Phil Foden and Erling Haaland
| | | | | |

Guardiola Thinks Foden Is POTY, Is He Right?

Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Phil Foden after his devastating display in the Manchester derby, where his two goals kept Manchester City in the title race as they ran out 3-1 winners against their fierce rivals.

When asked about Foden after the match, the Spaniard showed his appreciation for his contributions this season, stating, “He is the player of the season; no one has been as decisive for us as him this season.”

It is certainly high praise from Guardiola and there is no doubt that Foden is in the running for the award. The question is whether he is more deserving than the other standout performers.

Phil Foden

Starting with the man who has sparked the debate around this topic, Foden is having an outstanding season. He has stepped up massively this season when City needed him, as they have struggled with injuries to several key attacking players.

Jack Grealish, Jeremy Doku, and Erling Haaland have all had spells on the sidelines this season. However, it was the lengthy layoff of talisman Kevin De Bruyne that raised the most question’s about whether City would be able to reproduce their efficient attacking output in his absence.

There have never been any doubts over Foden’s ability but there has always been a question of consistency, as he rarely had a long run of games in the league without being rotated in previous seasons. This season has put those questions to bed as he has been a mainstay on the City team, featuring in every league game, starting 25 out of a possible 27 while playing in a variety of positions across the front six.

This versatility has been integral to City’s depleted attack at times this season, as Foden has played on both wings, as an 8, 10, and a false 9. The ability to thrive across so many positions is only a testament to the talent he possesses.

Foden’s creativity has been a big part of his game this season. He has created 50 chances from open play, which ranks him third in the Premier League, with 9 of them judged to be big chances. Twelve players have, in fact, created more big chances than Foden this season.

The 2022 PFA young player of the year is having a really productive season but may still have a way to go to become one of the most elite players in the league.

Despite producing his best attacking output in a Premier League season to date with 11 goals and 7 assists, Foden ranks sixth for goal contributions. The England international has scored six goals in his last six appearances in the league, which may show elements of recency bias in Guardiola’s comments but he has certainly been one of the best performers in the league this season.

There has been a real maturity in Foden’s play as of late and his ability to affect and decide games is only improving as time goes by. How both Foden and Manchester City finish the season may play a big part in his chances of winning but as things stand, he is certainly one of the names fighting for the top spot as he continues to cement himself as a world-class talent.

Mohamed Salah

Salah’s consistency since he joined Liverpool has been nothing short of amazing and this season is no different. Salah has produced 15 goals and 9 assists in the league in just 20 starts as Liverpool bid to give Klopp the perfect farewell gift with a Premier League title.

The Egyptian’s season has been disrupted recently by an injury he sustained at the AFCON but his imminent return will be absolutely vital for their title hopes. Liverpool won 5 out of the 6 games Salah has missed through injury, which shows that they aren’t as reliant on him as they may have been in the past.

Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota have stepped up massively this season, with Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo also contributing to important moments.

Despite Liverpool’s good form in his absence, Salah has been a creative force for Liverpool this season, which has contributed greatly to the good form of his attacking counterparts. The three-time Golden Boot winner has created 48 chances from open play this season, with a staggering 18 being classified as big chances.

See also  SOURCES: Chelsea Yet To Make Contact For Bayer Leverkusen Defender Piero Hincapie

This outlines just how good the quality of chances that Salah is creating for his teammates and once again illustrates his importance in that Liverpool team. If Salah can keep up this output upon his return for the run-in, then there is every chance that he will be one of the leading names for player of the season.

Erling Haaland

Haaland has picked up exactly where he left off from last season as he shattered the Premier League’s tally for goals in a single season with 36 in his debut campaign. The reigning Player of the Season has produced 18 goals and 5 assists in just 21 starts as injuries have disrupted his campaign. It is worth noting that this tally is largely in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, with whom he has such a strong connection on the field.

The Norwegian’s 23 goal contributions rank him third in the league for attacking output. He is currently the league’s top goal scorer. His link-up play has been absolutely integral for City this season, as it has helped the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez thrive. City were unbeaten in the five games he missed this season, winning four and drawing one. Much like Salah and Liverpool, this stat shows just how strong these teams are even without their main goal threats but it can’t be underestimated the impact they have when they return.

