Getty

Ranking the Top 100 Players of the 2014-15 Premier League Season

Sam Tighe

Who were the very finest 100 players in the Premier League in 2014-15? As ever, you can rely on B/R to provide its definitive ranking and sort out the best from the rest.

A topsy-turvy campaign, in which clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City seemingly avoided consistency like it was the bubonic plague, made this year's edition by far the toughest yet.

Consistency across the season is valued highly, and as such, those who proved they could last the campaign trend toward the top 10. Players who played very well but whose minutes were limited, such as Francis Coquelin, Mamadou Sakho and Michael Carrick, were extremely tough to place and very difficult to gauge.

 A few simple rules and notes before we begin:

A number of impressive performers didn't make the appearance cut, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Robert Huth, Andy Carroll and more are excluded on this basis. There are also some big-name absences—we're not afraid to leave the stars out—with Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Vincent Kompany, among others, missing after poor seasons.

But what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!

100-91

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

100. Antonio Valencia, RB, Manchester United

Valencia has been converted to a makeshift right-back and, quietly, he's gone about stabilising a position of need for Manchester United. Even if a new right-back arrives this summer, Valencia's versatility and willingness to play anywhere should secure his job at the expense of Rafael's.

99. Winston Reid, CB, West Ham United

Manager Sam Allardyce successfully fended off interest for Reid by giving him a huge new contract, and the New Zealander had another very steady season. It was not his best work but certainly his most injury-free.

98. Ryan Mason, DM, Tottenham Hotspur

After taking in five loan spells away from Spurs, Mason was finally awarded his chance in the first XI and formed a solid partnership with Nabil Bentaleb. He may not get any better than he is now, but he is a very useful squad option for Mauricio Pochettino and quite the unearthed gem.

97. Robert Green, GK, Queens Park Rangers

Green came under a lot of pressure this season playing for a relegation-threatened side, so in a way this feels like shades of Cardiff City's David Marshall in 2013-14. Still, he was superb most weeks, darting left and right desperately trying to limit the damage Queens Park Rangers suffered.

96. Mark Noble, CM, West Ham United

Noble moved up the gears this season and found a real home in West Ham's diamond system, producing all-encompassing, complete midfield displays on a number of occasions. He ousted club captain Kevin Nolan for a permanent spot.

95. George Boyd, Wing, Burnley

Boyd was an astute signing by Sean Dyche, who spent very little to take the Scot to Turf Moor. He responded with some match-winning showings, looking a serious danger cutting in off the flank and shooting from outside the box.

94. Ayoze Perez, ST, Newcastle United

Perez's arrival at Tyneside last summer received little attention, but he made fans sit up and take notice with some flashy, tidy displays. What position he truly projects to in the Premier League is a difficult question to answer, but he seems capable anywhere across the front line.

93. Martin Demichelis, CB, Manchester City

Demichelis was Manchester City's best centre-back this season, but that isn't saying much. He continues to be the most trustworthy and consistent of the pool available to Manuel Pellegrini, and there were far fewer mistakes in his play this year.

92. Saido Berahino, ST, West Bromwich Albion

Berahino is a bag of potential and put together a solid season, scoring 14 goals in Premier League play from 32 starts. A lack of consistency (the goals came in spurts) means he doesn't make the top 50, instead lingering in the depths of the 90-100 range.

91. Moussa Sissoko, AM, Newcastle United

Sissoko developed a worrying habit of only really turning it on against the bigger sides, perhaps fishing for a future move. He's powerful, impossible to stop and as vertical as they come driving from deep—a proper crowd-pleaser but not a very consistent player.

90-81

Tony Marshall/Getty Images

90. Alex Song, DM, West Ham United

Early in the season this signing looked like the acquisition of the summer. But Song's form tailed off with West Ham's, and he made a few high-profile errors and gaffes in 2015.

89. Alan Hutton, RB, Aston Villa

Hutton's resurgence under the stewardship of Paul Lambert ranks as one of the big surprises of the season, and until injury derailed him a little in April, he was arguably Villa's player of the campaign.

88. James Tomkins, CB, West Ham United

Peculiarly, Tomkins isn't that popular among his own fans despite showing good form whenever not injured. His 2014-15 season was his best to date.

87. Kieran Trippier, RB, Burnley

The Clarets slipped out of the Premier League with a bit of a whimper, but Trippier spent the 2014-15 season showing he's Premier League class. Those whipped deliveries...sublime.

86. Nacer Chadli, Wing, Tottenham Hotspur

Chadli has that mildly irritating ability to do very little but then score a goal. He managed 11 along with five assists this season—just think what he could manage if his head was in every single game.

85. Jefferson Montero, Wing, Swansea City

A high-profile mover following the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Montero has been plagued by injuries but impressed whenever he's been able to play. He tore Arsenal to shreds twice, helping Swansea complete a double over the Gunners in the league.

84. Fernandinho, DM, Manchester City

Fernandinho had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2014-15—he was B/R's 15th-best player last season—but still outshone near-namesake Fernando in midfield. There's plenty to come from the Brazilian.

83. James McCarthy, DM, Everton

Much of Everton's season was a complete mess due to the UEFA Europa League, but McCarthy was consistently pretty good and shot into form from March.

82. Hector Bellerin, RB, Arsenal

The Gunners' pacey right-back has made big strides this season, stepping in for Mathieu Debuchy and impressing consistently from the flank. He's got plenty to work on this summer, but his raw speed and attacking instinct make him an exciting watch.

