DAVID DE GEA
This is a straight fight between de Gea and Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois.
But de Gea, 24, edges it simply because he is playing behind a hapless defence which is Man United's worst in decades.
The number of times the Spaniard has come to his team's rescue has been remarkable, and they were often crucial saves which earned United points they sometimes didn't even deserve.
When Filipe Luis arrived from La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in the summer, many expected him to become Chelsea's first-choice left back. But not only is Azpilicueta, 25, keeping Luis on the bench, he is also now seen as the best in his position. Consistent and reliable, he can operate on both flanks.
He is the ultimate centre back. He reads the game well, and is adept with the physical and technical side of things. Whenever he is out through injury, as he is now, the heart of City's defence seems to miss a heartbeat. His leadership on the pitch is something that cannot be replaced easily.
As Dejan Lovren struggles for Liverpool, his former partner Fonte maintains his high level in the heart of the Southampton defence.
The Saints have conceded just 13 goals - the joint-fewest in the league with Chelsea - and Fonte, the leader of the backline, is the reason for that.
Right back Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)
The vultures are once again circling the St Mary's Stadium. This time, it's Clyne they are after.
The 23-year-old fullback made his England debut last month. In fact, it seems the Saints decided to sell Calum Chambers to Arsenal because they believe Clyne is better.
Few clubs would bother turning back to a player they released but, then again, Matic was worth the embarrassment.
Uncompromising and intelligent, Matic is Chelsea's main destroyer and he almost always gets the job done. He's so good that he is already being compared to Claude Makelele.
The Iceland midfielder never quite got going at Tottenham Hotspur. But he wasted no time in hitting top gear since his return to Swansea, with whom he spent time on loan previously. As their main man, the 25-year-old is thriving. A set-piece specialist, he packs a powerful shot, and plays with the required intelligence of a No. 10. His eight assists put him second on the chart, behind only Cesc Fabregas.
The playmaker made his name at Arsenal but Chelsea fans are not complaining. The Blues' biggest problem last term was a lack of a Plan B when the going got tough.
Fabregas, 27, with his ingenuity and passing skills, gives Chelsea a different dimension. He leads the assists chart with 12.
He used to annoy his manager Jose Mourinho because of his reluctance to track back. Mourinho wanted him to marry teamwork with his natural talent. Luckily for Chelsea fans, the Belgian heeded the advice. His footwork, strong running and excellent decision-making makes him the Blues' biggest attacking weapon even in a team of stars.
Easily Arsenal's most outstanding player, the Chilean is the reason they are still within touching distance of a top-four place. He has hardly had a poor game. His dribbling ability, attacking zest and excellent finishing is the only constant in an Arsenal side plagued by inconsistency. His nine league goals puts him fourth on the top-scorers' chart.
He is so good he can turn a season around for his team. His hat-trick against Bayern Munich handed City a victory and a lifeline in the Champions League.
And suddenly, City seemed to find a new lease of life, going on an extended winning run to squeeze into the Champions League knock-out round and close the gap on leaders Chelsea. The EPL top scorer with 14 goals, he is already the favourite to win the Best Player award
This article was first published on Dec 26, 2014.
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