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Most Improved Premier League XI of the Season

by Mark Apostolou

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Hats off to these top performers from White Hart Lane, Eastlands, Stamford Bridge, Craven Cottage and beyond!

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Sports News - April 01, 2010

GK – Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham)

What a transformation. The bungling Brazilian must have been considering his future at White Hart Lane after a series of high profile gaffs but Harry Redknapp worked his man management magic on the former PSV man who turned in great performance after great performance. Most typified by his succession of saves from Robin Van Persie in the north London derby where the Dutch striker was prevented from scoring a quick fire hat-trick thanks to some stupendous keeping.

LB – Gareth Bale (Tottenham)

Was in danger of becoming famous for a pub quiz type bit of trivia as he consistently failed to find himself on a winning Premier League team sheet but finally showed why so many big guns were after the youngster when he was at Southampton. The Welsh international was in electric form for the second half of the season, going from zero to hero in double quick time.

CB – Jody Craddock (Wolves)

Spent most of the previous campaign out injured but was by no means having a great time of it over the previous seasons at Molineux but came back with a bang this term. Helped cement the Wolves back four and weighed in with a fair few goals to boot.

CB – Richard Dunne (Aston Villa)

The former Manchester City man put in a manful performance at the heart of the Villa defence and in doing so found his way into the PFA Team of the Year an award he richly deserves and a marked contrast to his final season at Eastlands where he made numerous mistakes and was sent off three times as well.

RB – Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

The Serbian International has been spot on at right back all season, proving you don’t have to be a household name to be worthy of a place in a title winning eleven. Ivanovic’s form wpuld have ousted Jose Bosingwa even if the Portuguese wasn’t sidelined with injury for most of the campaign.

LW – Damien Duff (Fulham)

I think it would be fair to say that the Irish winger has had a rocky few years and has arguably failed to hit the heights he first scaled when he first wowed the crowds at Ewood Park before his big money move to Chelsea. However under Roy Hodgson the 31 year old Irish international is a man on a mission.

CM – Lee Bowyer (Birmingham City)

You may well hate the former Leeds man for his off field antics, just about everyone does, but there is no denying that the former England international has probably had his best season in almost a decade.

CM – Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham)

The Hudd has shown this term what he is capable of and more importantly done so on a far more consistent basis. Is quite rightly on the verge of an England World Cup berth.

RW – Nani (Manchester United)

Now whilst Nani is known as something of a left winger he has put in some good spells out on the right on the whole and I think he deserves some credit for a marked improvement in both ability to use the ball effectively but also to keep his attitude in check.

ST – Bobby Zamora (Fulham)

Incredible. Quite possibly the biggest improvement of the lot. Gone from being something of a collective joke to being a genuine contender for a place in the England World Cup squad. Any striker who can go from scoring four goals in 40 matches (including one against Kettering Town) to notching 19 goals in a season was always going to make this list.

ST – Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

May well have proved Sir Alex Ferguson that he offloaded the wrong man leaving Manchester United with serial sulk Dimitar Berbatov. The Argentine had a wonderful season and even though he offers Roberto Mancini so much more than just goals the fact that he still weighed in with a fantastic 29 goals in 38 starts shows just how much he achieved.

Honourable mentions

Florent Malouda (Chelsea)

Excellent season but as he was well in the swing of things at the tail end of the previous term it felt wrong to add him to this list of most improved players.

Aaron Lennon (Tottenham)

Ditto as above.

Darren Bent (Sunderland)

It seemed unfair to put the former Tottenham man on the list because to be fair he scored consistently during his time at White Hart Lane but was merely deemed not worthy of a first team place by Harry Redknapp.

Carlton Cole (West Ham United)

Also put in a top season last term and therefore missed out on being recognised as ‘most improved’

Louis Saha (Everton)

The Frenchman did well for the Toffees and would have squeezed on the list if he hadn’t just gone 12 games without a goal.

So who would have made your list of most improved players?

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