This season’s English Premier League has been exhilarating to say the least, with Man Utd firmly intent on wrestling the title back from rivals Manchester City by already opening up a 7-point lead. This campaign has also witnessed a hatful of foreign stars who have graced and set the Premier League alight, as well as plenty of old faces who have kept up their remarkable run of form. Robin Van Persie has taken his goalscoring prowess into the red of Manchester United, while Marouane Fellaini and Demba Ba have stepped a gear for Everton and Newcastle United respectively. But amongst all these superstars, here are the five new faces that have stood out in the league and further enhanced their credentials.
|Miguel Perez Cuesta (Michu), Swansea City|
Signed for a paltry £2million from Rayo Vallecano, Michu is proving to be the steal of the decade. With 13 goals to his name already, the Spaniard has been a revelation and is one of the main factors behind Swansea’s current 8th place standing. The attributes that Michu possesses multiply with every game and he is seen as the ideal striker for any manager. Powerful and great in the air, the man from Ovideo is also very composed and agile despite his huge fame. Deployed mostly as a target man, Michu is also very effective with a fellow striker and is capable of some great link-up play. It is no wonder that the 26-year-old is now in contention for a much coveted Spain cap as he deserves nothing less.
|Raheem Sterling, Liverpool
17-year-old Raheem Sterling is one of the few academy graduates seeped into the squad by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, and he has been one of the bright sparks in Liverpool’s stop-start season. Blessed with plenty of pace, Sterling can function in the heart of midfield, but is at his best on the flanks when he can run at defenders. The aptly named teenager is also matured in his style of play, and never rushes for the odd pass or shot. His scintillating performances earned him an England cap against Sweden in a friendly, and Sterling did his national future no harm by putting on a fine display.
|Christian Benteke, Aston Villa
Paul Lambert’s vision of turning his young Aston Villa side into a vibrant, exciting unit has backfired many times this season, with the 8-0 loss to Chelsea set to live long in memory. But the Villans have quality in them, none better exemplified by Christan Benteke. Signed for £7 million, Benteke is slowly repaying his dues with plenty of eye-catching performances. He is extremely fast, even with the ball at feet and knows where the goal is. Like Michu, Benteke is also versatile and is very good in the air. Belgium’s most potent hitman has struck a great understanding with Andreas Weimann and will only add to the eight goals he has netted so far.
|Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has shipped in many misfits in his 17 years at Arsenal, but Santi Cazorla is one of his most astute signings, along the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Viera. The Spanish maestro is a delight to watch, always on the run to create to space for himself or his team-mates. When he is in possession, Cazorla makes things happen for Arsenal, almost always finding a team-mate with a killer pass. The playmaker has goals in him too and is one of the few players who can shoot with both feet. If Arsenal are to qualify for the Champions League against next season, their aspirations will certainly depend on the magic of Santi Cazorla.
|Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
This list would not be complete without Eden Hazard. A gem even before he joined Chelsea, Hazard has lived up to his reputation in some style. Armed with amazing close control, Hazard hardly gets shaken off the ball and always seems to wriggle his way out of a tight spot. The Belgian is also staggeringly accurate with his passes, picking the empty pockets in the final third which Oscar and Juan Mata usually create for him. Perhaps the only drawback to Hazard’s attributes is that he hasn’t scored as many as he did with Lille. But with the season only halfway through, you can expect more goals and dazzling displays from Eden Hazard.