Up next in the inaugural Stats Zone Awards, the man in the middle (no, not the referee)...
Stats Zone Premier League Central Midfielder of the Year:
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
First, some housekeeping. By 'central midfielder' we don't mean a trequartista floating between the lines (and watching aloof from afar while his team-mates defend). We mean one of the 2 in the 4-2-3-1, what might be demeaningly referred to as a 'defensive midfielder' if the position wasn't frequently occupied by players with the panache of Steven Gerrard, Mikel Arteta and Paul Scholes.
That said, the winner of the inaugural Stats Zone Central Midfielder of the Year Award isn't exactly a household name, except in places where stats lovers live. Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin spent most of the season topping the Premier League's rankings for both interceptions (he ended up with 139) and tackles (146).
These figures underline the fact he's the perfect midfielder for Southampton's hard-pressing game, but the Obernai sensation also impressed in possession. He chipped in with five goals, not a bad rate for a central midfielder at a club many tipped to struggle, and had a very tidy 84% pass completion rate - and from nearly 2,000 attempted passes: only eight players completed more passes over the course of the season.
One of those was Mikel Arteta, whose 2,750 passes is matched only by Xavi in Europe's top five leagues. The judges also commended Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Manchester City's Yaya Toure and Everton's Marouane Fellaini, but the stats don't lie: Schneiderlin is the Stats Zone Central Midfielder of the Year.
Key Stats: Few players manage to get into double figures for interceptions; after all, that means that once every nine minutes they have successfully read the opponents' intentions and interrupted an attack. Even Schneiderlin, who topped the season list, 'only' averaged 4.17 per game. However, at Wigan and at home to QPR he went into overdrive with 10 interceptions. At the DW, he also managed to top the passing table - and with an 87% completion rate. Now that's a midfielder.
Next: Stats Zone Premier League Attacking Midfielder of the Year
Earlier awards: Goalkeeper • Full-back • Centre-back