Biggest drops in Premier League player performance
But while a number of players have improved by leaps and bounds this season, there are plenty who would prefer the campaign to draw to a close prematurely after some forgettable or disappointing displays. Here we look at an XI of players who have struggled to replicate their performances from the 2012-13 season based on the biggest drops in WhoScored.com ratings. To feature, players must have appeared at least 15 times (of which at least 10 were starts) both this season and last. While not all have necessarily performed poorly, they have let standards slip from the previous campaign. Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) -- WhoScored.com rating drop from 7.01 to 6.70 We start in goal, with a player whose efforts in the 2012-13 season saw him rewarded with a dream move to Liverpool. Mignolet has had a season of ups and downs, at times showing the heroics that saw him named Sunderland's Player of the Year and at times committing a number of gaffes that could yet prove costly in the Reds' title bid (five errors leading to goals, the most in the league). Matthew Lowton (Aston Villa) -- 7.10 to 6.55 In a difficult season for Aston Villa, Lowton was a rare bright spark last time around. He was signed having taken the right-back spot in the League One team of the season and made the step up in impressive fashion. This season, however, apparent disagreements with the manager have seen him start 15 league matches compared to 37 in the previous campaign and defensive lapses have led his ratings to drop significantly. Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) -- 6.97 to 6.66 Joining the full-back in our XI is teammate Baker, who made some encouraging strides last season. The young centre-back has retained the faith of Paul Lambert of late, keeping his place in the Villa side ahead of Ciaran Clark despite averaging fewer tackles (1 to 1.8) and interceptions (1.8 to 2.2) per game compared to the previous campaign. Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) -- 7.59 to 6.92 The player whose rating has dipped the most from the previous season in the entire league is Vertonghen, due in no small part to a fantastic debut campaign at White Hart Lane. The Belgian hasn't disgraced himself this season by any means, but he hasn't looked like the man mountain he did in 2012-13, averaging less than half as many tackles per game (1.4 to 3.1) and failing to contribute at the other end having scored four and set up three last time around. Joey O'Brien (West Ham) -- 6.83 to 6.61 With the smallest drop in ratings from last season in our XI, O'Brien can perhaps feel a little hard done by, but he won't remember an injury-hit season particularly fondly nonetheless. The left-back proved to be a decent attacking outlet for the Hammers last season, picking up four assists from 19 key passes, but in the current campaign he's laid on just three chances for teammates in 16 appearances. Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) -- 7.83 to 7.34 Undoubtedly the most harsh inclusion given that Cazorla has still had an impressive second season at the Emirates, the Spaniard has struggled to reach the heights of last season, particularly early on in the campaign. Many felt that the arrival of Mesut Ozil would somewhat stifle the playmaker's threat. Having contributed to just 11 league goals (four goals, seven assists) compared to 23 (12 goals, 11 assists) in his debut campaign, it's hard to argue that it hasn't. Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) -- 7.57 to 7.23 Fellaini has taken his fair share of the flak for Manchester United's woefully disappointing campaign, and while it's perhaps been a little unjust, the Belgian certainly hasn't mirrored his form from last season. His progress at Old Trafford has certainly been stunted by injury, but Fellaini has looked out of his depth at times and has failed to contribute to a single goal after netting 11 and picking up five assists in his last season at Goodison. Leon Osman (Everton) -- 7.20 to 6.78 The lanky middle man is joined by former Toffees teammate Osman, who has seen his influence diminish following the signings of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy. The 32-year-old has still started 25 league games, but he has averaged fewer shots (1.4 per game) and tackles (1.6) and less than half as many interceptions per match (1.1 to 2.3) than last season. Ashley Young (Man United) -- 6.97 to 6.53 The inclusion of a number of Red Devils is hardly surprising given their plight in the current campaign, and Young is certainly one of those tipped to be shipped out come the summer. The Englishman has made the same number of league appearances as last season (19) but had 12 fewer shots (15) and created 20 fewer chances for teammates (15), with just one assist to his name. Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) -- 6.97 to 6.33 Sunderland diced with death last season but eventually owed much of their survival to the 11 goals of top-scorer Fletcher. The Scot has had an injury-ravaged campaign this time around but will be disappointed by a tally of just three goals from 32 shots nonetheless. His conversion rate has dropped from 20 percent to just 9.4 percent. Robin van Persie (Man United) -- 7.68 to 7.15 The inclusion of last season's top scorer shouldn't really come as a shock. While the Dutchman's goal return is far from meagre (11 in 18 league appearances), he, like so many at United, has had a tough time of it. He played every league game for his 26 goals last season and has been struggling with injuries, not for the first time in his career. With half as many key passes per game as last season (0.9), it's been a forgettable campaign for the 30-year-old.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.