What do Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Adam Lallana, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Lee Cattermole have in common? Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Jack Colback, also in the list.
Each has been chosen as his club’s star performer of the season so far by the team of bloggers who write about Premier League football at ESPN. That team includes Monsieur Salut.
Cattermole earns his place in such exalted company for a string of impressive displays in which he has shown, more often than not, the qualities we always suspected he had but feared were being buried beneath a nasty pile of red and yellow cards and question marks over his off-the-field comportment. Not to mention the injuries.
But Catts has cleaned up his act considerably. There have been nervous moments – at Crystal Palace, for example, when one particular challenge might have ended in serious trouble had contact been made – and his absence from the Everton game showed the flow of yellows has not quite dried up. But that is to be expected with any combative midfielder playing the Cattermole role of breaking up attacks, supporting those behind him and driving on those ahead.
Cattermole was also a fully paid-up member of the collective surrender at St Mary’s. But he has otherwise had a fine start to the season, playing strongly and consistently enough to have some muttering about Roy Hodgson’s refusal to consider him for England.
I made the familiar points about Catts in my contribution to the ESPN piece, essentially that he is “semi-reformed, still not football’s most disciplined, law-abiding player” but whose own form or even presence on the field can make a difference to the team performance as a whole.
My Mag-supporting colleague at ESPN, Marc Duffy, had to overcome initial misgivings about the Colback signing to reach the conclusion that the “Ginger Pirlo” is key to Newcastle’s revival, his assist at Tottenham a “thing of absolute beauty”.
See my comments and Marc’s in full, and also cast an eye over the choices made by those writing about other clubs, at http://www.espnfc.co.uk/barclays-premier-league/23/blog/post/2129545/the-best-20-premier-league-players-so-far-this-season.
Seb Larsson was my next-best Sunderland man. I believe he has carried on from a storming finish to last season – doubters should remember the goal at Old Trafford and the glorious ball to Borini vs WBA – and played tirelessly and well, capped by that tremendous free kick on Sunday.
And Colback is not the only former Sunderland player in the line-up. But you’ll have to go to the ESPN link to see who I am talking about. Comments are open below if you want to agree or disagree with my choice.