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The top ten players of the Premier League season so far

We’re a quarter of the way through the season already…

Image: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

10. Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Those delightful metaphor mixers on Sky enjoyed pointing out how the little Belgian started the season like a house on fire, and he did. Hazard has 182 points in the EA Sports Player Performance Index, placing him in second spot behind one of his club colleagues (no prizes being offered – he appears later in this list). It was a coin toss between Hazard and Oscar for tenth place here, but the fleet-footed 21-year-old gets it for managing to live up to the hype after a poor pre-season.

9. Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)

Sunderland may be fighting it out with Aston Villa for the title of ‘dullest team of the season,’ and they’re winning that ignominious battle, but the 25-year-old Scottish striker has been a revelation. He is, remarkably, the only Sunderland player to score a goal in the Premier League, their only other strike arriving off the face of Demba Ba. Fletcher has five to his name and is single handedly responsible for their nine points so far.

8. Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

Nine games, seven goals, three assists. He’d be higher on the list were it not for the fact that he is working in relative harmony, and has gelled perfectly, with team-mates ideally suited to his needs. Whether playing with Shinji Kagawa and Rooney in Alex Ferguson’s newfangled diamond, or feeding off the best efforts of Messrs Cleverley and Valencia, RvP has not missed a beat in making the move up north.

7. James Morrison (West Brom)

Results may have tailed off slightly for the Baggies in recent weeks, but wins in the opening weeks over Liverpool and Everton ensured that Steve Clarke would enjoy a fine start to managerial life proper. Central to his side’s success has been Scottish midfielder Morrison, ever present and the key link between an unexpectedly mean defence and an attack that Liverpool would probably kill for. Never showy but with a killer shot, fans of the side were happy to see him sign a new long-term deal in September.

6. Kevin Nolan (West Ham)

Another darling of the Fantasy Football illuminati, Nolan is a treasure for West Ham supporters. Possibly the only serious error Alan Pardew has made as Newcastle boss was letting him go. A great goalscoring midfielder, unfortunate to have played throughout the era of the far less likable Gerrard and Lampard, Nolan has been West Ham’s key performer in a fine start to the season. The 30-year-old has four goals and three assists in his side’s nine games so far. No wonder Sam Allardyce has labelled him his best ever signing.

5. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)

Arsenal have the league’s tightest defence, and central to that has been the improved performances of the giant German in the middle. Mertesacker was something of a punchline last season and even found himself behind Johan Djourou in Arsene Wenger’s plans. Not so this term, where he has kept Laurent Koscielny out for spells and (quite literally) dwarfed the achievements of the more cultured, but less granite, Thomas Vermaelen. The Gunners have only conceded six in the Premier League.

4. Demba Ba (Newcastle)

Seven goals in this opening spell have seen Ba mirror his achievements of last season. Pardew will be thanking his stars that Senegal will not be participating in the African Cup of Nations next year, as Ba was a shadow of his best during the second half of last season. Shows only intermittent signs of being able to play alongside Papiss Cissé but that is of little concern to Toon fans, as long as he continues to be as ruthless as he has since August.

3. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)

Doing for Arsenal what his close friend Xabi Alonso did for Liverpool for so many years, the Gunners have quickly come to rely as much on Arteta as they did on his predecessor Cesc Fabregas. While the Barcelona player was always the more dynamic and attack minded out of the two, Arteta has proved a picture of metronomic brilliance for the Gunners for the majority of this campaign. He has looked tired in recent games, however, though the return of Jack Wilshere should re-energise the Spaniard.

2. Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

The majority of commenters felt that the Belgian was far from at his best against Liverpool on Sunday, but he was still Everton’s most potent attacking threat along with Kevin Mirallas in the first half, as the Toffees cancelled out their rivals’ two-goal lead. Before his injury, Fellaini was imperious, with his performance in the win over Manchester United one of the best all-round displays from a Premier League midfielder in recent years. Three goals and two assists so far, with a lot more (and a possible January move to United?) to come.

1. Juan Mata (Chelsea)

Sensational. The Spaniard was good last year, but frequently lost out to David Silva in the ‘everyone’s favourite tinchy Spaniard’ stakes. Not so this year. Silva has been muted but Mata has been at the centre of everything great about this new-look Chelsea side. While his club can hardly claim any PR awards and their conduct off the pitch in recent weeks has been largely deplorable, Mata has been exceptional. As well as scoring seven (left footed) goals in his last seven games, he also has seven assists to his name so far.

Ten honourable mentions: Jermain Defoe, Simon Mignolet, Vito Mannone, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling, Tom Cleverley, Carlos Tevez, Shane Long, Michu, Dimitar Berbatov.

Jamie Roberts closes in on return with Wales >

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