can play until he’s 50!
It’s fair to say several heads were turned when Chelsea announced they’d signed Alonso in August.
For a second, there must have been plenty of fans who thought their club had snapped up Xabi Alonso, only to be disappointed after realising it was, in fact, former Bolton Wanderers left-back, Marcos, that was set to arrive at Stamford Bridge.
But the Spaniard has played a huge part in this incredible winning streak for the Blues.
Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation after losing 3-0 away at Arsenal meant Alonso was brought into the starting XI for the first time in the following game.
Since then he’s started every game, with Chelsea keeping nine clean sheets in 11 matches, winning all of them.
And with one goal and two assists already to his name, he’s certainly proving to be worth every penny of the £23m the Blues parted with for his services.
We actually picked Anichebe out as a player David Moyes should look at signing when he took over at Sunderland. And the 53-year-old must be an avid Ladbrokes News reader, because he did exactly that.
While it’s Defoe who’s grabbing all the headlines for the Black Cats, he has Anichebe to thank for plenty of his goals this season.
The pair work exceptionally well together up-front for the previously relegation-doomed North East outfit, with Anichebe’s physical presence a nightmare for defenders to deal with. Of course, the Nigerian’s ability to draw defenders out of position allows Defoe to get in behind and create havoc.
Injuries have restricted the 28-year-old’s appearances to just eight for the season. But with three goals and one assist already to his name, it’s clear that Sunderland have a polished gem on their hands in Anichebe – if they can keep him fit.
A cult hero on the south-coast, Steve Cook’s influence for Bournemouth largely goes unnoticed by the masses.
Most will only remember Cook’s terrible back-pass away at Arsenal which led to Alexis Sanchez opening the scoring at the Emirates. But it says a lot about the 25-year-old that that’s the only error we can think of from him off the top of our heads.
In fact, no other player in the Premier League has completed more successful defensive actions this season than Cook. And if we’re looking at players who can consistently be relied on, it’s worth noting that the former Brighton & Hove Albion man has missed just 10 of Bournemouth’s last 147 league games.
He often goes unnoticed, but he hasn’t here.
Just when you think you’ve seen everything in Milner’s locker, he goes and claims Liverpool’s left-back spot.
Every week fans and pundits alike unite in the argument that Liverpool ‘can’t win the league with James Milner playing as part of a back-four’, that ‘this is the weekend he gets found out’, and that ‘his best years have been and gone’.
But every week he proves us all wrong. Liverpool are in a title race. He hasn’t been found out. And the 30-year-old is actually looking fitter than ever.
Already with five goals and one assist to his name this season, Jimmy Milner could win his third, and Liverpool’s first Premier League trophy.
That’s our list, but who’s stood out for you this season?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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