This edition features three players who made the Top 10 of Premier League scorers and who are all headed for the World Cup. The other two fought to keep their clubs above water… and only one was successful.
Romelu Lukaku (BEL) – David Who? Roberto Martinez’ reputation as the manager who won a trophy but lost a relegation battle is done. Gone in a season. The Spaniard’s brand of attacking football ensured that it wasn’t just the red side of Stanley Park that earned the city’s new nickname of “Liver-lona”. The goals and the passing were a welcome change from Moyes’ cautious approach… and it was made possible with many of Moyes’ men. But a trio of loan signings pushed the Toffees into overdrive: Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona, Gareth Barry from Manchester City… and Chelsea’s odd-man out, Romelu Lukaku. Heads shook when José Mourinho let the big Belgian go out on loan again… and then poo-poo’ed his performance. But surely Chelsea could have used him. Lukaku scored 16 goals in 32 games, a rate of 50%. Chelsea’s highest scorer — Eden Hazard — managed 17 in 55 matches. Martinez will need to bring back Lukaku back to Goodison Park on a permanent basis… or he could go back to being known as the young manager from Wigan.
Steve Sidwell (ENG) – Let’s just come right out with it: Fulham were awful. The Cottagers woefully capitulated, six seasons after Woy’s Great Escape in 2008. From 2009 to 2013, they finished no lower than 12th. This was the little club that could. But going through three managers in a season — the last being known as a touchline tyrant — and you have to think morale and attitude is going to suffer a wee bit. However, Steve Sidwell held his head up and led the team in scoring, as well as fouls committed. He gave his all in a losing effort, unlike £11m Kostas Mitroglou, who only played a single game.
Ahmed Elmohamady (EGY) – A Steve Bruce-managed team tends not to be a forward’s paradise. Hull City did not break that mould… with no player scoring more than five goals. But even though Ahmed Elmohamady only put two past England’s goalkeepers, Bruce remembered what ‘Elmo’ does from his time at Sunderland. The Egyptian runs and cuts up the right side, stretching defenders’ lines while his team mates get into position. Let’s see what he can do on Sunday at Wembley.
Luis Suarez (URU) – In Liverpool’s annus mirabilis, one man leads the way. Love him or hate him (and there are many people in either camp), Luis Suarez is one of the top five players in the world right now. What other player — who isn’t named Ronaldo or Messi — could miss the first six matches of the season, and then go on to tie the Premier League’s record for goals in a 38-game season? If Steven Gerrard is the heart of the club, and Brendan Rodgers is its brains… then Suarez is the Liverpool FC’s cojones.
Yaya Touré (IVO) – On a side containing some of the most expensive players in the world, how does one pick the best? Actually, it wasn’t that hard. This team was supposed to dominate in the post-Ferguson era of the Premier League — and it did in spots — but many personnel underperformed at times (losses to Villa and Cardiff, only one point off of Sunderland, failure to beat Chelsea). Luckily for new manager Manuel Pellegrini, he had Yaya Touré. The big Ivorian was the man in the middle, City’s version of Steven Gerrard who pulled his team up by the suspenders when it faltered. Touré led his club in Premier League goals and is the first midfielder to score 20 since Frank Lampard. He’s fun to watch… unless City are playing your team.
Up Next: Manchester United to Stoke City