Premier League Player Power Rankings: Hazard & Cabaye Rise, Yaya Debuts
Your favourite player may be injured or perhaps a brief slump in form has seen him fall from this instalment of our Premier League Player Power Rankings.
In any event, we don’t hate him. And just as a reminder, players on this list must not be on extended injury absences and will have put together a series of standout performances in Premier League matches played in 2014.
FA Cup and Capital One Cup matches are not taken into consideration.
So, with that over with, following are this week’s Power Rankings.
Daniel Sturridge will quickly find himself in the top 10 if he maintains his current run of form, while Samuel Eto’o gets a shout-out for his Sunday hat-trick against Manchester United.
The Cameroon international’s Chelsea teammates John Terry deserves a mention as well, as do Manchester City players Alvaro Negredo and Fernandinho.
Sergio Aguero will surely rise to near the top of this list in coming weeks, but for now he’s in this space as he’s only just returned from injury.
Wayne Rooney and Aaron Ramsey are dropped from our Power Rankings due to injury, with Jack Wilshere, Robin van Persie and Ross Barkley also among the injured absentees.
10. Willian, Chelsea
Last Week: N/A
It took him a few months to adjust to English football following his move from Shakhar Donetsk, but these days Willian is indispensable to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
The 25-year-old scored on New Year’s Day against Southampton and picked up an assist in the Blues’ 2-0 win away to Hull on January 11.
But what has really set him apart of late is his work on the defensive side of the ball, which has been nothing short of exceptional.
9: Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal
Last Week: N/A
The only goalkeeper on this list, Wojciech Szczesny’s importance to Arsenal has only risen with the injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, as well as Mikel Arteta’s recent suspension.
Despite the Gunners' excellent defensive record so far this term, they have actually conceded more shots than the likes of Everton, Tottenham, Southampton and Stoke, and to date the Poland international has stopped an eye-popping 92.5 per cent of the 254 shots he’s faced (statistics courtesy TheScore).
Szczesny has also kept a Premier League-high 10 clean sheets this season—three of which have come in his last six appearances.
8. Gary Cahill, Chelsea
Last Week: N/A
Only Arsenal have conceded fewer goals than Chelsea this season and Gary Cahill has been one of the primary reasons behind the Blues’ stellar defensive record.
That the 28-year-old has been so positionally sound has a lot to do with the fact that he has committed so few fouls; working alongside John Terry, he has helped make the Chelsea back line well near impenetrable.
7. Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City
Last Week: 9
Manchester City’s strikers and attacking midfielders typically get the glory after each big win, but not to be overlooked is the club’s outstanding right-back.
While manager Manuel Pellegrini has had to rotate his side at times this season due to injury, Pablo Zabaleta has been a constant—a reliable contributor defensively and an astute link-up man in an attacking role down the right flank.
His 2008 acquisition from Espanyol may go down as one of City’s best pieces of business.
6. Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Last Week: 8
He was kept off the scoresheet at home to Fulham on Saturday, but Olivier Giroud has scored in two of his last three Premier League matches—both wins—and picked up an assist in Arsenal’s Boxing Day victory away to West Ham.
Injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott have only increased the pressure on the Frenchman to deliver consistent offense, and so far this season he has not disappointed.
5. Per Mertesacker, Arsenal
Last Week: 7
It took some time for Per Mertesacker to be embraced at Arsenal, but so far this season the Germany international has been outstanding—more than justifying the £10 million club manager Arsene Wenger spent on him in 2011.
The 29-year-old has not been in a losing team since mid-December away to Manchester City—a match in which he scored—and once again against Fulham on Saturday he helped keep the opposition forwards at bay in victory for the Gunners.
Four of his last six appearances have been in clean-sheet performances.
4. Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle
Last Week: 10
Yohan Cabaye has been a regular in the Power Rankings all season and rises back near the top of the chart following his two goals in Newcastle’s 3-1 win away to West Ham on Saturday.
The 28-year-old now has seven goals on the campaign and is averaging 2.4 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per match, according to WhoScored.
He is the No. 1 factor in the Magpies’ impressive eighth-place position after 22 matches.
3. Yaya Toure, Manchester City
Last Week: N/A
The reigning African Footballer of the Year can at times seem unstoppable.
Last Saturday, in which he scored and assisted against Cardiff, was one of those times, as was Manchester City’s New Year’s Day win against Swansea.
In addition to his 11 goals and four assists so far this term, Yaya Toure remains committed to his defensive game and is an astute distributor of the ball.
2: Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Last Week: 3
Eden Hazard put in an overall terrific performance in Chelsea’s 3-1 win at home to Manchester United on Sunday, but the match was actually the first since December 23 in which the Belgium international hadn’t either scored a goal or assisted on one.
Quite simply, Hazard is the jewel in Jose Mourinho’s crown at Stamford Bridge at the moment—a player who can both execute the manager’s offensive wishes while tracking back admirably on the defensive side of the ball.
1. Luis Suarez, Liverpool
Last Week: 1
Differential: No Movement
If there is an early favourite for the 2014 Ballon d’Or winner, it is surely Luis Suarez.
The Uruguay international has scored three goals in three Premier League matches to kick off the calendar year, and in 17 appearances this season, he has tallied an incredible 22 times.
His understanding with teammate Daniel Sturridge has a lot to do with Liverpool contending for a Champions League place; and as long he keeps banging in the goals, you’d have to tip the Reds to be playing in Europe’s most prestigious club competition next season.