25 Best Premier League Players of 2013

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2013

25 Best Premier League Players of 2013

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    2013 is fast coming to a close, with all the calendar year's Premier League games now taken care of.

    With that in mind, here's a complete run-down on the best players to have featured in England's top-flight during the past 12 months, ranked in the top 25.

    There are a few notable omissions of individuals who have enjoyed stellar periods of the year, so be sure to check the considerations page for why they might be missing—then read on and find out who was the best of the year!

Considerations

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    The first important consideration is that this list refers to Premier League games only, and 2013 form only.

    As such, those who excelled in the early part of last season in particular before fading away somewhat—like Santi Cazorla, for example—would be ruled out of a top-25 place.

    In addition, since this is to take into account the entirety of the calendar year, players who have featured in less than 65 per cent of league games during the year—that's 25 league appearances during 2013—are not considered.

    This naturally rules out summer arrivals from other countries, such as Mesut Ozil, Mamadou Sakho or Fernandinho. Players who moved between Premier League teams—like Romelu Lukaku or Marouane Fellaini—would have their performances from both clubs assessed.

    It also means players who left England this summer are omitted—including the now-Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale.

25. James McCarthy

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    Having shined for Wigan Athletic last season (and winning the FA Cup, though disregarded here as a metric) despite his team being relegated, McCarthy followed his manager Roberto Martinez to Everton this summer.

    He has since become an essential part of their midfield, which has shot into the top four, with his all-round skill set and energetic performances contributing significantly to the well-balanced centre of the park.

24. Jordan Henderson

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    Liverpool's Jordan Henderson has fought his way back from being a bit-part player and possible makeweight in a part-exchange transfer deal to being one of the most in-form and important players in the Reds' resurgent team.

    Versatile, technically improving and tactically intelligent, Henderson combines non-stop athleticism with an increasing ability to dictate a game. He has enjoyed a superb year and looks set to remain an important part of the team next year.

23. Tim Krul

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    Newcastle United keeper Tim Krul has been an important part of the Magpies' rejuvenation this season, but he was also in top form at the back end of last year as they struggled rather more in the league.

    His excellent reflexes and shot-stopping ability provide an almost impenetrable last line of defence for his team, which has seen its back four chopped and changed with injuries almost incessantly.

22. Morgan Schneiderlin

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    Southampton's ascent to being a top-half team is due to a great strategy, sustainable improvement and a track record of home-grown players—but individuals such as Morgan Schneiderlin certainly contribute an awful lot to the on-pitch efforts.

    His positioning and reading of the game is top-notch, but he also has the technique and power to offer Saints plenty at both ends of the pitch. One of their stand-out players since their return to the Premier League.

21. Brad Guzan

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    Aston Villa had a big struggle to sustain their Premier League status last season, with the goals of Christian Benteke proving vital to survival. Of even more importance, though, were the actions and performances at the other end of the pitch from goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

    The American, released on a free transfer initially by the club, won his place early on in the campaign and went on to show the agility and consistency necessary to play a starring role behind a porous and inexperienced defence—form he has continued to show into this season.

20. Yohan Cabaye

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    Newcastle's main man in the middle is Yohan Cabaye, regardless of whether he plays a withdrawn central midfield role or is deployed further forward behind the striker.

    His excellent range of passing, coupled with great creativity and consistency, has been a font of chances for Newcastle's attackers over the course of the year, while he's also scored the odd stonker into the top corner himself.

19. Adam Lallana

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    Along with Schneiderlin, Southampton have Adam Lallana to thank for many of their best performances. Technically, he's arguably the best player the Saints have, while his excellent work-rate and appreciation of space mean he's rarely confined to one position or area of the pitch.

    His dribbling is up there with the best in the league in tight spaces, and he has been one of the finest English players in the Premier League over the last 12 months.

18. Loic Remy

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    Loic Remy is one of the few who have excelled for two different teams over the course of the calendar year, having been at QPR last term and Newcastle (on loan) this season.

    Despite being unable to help his team survive the drop, Remy scored six times between January and May and has followed that up with 10 more already this season in the league. There will be plenty of competition for his signature next summer if Newcastle do not make the move permanent.

17. Jan Vertonghen

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    Spurs' Belgian defender Vertonghen was perhaps their second-best player of last season, enjoying a stunning debut campaign in England.

    While excellent and reliable defensively, he also showed his playmaking abilities with his forays forward, into and beyond midfield—while from left-back, he was capable of delivering quality chances for his team-mates in the final third.

    Injury has halted his progression most recently, but he's been an excellent signing for Spurs.

16. Jonny Evans

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    Another centre-back now, albeit one far more defensive-first than Vertonghen. Jonny Evans perhaps doesn't yet get the credit due him at Manchester United, but a series of impressive performances has meant he often keeps his place when Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic recover from their latest knocks, knitting together the back line and protecting his keeper.

    Strong in the air and composed more often than not on the ball, Evans has progressed into a reliable all-round defender and has had an excellent year.

15. Oscar

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    Back to the attack and Chelsea's Brazilian Oscar, who has wowed the crowd with not only his creativity and technique, but also his capacity to work for the team and win his share of duels.

    He's enjoyed a great first year and will only improve from here—and as a regular starter for the Brazilian national team already, it's fair to say his ceiling is likely higher than most.

14. Michael Carrick

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    Michael Carrick is one of the most reliable and consistent midfielders in the top flight, so it's no surprise that his team, Manchester United, suffers without him on occasion.

    Dictating the tempo of his team's play, protecting the back line and even contributing plenty to the attack are all big strengths of Carrick's, around whom many feel the England national team should be based.

13. Yaya Toure

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    Manchester City's monster midfielder Yaya Toure has enjoyed an incredible start to the new season but was also one of their consistently impressive performers last term, even when others were not quite at their usual level.

