Starting with the league leaders Manchester United, it’s hard to see where and how they could have performed any better this term domestically. However, they definitely could have conceded fewer goals if they’ve had captain Nemanja Vidic fit all season.
Synonymously, Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Shinji Kagawa to be the creative nucleus capable of replacing Paul Scholes in central midfield in the long-term. However both players have spent long spells on the sidelines through injury.
To compound Ferguson's woes in midfield, Darren Fletcher has had a torrid time with his health and is sorely missed in both his physical presence in the middle of the park for the Red Devils, as well as his composure, commitment and determination. He's scored crucial goals at vital times in the past and had the ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck.
With those three midfielders available this year, United might have fared better in continental and domestic cup runs at the very least.
On the other hand City missed Sergio Aguero – whilst he wasn’t injured for months on end, it’s quite clear from his sub-par and inconstant performances this term that, one way or another, his injuries and niggles have affected City’s title race this season.
He was their best performer last year and they won the title. Without him, either in body or in match-fit spirit, the City Blues have struggled.
Likewise, Micah Richards injury early on this season presented manager Roberto Mancini with something of a defensive dilemma which was on-going this season and he had to 'make do' on numerous occasions with his backline and formation.
Whilst Richards isn't a player I would immediately associate with their title win last year, he is an exceptional defender and a strong presence when he plays. They could have really used someone to alternate with Pablo Zabaleta who has easily been City's best performer this term but could have used a rest now and again.
Chelsea have had one significant void in their team for the majority of this season – captain John Terry. Whilst his morals might be objectionable or at the very least questionable, on the football pitch he is a ‘leader’ and a ‘legend’ for the Blues.
It’s not just the protection he brings to the backline but also the command and commitment he brings, giving the team security and confidence, which, at times, they have lacked this term. Between his injuries and suspensions, Terry’s played a bit-part in Chelsea’s season and it’s ultimately been detrimental to their objectives.
Tottenham currently have their best player by a mile injured. Gareth Bale has been sensational this season, a worthy candidate for Player of the Year.
However, he doesn’t make my shortlist just yet as he’s been fit for most of the year. Come May he it may well be the case that his untimely injury affects Spurs top four chase significantly but, at the moment, it remains to be seen.
One player that Tottenham have undoubtedly missed, however, is Sandro. He started off looking like the North Londoners’ best player but picked up a knee injury early on in their campaign and was ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery.
The race for Champions League qualification may well have been wrapped up already had Sandro remained fit throughout but, as it stands, Tottenham are having to make do, as they have since January, without their most dominant midfield talent.
The other side of North London there are, as if so often the case these days, a lack of options due to injuries to the perpetually rehabilitating Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky and, once again, young Jack Wilshere.
Whilst the Frenchman has endured a horrendous time with injuries and, frankly, hasn’t made a huge contribution to the Gunners subsequently in many years, the Czech Republic maestro demonstrated exactly what Arsenal have been missing for most of this term.
Rosicky’s class and quality, along with his hunger and commitment have been sorely lacking in Arsene Wenger’s team this term in what ultimately will go down in history as another disappointing year for them.
Jack Wilshere when he has been fit has been simply superb and his performances this season have demonstrated why he is regarded as England’s most promising talents. He spent 17 months out injured before retuning to Wenger’s first team early this year but suffered a setback with his ankle injury.
He’s expected to return imminently but it’s yet another case of ‘what might have been’ if he’d have been in fitness and form for the full course of this campaign.
Another ‘forgotten man’ this term has been Liverpool’s Fabio Borini who, like Kagawa at United, was brought in last summer with an important role to play for the Reds.
Unfortunately the Italian forward has suffered a shoulder injury and looked set to miss the remainder of the campaign but he may yet prove those estimates wrong before May.
Liverpool have relied heavily on the goals and form of Luis Suarez but they could have certainly used another alternative up front, never mind a bit more support for the Uruguayan.
They brought in Daniel Sturridge in January which helped to ease the burden on Suarez but I can’t help but wonder where they would be now if they’d have enjoyed the fitness and form of all three.
image: © simonw92