81. Per Mertesacker, CB, Arsenal

Perhaps no player endured the World Cup hangover effect worse than Per Mertesacker, but he bucked up after a shoddy start and kept Gabriel Paulista out of the team with some commanding showings.

80-71

Steve Bardens/Getty Images

80. Pablo Zabaleta, RB, Manchester City

Zabaleta has hit 30 years of age and looks like he needs a rest—particularly following the World Cup exertions—but won't get it: He's playing in the Copa America this summer in an Argentina side expected to trouble the winners. His performances this season were comparatively muted to last.

79. Marouane Fellaini, CM, Manchester United

At times Fellaini was a real star this season, but those purple patches were balanced by some anonymous ones. Louis van Gaal found a way to utilise his aerial prowess late on, though, and he was key to some big, big wins.

78. Cheikhou Kouyate, DM, West Ham United

Kouyate's campaign was a little inconsistent, but there's no doubt he's proved to be an astute signing by Sam Allardyce. He's dominant in midfield and capable filling in at centre-back.

77. Danny Ings, ST, Burnley

Ings' goals dried up at just the wrong time, and his late-season drought was a prime factor in Burnley's relegation. Still, he impressed in the earlier months and showcased an all-round, almost continental playing ability from the second striker position.

76. Graziano Pelle, ST, Southampton

Pelle's start to the season was absolutely fantastic, but he then embarked on a goal drought lasting an astonishing 1,245 minutes, per ESPN FC. He was also incredibly unlucky, hitting the woodwork a stunning six times—tied for the most of any player this campaign.

75. Joleon Lescott, CB, West Bromwich Albion

Lescott was a monster at the back for West Brom as Tony Pulis led them to safety, utilising his still-stellar positional skills to nullify attacks. He's not as precise or as strong as he once was, but he's a real presence.

74. Scott Dann, CB, Crystal Palace

Dann is a system player and has his limitations, but he's a big, bad, physical centre-back who, when played correctly, can show near-international calibre of form.

73. Fabian Delph, CM, Aston Villa

Delph was hit by a few injuries this season, including a dislocated shoulder, but found form under Tim Sherwood and became the driving force of Villa's midfield once again. He's a delight to watch.

72. Diafra Sakho, ST, West Ham

One of the finds of the season, Sakho managed 10 goals and two assists from 20 starts in his debut Premier League campaign. He proved an accurate finisher and a powerful presence up top.

71. Emre Can, all the positions, Liverpool

Can had a two-month period when he could do no wrong but then dropped off a little. He's got all the qualities you'd ask for in a top prospect, and the team should move him into his natural midfield role for next season.

70-61

Stu Forster/Getty Images

70. Ryan Shawcross, CB, Stoke City

Shawcross had another very strong season, helping his Stoke side to their best-ever Premier League finish by turning in typically solid performances at the back.

69. Victor Moses, Wing, Stoke City

When fit, Moses was tearing teams apart for Stoke on the wing; his footwork, speed and trickery made him an incredibly tough player to deal with. It's such a shame injuries forced his absence for most of 2015.

68. Christian Benteke, ST, Aston Villa

Benteke played half the season injured because Villa had no other options, but when he finally found fitness...well, 11 goals in his final 11 games accompanied by some dominant performances will have the big guns mulling over a bid this summer.

67. Olivier Giroud, ST, Arsenal

Giroud's season was interrupted badly by injury, and while his record of 14 goals in 21 starts is very good, he's gone missing in some big games (again) and cost his team.

66. Juan Mata, RW, Manchester United

United fans have fallen back in love with Mata after flickers of brilliance this season, but that's all it has been: flickers. Now he has a role carved out in Louis van Gaal's XI, and he may be able to put together a full season in 2015-16.

65. Victor Wanyama, DM, Southampton

Wanyama grew as a footballer under Ronald Koeman, improving his passing quality and accuracy, adding the odd goal to his game and finding an elevated level of consistency. Injury niggles limited him to just 26 starts, or else he may just be higher in the list.

64. Jonjo Shelvey, CM, Swansea City

Shelvey has the ability to infuriate neutrals by overcomplicating things. But watch him for a prolonged period, and you'll see he's grown into a mightily effective and consistent player under Garry Monk.

63. Wilfried Bony, ST, Manchester City

Bony's season has been downplayed a little, but the truth is he had a brilliant first half (scoring nine goals for Swansea City), won the Africa Cup of Nations after Christmas and then impressed sporadically for Manchester City when given the chance.

62. Raheem Sterling, Wing, Liverpool

This year, Sterling rejected a Liverpool contract offer worth £100,000 per week, per the Telegraph's Chris Bascombe. If he wants to feel justified in asking for more, he needs to find some semblance of consistent form again. Post-Christmas he's really disappointed.

61. Steven N'Zonzi, DM, Stoke City

N'Zonzi was a magnificent presence for Mark Hughes in midfield and is developing into an all-round threat in every third of the pitch. He's an established destructor, but the technical points of his game are coming on quickly too.

60-51

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

60. Neil Taylor, LB, Swansea City

"Ben who?" ask the Swansea fans; they don't miss former left-back Ben Davies (who went to Tottenham Hotspur last summer) one bit. Taylor is solid, athletic and skilled at both ends of the pitch.

59. Federico Fernandez, CB, Swansea City

It was a quietly excellent season from Fernandez, whose contributions to Swansea's stellar overall season and strong defensive play have unfortunately gone unnoticed by many.

58. James Milner, Wing, Manchester City

Milner doesn't usually make our top 100 because he never makes enough starts. But Manuel Pellegrini utilised his services well this season, and he shone in patches. His chemistry with David Silva was eye-popping at times.

