This season has been one of the most exciting Premier League-seasons in terms of entertaining attacking play and amdirable intentions. Bar a few notable exceptions, teams have played offensive football, and here’s my assessment on some of those we expect to keep us entertained whenever they set their foot on a football pitch.
Manchester United won a derby against City which pretty much followed the script any United-supporter would have written. Amidst the euphoria and hype surrounding Wayne Rooney’s fantastic winning goal, the contribution of United’s most dangerous attacking outlet this season once again went relatively unnoticed. Nani has played second fiddle to Berbatov and Rooney only in headlines, as his inventiveness, explosiveness and probing from the wing has been United’s greatest source of goal threat this season. Against City, his goal was expertly controlled and coolly slotted home after Ryan Giggs set him loose, and his delivery, albeit via a slight deflection of Pablo Zabaleta, prepared the stage for the magician Rooney to pull the rabbit out of the hat in the most spectacular fashion. Nani’s stats this season shows 8 goals and none less than 14 assists, formidable numbers for any wide player. It is his exciting style of play and the sheer brilliance he produces on the pitch that endears him the most to the United faithful, though, and he’s probably been the best winger in the league all season.
Nani: Flying high
The probably in the last sentence originates from our next subject of investigation. Samir Nasri might hardly class as a winger, more a wide playmaker, or at times even a central midfielder, but he’s certainly a wizard. The French schemer enjoys creating little triangles with his Arsenal teammates, but this season he has added even more end product to his polished passing game. More goals don’t detract from the overall assessment either. Nasri’s pretty much the best attacking midfielder around in the Premier League, he’s got a fearsome shot of both feet, much like Nani, great vision and a fantastic touch to free himself from tight situations. A delight to watch, Nasri is probably the ideal footballer in his managers eyes.
3 months ago people would throw all sorts of insults towards anyone bold enough not to rate Gareth Bale as the best winger in the league. Some argued even the best in Europe! The Welsh livewire takes the art of running the wing back to the roots, with chalk on his boots, dizzy opponents everywhere and pure pace. His peach of a left peg don’t do his claim of stardom any harm, and he’s regularly creating and scoring goals. All sorts of goals as well. He’s gone a bit off the boil since his fantastic early season form, but Gareth Bale do certainly belong amongst the leagues top wingers this season.
Bale: Lovely to watch
As is the case for Nasri, another wideman to get pushed infield to provide creativeness in more central areas is Ashley Young. A rather strange move when you think of his greatest asset which is his crossing and delivery from wide areas, but the Aston Villa-forward regularly wanders wide, partly due to his instincts and partly for tactical variation. His set piece-delivery and inswingers from the left remain a crucial weapon for his side, and his ability to get amongst the goals is also a valuable commodity. Young hasn’t enjoyed his best season in the top flight, but is still an entertaining sight for fans and neutrals alike, even if he isn’t quite in the class of the former players we’ve looked at.
Another one who can’t quite be classed up there with the leagues top wingers, but has been one of the most entertaining to watch, is WBA-winger Jerome Thomas. The former Arsenal-youngster has impressed for a side which, at least under the now sacked Roberto di Matteo, always looked to play football the stylish way. Utilizing their wings and a neat passing game, players like Thomas have contributed to the notion that West Bromwich have been one of the best sides to watch in the league, albeit an ineffective one at times. Thomas’ best performance was probably at the Emirates, where he scored and helped orchestrate a famous 3-2 win against Arsenal. He was also brilliant at the Hawthorn’s against Manchester United, a game the home side narrowly lost, undeservedly, 1-2. Thomas’s trickery, pace, quick feet and directness should make him an interesting option for a side like Liverpool, who lack genuine quality in their wide positions.
Florent Malouda looked like he was about to go about this season like he did the last, floating effortlessly past defenders, playing smart through balls in to his strikers and scoring a lot of goals. Along with Chelsea’s downfall, Malouda has faded away and now finds himself in a more periphery role in Ancelotti’s Chelsea squad. Malouda at his best is a joy to watch, with his drive and purpose on the ball a rarity in the modern, congested game. He will need to do better though to outshine the other wing wizards in this league.
These are the men I believe to be the best and most entertaining wingers in the league, although dark horses could include Antonio Valencia, injury permitting, Aaron Lennon, Steven Pienaar and others. In summary, Nani and Nasri shares the spoils as not only the best wingers in the league but probably the best players alltogether, Bale following close on the heels of the duo. Then, there’s the rest, but what’s for sure is that the Premier League is more entertaining and much better to watch when one of these men are involved!