Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante have all been recognised for their role in Leicester’s Barclays Premier League title charge by being named on the shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
The Foxes trio make up half of the six-man shortlist for the award, which is voted for by their peers, with Tottenham’s 24-goal striker Harry Kane, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet the other names in the frame to succeed 2015 winner Eden Hazard.
Eight times in the previous 11 seasons the Players’ Player of the Year has played for Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool yet, just one year from those clubs having four players on the half-a-dozen strong shortlist, there are no representatives from any of those clubs.
PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor OBE said of this year’s ceremony: ‘The PFA awards is always a special occasion and one of the biggest nights in football’s social calendar.
‘For the winners who are honoured at the awards, there can be no greater personal accolade than that of being recognised by your peers; an honour to be cherished.’ But how do the players vote simple enough;
– Appointed PFA delegates deliver the ballot forms to the training ground of the 92 league clubs and 8 WSL clubs.
– Members are not allowed to vote for a player that is at the same club as themselves.
– The cut-off age for the PFA Young Player of the Year award is 23 years old or under as at the beginning of the season (1st July 2015).
– The PFA use an independent company to count and verify the votes cast, and completed ballots are sent directly to Beever & Struthers Chartered Accountants.
– The winners for each category will be announced at the PFA Awards on the 24th April 2016 in London where Tinie Tempah is expected to perform amongst other artistes.
So last season, the PFA Player of the year went to Eden Hazard which I was not totally comfortable with but I guess it was because he won the league, so this year gong shouldn’t be different and should go to someone that is likely to win the EPL title and is between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, even though Arsene Wenger was ranting before the match against West Brom that he still harbored hopes of winning the title,just laughable. I will be analyzing each player one by one.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) : if you asked me who Jamie Vardy was before this record breaking season, I only knew him as the guy that totally destroyed Manchester United last season with his relentless running in their 5-3 win last season. It’s worth reiterating that Vardy scored just five Premier League goals last season, and endured a 21-game run where he failed to find the net entirely.
In the Premier League’s 24-year history, no one has exploded quite so spectacularly. His record-breaking run of scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games could stand for a considerable period of time. Considering where he came from nothing to something, from the non-leagues before he hit it big ( some Alubarika story), I really enjoyed when he broke it because he was always in my fantasy league team week after week.He currently has 22 goals and six assists after 2959 minutes played.Vardy specialises at running the channels, particularly the inside-right position. He’s thrived in a team usually playing on the counter-attack because of his pace and excellent first touch.
His performances have dropped in the second half of the campaign, as teams have afforded him, and Leicester, little space. But his work rate has been exceptional, helping to keep Leicester compact, and he’s become a better provider too, notching three assists in the period since his last goal at Arsenal on Valentine’s Day. His outstanding moment was the mid-air goal against Liverpool, a perfect demonstration of Vardy’s ability to turn hopeful long passes into goals. He is even getting his own movie. He is however banned for this weekend match against Swansea after he was sent off for a dive against West Ham, I didn’t feel that was a dive.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City): Sometimes statistics can be misleading but, in Mahrez’s case, they tell the story wonderfully. Leicester’s right-winger is in the Premier League’s top five players in terms of both goals and assists and has developed into an extremely clinical player in the final third, having previously been an exciting winger rather than a truly effective one. He has 16 goals and 11 assists in 2705 minutes played. The Algerian international has been crucial to Leicester’s counter-attacking gameplan, but has also proved able to break down packed defences too.
Since heading the opener in Leicester’s 4-2 win over Sunderland on the opening day, Mahrez has been fantastic. There’s been a hat-trick against Swansea, a memorable curling shot against Chelsea in Jose Mourinho’s final game Chelsea where he turned Azpilicuelta inside out, after my friend has been telling all season that Azpilicuelta cannot be dribbled in a one on one situation, and a stunning individual effort in the 3-1 win at Manchester City which dealth their title hopes a huge blow. He’s been crucial to Leicester’s counter-attacking gameplan and also to my fantasy league table topping heroics, I am stil looking for that reader or law student that can boast of more points than me (1993 points)😎.
N’Golo Kante (Leicester City) : if not for the fact that Defensive players all always under appreciated because much of the focus is on the attacking play, I would have given him the award. Adjusting to the pace of Premier League football is often difficult for Ligue 1 arrivals, who are accustomed to a much slower tempo. But this hasn’t remotely been a problem for Kante, who has been the Premier League’s best defensive-minded midfielder by a long way. He has 1 goal and 4 assists so far.