57. Jordan Henderson, CM, Liverpool

When not being used as an emergency right-wing-back or right-winger, Henderson put together a quietly strong season. It wasn't as good as his 2013-14 performance, but his team as a whole dipped.

56. Jason Puncheon, CM, Crystal Palace

Relocating Puncheon to central midfield was probably Alan Pardew's best decision of the season, allowing the Croydon native to pull the strings from deep and dictate play with his wand-like left foot.

55. Simon Mignolet, GK, Liverpool

Had Mignolet's first half of the season matched his second he'd be in the top 25, but he was dreadful pre-Christmas. No amount of heroics from January onward can quite make up for the deficit.

54Yannick Bolasie, Wing, Crystal Palace

Bolasie was all bluster and no end product pre-Alan Pardew, offering eye-catching showings but little on the scoresheet. That changed in the second half of the season, and he took several defences apart on his own.

53. Ashley Williams, CB, Swansea City

The ever-present captain topped last season's performance with ease, returning to his former rock-like status in the heart of Swansea's defence with committed, battling displays aplenty.

52. Daley Blind, LB/DM, Manchester United

It was hardly an eye-catching, flair-filled campaign for Blind, but he did a good job in whichever position Louis van Gaal asked him to play in and alleviated the side's issues sans Michael Carrick. His linkup with Ashley Young at left-back was brilliant.

51. Nacho Monreal, LB, Arsenal 

Arsene Wenger finally put his trust in Monreal, and the results were just as his long-term believers expected: superb. He was a revelation in the position and locked out Kieran Gibbs in 2015.

50. Santi Cazorla, CM, Arsenal

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Despite Santi Cazorla's very good season in Arsenal's midfield, rumours continue to link him away from the Emirates, per the Daily Mail's Oliver Todd. He insists he's happy, but Atletico Madrid keep popping up as a potential destination.

It provides an interesting situation, as there's a general belief that if Jack Wilshere ever wants to re-enter this Gunners XI, someone is going to have to budge. It's not going to be Francis Coquelin, and it's certainly not going to be Aaron Ramsey. So could it be Cazorla?

He dictated games this season from a flatter role, combining well with Alexis Sanchez's energy and absolutely mastering the art of scoring from the spot.

49. Sadio Mane, Wing, Southampton

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Sadio Mane is erratic, a little inconsistent and prone to simulation, but when he's on his game, he puts the fear of God into defenders across the country.

Agile, lightning-fast and improving every month in front of goal, he emerged as a key player for Southampton. His two-minute, 56-second hat-trick against Aston Villa set a new record for the Premier League, and if he flashed that pizzazz and dominance a little more often, he'd be a £30 million winger making his way quickly up the football ladder.

For now, Saints will be delighted to have him and will hope Ronald Koeman can iron out his consistency issues soon.

48. Mamadou Sakho, CB, Liverpool

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Had Mamadou Sakho managed 30 appearances for Liverpool this season and kept the same top-level standards in his performances, he'd be troubling the top 15 of this ranking. In reality, he scrapes into the rankings after making his 15th start on the final day of the season.

He is Liverpool's best defender outright by a comfortable margin but has proved prone to knocks and tweaks over the two seasons he's been in the Premier League.

One of the great misconceptions in football is that Sakho is awful on the ball. Yes, he looks like he's going to give it away every time he touches, but he very rarely does. In fact, he starts attacks and ups the tempo of the game superbly and has great positional sense too.

No matter the system or formation, Sakho is Brendan Rodgers' best centre-back. The only reason he doesn't rank higher is the lower appearance number, resulting in a lesser impact.

47. Danny Rose, LB, Tottenham Hotspur

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Danny Rose responded to Tottenham Hotspur's £10 million acquisition of Ben Davies in style, upping his performance levels and making it so the new acquisition had to fight tooth and nail to gain playing time in the XI.

His dramatically improved showings—particularly in the defensive spectrum, where he's previously been woefully and noticeably lacking—ensured he nailed the starting role at left-back for Premier League play, and he's completed his best-ever season, standing Spurs' most improved player by a distance.

Rose offers a goal threat, a rampaging presence on the left flank, but also some concerted effort going the other way.

46. Ander Herrera, CM, Manchester United

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Ander Herrera had a pretty good debut Premier League season; the only major question mark emerging from it was why on earth Manchester United didn't play him more often early on.

At times, it felt like Louis van Gaal did everything in his power not to play the Spaniard, despite securing his signature for a gargantuan fee, and when he did give him the odd cameo, he excelled but wasn't picked again.

But when it all fell into place in March, Herrera's combination play with Juan Mata was irresistible, and the goals began to flow. He struggled a bit sans Michael Carrick, but ultimately he can say he had a promising campaign. Manchester United fans are eager to see more.

45. Aaron Cresswell, LB, West Ham United

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Paul Lambert will be kicking himself. Per the Mirror's Alan Nixon, Aston Villa tried to secure Aaron Cresswell's signature in 2012, and they then tried again the following year. No dice, and West Ham were free to swoop in in 2014.

He's been a revelation for them, owning the left-back spot and impressing the Upton Park crowd with complete, dynamic showings. He defends, he attacks, he runs hard and he shows passion for the cause.

The player has had to cool links to Manchester City and Chelsea, purported by the Mirror's Adrian Kajumba, after just one season in the Premier League, insisting he's happy with the Hammers for now.

44. Oscar, AMC, Chelsea

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Oscar has been shut down for the summer, with Chelsea politely asking Brazil not to consider him for selection for the Copa America 2015. Finally, the midfielder is going to get a rest.

