Each season, there are always a number of surprise packages. Take Swansea, for example. In their inaugural Premier League campaign, they took the division by storm, playing an attractive style of football along the way, winning plaudits from far and wide.
Michael Laudrup's side have followed that up this year by claiming the Capital One Cup after confidently despatching League Two outfit Bradford City in the final, winning 5-0.
However, this article looks at the individuals who have flourished and surpassed all expectations, contributing to their team's success along the way. But do you agree with my selection? Leave a comment and put forward your candidates for the Premier League's top five surprise performers.
5. Stewart Downing | Liverpool
Although Downing has perhaps not had the success of his spells with Middlesbrough or Aston Villa, he has transformed himself from the laughing stock of the Premier League into a more than competent winger, even chipping in with a few goals along the way.
He might not have set the world alight but has surprised many with his confident displays. He may never live up to his hefty £20m price-tag but has at least won over some fans with his energetic displays this season.
4. Matija Nastasic | Manchester City
The young Serbian was a low-key deadline day signing along with Maicon, Javi Garcia and Scott Sinclair. After making an uninspiring debut away to Real Madrid, it appeared the youngster was going to have to wait patiently for his chance to arrive. However, it came after Joleon Lescott’s shaky start to the season and the Serbian hasn’t looked back since, emerging as Vincent Kompany’s preferred partner. All this doesn’t seem quite so surprising until you realise he only turned 20 on the 28 March.
3. Ben Davies | Swansea
After Neil Taylor’s horrific leg-break, you'd have forgiven Swansea fans for fearing the worst as the Welsh international left a rather large hole in the Swans' back line. However, the club's supporters need-not have worried.
Up-stepped 19-year-old Ben Davies who has gone on and made the spot his own, marauding up and down the left-flank and fitting in perfectly with Swansea’s attractive style of football. The local hero has picked up just three yellow cards all season and has earned the praise of many pundits, even chipping in with his first senior goal against Stoke. He probably would have made a handful of appearances had Taylor not been injured.
2. Brad Guzan | Aston Villa
After a measly 10 Premier League appearances last season, the American international was probably expecting another campaign of frustration on the Villa bench, hence why he left the club at the tail end of last season. However, after re-signing for the club in July 2012 and following Shay Given’s dodgy start to the season, Guzan was drafted in and has made the goalkeeper spot his own.
A shining light in an otherwise grim season for Aston Villa, Guzan has kept Paul Lambert's side from getting cut adrift at the foot of the table thanks to some first-class displays. Perhaps his best came against QPR, where he single-handedly kept Villa in the game, denying Chris Samba with two outstanding saves.
1. Michu | Swansea
Admit it, you hadn’t heard of him either. Premier League managers must be scratching their heads as to how this bargain slipped under their radar.
Costing a paltry £2m, the Spaniard has chipped in with a superb 20 goals so far, including goals in the Capital One Cup semi-final and final. The giant striker will go down as one of the best bargains in Premier League history, and despite his form he is yet to receive international recognition - a call-up from Spain hasn't been forthcoming, despite 35 goals in his last two seasons.
For me and many others, Michu is definitely the surprise star of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
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