Kante has patrolled the central midfield zone effectively alongside Danny Drinkwater, and was immediately impressive for his stamina and ball-winning qualities, prolific in terms of both tackling and intercepting. In the 3-0 win over Newcastle in November, he won possession a staggering 16 times. Kante has made the most tackles and interceptions in Europe this season.
But Kante’s attacking qualities have increasingly become obvious too. Capable of sudden bursts forward into the final third, he’s perfect for a counter-attacking side and has shown an ability to make good decisions to feed Vardy and Mahrez too. At £5.6m, he’s been a bargain.
Harry Kane (Tottenham): The current top scorer with 24 goals and 1 assist in 3008 minutes played. Last season it was slightly difficult to work out whether Harry Kane was really as good as his goalscoring return suggested. Was he simply getting lucky? Would defenders work him out in his second season?
The answer to both questions is an emphatic no!!! Kane endured something of a goal drought at the start of the season, but still offered Spurs great quality – he dropped deep, linked play and improved his all-round game. Inevitably, he started scoring soon afterwards, and has barely stopped since. Underrated for his aerial threat, Kane was particularly impressive in a 5-1 win at Bournemouth in October, constantly winning balls in the air, and scoring a close-range hat-trick too.
A master poacher, Kane doesn’t need to be provided with clear-cut chances – he has a tremendous habit of controlling the ball and adjusting his body into a goalscoring position quickly and efficiently, converting half-chances with ease. His bending strike from a tight angle against Arsenal in the 2-2 draw in March was quite extraordinary. Few players score 20 Premier League goals in two consecutive seasons – Kane is evidently a seriously good striker. Don’t be surprised if Real Madrid come calling in the summer with Tottenham preparing to rebuild their stadium.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal): Inconsistently impressive over his first two Premier League campaigns, Ozil’s 2015/16 season has unquestionably been his best since joining Arsenal. The all-seeing eye currently has 6 goals and18 assists on course to break Henry’s record. Ozil became the first Premier League player to assist in six consecutive matches after he teed up Kieran Gibbs’s equaliser against Tottenham in November and has been a constant source of creativity.
The major question has been his ability to dominate in big games as he often goes missing and inability to score enough goals which he has improved this season by being in the box 18 more than ever. He was one of the reasons I tipped Arsenal to win the league in December but I guess you should always expect to be let down by Arsenal.
In Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth just after Christmas, he created an astonishing nine goalscoring chances. What’s more impressive: he wasn’t constantly trying to play the final ball, barely conceding possession. His performance in the 3-0 victory over Manchester United is probably his most outstanding display, counter-attacking efficiently to help win the game within the first 20 minutes. His assist count has dropped in recent weeks, but his contribution over the course of the season has been outstanding.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham) : he has 9 goals and 9 assists in 2311 minutes so far.From his opening-day performance in a surprise 3-0 victory over Arsenal, it was clear Payet was going to be an exciting newcomer to the Premier League. But even his greatest admirers must have been surprised at his consistency – in Ligue 1 he often drifted in and out of games, whereas this season he’s been leading West Ham’s charge. A brilliant assistor and a goal threat too, Payet is essentially a great all-round attacking midfielder. West Ham’s fine counter-attacking victories over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City early in the season were largely because of Payet’s thrilling directness with the ball at his feet.
His performance in September’s 2-0 win over Newcastle showed his ability to create chances for team-mates – and he hit both goals himself. He’s also scored some quite outrageous free-kicks, at a time where the Premier League lacks the dead-ball specialists of yesteryear for someone that says he doesn’t practice free kicks in training anymore as he is now perfect, quite cocky I would say. West Ham are constantly linked with big names ahead of their summer move to the Olympic Stadium, but it’s tough to imagine anyone will be as popular with Hammers fans as Payet.
In my own opinion the award should go to Riyad Mahrez, I don’t know what you think? Any of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy could win it but it has to be Mahrez . The Algerian International brilliant numbers across the board speak for themselves. Many players have contributed terrifically to the Foxes’ cause this season, but their Algerian wideman has pulled out the magic moments when his side have needed them most. It’s been far from an individualistic season. He has underscored his value to the Foxes week after week, with the Algerian scoring the winning goal in a Premier League game more often than anyone this season (7).
No other midfielder in the top five European leagues can better Mahrez’s tally of 16 league goals this season. His lethal partnership with Vardy has tormented defences up and down the land, with the pair responsible for the most goal involvements (27) in the Premier League so far this season.
And a clue to pointing him winning the prize, is that Mahrez has been suggesting he may miss the award tomorrow as their match against Swansea only ends around 6pm but the PFA has insisted on his attendance leading his club to think he has won the prize already.