He's played nonstop football for the last four years, mixing in Serie A, Premier League, Confederations Cup, World Cup and Olympic football. It goes a long way to explaining how he goes from sublime to exhausted in the space of a week.

Pre-Christmas, Chelsea played some scintillating football, and Oscar was at the heart of it all; his pressing and goalscoring prowess from the No. 10 position was particularly evident in the demolition of Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

But as is seemingly tradition now, his performances take a hit in the new year and rarely recover. He ranks lower than perhaps some would like as a result.

43. Joe Hart, GK, Manchester City

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Joe Hart's upturn in form in 2015 was so steep he landed himself a top-50 selection—credit to him for the remarkable change in fortunes.

There were some tentative question marks hanging over him in the first half of the season, and with Willy Caballero waiting in the wings, some suggested Manuel Pellegrini should twist, not stick. With Fraser Forster performing well in the Southampton goal too, there were some questions over the legitimacy of his place as England's No. 1 soon after.

But he exploded into life, turning in consistently brilliant performances and making top-class saves. His palming effort to keep a Federico Fernandez header out at the Liberty Stadium late in the season took the crowd's collective breath away.

42. Francis Coquelin, DM, Arsenal

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Francis Coquelin's Arsenal career looked finished by mid-2014. Having been shipped out on an unsuccessful loan to Freiburg the previous campaign, he was given to Charlton for the start of the 2014-15 season, and Arsene Wenger was preparing to sell him when the opportunity arose.

But injuries forced his inclusion in a magnificent away victory at the Etihad Stadium, and the Frenchman made himself a key player as the Gunners surged into a brilliant winning run. The balance he provides in their midfield, doing the dirty work and making the tackles no one else wants to, has taken Wenger's side to another level post-Christmas.

We're now battling the overhyping of a player who looked done and dusted, as some have (misguidedly) suggested he's a better holding midfielder than Nemanja Matic. Whether or not he can come close to the Serbian's level, it's a damn good start for a previously dead-and-buried player.

41. Michael Carrick, DM, Manchester United

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Michael Carrick has emerged as the key piece in Manchester United's side, but the problem is he's too injury-prone to be relied upon. It leaves Louis van Gaal with a serious problem this summer when weighing up how to add quality to his side.

Carrick managed just 16 starts, so he doesn't feature as highly on this list as perhaps his performances deserve. And had he been able to play double the games, United might well have challenged for the title.

During the Red Devils' purple patch, from mid-March to mid-April, Carrick pulled the strings and dictated the midfield. He's one of England's finest when it comes to controlling—a truly rare breed, given the nation produces very few in his mould.

40. Fraser Forster, GK, Southampton

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

There are a few reasons why Southampton's top-four challenge tailed off this season, and one big factor was the freak injury to Fraser Forster. He faces a year out with a patellar tendon injury.

The Saints defence came to rely on his big bear-like figure smothering shots and claiming crosses, and although he lacks a little in terms of commanding the area, he's superb on his line.

Forster's debut campaign in the Premier League yielded 13 clean sheets from 30 starts; he would likely have won the Golden Glove had his knee not exploded.

39. Stewart Downing, AMC, West Ham United

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Sam Allardyce reinvented Stewart Downing this season, playing him at the tip of a midfield diamond and asking him to take control of games.

The move sparked an outrageous run of form throughout the first half of the season and even an England call-up, and while he's cooled off a little post-Christmas, it's clear he's been one of the Premier League's most formidable creators in 2014-15.

His wand of a left foot was far more involved as a central piece, and his long-range goal threat from outside the box became a constant worry for goalkeepers across the league. It was his second-best season in the league behind only his final campaign for Aston Villa in 2010-11.

38. Yaya Toure, CM, Manchester City

Michael Steele/Getty Images

At 32 years of age, exhausted after consecutive Africa Cup of Nations campaigns, it's extremely unlikely Yaya Toure will ever match his magnificent 2013-14 performance.

A broken, patchy 2014-15 was blown slightly out of proportion. Transfer links, per Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t the Press Association, via the Guardian), birthday shenanigans and even speeding offenses have colluded to create a cocktail of off-field distractions. But bar a slightly iffy beginning and a slow recovery from winning the AFCON, he was very good.

Ten goals, some bruising, dominant performances and eye-popping goals showed us that the Yaya Toure we love (and fear) is still in there, but his consistency dropped in conjunction with his fitness.

37. Aaron Ramsey, CM, Arsenal

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Injuries interrupted Aaron Ramsey's season, meaning he was unable to truly build upon a 2013-14 campaign in which he emerged as a top-tier central midfielder.

But he's still the driving force in Arsene Wenger's side, and his elite athletic attributes, combined with sound, technical talent, make him a fearsome midfield general capable of mixing it with the best.

He brings the thrust his colleagues cannot and breaches into the final third with an eye for goal more than ever before. He's the kind of player you build an entire team around—you just hope he can complete the campaign.

36. Martin Skrtel, CB, Liverpool

Tony Marshall/Getty Images

When Brendan Rodgers switched to a 3-4-3 system in December, Martin Skrtel instantly became a key performer for Liverpool.

He played in the middle of a back three and had his role restricted to smashing into opponents, winning headers and clearing no-nonsense style. It's not a positionally difficult role, but you do have to have a physical edge to pull it off—Skrtel certainly has that edge.

The Reds defence was very good in spells this season, but Skrtel's effectiveness dropped when Rodgers decided to revert to a back four again. It will be difficult to ascertain his value this summer; it entirely depends on what formation you use.

