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Eight of the Most Underachieving Premier League Players So Far This Season

24/01/2014 17:07 GMT | Updated 26/03/2014 09:59 GMT

As the halfway point of the season is upon us, a period of reflection seems appropriate.

So far, the season has been one full of surprise packages and immense football. For some teams, it has been the perfect first half to a season. The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, simply blowing opponents away with their pacy, accurate and clinical styles, have surely left some of us stunned with amazement and wonder.

Luis Suarez, Sergio Agüero, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil have all been a pleasure to watch this season, but there are also those who should be doing better. The following list includes players who should have had a much better first half to the 2013-14 season than they did.

1. Erik Lamela

It is really hard not to start this list with Tottenham's record £30million man, Erik Lamela, who was intended to be Gareth Bale's direct replacement. The former Roma man came with a great CV, the recommendation of Tottenham's Director of Football Franco Baldini and a previous season in Italy where he scored 15 goals in 33 games.

Unfortunately for the young winger, the Premier League hasn't been his most prosperous arena. Having only made nine league appearances so far and not really displaying the ability that caused Spurs to spend such a huge amount on him, Lamela is rumoured to be wanting a move back to Serie A.

There is still time for the 21-year-old Argentine to develop into the player that the Spurs faithful are hoping for, but he has been a huge underachiever so far.

2. Roberto Soldado

Another Spurs player and their second most expensive signing at £26million, Roberto Soldado looked to be Tottenham's answer to their striker problems from last season.

Over his previous five seasons in La Liga, Roberto Soldado averaged almost 20 goals a season. This season, however, he has only managed five in the Premier Leauge. Some suggested that this was down to the lack of supply from his team-mates.

For a player that cost £26million, however, you'd expect a little more for your money than a player who can tap a goal in every now and then. In comparison to compatriot Álvaro Negredo at Manchester City, who is achieving great things with the Citizens, it is clear that Soldado has underachieved.

3. Christian Benteke

Last summer, Christian Benteke handed in a transfer request after scoring 19 goals in 34 games for Aston Villa, basically keeping them in the Premier League. He was linked with a £20-25million move to a variety of Premier League clubs, but after talks with the manager, he withdrew his transfer request and signed a new contract.

Six months later and it is fair to say that we thought Benteke would produce more than six goals in 17 league appearances. Benteke has had injury problems this season which have affected his performances, but he has still underachieved compared to last season, especially in light of his ability.

4. Joe Hart

Many people might disagree with Joe Hart's inclusion in this list, because he has had some incredible games, pulling off world class save after world class save. That being said, he was dropped by Manuel Pellegrini and replaced with Costel Pantilimon. This is most definitely a step backwards for the English number one, especially in a World Cup year.

On his day, which used to be most days, Joe Hart is one of the top three goalkeepers in the world. As such, when he is playing poorly he is actually playing at a higher level than many other keepers in the Premier League.

But as spectators we have become accustomed to a certain level of performance from the Manchester City stopper. With the World Cup looming ever closer, Joe Hart must ensure that he has a more consistent second half to the season than he did a first.

5. Marouane Fellaini

David Moyes isn't having the greatest of starts as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, having lost seven of United's 22 games thus far. It was blatantly obvious to the untrained eye that the Old Trafford side needed a creative midfielder like Thiago or Fabregas, but instead they got one of Moyes's former employees - Belgium's Marouane Fellaini.

At first glance, this signing makes sense. Moyes needed a midfielder and taking his best player from his Everton side was expected, but Manchester United forked out a whopping £27.5million for the hairy athlete. For that kind of money the United fans were hoping for goals, assistance and dominant displays of power and precision.

Instead, they have been rewarded with eight league appearances, no goals and a lot of questions over Fellaini's ability to play at the highest level of the game. Every bit the underachiever based on the money spent on him.

6. Shinji Kagawa

I could have justifiably picked any other Manchester United player to accompany Fellaini on this list, but decided to go with Shinji Kagawa because he has excellent technical ability and shows next to none of it.

He arrived at Old Trafford before the start of last season and appeared to be Paul Scholes' direct replacement or at least Manchester United's answer to David Silva, Juan Mata or Jack Wilshere.

But instead of performing like the aforementioned midfielders, he tends to float around, doing very little to control a football match. Another player who has played less than 10 games this season, it has to be said that he is underachieving compared to what he could and should be producing.

7. Maarten Stekelenburg

Stekelenburg's inclusion could be deemed a little harsh, but a Fulham player had to be included as the London side find themselves hovering one place above the relegation zone. Nine seasons at Ajax and two at Roma would suggest that the Netherlands number one is a top quality shot stopper and at 31 he should be in his prime.

Fulham have let in 48 goals this season, however, the most in the Premier League so far. It must be said that not all the blame can be directed towards Stekelenburg as the performances of the defence in front of him have been well below par, but as the goalkeeper, the brunt of the blame has to be his to claim.

8. Juan Mata

Spanish creative midfielder Juan Mata went from being Chelsea's Player of the Year for the previous two seasons, to being a bit part player in José Mourinho's second tenure at the club. Questions were raised as to the Special One's motivation for leaving out such a talented player, but he normally knows what he is doing.

It has to be said that when Mata does get some game time, he hasn't shown the same standard as the previous seasons. A player of his sheer quality, skill and ability should be thriving this year, especially with the World Cup looming. An underachiever so far, but maybe a move can reignite his passion and desire to be the best.

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