Football

Premier League: Top five most improved players of 2012/13

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Rafael has had a great season for Manchester United (©GettyImages)
Rafael has had a great season for Manchester United (©GettyImages).

Quality is assurance of good performances, but if quality doesn’t come with consistency, players can easily fall off the radar.

While Premier League boasts so many great players, they usually struggle in the early stages of their career. This is why footballers learn and improve, not particularly on their skill, but mentally as they pave their way for more consistent performances. 

This is a group of players who have improved by means of consistent performances this season.

5. Ashley Williams – Swansea

Now in his late twenties, Ashley Williams was unheard of two years ago when Swansea City were in the Championship. He and the Swans have since strolled up the English football ladder, and as their general, Williams has been the steel force this season. 

Having already registered a decent first season in the Premier League, the second usually comes with the better chances of relegation, but Williams and Swansea have only gone better, winning the League Cup in the process.

The Welsh captain has come from the depths of English football, and is now one of the most trusted defenders in Great Britain. His consistent performances this season has seen him take plaudits all round, and he is now the prospect of a big summer transfer.

4. Rafael – Manchester United

When Rafael and his twin brother joined the Premier League, they came with an excitement fuelled with quality and confusion (you could barely tell the difference). 

Since Fabio joined QPR on loan, there’s only been room for one Da Silva at Manchester United, and Rafael has come in leaps and bounds. While there is no doubting his attacking qualities down the right flank, Rafael has turned into a consistent defender (in my opinion, he is better than Patrice Evra now). 

He scored some fabulous goals against QPR and Liverpool, and has made crucial interceptions this season. In the past, there were always worries as a Manchester United fan when a left-winger was one-on-one with the diminutive Brazilian – fearing the worst. 

But he has developed incredibly over the past year, and even held off Cristiano Ronaldo for much of the two legs in the Champions League clash.

3. Juan Mata – Chelsea

In his second year in the Premier League, Juan Mata’s first season was as good as they come; similar to Eden Hazard’s. The quiet and reserved figure has gone from glimpses to consistency, and without doubt, he is the best attacking midfielder in England. 

He has cumbersome ability to pick out the perfect pass; just in between the defence and the goalkeeper. That eye of needle stuff comes with his Spanish roots, and in a season where Chelsea have struggled for consistency, Juan Mata has been forever present as their best player. 

He assists more goals than he scores, and his average of goals or assists per game is almost ideal. All he’s done this season is put his fantastic quality into consistent performances.

2. Leighton Baines – Everton

His haircut is that of an olden generation, similar to the Everton’s past glory days. However, his archaic style comes with the determination to lead the Merseyside club back to the top, and Leighton Baines’ improvement has been partly the reason why Everton are just off the Champion’s League. 

For a couple of years, Baines has been forced to wait for injuries on Ashley Cole to break into England’s starting line-up at left-back, but the Toffees’ man has shrugged off patience, and is definitely in the fold as the number one choice. He has served Everton with great stability; going forward and defending, creating an all-round ability.

He’s improved his game virtually in all areas, even his heading abilities and goal-line clearances. The archaic styled left-back is probably the best in England, and is another player who has become a summer transfer prospect for a big signing.

1. Gareth Bale – Tottenham

Thinking about this player makes you believe that there is no room for improvement. The new PFA Player of the Year (for the second time) has made Tottenham almost over reliant on him, when a few years ago he could put the team in a train wreck. 

From winning the award in 2011, consistency lacked throughout his game and he didn’t have that match-winning impetus. However, this season, a new “Gareth Bale” has risen; scoring brilliant goals, doing impossible assists, running defenders mad, tracking back and making crucial interceptions. What more do you need from a player? 

Bale is both a brilliant attacker and defender, a working-class that isn’t imaginable in the best footballers today. A worthy winner of the PFA award, irrelative of whatever Suarez’ exclusion may be.   

 

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Football
Premier League
Rafael Da Silva
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