Juan Mata | Chelsea
Few players had a better first half of 2013 than Juan Mata. He starred for Chelsea as they won the Europa League and clinched a top four Premier League spot, scoring crucial goals against Everton and Manchester United.
He was the club's player of the season, and has only lost his place following the arrival of Jose Mourinho - a decision few can fathom.
Let's look at it this way - if Eden Hazard deserves his spot in the 23 (and he's included) then Mata certainly does. He was much, much better than Hazard in the final months of last season - more goals and more assists.
And while Hazard has been better since August, his performances haven't been to the standard of Mata from January through May. Because it was a - relatively - long time ago, it's easier to forget just how good Mata was.