Best Player: Honourable mentions go to Chamakh who has settled in well at Arsenal, demonstrated by how little they have missed perma-crock van Persie so far this season (see quote of the season) as well as Tevez at Manchester City. However for several reasons this one goes to Nani. About 18 months ago the idea of the Portuguese winger having such an impact for United was laughable. He has been crucial for United so far this season, chipping in seven goals and another seven assists, without which the team would most certainly not be in third. Also, given the media storm surrounding the Rooney saga, the emergence of Hernandez and the goals of Berbatov, Nani has gone largely unlauded despite being the clubs and indeed possibly the leagues best player.
Best Signing: The tiny Mexican Hernandez comes in with a shout, already having scored six this season. Gyan is a very good signing for Sunderland and will hopefully go on to fulfil his potential in England. Chamakh gets another mention for the same reasons mentioned above. However the stand-out signing of the season so far has to be Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman has delighted since arriving, scoring in every game he has played at White Hart Lane and adding a whole new creative dimension to Spurs play. All this for only £8m as well.
Best Manager: Very difficult to call between Roberto Di Matteo and Chris Hughton. Both managing promoted sides and have gotten West Brom and Newcastle up into 6th and 7th respectively. Both have had their golden moments, West Brom beating Arsenal and claiming points at Spurs and Manchester United while Newcastle have thrashed Aston Villa 6-0 and even more pleasing for their fans trounced rivals Sunderland 5-1 at home. Incredibly hard to call but this one goes to Di Matteo as his side could move up into 4th if they win their game in hand against Blackpool, a fantastic achievement after 10 games.
The Over Performers: Hard to ignore the fantastic starts made by West Brom and Newcastle but Blackpool were expected to be the punching bag of this season. Instead with a quarter of the season gone they have played well and as a team. They have recorded good victories against Wigan and Liverpool. Furthermore they can feel incredibly hard done by to get nothing against Man City. It’s still unlikely that the Tangerines can avoid the drop but great to see every promoted side being competitive. After Derby got 11 points in the 2007/08 season the fear was a gulf could really widen between established and new sides. West Brom, Newcastle and Blackpool are proving this isn’t the case this season.
The Under Performers: Liverpool. This one is a no brainer. Even now, despite new owners and moving up to 12th after beating Bolton the season has so far been tragic for the Reds. Uncle Woy and his signings such as Poulsen and Konchesky have been underwhelming so far. Worse, Torres and Gerrard look utterly spent. After giving every last drop in the 2008/09 season and still coming up short the pair seem more than a little crushed by the drop in the clubs standing.
Champions: Chelsea. The question looks to be how much they will win by.
Best “Yoof” Player: Smalling has looked solid for United, Wilshire continues to develop nicely for Arsenal but the outstanding Yoofer of the season has been Everton’s Seamus Coleman. As with Rodwell and Gosling, Everton seem to just keep producing bright local prospects.
Quote of the season: “RvP to be out for 10 days” – Arsenal club statement after the Dutchman injured himself on August 28th.