Anything but dull is the best way to describe this campaign’s Premier League. Liverpool are running away with the title, making them the only real contender in Premier League outright odds, while Manchester City are a shadow of their former selves.
Promoted Sheffield United are the real surprise outfit, challenging for a place in Europe, while further down the table, Arsenal are struggling to even finish in the top 10.
As we reach the business end of the season, players will be looking to do all they can to get as many points on the board – but for some, there’s the added pressure of knowing that when summer rolls around, they’ll be out-of-contract and potentially searching for a new club. Here’s our five-a-side of Premier League stars.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Burnley’s back-up keeper Joe Hart has made no secret he wants to escape the club, to play regular first team football once more. But it’s over 400 days and counting since the former England number 1 played in the Premier League.
Hart’s rise to the top was remarkable – prior to joining Manchester City, he’d been plying his trade in League Two at boyhood club Shrewsbury Town. But his career has since plummeted and to an outsider, it seems he has been left to rot on the Turf Moor bench. The fairytale may be coming to an end.
Premier League appearances: 340
Defender: Jan Vertonghen
Since joining Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012, centre-back Jan Vertonghen has been an absolute rock at the back. The Belgian international signed from Ajax has become virtually ever-present in the starting line-up for the Lilywhites.
Not one to hide his emotions, he most recently cut a very sorry figure in the match against Southampton. On being substituted off after 50 minutes, Vertonghen looked dejected – the look of a man who knows his contract’s coming to an end.
After success in the Netherlands, the 32-year-old is yet to win silverware in North London and his performances this season have waned.
Premier League appearances: 225
Defender: Leighton Baines
The Everton stalwart arrived at Goodison Park in July 2007 and while he wasn’t a regular during his debut season, it wasn’t long before he cemented his place in the squad.
In 2010-11, he played every minute of the Toffees’ Premier League matches and two years later, his 166 assists were more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. Currently coming to the end of a one-year contract, Leighton Baines has only 153 minutes of top-flight football this season, after becoming second-choice at left-back to Lucas Digne. Fans are hoping the 35-year-old stays another year, but time will tell.
Premier League appearances: 415
Midfielder: David Silva
It’s been a wonderful decade for David Silva at Manchester City, in his only taste of Premier League football. Four League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups, with European success the only trophy to have eluded him to date.
With his departure this summer imminent, the Spaniard will be passing the reigns on to future midfield maestro Phil Foden. His exit will leave a gaping hole in City’s dressing room, such is his influence both on and off-the-pitch – players and staff alike at the Etihad Stadium regularly sing his praises. Guardiola recently described the playmaker as “one of the top five players to wear the Manchester City shirt”.
Premier League appearances: 300
Striker: Shane Long
Excluding the two years in the top-flight during his time at Reading, Shane Long has graced the Premier League every campaign since 2011-12 with spells at West Bromwich Albion, Hull City and Southampton. The striker has been on the south coast for six seasons and last term, famously scored the fastest goal in Premier League history – 7.69 seconds.
Not a proven out-and-out goalscorer, Long’s passion, commitment and work rate are what endear him to fans. While his future at St. Mary’s is in doubt, Long is knocking on the door for an international recall ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off campaign.
Premier League appearances: 309