In a season that has seen Michael Carrick regularly singled out for praise for doing the same job he’s been criticised for doing for the last six years - it seems only right to take a look at the other unsung heroes of the Premier League.
Tim Howard - Everton
The American is in his sixth season at Goodison Park and has continued his impressive form since leaving Manchester United permanently back in 2007. Now 33, Howard has racked up 212 consecutive league appearances for David Moyes’ side just two short of Neville Southall’s record.
Geoff Cameron - Stoke
Another American in the line-up, Stoke new boy Geoff Cameron has adapted well to the Premier League fitting in to Stoke’s back four that have been impressively tight at the back. Well-built for he physicality of the English game Cameron will be looking to continue his performances into next season.
Winston Reid – West Ham United
New Zealand international Reid moved to the Boleyn Ground following the 2010 World Cup and after a shaky start has established himself as a key part of the Hammers defence. Reid’s partnership with James Collins has been the cornerstone of West Ham’s season so far and may play a big part in keeping Sam Allardyce’s side up this season.
Michael Dawson - Tottenham
Dawson’s days at White Hart Lane looked numbered when Andre Villas-Boas took over in the summer and a bid was accepted to link up with Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers. Dawson opted to stay and has become a key part of the Spurs back line in recent months, even reclaiming the captain’s armband.
Joey O’Brien – West Ham United
Having struggled with injuries throughout his career Joey O’Brien left Bolton in 2010. O‘Brien could have been forgiven for thinking he might struggle to find employment but Sam Allardyce took a chance on him, knowing his ability from their days together at Bolton, in a move that has paid dividends for the Hammers as O’Brien has become a fantasy football hero.
Leon Britton – Swansea
Leon Britton has represented Swansea in every division of the football league and has adapted to the demands of the Premier League more than comfortably. A product of the West Ham youth system, Britton is a technically gifted footballer, diminutive in stature but not afraid of a tackle. Not always a guaranteed starter for the Swans but always a guaranteed performer.
Michael Carrick – Manchester United
The honorary captain of the bunch, Carrick has been much maligned by many United fans since his arrival at Old Trafford for a hefty £18million from Tottenham. The crux of his work goes unnoticed as he collects the ball from deep keeping United ticking over and making crucial defensive interceptions. Often the ‘pass before the pass’ Carrick has in truth not done much if anything differently this season.
Robert Snodgrass – Norwich United
Having joined from Leeds, like much of Norwich’s midfield, Snodgrass has certainly made an impact at Carrow Road with his trickery and cultured left foot, especially from set pieces. Scotland international Snodgrass often operates from wide areas for Chris Hughton’s side and is not afraid of tracking back or putting his body on the line for a tackle.
James Milner – Manchester City
Many baulked at the £28million Manchester City paid Aston Villa for James Milner in 2010 and in truth the price was inflated but Milner has been invaluable since his arrival at the Etihad. Milner is willing to play in any number of positions for the good of the team and always puts in a performance with total commitment. Players with such determination and adaptability are pivotal to the success of big clubs with gruelling fixture lists
Bryan Ruiz - Fulham
The Costa Rican has probably not made the kind of impact that was expected following his £10million move from FC Twente last season but he has steadily developed into a key part of Martin Jol’s side. Technically excellent with an eye for the spectacular, Ruiz often operates behind Dimitar Berbatov supplying the ammunition for the Bulgarian.
Edin Dzeko – Manchester City
Like Milner, Dzeko arrived at Manchester City with a hefty price tag. The Bosnian struggled for his first six months with the club but since then has an excellent goal return of almost a goal a game and leads the clubs scoring charts this term. Despite that he doesn’t get much love from the City faithful who bemoan his lack of mobility and energy. He is an old fashioned kind of forward who is happy to occupy the opposition centre halves and let his goal return do the talking; this season he’s had plenty to shout about.
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