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Is Shaun Maloney really better than Robin van Persie?

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Peter Cowan

Published 23/08/2013

Robin van Persie, left, scored a brace in Manchester United's win over Swansea last Saturday
Robin van Persie, left, scored a brace in Manchester United's win over Swansea last Saturday

So the North West Premier League player of the year nominations are out, and of course there’s no place for the Premier League’s top two goalscorers of 2012-13.

With 49 league goals between them it’s probably fair to say Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie know their way around an 18-yard box. Yet despite both being nominated for the PFA player of the year award there is no place for them on this regional list. Instead Suarez is replaced by Jamie Carragher, whereas van Persie loses out to Michael Carrick.

Now, far be it from me to disparage Messrs Carragher and Carrick, but there is no doubt RVP and Suarez are better players and had better seasons. While Carrick does play a beautiful square pass he doesn’t have a highlight reel moment, like van Persie’s league winning volley, in his locker. Nor does rugged centre back Carragher possess Suarez’s ability to rip apart any defence.

So why have these lesser players leapfrogged two of the Premier League’s biggest stars? Perhaps nominating the retired Carragher over Suarez leaves an altogether better taste in the mouth of the judging panel? Certainly better tasting than Branislav Ivanovic’s arm. Maybe Suarez is being punished for his indiscretions and is certain to lose plenty of sleep over this latest slight.

But why exclude van Persie? For that I can find no reason, other than the panel may genuinely believe Wigan’s Shaun Maloney had a better year than the Dutchman. As Liverpool owner John Henry might ask, what are they smoking in the North West?

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