2013 has been a fine year in English Premier League football but of 38 teams with more than 25 players registered across two half-seasons which players have improved most?
5) Laurent Koscielny
The 28-year-old Frenchman had earned a reputation as something of a calamity in the Gunners’ fragile and clumsy defence in 2012 but the centre-back has now emerged as Arsenal most reliable and heroic defender this year and cemented his place as first-choice to partner Per Mertesacker ahead of captain Thomas Vermaelen.
His tackling, decision-making, composure, set-piece confidence and goal scoring have all improved immensely and let’s not forget his goal at St James’ Park earned the valuable three points that saw Arsenal steal fourth place from Tottenham on the last day of the season in May.
4) Romelu Lukaku
The 20-year-old Chelsea forward has spent the entire year out on loan – last term he scored a sensational 17 league goals for West Brom before heading out to Everton where so far this season he’s netted 8 goals – his finishing, his hold-up play, his physicality and his decision-making have improved so much this year it’s almost scary to think about what a massive player he will be at his full maturity in a few years time.
3) Phil Jones
Another youngster with bags of potential is Manchester United’s machine that is Phil Jones. At just 21 years of age the Englishman is a strong presence in the champions’ backline when called in to defence and his performances in midfield have been superb, especially when tasked with quieting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil this year. He is, in my estimation, set to become one of England’s greatest ever centre-backs.
2) Daniel Sturridge
Another young striker, this 24-year-old former Manchester City graduate moved in January from Chelsea to Liverpool where, under Brendan Rodgers, he has matured and developed into one-half of the most dangerous forward pairing in the Premier League and, on his own, one of the most gifted and influential players in the side at Anfield.
He scored 10 league goals last term and so far 9 for Liverpool this term no doubt booking his ticket to Brazil for the World Cup with England next summer.
1) Aaron Ramsey
However, of all the improvement made this year, no one has come on leaps and bounds in the fashion that Aaron Ramsey has. I don’t know what he’s been smoking over there at the Emirates but its certainly taken effect.
Ramsey has emerged this year as a complete midfielder with the capability to protect the defence, his tackling his pressing and hassling of the opponent as well as clearances and last-ditch blocks at the back, his passing has improved tremendously and, without a doubt, his 8 goals in the league so far this term will tell you all you need to know about his finishing.
image: © wonker