This week the 2013/14 Premier League season comes to a close. Here at TSN.ca we will take a look back at the season by bringing together a panel of experts to help pick the best 50 players of the season. This list is based purely on their performances this season. It is not a list of who we think the best 50 players in the league are.
Fourteen members were asked to take part (panel below) and submit their top 20 players of the season. Their list was then placed into a scoring system and then the totals determined the overall positions in the top 50.
Each day this week we will release the list in 10s. The sport is very much about opinions, so please feel free to write your own list in the comments below.
Here is how the Top 20 were scored –
1st place – 30pts; 2nd place – 25; 3rd place – 22; 4th place – 20; 5th place – 18; 6th place – 17; 7th place – 15; 8th place – 14; 9th place – 13; 10th place – 12; 11th place – 10; 12th place – 9; 13th place – 8; 14th place – 7; 15th place – 6; 16th place – 5; 17th place – 4; 18th place – 3; 19th place – 2; 20th place – 1.
Six members of TSN's soccer team were on the panel and were joined by eight other members from around the world who were asked to represent their specific field. Joining our staff members were two outstanding statistical experts, Jonny Blain and Simon Gleave, two brilliant reporters/commentators covering the league, Stewart Coggin and Paul Sarahs and two extremely knowledgeable tactics writers, Tim Palmer and Ritesh from the False9 website and a man who covers the development side of the league like no other, Aidan from the England Youth website. In addition, also involved was arguably one of the knowledgeable writers covering the league in the world, Michael Cox, aka Zonal Marking.
Follow the Panel on Twitter
Aidan from England Youth – https://twitter.com/englandyouth
Jonny Blain - https://twitter.com/jonoblain
Noel Butler - https://twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel
Stewart Coggin - https://twitter.com/StewartCoggin
Michael Cox - https://twitter.com/Zonal_Marking
Jason DeVos - https://twitter.com/jasondevos
Simon Gleave - https://twitter.com/SimonGleave
Kristian Jack - https://twitter.com/KristianJack
Tim Palmer - https://twitter.com/timhpal
Ritesh from The False9 - https://twitter.com/TheFalse_9
Paul Sarahs - https://twitter.com/PaulSarahs
Pete Schaad - https://twitter.com/PeteSchaad
Gareth Wheeler - https://twitter.com/WheelerTSN
Luke Wileman - https://twitter.com/LukeWileman
50. Winston Reid (West Ham) – It has been a frustrating year for the New Zealand centre-back in terms of injuries as ankle surgery forced him to miss more than a dozen Premier League matches and it was during this time that his loss was really noticeable. The Hammers have shown glimpses of a very solid unit this past season but it never looks better unless the 25-year-old is in the team. Could be on the move this summer to a bigger club.
49. Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) – Some people who watch Liverpool often` belief Skrtel should not be a part of their future. The Slovakian can be far too aggressive in his own penalty box and, despite improvement, doesn't seem comfortable enough on the ball to suit the style Brendan Rodgers demands. However, this season his strength and bravery, in both penalty boxes, have helped Liverpool win many games. With regular issues surrounding who plays the other side of the centre-back tandem, Skrtel has given Rodgers much needed solidity at the heart of his defence.
48. David De Gea (Man Utd) – There are very few positives for Man Utd fans to take from this past season. However, one of the advantages to having an aging, poor defence was that their goalkeeper was tested more than usual. De Gea had an excellent season and, for some on this panel, was the club's best player. Arguably one of the best saves of the entire season came in October when Sunderland's Emanuele Giaccherini headed the ball towards the top corner and a stretched De Gea tipped it wide. It was a brilliant save, as was the instinctive stop he had on a volley by Jonathan Walters a few weeks later.
47. Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) – It was a mystifying season for the Spaniard. Some think he has the talent to carry a team on his back and showed glimpses of that when Arsenal were at their peak in November (he was outstanding in their home win over Liverpool) yet consistency at the highest level is still lacking. This may not be Cazorla's fault. Although a wonderfully pleasing player on the eyes, it is, perhaps, an indictment on Arsenal in 2014 that he is one of their best players. If he had two or three world class players around him (particularly playing behind him centrally), Cazorla would blossom more often.
46. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) – On January 11, Crystal Palace were having fun at Tottenham, playing the high-flyers completely off the pitch. Then they got a penalty, one Puncheon smashed into Row Z. The look on his face showed just how distraught he was. Palace would lose 2-0 and manager Tony Pulis admitted that the winger couldn't get over the miss for the rest of the game. The next two weeks, Palace won 1-0 twice with goals, each time, from the man who started the season at Southampton. Then, at the start of April, he scored in three straight games to guarantee the team's safety.
45. Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) – Puncheon got a lot of the headlines, but Crystal Palace's best player of the season was arguably a man very few Premier League fans had heard about 12 months ago. Joel Ward was asked to play all different positions across the back four and in central midfield this season but really excelled under Tony Pulis, showing a real assurance in possession, while enjoying the freedom of width by causing overlaps down the wings.
44. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – Arsene Wenger's side have holes and when asked what they need to do to become a title contender, many people think they can do better up top by replacing Giroud. That might be true but the 27-year-old is a striker who should be monitored not just for the goals he scores. Obviously they are essential for a man in his position but the Frenchman is a very clever link forward, comfortable with his back to goal, bringing in to play the multiple playmakers in behind him. He is also very good in the air and has won key aerial battles in both boxes this season.
43. Curtis Davies (Hull City) – What a difference three seasons can make. Once seen as a future star, Davies, cast aside by Aston Villa, had to go down to the lower leagues and improve his craft and when Steve Bruce paid just over two million pounds for him last summer to play in the Premier League there were those who weren't sure he was up to the task. Davies (Saturday's game against Villa aside) proved the doubters wrong, starting all but one of the team's league games this season and being, unquestionably, the team's player of the season in what has been a very good season for the club.
42. Alvaro Negredo (Man City) – If this list would have been done at Christmas, the Spaniard would have been in the top 20. All of Negredo's nine Premier League goals this season came before the middle of January and if he doesn't score a goal in the final week of the season he will have gone four months without a league goal. However, this is no Roberto Soldado. 'The beast,' as he is called in the blue half of Manchester, is no flop and is a wonderful footballer who can score goals from set pieces, drop deep and play in opponents and score goals in the six-yard box. Expect him to come back stronger and fitter in August.
41. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) – What a strange season for Arsenal's defence. Impressive against most of the league, diabolical away from home at Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton. The Frenchman can be a very polarizing figure, often looked down on because of highlight-reel mistakes such as own goals or high-profile red cards, but when not being put into highlight packs, the 28-year-old shows he is very steady in defence. Like many defenders, he isn't always at his best when forced to turn and face his own goal but very few opponents force him to do so.