Everton’s Player of the Season: The Contenders

Many Evertonians will agree that the 2014/15 season has not been one that they will back on with fond memories.

The Toffees have not hit the heady heights of last season’s all-time Premier League points total as the Blues finish fifth in the 2013/14 league standings, dropped out of both domestic cup competitions at the first hurdle and were delivered a hiding in their last-16 Europa League second leg clash with Dynamo Kyiv that ended any hopes of Roberto Martinez’s men from lifting any silverware this season.

And with the upcoming End of Season awards ceremony looming large over the horizon, some supporters could be forgiven for not looking forward to such an event with much enthusiasm.

In spite of this, there have been a select few whose performances throughout the past nine months deserve recognition for their efforts in the Royal Blue shirt this campaign:

Phil Jagielka

The Blues’ club captain had an extremely rocky start to the 2014/15 season, following his participation in England’s woeful 2014 World Cup campaign just two months prior, with his previously formidable central defensive partnership with Sylvain Distin also looking to be on the wane.

Jagielka’s ability to perform at the top level was soon being questioned following the 6-3 home hammering at the expense of Premier League champions Chelsea, but the 32 year old’s season took a turn for the better following his last-gasp thunderous drive that earned a point in the Merseyside derby at Anfield back in September.

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A run of 4 clean sheets in 5 matches appeared to show an upturn in fortunes and, with it, the return of Jagielka’s steely resolve, before the Toffees’ horrendous form throughout the festive period looked to grind both Jagielka’s and Everton’s season to a halt.

Despite some overall poor performances from the men in Royal Blue, however, the England international has continued to perform at a consistently high level, especially alongside young centre half John Stones, with whom he has formed an impressive partnership.

Couple that with his richest goalscoring season for Everton – 6 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions thus far – and an almost ever present place in the Toffees’ starting eleven, Jagielka appears to be a shoe-in to take the gong at the End of Season awards.

Romelu Lukaku

Much like Jagielka, Lukaku’s sluggish start to the current campaign had many querying whether the Belgian’s £28m move from Chelsea in the summer had been worth the investment.

Following the 2013/14 season when the 21 year old looked to be the answer to Everton’s striker troubles, an underwhelming return of 7 goals and 1 assist in 26 starts seemed to suggest that there were underlying causes for Lukaku’s disappointing performances.

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Again, like Jagielka himself, the forward had appeared for his nation at the World Cup in Brazil and, alongside a toe injury that the Belgian international only recently alluded to, was the reasoning behind Lukaku’s poor showings throughout the first half of the season.

Since bagging a last minute equaliser in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at home to West Ham United, however, Lukaku has not looked back. A string of impressive displays and a haul of 12 goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances has propelled both Everton up the table, and Lukaku into the reckoning for this season’s first team award.

Leighton Baines

The Everton left back may have gone under the radar for many fans outside of Everton this season, such as been the media furore over the likes of Ryan Bertrand of Southampton, but the 30 year old has still produced the goods for the Toffees throughout the 2014/15 campaign.

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Indeed, 3 goals and 13 assists in all competitions – including breaking Graham Le Saux’s Premier League all time assist record for a defender – continues to show how valuable Baines is the Blues’ cause, and whilst those match winning displays have become fewer as the season as progressed, the full back has created the greatest amount of goalscoring opportunities of any player in the Premier League this season.

In spite of his usual good work going forward, Baines has looked suspect as part of a leaky backline at times for the Toffees this season – a fact that could prevent the England international from winning this award for the 3rd time in 5 seasons.

Steven Naismith

The Scot’s early season form was a key factor in preventing Everton from languishing in the doldrums of the Premier League – scoring 4 times in the first 8 matches of the season – and earning praise from Evertonians for his work ethic, constant harassing of opposition defences and clever darts in and around the box to create space.

The goals may have dried up in the past few months – Naismith has registered just twice since the start of February – but the 28 year old has played a pivotal role in Everton’s good performances throughout the campaign, no matter how fleeting those display may have been.

The other contenders are more likely to be at the forefront of Everton supporters’ minds during the voting process, but there is no denying the part that the forward has played in what has been an overall lacklustre season for the men in Blue.

John Stones

The young centre back has made a late charge for the honour of Everton Player of the Season with some customary composed, mature performances at the heart of the Toffees defence alongside Phil Jagielka, and even notched his maiden goal for the Club in the recent 3-0 victory over Manchester United.

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The 20 year old’s injuries this season may just curtail his chances of putting up a serious claim for the top prize come the end of the season – an ankle injury sustained in October kept Stones out of action for over 2 months – but the youngster’s fine form will no doubt be recognised in him picking up the Young Player of the Season award ahead of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Ross Barkley.

Kevin Mirallas

The Belgian flier may seem like an odd choice in contention for this award – the winger’s selfish act concerning a certain penalty against West Bromwich Albion, along with supposed quotes stating his intent to leave Goodison Park, riling Evertonians – but Mirallas has still managed to come up with the goods throughout the 2014/15 season for Roberto Martinez’s men.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Everton v Burnley - Goodison Park

11 goals and 2 assists in all competitions ensures that this has been the most productive campaign for Mirallas on Merseyside since his move in the summer of 2012, with trademark strikes against Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United standing out in particular.

Inconsistency and those quotes in February will probably deter fans from voting for the pacy wideman, but Mirallas still deserves recognition for his best campaign in an Everton shirt.

Do you agree with the choices above? Or is there a player, that didn’t make the list, who you believe should be in contention? Let me know in the comments below.

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One thought on “Everton’s Player of the Season: The Contenders

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