35. Lukasz Fabianski, GK, Swansea City

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Lukasz Fabianski's great season came under the microscope only after a heroic performance at the Emirates Stadium, but the truth is he was consistent and solid all year long—it's just that no one really noticed until he stymied Arsenal single-handedly.

What followed was a stream of praise from the wider world, but the Pole's excellence has not been lost on the Swans' fanbase at any point. Per the Daily Mail's Matt Morlidge, Fabianski picked up three awards at the club's end-of-season awards ceremony, even nailing the Players' Player of the Year gong.

He's well past the "Flappyhandski" moniker that dogged him during his time at Arsenal; he is the epitome of a safe pair of hands.

34. Chris Smalling, CB, Manchester United

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Following Chris Smalling's return from a red card in the Manchester derby back in November, he was sublime. Even United fans were surprised with how well he played.

As Phil Jones stood still, Marcos Rojo was plagued by injuries and Jonny Evans made himself busy with being banned for spitting at people, Smalling was the man in Louis van Gaal's defence who strung it all together and kept the back end from falling out.

He wore the captain's armband against Arsenal on the penultimate weekend of play—a just reward for his stellar leading play this year.

33. Nabil Bentaleb, DM, Tottenham Hotspur

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur fans do not delight in reading Harry Kane exit rumours (like this one from the Manchester Evening News' James Robson), but it does at least mean the club's finest prospect is flying under the radar.

Nabil Bentaleb has every chance of growing into one of the finest defensive midfielders on the planet, and this year, his first full season as a starting midfielder, only served to reinforce the belief some experts have about his promise.

Perhaps best described as a graceful destroyer, he's sat in Tottenham's midfield region and broken up play with ease; he's lean, strong and quick across the ground. His passing between the lines came on leaps and bounds in 2014-15, and he's now capable of initiating attacks from deep—a trait that has consigned Etienne Capoue to the exit door.

32. Gary Cahill, CB, Chelsea

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Gary Cahill took a slight step back this year with his performances dipping a little. He finished fifth in our end-of-season 2013-14 Premier League 100 but drops to 32nd here.

John Terry was the master of the line this year, and the two full-backs, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, also put in more consistent error-free showings. There was a time early in 2015 when it seemed as though Cahill's days were numbered and that Kurt Zouma would step in, but to his credit he responded magnificently to the challenge and reclaimed form and post.

It should be noted: This was by no means a poor season for Cahill—he stands as one of the better centre-backs in the league still. But he's set incredibly high standards for himself, and the drop has been noticeable.

31. Esteban Cambiasso, DM, Leicester City

Michael Regan/Getty Images

"It's magic, you knooooow...Esteban Cambiasso!"

Leicester City fans have been enamoured with Cambiasso since Day 1, and it's easy to see why. The Internazionale legend and 2010 UEFA Champions League winner opted for a shock move to the Midlands last summer and dragged the Foxes through the mud into the safety net of Premier League survival.

His raking passes from in front of the defence and his stellar shielding work kept Leicester in several games, and once those around him found form, he suddenly had runners to play in on the counter-attack.

He's the sort of presence in the centre every team craves.

30. Christian Eriksen, AMC, Tottenham Hotspur

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen had an odd season that is difficult to quantify. He raced through the first half, slicing opponents apart with ease, but stumbled a little in the second part, tired and leggy in many of his performances.

It's a problem that stems from Mauricio Pochettino's outright overuse of him—the Dane started 41 of 42 matches this season, a significant uptick on 2013-14's haul—and while the overall goal tally of 10 looks good considering his role, the film shows his powers have decreased steadily since February.

He's such a slick creator and so key to the system that Tottenham Hotspur fans will be hoping Pochettino finds an Eriksen alternative this summer in order to prolong his influence and career.

29. Wayne Rooney, ST, Manchester United

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's extremely difficult to quantify Wayne Rooney's season, mostly because he was persecuted by his own high standards and played out of position by Louis van Gaal. It makes for a deadly mix.

Early on, following the Dutchman's decision to award Rooney the captain's armband, he made it clear he'd be playing him in central midfield—possibly due to the loss of Michael Carrick to injury. Rooney can't do Carrick's job, and it showed up against the better, more organised teams.

But he also rotated in and out of the striker's role and scored some good Frank Lampard-esque goals from midfield. Finishing with 12 for the season constitutes a good campaign regardless of the route taken.

28. Adrian, GK, West Ham United

Clive Mason/Getty Images

When Adrian first entered the Premier League, he was seen as a bit of a joke figure due to a few early gaffes, and it felt like a lifetime would pass before he could ever dream of usurping evergreen Jussi Jaaskelainen.

But he ranks as our fourth-best goalkeeper of the 2014-15 season after putting in sterling displays, making a number of stunning saves and winning several matches seemingly on his own.

He's a master penalty saver and boasts catlike reflexes and agility. The sheer number of on-the-line stops he produced this year is insane.

27. Nathaniel Clyne, RB, Southampton

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Nathaniel Clyne is viewed as the star piece in Southampton's league-second-best defensive line in 2014-15. He dipped a little post-Christmas, but his qualities are clear for all to see.

Roy Hodgson has made him England's first-choice right-back, allowing the youngster to fill a big hole on the flank left by Glen Johnson post-World Cup 2014. He's incisive, attacking, ridiculously quick and eager to defend his corner too.

He's at his most dangerous flying forward and hitting the byline, where his low crossing can become a weapon. Unlike many in his position, he possesses the valuable trait of moving the ball quickly and not dallying when it comes to making a key decision.