As crazy as it sounds, there is every chance that City could win the league with Haaland finishing as the top scorer, only for him not to be crowned Player of the Season. This is largely down to the brilliant campaign that Phil Foden is having, who is hitting form just at the right time as the Blue Side of Manchester bid for an unprecedented four in a row.

Haaland will certainly be in the conversation for POTY come the end of the season due to his unbelievable goalscoring record. One thing is for sure: He will face much tougher opposition for the award than he did last year.

Bukayo Saka

Saka has carried on his scintillating form from last season as Arsenal bid to go one better than last year and secure their first Premier League title in two decades. The right winger has been instrumental in their title charge this season, producing 13 goals and 8 assists, giving him 21 goals and contributions. Only three other players in the league have a higher total than his. Saka is Arsenal’s only entry in the top 10 for this statistic, which shows how vital he is in their attack.

Goals and assists were shared more amongst the Arsenal players last season, which illustrates how Saka has stepped up to be their main man in attack this season. He has been very reliable for the Gunners, not just in his attacking efficiency but also in his availability, as he has started every game except one.

Much like Foden, Saka has been in superb form as of late, scoring 7 goals in his last 6 appearances in the league. Saka has also been a creative spark for the London club this season, creating 49 chances from open play, with 13 of them being big chances. Only Martin Odegaard and four other players in the entire Premier League rank higher.

The England international is on course to have his best ever season for Arsenal as he continues to mature into one of the world’s best in his position. If Arsenal can win the league this season, then he will have a great chance at being crowned player of the year due to his outstanding contributions to their title charge.

Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins is having a monumental season for Aston Villa this year, as he has spearheaded their charge to finish in the Champions League. The former Brentford man has been reinvigorated since the arrival of Unai Emery, which is clear for all to see based on his performances this season.

Watkins has made more goal contributions than any other player this season, with 26 racking up 16 goals and 10 assists. This is no small feat in a league that includes Erling Haaland and Mo Salah and it is even more impressive by the fact that he is doing it for a club outside the traditional big six and without any penalties contributing to his impressive goalscoring tally.

See also  Southampton's Premier League Survival Plan

Watkins is the only player so far this season to have reached double digits in goals and assists. The striker is in brilliant form, having scored seven goals in his last 6 appearances, as Villa look to repeat Newcastle’s heroics from last season by breaking into the Top 4.

None of his teammates are ranking among the elite players in the league for creativity, which only emphasises just how good of a season he is having.

Watkins has started every single game for Villa this season, which shows his importance to the team as they attempt to have their best league finish this century. Watkins must be seriously considered when debating who should be player of the season due to his attacking output, especially if he can guide Villa into the Champions League. He has clearly shown that he is right up there with the best players in the Premier League today and must be selected for Gareth Southgate’s EURO 2024 squad base.

Honourable Mentions

It’s important to illustrate the contributions of some other players this season who may not win any awards at the end of the season but have been massive contributors to their team’s successes. This can often happen with players who are having a brilliant year but their team may not do well enough to justify the individual awards.

Heung-Min Son, the captain of Spurs, was under a lot of pressure to step up after Harry Kane left for Bayern Munich in the summer. He hasn’t disappointed, producing 13 goals and 6 assists for Spurs, who are still in the hunt for Champions League places this term. The former Golden Boot winner has become a leader for an exciting Spurs team with Ange Postecoglou at the helm.

Cole Palmer has been a shining light on a struggling Chelsea team this season, as he has taken every opportunity to show his quality. Palmer has justified his wish to have more playing time in abundance following his transfer from Manchester City in the summer. He has scored 10 goals and provided 7 assists this season as he looks to force his way into the squad for the Euros in Germany in the summer.

Dominic Solanke and Jarrod Bowen are both having strong seasons with 17 goals each, as they look to elevate their teams up the table as much as possible.