And to the small matter of the PFA Young player of the year,Kane is also in contention to retain the Young Player of the Year gong he won 12 months ago but I believe he is an Agbaya already 😂 ( he is too big for it) and he features on a six-player shortlist alongside Spurs team-mate Dele Alli, Everton duo Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, Stoke’s Jack Butland who is rewarded for his form between the sticks and Phillippe Coutinho of Liverpool.
It will be a fight between Lukaku ( another Agbaya) who has 18 goals and 6 assists in 2874 minutes of football even though he has been slying me in fantasy football for the past 1 month, Harry Kane who I have analyzed already and Dele Alli who has been a huge hit with 10 goals and 9 assists in 2390 minutes of football for his debut season in the top flight of English football after joining from MK Dons.
I am not going to analyze all nominees as I believe Dele Alli should take the award. For a player who was playing third-tier football last season, Alli’s performances this season have been unbelievably impressive. He was on the bench for Spurs’ first four matches of the campaign – but since starting against Sunderland in September, he’s barely been out of the side. So it looks set to be double heartbreak for Kane with Spurs pal Alli the favourite to land the junior award.A naturally formidable athlete perfect for Spurs’ pressing game, Alli is also excellent technically. His first touch is outstanding, always putting himself in a position to play a decisive pass with his second touch.
There’s an element of trickery about his game, too – he loves a nutmeg, while his outstanding goal against Crystal Palace, flicking the ball over an opponent’s head before volleying into the net from outside the box, is one of the best of the season.
His display at Watford in December showed his simple ability to intercept the ball regularly to regain possession, and then keep the ball with a succession of solid passes. Alli also has a curious habit of going in behind defences to collect long balls, which is rather unusual for a midfielder. But that’s the movement of a player determined to contribute in the final third, not just in midfield.
The Premier league team of the year was leaked on Twitter Thursday afternoon and the obvious omission was Mesut Ozil and inclusion of Danny Rose instead of Fuchs of Leicester in my honest opinion.
In goal was David de Gea(Manchester United), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal),Wes Morgan ( Leicester ), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Danny Rose(Tottenham) make up the defence while in Midfield we have Riyad Mahrez(Leicester), Dele Alli( Tottenham), N’golo Kante(Leicester), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), in the forward positions we have Jamie Vardy( Leicester) and Harry Kane(Tottenham).
I keep trying to wrap my head around why Sergio Aguero hardly gets nominated for these awards even after winning golden boots. But the reason is not far fetched as he is always injured during the period when the players vote.
Also congratulations to Enyimba Fc ( Nigerian Premier league Champions) for making it into the group stages of the CAF Champions League and a chance to win it and represent Africa in the Club World Cup Later in the Year after their miracle in front of a smoky and intimidating crowd in Sousse, Tunisia against Etoile du Sahel after conceding three goals in regulation time after a three goal lead in the first leg in Port harcourt. Goalkeeper Afelokhai made the difference in the shoot-out, saving three penalties after the hosts’ substitute goalkeeper had himself saved the visitors’ first two spot-kicks.
I am enjoying this LMC (league management company) introduction of Friday night football into the Nigerian professional football league, four Friday night matches so far and I totally enjoyed yesterday’s match between Enugu Rangers and Nassarawa United where Rangers won 2-1. We are now having up to 3 matches on TV per weekend. Not only that it seems there will be a collaboration between La liga and the NPFL to develop Nigerian league by training of coaches, marketing, commercial promotions and youth development.
Did you see Suarez against Deportivo la Coruna, isn’t he the best striker in the world currently, if only Arsene Wenger had given Liverpool the money they asked for.
Also the Barcelona masters needs to be followed to see if Rafael Nadal can keep up his form after winning the Montecarlo masters.
I am also hearing that Pele’s movie is about to be released, he recently said he stil wanted to play in the Olympics for Brazil at his age, Football runs through that legend’s veins.
There are action attractions everywhere like in the English premier league, the title chase in La liga and the FA Cup where I hope Crystal Palace can get through against Watford even against my Nigerian brother Odion Ighalo and go on to win the FA Cup against either Manchester United or Everton.
So much I still want to write about but I will stop right here. Thanks for reading this far and have a lovely weekend, while I anticipate Game of Thrones this Sunday. Adios.
Tochukwu Anosike is a member of the law class of “18, who loves and follows sports. If he were not studying law, he may have been playing for his favorite club, Crystal Palace :). You can connect with him on Instagram @carlsyke.