Friday, October 21, 2011


This weekend marks the ninth round of the Premier League calendar. All eyes will be on Manchester on Sunday, as first-place United hosts second-place City. Which players have been most significant thus far--and which have been most disappointing?

Sergio Aguero:
Aguero has been in blistering form since his transfer to Man City, scoring eight goals in only seven games for the Citizens. This City side has not lacked dynamic strikers, but the caustic presence and precipitous decline of Carlos Tevez means that Aguero is already a fan favorite, and one to watch in any match.

Juan Mata:
Chelsea's number 10 has been everything that Andre Villas-Boas could have hoped for when he poached Mata from underneath Arsenal's nose this August. One goal and three assists through six games isn't staggering statistically, but the stark change of Chelsea's speed of play is clear to anyone who watches the Spain international at Stamford Bridge.

Cheik Tioté:
Again, his numbers won't warrant any head-turning, but--if you can't tell--I don't put much stock in most football statistics, particularly for midfielders. Tioté has been the best holding midfielder in the division thus far, anchoring a surprisingly stout Newcastle midfield. His link-up play between the defense and the attack is more than sound, but his ball-winning evokes Patrick Vieira or Roy Keane in its tenacity. He's been a big factor in the Magpies ascent to fourth place.

Carlos Tevez:
Where to start? City's ex-talisman has only featured in three matches so far, and has no goals or assists through those games. Worse, though, has been his off-the-field contributions--publicly demanding a transfer in August and then creating widespread strife after no club could meet his valuation. The latest debacle was on the bench at Bayern, where Tevez refused to come on as a substitute, prompting City manager Roberto Mancini to say that Tevez "will never play for the club again."

Gareth Bale:
The Welsh winger hasn't been terrible, but he's been given an increasingly pivotal role in a talented Spurs midfield and simply hasn't been up to snuff. He's battled some minor injuries but at the moment the ability and turn of pace that saw Bale torching Maicon at the San Siro has gone missing.

Andy Carroll:
As Fernando Torres will tell you, breaking transfer records and not scoring as a striker is a recipe for some grief. Carroll broke the record for a British player with his 35 million pound move to 'Pool, but he's looked--as many predicted--like the player he largely was at Newcastle: a talented, strong center forward with some potential. Potential can only cut it for so long.

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