Another player who has made 17 goal contributions this season who must be given a mention is Darwin Nunez, who has been such a big player for Liverpool recently as he has played a starring role in keeping their title aspirations on track. The Uruguayan endured a difficult debut campaign in England but has shown real mental strength and quality this year to become a vital part of Klopp’s attack. 

Unsung Heroes

There are players every season that play for the teams that are thriving at the top of the table but who might not be the most popular choices when it comes to individual awards at the end of the year. These players won’t be grabbing the headlines every week but are absolutely essential to their team’s good fortunes this season. They are absolutely deserving to be in the player of the season conversation, even if their contributions may go under the radar in favour of the more attacking players by many.

Aston Villa are having an amazing season and even though Ollie Watkins will be on the back pages, a lot of credit must go to the partnership of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn. The influence and work rate both of them bring to the Villa side are a testament to why they have been such difficult opponents this season. Whether defensively or offensively, they manage to impact the game and Villa will certainly not be where they are this season without them.

Declan Rice has been a huge addition to the Arsenal squad this season. The former West Ham man has added another dimension to Arsenal’s midfield, bringing high levels of work rate and leadership. He is beginning to add more goals and assists to his game since his move to the Gunners. His last-minute goals against Manchester United and Luton may prove decisive in the title race come the end of the season. Rice has provided an extra layer of protection to help solidify Arsenal as the league’s best team defensively this season, which is an essential quality for any title charge. This outstanding defence also includes two centre backs who have been magnificent this season.

See also  SOURCES: Manchester United Are Interested In Corinthians Winger Wesley Gassova

Gabriel and William Saliba have been an exceptional component of the Arsenal team this season, as they boast the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 23 goals and keeping 11 clean sheets in the process. The aerial threat the two defenders bring to set pieces has also been an intrinsic part of Arsenal’s success, as they’ve contributed 5 goals between them. They have affected the game in a supreme manner at both ends of the pitch and deserve huge credit if Arsenal go on to achieve silverware at the end of the season.

Virgil van Dijk has been a standout performer this season, and he is looking back on his best. Liverpool have had to deal with several injuries in defensive areas to key players this season. Allison, Andy Robertson, and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all spent time on the sidelines. Van Dijk has kept a strong defensive standard at Liverpool throughout the season, despite the constant changes in personnel across the back.

The Dutchman has been pivotal in Liverpool having the second-best defence in the league, conceding just 25 goals and keeping 9 clean sheets. His aerial presence in both boxes has been huge but most importantly, his leadership has been an integral part of Liverpool’s form this season, which puts them at the top of the table with just 11 games to go.

Rodri and Bernardo Silva are the engines in the machine that has been Manchester City over the past few seasons and this year is no different. They are absolutely essential to any success that a city has, despite not always getting headlines or plaudits in the process. Both of them are leaders on the pitch by example with their consistent performances. It’s only when they are missing that it’s often realised the extent of their contributions to that team. Even though they have never won player of the season, a case could certainly be made for either one of them for any season over the past few years. 

The Winner?

Due to the nature of how the season is going, there is a strong chance that this individual award will be handed out to a player from the team that ultimately comes out on top in the title race. In such a tight battle, the player’s form during the remainder of the season may be pivotal in deciding the outcome. That could see the award go to Saka, Foden, Haaland, or Salah, depending on who could score the goals to drive their team over the finish line.

Likewise, there must be serious consideration for players such as Rice, Gabriel, Saliba, Van Dijk, Rodri, and Bernardo Silva if they can prove to be instrumental in helping their teams to title glory during the run-in. Rice, Rodri, and Van Dijk in particular must be given plenty of attention, depending on who ends up winning the title, as each of them has been absolutely monumental for their respective teams this season.

However, if Aston Villa manages to get the fourth spot and Ollie Watkins continues his sensational form between now and the end of the season, then it would be very hard to argue against him. It would be a remarkable rise for Watkins, who has really proven his quality and cemented his status as one of the league’s top players this season and perhaps deserves to be rewarded accordingly.

About The Author

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply