With the final stages of the league upon us, we take a look at the best performing midfielders in the Premier League for the 2012/2013 season.
26 appearances |16 goals |6 assists Widely considered as the world’s third best player, Gareth Bale has led Tottenham towards the brink of Champions League qualification, with a career best return of 16 league goals. A contender for the PFA Player of the Year award, Bale has been played in a more advanced role under Andre Villas-Boas this season and has at times led the line for Spurs in the absence of regular strikers Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor. Bale has attempted 130 dribbles (only QPR’s Adel Taarabt can better that record) and with the Wales international firing in a league record 235 crosses, Bale’s best position would seem to be out in a wider left position.
28 appearances |15 goals |3 assists Arguably the signing of the season, Swansea City’s Michu has been a revelation since joining from Rayo Vallecano over the summer. Michu’s physicality and predatory instincts inside the box have seen the Spanish midfielder play more as a striker for Michael Laudrup, but an attacking midfield ‘False 9’ position is arguably a better role for Michu. The League Cup winner’s 61 attempts from inside the box cannot be bettered by any other midfielder, whilst a tally of five headed goals, illustrates the midfielder’s movement and anticipation inside the penalty area.
29 appearances |12 goals |8 assists Santi Cazorla has been heavily involved in much of Arsenal’s play this term and the attacking midfielder has made a huge impact on British football since arriving from Malaga in the summer. The Spain international has made more touches in the final third (1225) than any other midfielder and Cazorla’s availability and orchestration in the opposition half has been one of few positives for Arsene Wenger. Cazorla’s technical ability on the ball is arguably unrivalled with the Spanish midfielder frequently demonstrating his range of passes on the Premier League stage.
27 appearances |10 goals |13 assists Despite the high profile arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar, it is Spanish midfielder Juan Mata that has once again shined for the Blues. Ten goals and ten assists represents another significant return for Mata, who has found his time on the pitch split between the attacking right and his more preferred attacking centre position under Rafa Benitez this season. Last year Mata secured Chelsea’s Player of the Year Award in his debut season and the former Valencia midfielder looks set to again retain his club’s personal award in 2013.
24 appearances |11 goals |7 assists David Moyes’ decision to move Marouane Fellaini higher up the pitch following Tim Cahill’s departure to the MLS proved a masterstroke, after the midfielder bagged 11 goals for Everton this season. Fellaini’s physicality and presence has unsettled many of the top clubs and the midfielder’s threat from the air has been generally unrivalled. The Belgium international has won 121 aerial duels including 17 headed attempts from set plays and rumours of a move away from Goodison Park continue to increase.
30 appearances |9 goals |12 assists Liverpool’s captain has been ever present for the Reds this season and the England international has been one player to have clearly benefited from Brendan Rodgers possession based brand of football. Gerrard has been more heavily involved in Liverpool’s play after being deployed in a deeper lying midfield role, making 2684 touches on the ball and Gerrard’s vision and long range passing has been perfectly exploited inside the anchor of Liverpool’s midfield. Liverpool will hoping to secure European qualification this season and Gerrard will be key if the Reds are to make a late charge.
25 appearances |11 goals |12 assists Walcott’s persuasion to be played up front was finally heard by Arsene Wenger and the pacey forward has stepped up to the mark by scoring 11 goals for Arsenal this year. Oliver Giroud’s hit and miss form has enabled Walcott to secure more game time in attack for the Gunners, but Wenger’s deeply held preference is still for the midfielder to be played in an advance position high on the right. Walcott’s ability on the break and rapidness in attack will be crucial if Arsenal are to maintain their goal of securing Champions League football again this term.
27 appearances |8 goals |13 assists Chelsea’s big-money summer signing from Lille has performed admirably in his first season in English football and the Belgium international’s reputation in Europe continues to grow. Hazard’s agility on the ball and passing ability has been a key part of the 22-year old’s link-up play with Oscar and the diminutive midfielder’s movement and interchangeability within the front three remains encouraging. Hazard’s propensity to drift inside and lay the ball off may make the Belgium midfielder more suited to a central position, but the highly rated midfielder looks set to be a key player for Chelsea for years to come.
26 appearances |3 goals |11 assists Despite a fall from last year’s performances, Manchester City’s David Silva has still provided the reigning English champions with a number of chances. Silva’s slightly deeper positioning out wide has led to a drop in involvement in the final third, but the former Valencia player has still created 85 chances for his teammates. The Spanish midfielder has endured a long season for both club and country, but Silva’s passing ability and delivery from dead ball situations still carry a very real threat.
21 appearances |12 goals Lampard’s late flurry of goals could prove crucial during Chelsea’s end of season run-in and the midfielder’s resurgent run could benefit Chelsea in their quest for FA Cup and Europa League glory. The England international’s impact on the pitch is still considerable, but calls for Roman Abramovich to offer Lampard a new contract appears to be still be overlooked. Lampard now needs to be carefully managed by Rafa Benitez, but the Stamford Bridge favourite remains more than capable of performing in the Premier League at the highest level.
Jonathan Day is a leading football analyst who specialises in Premier League football. Jonathan currently writes for Sportingly Better, a leading UK football betting blog that provides free football tips and betting predictions. Follow Sportingly Better on Twitter for all the latest betting tips.