No matter how many goals you score or how excellent your performances, the best player in any given season should be able to translate all that into a tangible effect on the table.
There is no denying, however, that Van Persie has done exactly that. Indeed, without his goals, it’s highly likely that the epoch-ending, imploding season that many Arsenal fans feared might well have taken place. They certainly wouldn’t have been in such a commanding place in the Champions League chase. Van Persie’s goals have directly provided 27 points in the guise of equalisers and match winners. That’s a remarkable 40% of the club’s total. And it’s not just how prolific he’s been, it’s how he’s progressed as a player overall. The Dutchman might well be the third best in the world at the moment.
Honourable mentions: Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.
You can pretty much sum up Cisse’s remarkable injury-time strike at Stamford Bridge with a question: have you ever seen anything like it before? There were simply so many dimensions to it: the importance, the distance, the ambition, the technique and — above all — the aesthetics. Cisse caught a skipping ball superbly to somehow bend it around Petr Cech on the half-volley with an exquisite, emphatic strike.
Honourable mentions: Luis Suarez v Norwich City and Hatem Ben Arfa v Bolton Wanderers
The former Derry winger’s season may have only started at the half-way point as he finally got his first appearances for Sunderland around Christmas. But he hasn’t exactly done things by half since. In fact, no Irish player has so consistently competed at such a level. As it stands, McClean has provided either a goal or assist every three games — that’s an equal return to the likes of Gareth Bale and superior to David Silva, Nani and Juan Mata.
Honourable mentions: Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan
It wasn’t just the amount of goals. It wasn’t just the amount of times that it swung. It was the amount that was at stake. Should Manchester City win the title today, it may well have come down to this helter-skelter, unprecedented type of game at Old Trafford.
Ultimately, successful management comes down to maximising your resources. And has any manager done that as impressively as Pardew? It wasn’t just that his club effectively bought a brilliant new team for less than the price they sold Andy Carroll. It was how quickly and spectacularly he got them to integrate. It says a lot that it will be a disappointment if they don’t reach the Champions League having initially been tipped by many to go down.
Honourable mentions: Roberto Martinez, Paul Lambert, Brendan Rodgers
Bottling it. Choking. Whatever you want to call it, have we ever seen a season in which so many teams have afforded their closest rivals so many second chances. As it stands, going into the last day, all of the top four have endured dramatic collapses. Manchester City were once seven points clear. Manchester United were then eight points clear. Tottenham were once in a title race. Arsenal were then well ahead of them and cruising in third. Given all that, will we see another few surprises on the last day?
It’s not just about how many you score but when you score — key equaliser, late winners. Goals from the following players directly contributed to the most points.
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