26. Charlie Austin, ST, Queens Park Rangers

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What Charlie Austin managed to do this season—18 Premier League goals despite playing for a doomed relegation-threatened side—is nothing short of brilliant.

He's a fine striker of the ball anywhere within 30 yards of goal, boasts superb poise and balance when hitting it and can pop up in the right place at the right time to rifle home too.

His 18 strikes have boasted great variety, and he'll be a very interesting proposition this summer. Will Premier League clubs want to pay the money (likely £14 million-plus) to seize him from QPR?

25. Ki Sung-Yueng, CM, Swansea City

Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Ki Sung-Yueng's eight goals this season broke the record for the biggest haul in the Premier League by a South Korean. He won the Supporters' Player of the Year award off the back of it.

There were rumours he was off to Aston Villa last summer, per the Telegraph's John Percy, after Michael Laudrup shipped him off to Sunderland on loan the previous season. Garry Monk saw sense, though, and restored him to the XI in a pivotal role.

He made his name as a metronome midfielder, but now he's expanding his game and becoming something of a box-to-box presence. A stunning season has won him plenty of accolades, and if there's interest again for him this summer, it'll be to the tune of £20 million, not £5 million.

24. Gylfi Sigurdsson, AMC, Swansea City

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Gylfi Sigurdsson returned to Swansea City last summer and hit the ground running. Garry Monk gave him the keys to the attack, and despite the presence of Wilfried Bony for half a season, the Icelandic international was undoubtedly the Swans' star piece in the forward areas.

Remarkable long-range golazos and accurate, quick passes are his bread and butter, and for a spell he was undroppable due to his consistent impact on games.

He experienced a slight midseason slump in production but excelled again in the diamond and played well despite numerous changes to the midfield makeup as Monk rotated his pack.

A final tally of seven goals and 10 assists is a sumptuous return.

23. Ryan Bertrand, LB, Southampton

Steve Bardens/Getty Images

The second-best left-back in the Premier League this season is somehow about fifth on Roy Hodgson's list for the England setup. It simply doesn't add up.

Bar a regrettable red-card-induced suspension and an enforced absence against then-parent club Chelsea earlier in the season, he was ever-present in the Southampton lineup, impressing consistently on the flank.

He's great on the ball, pacey behind and brilliant when overlapping and interlinking with a winger. Like Nathaniel Clyne on the opposite flank, he loves to hit the byline, and he chimes in with the odd goal too. 

22. Philippe Coutinho, AMC, Liverpool

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There are those who criticise Philippe Coutinho's goal and assist statistics, believing he doesn't do enough in the final third when it matters, but you have to take into account the factors at play to get a good read on the Brazilian.

The truth is he is the Liverpool attack; the issues up front—take your pick between Rickie Lambert's form, Fabio Borini's absence, Mario Balotelli's uselessness and Daniel Sturridge's injuries here—capped his ability to rack up assists.

He's developing a long-range golazo ability, and he's one of the deadliest dribblers in the Premier League, slicing through midfield protections like a hot knife through butter. The switch to 3-4-3 by Brendan Rodgers in December brought out his very best, and from that point he dominated consistently.

21. Laurent Koscielny, CB, Arsenal

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Laurent Koscielny once again lands inside the top 25 of our Premier League 100 after another consistent season. He did very little wrong in a defensive line that steadily improved with his help.

Casual observers point to some of the errors the Frenchman makes and wonder if he's truly a top-level player, but he's often forced to mop up other people's mess, getting caught out of position in the act of desperation.

He's an overwhelmingly positive, cool and balanced defender whose skill set is well rounded, and he got better and better this season after establishing a good partnership with Nacho Monreal.

20. Ashley Young, Wing, Manchester United

Ian Walton/Getty Images

When the going got tough this season for Manchester United, it wasn't their British-record transfer signing, Angel Di Maria, they turned to; it was Ashley Young.

The Englishman, who dipped as low as anybody under the wretched David Moyes era in 2013-14, has quite often been the Red Devils' saviour this time around, playing a variety of positions and dragging his side through the mud.

He was brilliant during their good run (of four games), while he also made a defining impact in matches where very few impressed. The vital win at Crystal Palace, securing a top-four berth, was largely all him.

There are few players in world football United fans would rather have crossing to Marouane Fellaini, and his chemistry with Daley Blind reached superlative levels around March.

19. Toby Alderweireld, CB, Southampton

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Let the scrap begin.

Toby Alderweireld spent the 2014-15 campaign proving he is perfectly suited to English football and that, if Atletico Madrid decide to cash in on him, he'll improve most teams in the Premier League.

He's a bruising, physical defender who pushes every limit possible—he played the final weeks of the season with a broken bone in his shoulder, per BBC Sport—but also boasts a fluid ball-playing side to his game thanks to an Ajax upbringing and Eredivisie background.

In short, if you're centre-back-needy and looking for an option verging on world-class for £15 million, look no further.

18. Mesut Ozil, AMC, Arsenal

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

After 20 long months, Mesut Ozil has finally shaken off the large majority of his doubters and detractors. There's a genuine chance his knee injury suffered early in the season was a blessing in disguise; it allowed him a rest after nonstop football for the best part of five years.

He returned and played consistently scintillating football, hence his high ranking. Just like Olivier Giroud before him, the three-month layoff reduces the sample size, but he was brilliant in almost every game he played.

Ozil is a majestic No. 10 when given the keys to the game, and Arsene Wenger played to his strengths and watched as the German picked the lock on opposing defences time and time again. He ripped certain teams apart.

