Top Stories

Monday Kickoff: Van Persie voted Player of the Year, Muamba speaks & more

Van Persie (Reuters)

After carrying Arsenal for much of this season, Robin Van Persie now gets to lift the PFA Player of the Year trophy.

The Dutch striker was given the honor Sunday after scoring an English Premier League-leading 27 goals for the Gunners, who sit in third place with three fixtures remaining. In claiming the award, he beat out Manchester City's Joe Hart, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, Tottenham's Scott Parker, and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.

"If other people are saying it, it is special, but it is even more special if your opponents are saying it," Van Persie said.

Here is the Professional Footballers' Association's best 11: Hart; Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Leighton Baines (Everton); Silva, Parker, Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Tottenham); Rooney, Van Persie.

Here are a few more stories to get your Monday going:


After suffering a heart attack during an FA Cup match at Tottenham last month and having his heart stop for 78 minutes, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba said he isn't sure if he will play soccer again, but he noted, "If I can come back from the dead, then perhaps I can achieve anything."

Muamba, who revealed to The Sun that he could only walk five steps after first regaining consciousness, recalled, "I couldn't believe how wrecked I felt." But after being released from the hospital last week, he is beginning to return to full health.

"I'm making progress," he said. "It's too early to say whether I'll play football professionally again, but I have great faith in God and I have hope, so who knows?"


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has set his sights on France coach Laurent Blanc to take over the Blues, according to ESPN Soccernet. Roberto Di Matteo has been Chelsea's interim manager since Andre Villas-Boas was fired last month.

In addition to long-shot candidates Pep Guardiola of Barcelona and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid, Abramovich has also reportedly targeted Marseille's Didier Deschamps and Zenit St. Petersburg's Luciano Spalletti.

Di Matteo, of course, could hang onto the job if he leads Chelsea to the Champions League title. The Blues carry a 1-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their semifinal clash with Barcelona on Tuesday.


Despite the repeated antics of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, Italy manager Cesare Prandelli still intends to take the 21-year-old to Euro 2012 this summer. Prandelli in February left Balotelli off Italy's roster for a friendly against the United States after the forward was suspended for four matches for stomping on Tottenham's Scott Parker.

"I never really thought of doing this without Balotelli; he is a focal point of the national team," Prandelli said. "Have I made peace with Balotelli? Yes, although to be honest, we never argued in the first place."


Do you agree with Van Persie's selection as Player of the Year? Should Muamba consider playing again? Is Blanc a good candidate to manage Chelsea?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. This is actually a much, much more sensible list. I’m a Tottenham fan and Hirshey is absolutely right that if Spurs have a Best XI player, it’s BAE, not Parker, Walker, or Bale. This highlights how silly the PFA awards are.

  2. A better list of EPL best Xi is found in Hirshey’s ESPN article

  3. The best XI is interesting. $ Man City players, 3 Tottenham players and one Man Utd player. What, is Man Utd a one-man gang? Or, are they actually so deep that no one player stands out besides Rooney?

  4. IF they voted in February, then of course the PFA only has itself to blame. Notice only one player outside of the top teams made the list, Baines at Everton. That’s the usual bias.

    According to an analysis I saw, Clint has about 40% of his team’s goals, just like Van Persie. No one else is even close.

  5. 5 English players and a Welshman in the Best XI?! If English were truly that good, to have 5 players in the best 11 of a top-2 league, they would win the Euro. Instead they will go out on penalties in the quarters, if they even make it out of the first round.

  6. +1.

    Demps does not need his name on a sheet of paper, he knows he is legit and does not need anyone telling him so. Same goes for all the coaches who will try and sign him this summer.

  7. Tough leaving Dempsey out considering the percentage of goals he is involved with for Fulham (21 of 45). AND he doesn’t take penalties so his goal tally is not inflated like Rooney’s. I know Shrek is good but 9 of goals this year are PKs.

  8. Read somewhere this list was voted on in Feburary. If so Demps season was only steller not Best 11. Sometimes when the vote happens screws the player.

  9. I’m pretty sure every year there are oversights, it’s not like this is the first injustice. Take it up with the players, they are the ones who vote. I do agree Bale is wildly overrated, I can’t believe he was player of the year last season…

  10. The voting was done well before his latest scoring tear, I believe. This is why I don’t think voting for player of the year and team of the year should be conducted mid season. I think he makes that team over Bale easy. Obviously Bale is class but he hasn’t had a world beating season or carried a team like Dempsey has.

  11. Silva hasn’t been good since January, and Bale is still living off of 2 games versus Inter Milan last year. It’s a horrible oversight how they couldn’t vote for a guy who’s top 5 in the league in goals.

  12. I seriously doubt they left off Dempsey because he’s an American, but it is a shame because he certainly deserved being included. Unfortunately he was going against Bale, Parker, Yaya, and Silva in midfield, and Van Persie and Rooney (and Aguero) up front. It’s not unreasonable for any of those players to make the team, and obviously there would be an inclination to pick them over Dempsey. Not saying it’s fair, but that’s the way it goes. Also, these are voted by the players and it’s based on mostly the first half of the year, so that makes it even harder…


Leave a Comment