Newcastle’s 5-1 FFA Cup win over local rivals Edgeworth was a reminder that when football does things right, few other codes can match it for storylines.
It may be a bit premature to start writing up this list with the January transfer window around the corner and the inevitable injuries, losses of form and managerial changes that could occur between now and the end of the season.
But here goes. These players have brought goals, assists and entertainment to the league this season. Here are the best five Premier League signings of season 2012-13:
5. Oscar – Chelsea (Internacional, £20 million)
Oscar is a 21-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder who was signed by Chelsea in the summer for 20 million pounds.
His creativity with fellow midfielders such as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard have led to the media and many fans dubbing them the three musketeers or ‘Mazacar’.
Oscar has been a great addition to Chelsea’s team and has fired home a few goals too, check out the first UCL game against Juventus on Youtube if you want to see some class.
The only weakness he has at the moment is that he can’t play the full 90 minutes and often ends up getting substituted.
That fact should not really be used against him when you realise that he has made the phenomenal step up from Brazilian football to the highest tier of European football.
Oscar has inherited Drogba’s famous number 11 and seems to be honouring the legacy with some great performances in the games he has played this season.
Another great thing about Oscar is that he looks like the real deal, unlike another Brazilian attacker who moved to Manchester City a few years ago, with all the hype in the world before getting shifted out.
Oscar, from what I’ve seen, is pretty humble so we won’t be hearing about any dressing room fight with his name in it which puts me at peace.
The kid has a huge future and will probably be wearing the Brazil number 10 shirt come the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the sky really is the limit for Oscar.
4. Robin Van Persie – Man Utd (Arsenal, £24 million)
RVP needs no introduction to any football fan, and for as long as I can remember he was an Arsenal player.
Last season RVP hit 30 EPL goals to run home with the golden boot award ahead of his current team mate Wayne Rooney. So it came as a massive shock when he announced that he was going to leave Arsenal in the summer.
RVP, Mr. Arsenal, the No. 10, the captain, was going to ditch his team. The papers went haywire: I probably read over 10 articles about him and his possible destinations.
I personally thought that he would be heading to City and rejoining old mates Nasri and Clichy.
But he decided to join United! I was shocked, a player hasn’t transferred directly between those two teams for well over a decade.
I couldn’t believe that Wenger would actually pick up the call from Fergie without muttering a four-letter word and hanging up within five seconds. But sadly this is what Arsenal have become these days, the world’s number one selling club.
So RVP headed up north with big questions over his price tag of £24 million and the doubts that he could replicate his dominance in a different team. Well he sure showed us.
10 EPL goals later and Van Persie is by far the main man at United. If anything RVP is Batman to Wayne Rooney’s Robin at United.
3. Santi Cazorla – Arsenal (Malaga, £12 million)
Ever since Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal and was never replaced, Arsenal have been reeling like a wounded boxer in the 12th round.
This summer Arsene Wenger finally addressed this issue, although not before RVP gave up on the club, and bought a quality playmaker in the form of Santiago Cazorla.
I have known about Cazorla since around 2008 when he played in Spain Euro 2008 winning team and starred in a high flying Villareal team back then. I had always wondered if the EPL club scouts were ever going to open their eyes and bring him to the Premier League.
Then last summer Malaga out of all clubs snapped him up from Villareal. I thought, ‘Damn it, I’ll never see this lad play in the Premier League’, especially with Malaga being cashed up at the time.
Then the news of Malaga’s poor finances came through and they started having a garage sale of their best players. Finally Wenger found some courage and actually came through with the transfer fee and Wages bringing one of the most underrated Spaniards to the Premier League.
Cazorla has been instrumental in Arsenal salvaging anything from their season so far with his playmaking ability and his great left and right shooting boots.
Add to the fact that he can play in the number 10 role or on the wings, gives him a utility value that can be used in many formations.
With Jack Wilshere coming back to full fitness and Mikel Arteta playing well, Arsenal may finally have a decent midfield again. That is until the city of Manchester opens its checkbooks.
2. Michu – Swansea (Rayo Vallecano, £2 million)
Every year there is a player that no one has heard of before that completely steals the show and has everyone wondering ‘Where the hell has he been all this time?’
Michu is that guy, the tall Spanish attacking midfielder and sometimes striker has arrived with a bang keeping Swansea City relevant in the League this season.
He knows how to find the back of the net and does it week in and week out; his double against Arsenal recently was the definition of class.
Credit should go to Swansea’s recruiting team for identifying and buying Michu for £2 million. Yes – only 2 million now – compare that to the £20 million Liverpool spent on Downing or £14 million spent on Joe Allen, by far the most overrated passer in football today.
Something is seriously messed up in the transfer market these days.
Michu has already hit 10 goals for the season and is proving to be fantasy football gold for myself. He is only 26 and has had a great apprenticeship in the lower teams of Spanish football so he won’t have any ego issues.
Personally I think he should be valued at £15 million and I would be shocked if a bigger club doesn’t snap him up before next season, he really is that good.
The irony of the whole thing is that Rodgers needs a player like Michu the most at Liverpool yet he went down the sentimental route of spending his cash on his best buddy Joe Allen who has done sweet nothing to improve the situation at Anfield this season.
If Michu keeps up his scintillating goal-scoring form I can see him getting called up to the Spain team soon.
Michu looks to have that ‘it’ factor and possesses the ability to pull Swansea higher up the table come seasons end.
1. Eden Hazard – Chelsea (Lille, £32 million)
Eden Hazard, the two-time Ligue 1 player of the year and most coveted player in Europe this summer, was snapped up by Chelsea for a fee of £32 million.
Hazard straight up proved his value for money winning the man of the match award in his first three Chelsea EPL games.
Who in the history of football has won three man-of-the-match awards in their first three games? Hazard has, that’s who. He also won two penalties and had about six assists in those first few games too.
The kid is a game changer with the swagger to back it up too. His insistence on taking penalties ahead of teammates such as Mata and Torres shows that he isn’t afraid of the spotlight and big occasion and that is why I rate him so highly.
His link up play with fellow top-five player Oscar and Mata have been tearing opposition defences to pieces on a weekly basis. If only Chelsea had an in form striker such as Van Persie to bury these chances then we would be witnessing the greatest attack of our generation.
Hazard is a made man, his dominance of Ligue 1 as a teenager and the fact that his Lille team beat off big spenders PSG and Lyon to the Ligue 1 title a few seasons back show that he can handle a title chase.
A lot of people have been saying that in four or five years time Hazard will be the one scooping up the Ballon D’ors. Who can argue against them?
I know for a fact that a 30+ year old Ronaldo and Messi won’t be winning them and if you believe otherwise let me cast your minds back to the pure dominance of Kaka and Ronaldinho a few years ago.
Now if you have ever told me that Ronaldinho would be washed up by 32 back in 2005 I would have not believed you.
But look what happens over time. Kaka used to be the world class until he lost his mojo at Madrid, and now looks second rate. So with Hazard only 21, I can only imagine how good he’ll be at his peak.
For now, Hazard is tearing it up while living up to his price tag and that is why he is my number one signing of the season so far.