The Premier League is home to some of the world’s finest players. Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Aguero. There are a number of great players plying their trade in England who have the ability to turn the game in an instant.
And while these stars often receive plenty of praise – and rightly so – there are some equally influential players that often fall under the radar. They may not be scoring every game or putting in that great bit of skill, but their effect and importance on the team is just as great.
These are the players whose performances often go unnoticed; until they make a mistake that is. There are some players it seems just can’t win over the fans. They fail to get the praise they deserve, and even worse, are heavily criticised for their ability at times.
But you only have to look at their time spent playing at the top level to see just how good they actually are, and what an important role they play in the success of their clubs.
Here are FIVE of the more high-profile Premier League stars who fall into the dreaded bracket of ‘underrated’:
You certainly can’t accuse Manchester United fans and coaching staff of undervaluing the role Michael Carrick plays at the club. The midfielder has been a vital part of the United team during his nine seasons at the club, helping them to the Champions League and numerous Premier League titles.
But despite his ability as one of the best in possession, he has failed to earn a regular spot in the England team, a huge loss for the national team when you consider what he has achieved at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney described him as the best player on the pitch against Italy on Tuesday, and it was hard to argue with that statement. Calm on the ball, Carrick is a vital link between defence and attack, and despite being 33, he looks to have plenty still to offer Roy Hodgson in the future.
While it finally appears he is receiving the accolades he deserves at international level, it’s a shame it has taken this long for it to come about.
Manchester City midfielder James Milner is another player who can feel harshly done by at times. While many can recognise how valuable he is to the team, his work rate means his ability as a footballer often gets overlooked. But Milner is another who has won the Premier League title, and both times he played an important role in the team, highlighting how good he really is.
With his contract set to expire in the summer it appears his future lies away from the Etihad. Maybe then we will see just how much they will miss Milner. Manuel Pellegrini knows he will be losing a top midfielder but despite attempts to keep him at the club, a deal has yet to be agreed.
Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta played a big role in forcing Ashley Cole out of the side, and his assured and impressive performances again this season has cast doubt over the future of Filipe Luis after keeping him on the bench as well. A solid defender, the Spaniard has become a crucial part of the Chelsea back four, and it looks like just a matter of time before he gets his hands on his first Premier League title.
His simple yet effective approach to the game often means he gets overlooked, but his performances have been highlighted by the faith shown in him by his manager. He was left out of the recent Spanish squad however, a strange decision given just how well he is performing for his club.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was hounded after his performance against Monaco in their first-leg Champions League defeat. After missing numerous opportunities, he drew criticism from all angles as the argument that Arsenal were lacking a ‘world-class striker’ was raised once more.
However Giroud has been on a great run of form since then highlighting just how crucial he is to the Arsenal side and that he is the man to lead the line for the Gunners. He was awarded the player of the month award this week having scored six times since his Monaco nightmare with Arsenal now battling for second spot in the Premier League.
Giroud has a terrific goal record for Arsenal and certainly doesn’t warrant the criticism he gets when he has an off-day.
Liverpool’s vice captain is clearly highly-rated by Brendan Rodgers who knows how important he will be for the club over the coming seasons with the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard. But somewhat unfairly, Henderson is often compared to the great man himself, meaning he too has his fair share of critics.
His work rate in the middle of the park is superb, but he is also continues to improve his all round game week after week with some fine displays and the odd great goal. It appeared he may not make the grade at Anfield after failing to impress upon arriving from Sunderland, but his improvement in recent seasons and the faith entrusted in him by his manager mean he is finally starting to receive the positive accolades he deserves.