As the year 2015 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at a great year of soccer. Today, 32 Flags is focusing on the best ten players in the Premier League for 2015, from January all the way through December. That time period covers two different seasons. We’re not looking for the best players of the first half of this year, we’re looking at the 10 best players who not only have been great this season, but have been great the entire calendar year.
Before we get to the Top 10 of the year 2015, let’s take a look at some players who didn’t make the cut.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Starting this off by getting controversial right off the bat. I love it. If you base it on the numbers (his 12 league goals puts him near the top of scoring for 2015) it’s almost impossible to justify not including Sanchez as one of the 10 best players of the year. But that’s the point, it’s based on the entire year and there are few things standing out about Sanchez’s year. The first of which is that Sanchez completely disappeared at the start of 2015. After scoring eight goals in the first half of last season, Sanchez scored just two goals between mid January and May. Then following the Copa America over the summer, it took Sanchez well over a month to get himself fully fit and acclimated back into the Arsenal squad. Sanchez has scored 24 goals and 12 assists (at this point) for club and country this season, but this isn’t about club and country, it’s about the Premier League and in the Premier League Sanchez went AWOL for almost four months this year.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Payet only arrived in the Premier League this summer so the fact that we’re even taking the time to mention him here is just a testament to how good he has been for West Ham this season. By my own rules (we’re looking at the Premier League only), the numbers he put up in the first half of 2015 with Marseille in Ligue 1 don’t count even though it was a ridiculous two goals and 14 assists! Since arriving at West Ham this summer, Payet has scored five times and set up three more. He was an intrical part in West Ham’s early season wins away to Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and the Hammer’s early climb up the table. It’s not a coincidence that when Payet went down with an injury, West Ham’s form and ability to score went down with him.
Now let’s get to the first half of the Top Ten.
10) Sergio Aguero
Again, I have to remind you that this is based off the body of work of the entire year and this season Aguero hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire. His seven goals may be nothing to scoff at, but they’re a bit inflated from what I call Dimitar Berbatov syndrome. Remember the year Berbatov scored 20 goals and won the Golden Boot? Well 11 of those 20 goals came in just three matches, he didn’t really have a great year. Five of Aguero’s seven goals this season have come in one match, otherwise he hasn’t been as good as he usually is. Still, the 12 goals he scored in the second half of last season combine enough to get him on this list.
9) Toby Alderweirald
You can’t give attacking players all the love and there are few defenders who have been better in 2015 than the Belgian center back. Alderweirald was an anchor for Southampton’s stingy defense last year, helping them finish in seventh and secure a Europa League spot. This year, he’s anchoring Tottenham’s defense, which is one of the best in the league. It’s not a coincidence that great defensive records seem to be following Alderweirald around.
8) Oliver Giroud
I know right? Who saw this coming, especially since if it weren’t for an injury to Theo Walcott, Giroud probably wouldn’t even be starting for Arsenal. I know it always seems like Giroud is missing wide open chances or hitting the post with the match on the line, but the bottom line is he has scored 18 goals in the Premier League in 2015. Only three players have scored more. Sure there may be some AROD to his game, scoring the fourth goal in a 4-0 match and missing an easy chance in a 0-0 game, but if you’re being compared to AROD for on the field reasons, you’re probably doing something right.
7) David Silva
For all the stars that populate Manchester City’s team sheet, there is one that shines brighter than the rest. For the entire year David Silva has been the engine that makes City run. His goal scoring numbers may be down this season, but that’s also attributed to City having new toys such as Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to help ease that burden and that’s backed up by the six assists he has in seven league starts this season. The easiest way to quantify Silva this season is based on the results. In his seven starts this season, City has won six games; in the eight games he missed, City won just three. If that’s not enough for you, in those seven starts City have scored 18 goals. In the eight games without him, they scored 11 (five of which were against Bournemouth). Take David Silva off of City and you have a much less dominant Manchester City side.
6) Chris Smalling
It’s not a coincidence that Manchester United’s great run of form in March of 2015 coincided with Chris Smalling finally becoming a first choice center back for Louis van Gaal. Once again it wasn’t a coincidence when United opened the current season with one of the best defenses in the league, despite having Sergio Romero in goal and Daley Blind learning the center back position on the fly. The year of 2015 has seen Chris Smalling transform from a player who wasn’t even a guaranteed selection by his manager, to one of the best defenders in the Premier League.
Click below for the Top 5