Player of the Year shortlist revealed
The Professional Footballers' Association has announced its six-man shortlist for the Player of the Year award, with Gareth Bale the odds-on bookmakers' favourite to win it for a second time.
Tottenham winger Bale is joined on the list by Manchester United striker Robin van Persie and Old Trafford midfielder Michael Carrick, Liverpool forward Luis Suarez and Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
Bale and Hazard are also nominated for the Young Player award, along with Jack Wilshere of Arsenal, West Brom's on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, Aston Villa hotshot Christian Benteke and Manchester United's Danny Welbeck.
Andy Gray of Aston Villa (1976-77) and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (2006-07) are the only players to have won both the senior and junior awards in the same year.
Bale, the Player of the Year winner in 2010-11, has had an outstanding season for Spurs, driving their challenge for a top-four finish as well as their Europa League campaign.
The Wales international's performances have drawn admiration from across the globe, and he has scored 17 Premier League goals and has 22 in all competitions.
Former Arsenal striker Van Persie - the current Player of the Year - makes the list after his stellar performances in the first half of the season effectively proved the difference in the title race, helping United open up the gap that will surely result in a 20th crown.
His goal at West Ham on Wednesday was his 21st in the Premier League, and he has 25 in all competitions.
Michael Carrick makes the list after his most consistent season for United since joining from Spurs in 2006. Carrick, along with Patrice Evra, has played the most games for the Red Devils this season, with 38 appearances.
Although Suarez, with 22 goals, is the Premier League's top scorer with five rounds of games to go, the Uruguay international is considered an outsider for the PFA award due to a lack of popularity among his fellow professionals.
Mata has been one of the most exciting players in the Premier League over the past two seasons, with this campaign seeing the Spain international step up his performances still further.
With 10 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League, coupled with another eight goals and 15 assists in other competitions, he has been Chelsea's most consistent and creative player.
Hazard, who moved to Chelsea from Lille in the summer, had an explosive start to his Stamford Bridge career with four goals and an assist in his first three matches.
However, the Belgian struggled for consistency over the winter months, which may make him an outsider for the main award.
Of the other players on the list for the Young Player award, Wilshere is a surprise name considering that he has made only 20 Premier League starts and was out injured until October.
Despite his impressive performances for Arsenal, it would seem unlikely that he will add a second award to the one he won in 2010-11.
The presence of Lukaku on the list means a third Chelsea player is up for an award, although he has done all his good work on loan at West Bromwich Albion.
With 13 goals, he has helped fire the Baggies to a top-half finish, but it is unlikely that they will be able to retain his services beyond the end of this season.
United's Welbeck may also be considered a surprise inclusion considering his lack of goals. With just one Premier League goal, against Stoke in October, most of his good work has been done around the area and he was particularly impressive in the 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Villa striker Benteke will be many people's pick as the most deserving winner of the award, though the players who vote may disagree.
Without his goals - he has 15 in the league - Villa would already be relegated, and he has grown immeasurably in confidence over the course of his debut season in England.
Tottenham's Kyle Walker is the current holder of the Young Player award.