Silva staking early claim for award
At this point last year, the race for the player of the year in England was done and dusted. Tottenham’s flying Gareth Bale had tied up the award in a nice pretty bow after tearing Inter’s Brazilian fullback, Maicon, a new one in the UEFA Champions League group stages.
That Bale excelled in the early part of the campaign before missing the entire month of February through injury seemingly had little effect on his fellow professionals. Maybe it was the voting process; perhaps it was the lack of choices because other than Bale, no one had truly stamped their personality over the footballing landscape.
This time around, though, the candidates are stacking up like the 405 freeway during rush hour in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look…
Once again, Bale is in the hunt and his form over the past six weeks for club and country has been particularly explosive.
There is no doubt in my mind that he is a better player than he was last season but unless he can find another gear, he won’t be joining Mark Hughes, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo as a back-to-back winner because the competition truly is ridiculous.
Wayne Rooney, winner in 2010 started the campaign with enough pep and vigor to sew up the award in the first month. Consecutive Premier League hat-tricks were as eye-catching as his ability to play any position Sir Alex Ferguson asks for. However, I wonder if his European Championship meltdown in Montenegro will have the voters checking a different box.
Despite all of Arsenal’s early teething, Robin van Persie kept his head when all around were losing theirs and he has been rewarded with the richest from of his life.
In the calendar year only Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored more goals. With Scott Parker recognized by the Football Writers last year in a losing effort for West Ham do you think the Dutchman’s fellow professionals will appreciate what he’s done in a sub-par Arsenal side?
Perhaps the same also could also be said for his London rival, Chelsea’s Frank Lampard.
There was a sense as the campaign began that the England international could be surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. At the moment, though, he is the one consistent factor in a very inconsistent team. It would be sweet vindication if Lampard were to drive his team toward honors in what could be his last season in west London.
Up on Tyneside, Steven Taylor has Newcastle soaring and if he can successfully negotiate their next three matches against City, United and Chelsea, I’d give the Magpies skipper the award right now.
The fact that the Toon are in this position is as much down to the defender as it is the goals of Demba Ba. Taylor is something of an unsung hero, however, his contribution to the club’s unbeaten start to the campaign can be put squarely on his broad shoulders.
Every race has hot favorites, though, and Manchester City have multiple candidates to take home the PFA award in the early running.
Edin Dzecko cannot stop scoring goals whether he starts or comes of the bench. Yaya Toure is the engine room that all great teams possess and to be honest in any other squad these two names would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But this is no ordinary squad because currently they are in the shadow of the shining jewel of Manchester, David Silva.
Last season we saw glimpses of what the Spaniard was capable of. However, I think that the adjustment from La Liga to the Premiership took longer than many expected it to. Maybe it was the $41million price tag or just plain homesickness but in 53 appearances in all competitions, Silva managed just four goals and seven assists. In just 16 appearances this term he has matched that goal total to go along with six assists.
The level and consistency of his play has been outstanding. Every time he gets on the ball, it feels as though he is going to make something happen and there is no doubt in my mind that he is making all those around him play with more confidence and authority. In a game as physical and fast-paced as the Premier League, he has the ability to slow it down to his silky pace. It feels like he believes that he is the straw that stirs the cocktail.
With two-thirds of the campaign left, the race for the individual prize that players crave the most is the best I’ve seen in years. Right now, Silva is my particular favorite. However, when the ballots are handed out in February it could be a very different story.