In one of the most thrilling, unpredictable and downright entertaining seasons in Premier League history, nothing should really come as a surprise.
Teams who were expected to struggle are flying whilst conversely, sides expected to occupy European positions are flailing in the bottom half.
Whilst teams and results may be wildly unpredictable, there will always remain standout players regardless of club success. And as the goals continue to fly in in and the entertainment continues to flow, there are a number of players from up and down the league who can expect to be on the Player of the Season short-list.
Here, I look at some of the early front-runners for the yearly award. With players casting their votes in March, there can often be individuals on a late-season surge omitted from the list. And in a season with such a level playing-field, there are always going to be some that don’t feature on that (or this) list to the dismay of fans. And, as usual, attacking players and goal-scorers will dominate.
What follows are five of the players I feel will, or at least should, find themselves on the PFA short-list come April…
Quite possibly the find of the season, Payet is one of the key reasons behind West Ham’s marvellous campaign.
Signed from Marseille for around £10m, (a snip in Premier League standards), the French international has delighted the knowledgable crowd at Upton Park with his work ethic, technical skill and vision.
And while his statistics (six goals and four assists) may not match those of others on this list, his overall contribution to Slaven Bilic’s side cannot be underestimated, their drop-off in form when he was injured testament to this
You’d have had to have been in a cave not to have noticed Jamie Vardy this season
The Foxes’ frontman has been nothing short of a revelation in what is now his fourth season with the Midland’s club, even earning an England call-up. His pace, determination and eye for goal particularly evident.
His goal return of 16 in 23 games is a major reason for Leicester City’s surprising title-challenge and if he can keep scoring between now and the end of the season, who knows how far it will take him, his club or even his country?
Another player to have earned an International call-up on the back of his form this season, Dele Alli has earned plaudits from all corners this season.
Still only 19, he’s almost a shoe in for the Young Player of the Year award, but should make it onto the main list too.
Playing in Pochettino’s young, hungry Spurs side, Alli started in a deeper role but has since been pushed forward into the “No 10” slot and has not looked back. His energy, run-timing and all-round team play are exceptional, especially at his age, and he’s in the ideal place to continue to flourish
Algerian international Mahrez is the second Leicester player on this list, and with good reason.
Plucked from French Ligue 2 just two years ago, Mahrez has only really risen to prominence this season. Having shown glimpses of his talent last campaign, the 24 year-old has contributed eight assists and 13 goals already this term,his role in the side and link-up with Vardy another key reason for the Foxes’ success.
Leicester will do well to hang on to him in the Summer.
Watford’s form on their return to the Premier League has been a pleasant surprise to many, and the club’s top-scorer has a lot to do with that.
Keen football watchers will not be so surprised about the Nigerian born striker, his 14 goals in 23 games in the Premier League coming off the back of netting 20 times in their promotion campaign.
Forming a deadly partnership with Troy Deeney, his pace and ability to find space has attracted plenty of admirer’s this season.