17. Willian, Wing, Chelsea

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Willian had a quietly excellent season for Chelsea; while the cameras focused on Eden Hazard on the left-hand side, the Brazilian put in brilliant performances on the right.

He played in whichever role Jose Mourinho asked him to, be it central or on the flank, and held the meek challenge of Juan Cuadrado to his starting spot at bay with ease.

He runs, runs and then keeps on running, combining top-level technical talents with the good old-fashioned ingredients too. There's every chance, privately, Mourinho labels Willian his favourite player to work with.

16. Cesar Azpilicueta, RB, Chelsea

Ian Walton/Getty Images

Cesar Azpilicueta completed his first full campaign as a left-back this year and, in most estimations, finished as the best in his position. That's some feat given how right-footed he is.

Defensively solid and careful when creeping forward, he has brought Chelsea the sort of stability Jose Mourinho adores. With Branislav Ivanovic tearing forward on the right flank, he acted as an important stabiliser on the opposite side.

There is no part of the Spaniard's game that's flashy or aesthetically appealing, but he's incredibly effective in what he does. Rarely did any winger get the better of him this season, with the Blues' left considered under lockdown all year.

15. Thibaut Courtois, GK, Chelsea

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois returned from his lengthy loan spell at Atletico Madrid, beat Petr Cech out for the starting role in Chelsea's goal and put in some stellar, consistent, points-winning displays. Not a bad debut campaign by anyone's standards, you have to say.

He wasn't called upon as much as many Premier League shot-stoppers due to the fact his side were so often in the ascendancy in games, but he displayed his razor-sharp reflexes, towering aerial ability and safe hands numerous times throughout the campaign.

At 23 years of age, his list of honours is longer than most retired professionals, and he's only likely to add to it after securing the job of decade-long starter at Stamford Bridge. If there's one blip to speak of, it's letting that Charlie Adam effort from inside his own half sail over his head and nestle in the net.

14. Jose Fonte, CB, Southampton

Tony Marshall/Getty Images

When Dejan Lovren swapped the South Coast for Merseyside last summer, few expected Southampton's defence to get even better. Add in the loss of Luke Shaw too, and there's a recipe for potential disaster, prompting some to go as far as to suggest Southampton could be relegated in 2015.

On the contrary, they achieved their best-ever points tally in the Premier League, and the man who was constantly overlooked last season, Jose Fonte, was a key part of a refreshed, impressive defensive effort.

He admittedly made one or two errors—most notably the back pass for Robin van Persie's goal at St Mary's Stadium—but his overall season was stellar, leading from the back as captain and setting the standards.

We feel comfortable in naming him the second-best centre-back of the 2014-15 season.

13. Branislav Ivanovic, RB, Chelsea

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

In August last year, there were legitimate whispers that Branislav Ivanovic's role as Chelsea's primary right-back could be coming to an end. The club had just dropped close to £20 million on Filipe Luis, and Cesar Azpilicueta would happily move back to his natural spot on the right side.

But Ivanovic tore Burnley apart in the Blues' opening game and never looked back, trapping Azpilicueta on the left and locking Luis out of the side. He's morphed into a true full-back—no longer a hybrid RB/CB—and rampages forward with power and gusto.

He continued to pick up key goals here and there, his width on the right became critical in buildup play and his bruising style was a perfect match for Jose Mourinho when the going got tough.

He's our top overall right-back for the season.

12. Morgan Schneiderlin, DM, Southampton

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Another season, another impressive, consistent stretch of games from world-class midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. That he wasn't the first out the door when the South Coast exodus began last summer is quite simply a mind-blowing thought.

His confidence has soared since winning the starting role in France's 4-3-3, and he's anchored Southampton's midfield superbly whenever he's been able to take to the pitch. A series of niggling injuries around the knee area have perhaps halted the hype train, but this is a £30-35 million player with a complete skill set for his position.

Passing range, strength, technical talent and a monstrous set of defensive tools make him one to watch this summer...again.

11. Hugo Lloris, GK, Tottenham Hotspur

Julian Finney/Getty Images

It's going to be another summer of Tottenham Hotspur fans desperately hoping their club can retain the services of Hugo Lloris, who has just completed another fine season in goal.

The Frenchman's sweeping ability, footwork, remarkable agility and springy calves were all on show in 2014-15, although if we're being critical, his kicking game could use a lot of work.

Per Sky Sports' Peter Smith, Lloris stands the favourite to replace David De Gea should the Spaniard depart for Real Madrid, and he'd be one of the safest signings any club could ever make. He's a leader, a model professional and a top-class guy.

10. John Terry, CB, Chelsea

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

If we're in the business of valuing consistency and longevity, John Terry is a worthy high-ranker this season. He played every single minute of every single game as Chelsea lifted the Premier League title with three games to spare.

The 34-year-old stalwart showed remarkable durability given his advancing age and was the standout centre-back of the campaign—the best by a distance. Rafa Benitez thought he was done, and Terry had some choice words for him when speaking with reporters after sealing the trophy against Crystal Palace; it's been a season of redemption and proving people wrong.

Jose Mourinho has extracted his best football on a week-to-week basis, with Terry even passing David Unsworth to become the Premier League's highest-scoring defender of all time, with 39 strikes, per the Daily Mail's Joe Strange.

9. Cesc Fabregas, CM, Chelsea

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Cesc Fabregas tore the Premier League to shreds between August and December but tailed off a little in the new year. That's the reason he's not troubling the top five and lingering just beneath.

