Regional Director, USA Sport Group.
5: Leon Osman, Everton
Osman is known on Merseyside as Everton's version of Andres Iniesta, Osman can play anywhere across the midfield and his jinking runs and eye for a pass are one of the reasons David Moyes’ Everton have been so consistent in the Premier League. He has a great appetite for the game and makes the list at number 5.
Larsson started his career at Arsenal and possesses all the necessary technical qualities you would expect from a graduate of the Arsenal academy. Much like David Beckham, he doesn’t necessarily have to beat a man, he can cross and curl the ball around his opponents from deep. He is statistically the best dead ball specialist in the Premier League and averages a goal once every 7 games, not too shabby for a winger. This along with his versatility and ability to dictate the tempo when playing in central midfield gets him on the list at number 4.
Whilst at QPR Adel Taraabt is busy sulking and dreaming of a move elsewhere, Faurlin gives his all and works his socks off for his team. Faurlin is physically strong and possesses the technical class you would expect from an Argentinian central midfielder. Despite his ability on the ball who do you think made the most tackles in the Premier League in 2011, Scott Parker? Lucas? No, its Faurlin. This, along with his ability to keep possession and split open a defence will be crucial for QPR in their quest for a top 10 finish.
Much like a lot of French players who are labeled the ‘next Zidane’ Ben Arfa was once known as the next biggest talent to come out of France. However, along with a lot of these players, once in the public eye his form dropped and he lost his way. Now at Newcastle, Ben Arfa has re-found his form and was a key reason Newcastle were so close to finishing 4th last season. There are not many players in the world, never mind the Premier League who have the ability to win a game single handedly with an inspirational moment of brilliance, Ben Arfa is one of these players, and for that reason he makes the list at number 2.
This might seem an odd choice considering Michael Carrick has played the most games as a central midfielder for a team that has won the European cup once, along with the Premier League in 4 of the past 6 seasons, and who regularly gets picked by the greatest manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite this, Michael Carrick still doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He was over looked by England for Euro 2012 despite completing the most passes in the Premier League and averaging the highest pass completion rate (90.1%). English football doesn’t appreciate this type of player as much as it should and I will leave you with a quote from Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso…
“In English football sometimes it seems hard for people to rate those who instead of shining themselves make the team work as a collective,” Xabi Alonso said last November. “For example, Michael Carrick is a player who makes those around him play, regardless of the fact that maybe he is not the player that shines the most individually. It is more important to find players who can build a team rather than simply finding two very good players and putting them in the team even if they don’t play so well together.”