    Physically, he's nearly unstoppable one-on-one in midfield. Toure can run the game on and off the ball with his movement and one-touch passing, as well as that ability to storm through opponents with the ball at his feet.

12. Romelu Lukaku

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    Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a terrific 2013, though not in the colours of his actual parent club.

    Last season saw him excel for West Brom on loan, while this year he has been the focal point of Everton's attack on another temporary deal. Powerful, pacey, blessed with a powerful shot and strong in the air, Lukaku has all the tools to become one of the leading forwards in the game over the coming seasons.

11. Leighton Baines

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    Staying with Everton, left-back Leighton Baines was one of the most in-form and dangerous attacking players for a spell last season, despite having a starting position in defence.

    His accurate deliveries from open play and set pieces are right up there with the best the league has to offer, and he is afforded such licence to get forward that he's often the main outlet and starting point for Everton's attacks.

10. Eden Hazard

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    If Belgian forward Eden Hazard could find the consistency to display his outrageous talent game in, game out, he would likely be the top player in the league.

    As it is, he's been something close to exceptional anyway—but there's still a feeling that he has more to offer. Great dribbling skills, close control and a fierce shot from range, Hazard is a match-winner who proved exactly that during 2013.

    Don't bet against him showing even more of the same next year.

9. Daniel Sturridge

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    Having left Chelsea in January, Daniel Sturridge began 2012 in fine form by hitting the goal trail for Liverpool, something he has continued to do throughout the year either side of a spate of niggling injuries.

    He has hit 19 league goals in just 26 games, showcasing his immense ability in front of goal. He has also, however, been able to fully demonstrate the range of his qualities outside the penalty area in dropping deep to link play, beating defenders one-on-one and being a creative outlet for the team.

    Steer clear of injuries, and he'll be vital for club and country in 2014.

8. Seamus Coleman

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    Remaining on Merseyside, Seamus Coleman has even eclipsed the performances of his fellow Everton full-back Baines over the past year.

    Last season, he might have been overshadowed at times by the media following Baines' achievements, but down the right flank Coleman was every bit as effective in aiding the buildup play and was perhaps more solid defensively.

    So far in the new campaign, he ticks every box for a complete attacking full-back and has added plenty of goals.

7. Sergio Aguero

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    Sergio Aguero was one of several Manchester City players who didn't quite hit the heights during 2012-13 as a whole, but he still contributed plenty to the team finishing second in the Premier League with some top-class attacking performances last season.

    It has been since the start of the new campaign, however, that he has returned to his very best, at least until injury curtailed his run. At his most recent level there are few forwards in world football who can compare to Aguero. His 18 goals in 28 games are largely down to the exceptional form shown over this half-season.

6. Wayne Rooney

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    Another Manchester United name now and it's forward Wayne Rooney, who recovered from a difficult start last season to play a big role through the middle and final thirds of the campaign—before falling out of favour once more near the end.

    Following on from speculation through the summer over whether he'd even get a game, he's gone on to be United's best player this season so far, and it's not even particularly close.

    Technique, vision, shooting ability and power; Rooney has every asset needed in the modern forward. With him in the side, United can still hope to achieve their goals for the season.

5. Per Mertesacker

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    Arsenal's rise to near the top of the table might be in part due to their attacking prowess, but the sheer solidity and consistency of their defence should not be overlooked.

    The biggest part of that is German international Per Mertesacker, who after a hit-and-miss start to life in England is seen as one of the top centre-backs around now.

    Dominant in the air and an exceptional reader of the game, he's a massive pillar for the team to rely on and will be a vital part of their championship challenge.

4. Robin van Persie

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    Had he started this season the way he played out last year, Robin van Persie would be a contender for the No. 1 spot. But injuries and inconsistencies in the team have denied him that chance. Even so, his seven league goals this term so far give him 19 for the calendar year in total, an excellent haul.

    The Dutchman brings a touch of class and grace to go with an unerring shot and the appreciation of space that only the best forwards can enjoy.

3. Pablo Zabaleta

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    The Premier League's best defender of 2013 has been Pablo Zabaleta.

    The Manchester City right-back is incredibly resilient, consistent and impressive, assisting in attack as much as he protects his defence and never shirking responsibility at either end.

    Zabaleta's non-stop engine, ability to make runs all the way to the byline with or without the ball, and, most of all, his composure and decision-making when it comes to the final pass all make him a vital part of City's regular XI.

2. Aaron Ramsey

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    Where Zabaleta takes the defender's award, Aaron Ramsey earns that of the midfield.

    Arsenal's Welsh maestro has enjoyed not just a great start to this season, something which should be lauded and rightly acknowledged, but also a terrific year-long spell of form.

    It took him a while to forge a regular starting spot in the centre after a period playing on the flanks, but since February or so, he's been Arsene Wenger's go-to man for the middle and has hardly put a foot wrong since. Goals are a great bonus, but ball retention, combative aggression off the ball and tactical reading of the game are all at the top of Ramsey's locker.

1. Luis Suarez

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    Top of the charts and the Premier League's player of 2013 is without a doubt Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

    The Uruguayan forward has been nigh on unstoppable—self-induced suspensions aside.

    In his 28 league games during the calendar year, Suarez has hit 29 goals, a phenomenally consistent return and one rarely seen in recent Premier League seasons. That includes 19 in just 14 games this season, when he has really hit new heights with his work in front of goal and all-round consistency.

    Last term he was still one of the top players in the league and without disciplinary issues could well have scooped a whole host of individual honours—but with three league hat-tricks, including a four-goal haul this month and a new contract to boot, there is no argument that 2013 belonged to Suarez regardless.