He showed in Chelsea's opening game of the season, away to Burnley, what a force Jose Mourinho had purchased for just £25 million. Scything and cutting through defences with inch-perfect passes—usually to the feet of Diego Costa—became an incredibly regular thing to witness.

The Spaniard ended the season with 18 assists from 33 starts—a wonderful record indicative of his influence from midfield.

8. Nemanja Matic, DM, Chelsea

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Nemanja Matic is the best overall defensive midfielder in the Premier League and also enjoyed the best season of anyone in his position.

His first half-season was absolutely unbelievable, running the midfield single-handedly, closing down angles for passing and gracefully breaking up play in front of his defenders. He also opens out brilliantly, slaloming forward with agility and precision that defy his somatotype.

He dipped a little in 2015 but not anywhere nearly as harshly as Cesc Fabregas, which is why he ranks above him. Rather than lose his head a little, he simply stopped venturing forward as often, conserving energy.

7. Diego Costa, ST, Chelsea

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Diego Costa's goals were a major factor in Chelsea winning the Premier League title this year; he is the exact piece Jose Mourinho was missing in 2013-14.

He is the complete forward every top manager craves, as the Spaniard combines pace, immense power and a bullish attitude with a nous for being in the right place at the right time. He presses, he holds it up and he finishes with aplomb.

A recurrent hamstring injury is the only thing that has managed to stop him—certainly, no defender has—and his 20 goals from 24 starts in Premier League play are one hell of a record considering.

6. Harry Kane, ST, Tottenham Hotspur

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The truly remarkable story of the campaign comes in the form of Harry Kane.

Tottenham Hotspur fans raved about him early in the season as he set about proving himself in the Europa League, but most other fanbases thought they were joking among themselves. Then Mauricio Pochettino finally unleashed him in the Premier League, and 21 goals later, we're all in agreement he's a truly lethal finisher with great instincts and technique.

Better yet, it's obvious he has a footballing brain and can drop in to play a possession game. Some of his weighted passes to free runners have been exquisite this year, proving he truly is an all-round forward, not some flash-in-the-pan Bas Dost-type poacher.

5. Sergio Aguero, ST, Manchester City

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Sergio Aguero's late goalscoring spurt simply reminded us all what he's capable of on a weekly basis...should he stay fit. Injuries have been the only thing holding him back since joining Manchester City for big money back in 2011.

A lethal striker of the ball and a deft, incredible mover when given the chance to pick his runs, Aguero put teams to the sword this campaign when latching on to cute, inch-perfect David Silva through balls.

Dynamic, quick, instinctive and a threat playing either direct or short football, he's a manager's dream to work with, and he's only getting better as he moves toward his prime.

4. David Silva, AMC, Manchester City

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

David Silva's 12 Premier League goals this season represent his highest-ever tally in a professional season, fuelling the suggestion that he's still improving as a player.

There were some dark weeks in Manchester City's season in 2014-15, but this Spaniard was a bright spark in the abyss, combining wonderfully intelligent team play with perfectly weighted passes and top-level awareness of runners and spaces.

He's 29, in his prime, and we expect Silva to continue wrecking defences for another three years at least. With composure levels in front of goal clearly on the rise too, his goal tally could conceivably continue to increase too.

3. Alexis Sanchez, Wing, Arsenal

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Many warn of the opening-season Premier League dangers and how South Americans in particular can struggle with the physicality and toughness of the league. Many foreign stars have flopped after truly failing to get to grips with the strength and pace of the competitors, but Alexis Sanchez set a level those following in his wake can only ever hope to match.

The Chilean was incredible in his opening year with Arsenal, and for a two-month stretch before Christmas, while the team were struggling to string it together, he was the only thing keeping them afloat.

Goals, assists, dangerous dribbling and forceful thrust: He's a complete athlete, a complete player and can spearhead a side with either exquisite technique or brute force.

Quite unlike so many of the South American imports the Premier League has seen, Sanchez has instantly become the heartbeat of his side. When he plays his best football, Arsenal play their best football.

2. David De Gea, GK, Manchester United

Michael Regan/Getty Images

In the summer of 2011, when David De Gea was chosen as the successor to Edwin van der Sar, things started out pretty ropily. He struggled in the air, let in a few howlers and dropped a clanger in his first game during the Community Shield matchup at Wembley Stadium.

But gone are the days when you worry about De Gea's performances; the only thing United fans are worried about is whether they'll retain his services going into next season.

Manchester United have been in the business of relying on him, solely, to save them points in tight spots. It's not every season you see a goalkeeper awarded Man of the Match when his team wins 3-0, but that's what happened with De Gea when United defeated Liverpool in December 2014.

Whether he's the best overall goalkeeper in the league is another question (Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois make it a tough call between the three), but what you can see is he's had the biggest impact this year and has been essential in United's collecting of points.

1. Eden Hazard, Wing, Chelsea

Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Eden Hazard, the newly crowned PFA Player of the Year, predictably lands in the top spot in our 2014-15 Premier League 100. He was the best and most consistent player by a considerable margin and was the only option to truly consider if you value that in separating the very top of the order.

It was fitting that the Belgian tucked home the winning goal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, May 3, against Crystal Palace, securing the title three games before the end of the campaign. It really has been his campaign.

The challenge for him was always going to be converting his flashy footwork and dribbling ability into game-winning moments. He did that in 2014-15, netting 14 goals and providing nine assists in Premier League play. He mastered the art of the penalty, certainly, but many converted were won by him.

Agile, tricky, speedy and committed to working off the ball, he's Jose Mourinho's dream player.

   
×
Bleacher Report
(120K+)