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There is little in the way of competition for Luis Suarez in the race for the Premier League's player of the season award, but at the other end of the spectrum, the gong for the worst-performing player of the current campaign is up for grabs. Few can identify those that stand out for the wrong reasons quite like WhoScored.com, so here is their Premier League Worst XI of the season so far, considering only players to have made at least ten starts.
Norwich's main failing last season was in front of goal; only Stoke and relegated QPR scored fewer Premier League goals, and their strikeforce of Grant Holt, Kei Kamara, Simeon Jackson, Steve Morison, Harry Kane and Luciano Becchio combined to find the net just 11 times. Holt scored eight of those but even he was clearly not of the standard that the Canaries needed to become anything like a top half team. All of those mentioned bar Becchio left the club in the summer and investment in the striker department was duly delivered with Gary Hooper, Johan Elmander and Ricky van Wolfswinkel brought in, but all three have been decidedly awful since joining.
Hooper's five goals are only just enough to keep him out of the team (average rating of 6.44), while Elmander only 'misses out' due to the fact that a few other strikers have managed to be worse than him. One of those is Van Wolfswinkel, who is the worst Premier League player in WhoScored's rankings. The goal he scored on debut against Everton was something of a false alarm; it was his second shot in English football, but he has failed to score with any of his last 23 attempts. In fact, he has only hit the target three times in the last seven months, in which time he has been on the pitch for nearly 16 hours. A shot on target every five hours 15 minutes of action since scoring your only goal of the season is hardly the return Van Wolfswinkel or Chris Hughton will have been hoping for.
Partnering him up front is Danny Graham, who was supposed to solve Hull's own goalscoring problems from last season in the Championship, but he managed only one in 18 appearances before being shipped down a league to Middlesbrough (where he is, incidentally, yet to score). Additionally, he makes an average of just 11.3 passes per game, so also does not contribute enough in other aspects. Statistically calculated weaknesses of aerial duels, passing, finishing and 'defensive contribution' speak volumes about whether Graham actually has sufficient quality in any part of his game to play at the top level. His average rating of 6.23 is the second worst in the Premier League this season.
The wide midfield positions are taken up by Fulham's Alexander Kacaniklic and West Ham's Matt Jarvis. The latter won a call up for England only three years ago but the thought of him going on the plane to Brazil this summer is absurd, given his performances over the past two seasons. This season, he has been largely ineffective, scoring just once and picking up three assists in 20 starts and five substitute appearances. He generally attempts crosses without trying to beat his man first, and that hasn't proved effective, with the Hammers' wideman finding a teammate with only 18 of his 109 cross attempts (excluding corners). Incredibly, Jarvis has given the ball away with 39.7% of his touches this season. Kacaniklic hasn't fared much better, with his most noteworthy act all season coming when he scored a consolation with his side three-goals down at home to Manchester United.
Quite what Kagisho Dikgacoi provides for Crystal Palace, on top of a lot of running, is beyond the best of us. No goals or assists from 21 shots and key passes hints that he should be a combative, ball-winning central midfielder, but with 1.6 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game, he doesn't even rank in the top ten for either statistic at Crystal Palace. In fact, there are 22 Premier League central midfielders who fare better than him, and this is meant to be the area in which he contributes most.
Kim Bo-Kyung played a huge part in getting Cardiff into the Premier League, but the step up seems it might have been too great for him. Creation isn't his forte, yet to register a single assist so far this season, and he isn't good in the air, with three aerial duels won from 35 contests. His 18 accurate passes per game is down there with the lowest amongst central midfielders in the league and he does not win possession enough. Kim would be a prime candidate for the 2013/14 Premier League's 'jack of all trades, master of none' award.
Cardiff teammate Declan John came into the starting team midway through the season but hasn't done much to convince fans that he is deserving of the spot, having obtained status as the Premier League's worst full-back (average rating 6.32). Naturally cautious given his tender years, John provides extremely little attacking threat (four accurate crosses in 14 appearances), and has only made 13 tackles and seven interceptions. Worryingly for Cardiff, their only other natural left-back, Andrew Taylor, has been the second worst in the whole Premier League.
Ondrej Celustka has been almost as bad since signing for Sunderland last summer; he has started 14 Premier League games but only been on the winning side twice, and it is no coincidence that the Black Cats have scored only seven times with him on the pitch, with the Czech making only two key passes in 19 appearances.
Centre-backs Marc Wilson and Alex Bruce make up the defence, with the latter's 1.9 aerial duels won per game no fewer than the 65th-highest of Premier League central defenders. Wilson ranks only four places above him in this regard, while both also come up at the wrong end of the rankings when looking at the number of times they are dribbled past.
In goal, Keiren Westwood completes the XI, and his stats only serve to reinforce the view that Vito Mannone has been Sunderland's best signing in recent times. Westwood's pass success rate (37%) is the worst of all players with at least one start in the Premier League this season, while his save success rate (60.4%) is down there at the wrong end of the top flight's stoppers. Mannone's (79.4%), in comparison, is the best in the league.
Ali Tweedale - follow him on Twitter.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.