The start of a new year and half way through a Premiership season is always a time of reflection. A time for wondering how on earth Simon Mingnolet had the most clean sheets in 2015 and whether Arsenal can confound the critics and keep rolling on. It’s always a good time to start thinking about awards like footballer of the year, so we thought we’d have a first stab at it. So here is Quickplay’s list of ten players who must be in the frame:

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

Yes we could have just put the Leicester City squad here, their impact on the premiership has been that huge. Their success to date has been based on a fantastic spirit, huge belief and crucially a manager who knows hwo to get the best out of his players.The cream of Claudio Ranieri’s crop have been Vardy, Marhez and Kante. Vardy’s energy, speed and sheer confidence have been a revelation and the perfect embodiment of Ranieri’s belief in his players. The manager’s belief makes players like Vardy believe in themselves so much that they can break Premier League scoring records and force their way into the England squad.

Riyad Mahrez

Algerian winger Mahrez has provided the ammunition for Vardy and has looked unstoppable at times. His speed of thought and decision-making are second only to his sheer skill. No mean goal scorer himself either, he currently has 13 goals in 19 games.

N’Golo Kante

A Frenchman of Malian descent Kante has been the unsung hero of the Foxes campaign so far. Leicester fans have been raving about his work rate and unerring accuracy in the tackle. His ability to win the ball back from the opposition has been the starting point of much of his team’s attacking play.

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne

It is no wonder Manchester City were so desperate to have Kevin De Bruyne with them for the start of the 2015-16 season. It a team that has performed in fits and starts the young Belgian has been absolutely pivotal to their attacking play. Supremely skilful and energetic, he is a perfect number 10 providing deadly through balls at the edge of the box. His first touch is sublime as is his reading of the game. If City do go on to win the league, he will be one of the main reasons.

Mesut Ozil

Patience is a rare commodity in professional football, especially among fans and the media. Where is the World Cup Ozil? Gunners fans had been asking before the start of this season. Why do we only get flashes of his brilliance? Sometimes it just takes a while to adjust but clearly this season Ozil has finally done that. Like De Bruyne and Mahrez he has been ready with the killer pass more often and has bags of energy. He is also playing with a smile on his face. A smile that could get a lot wider if Arsenal can keep winning the big games especially.

Dimitri Payet

Like Kante, when the Hammers bought Dimitri Payet he was probably considered a French player who was good but not that good. If anyone other than Slaven Bilic had noticed his potential surely the big boys would have been clamouring for his signature too. Like Ranieri at Leicester, Bilic has taken a supposedly ‘ordinary’ squad and made them believe in themselves to such a degree that they are achieving extraordinary things. Payet’s contribution has been huge. Another skilful passer who creates time for himself and great opportunities for team mates his return from injury can’t come soon enough for the Hammers and their bid for a place in Europe.

Odion Ighalo

Unlike Simon Mignolet and his clean sheets stat, seeing is believing with Odion Ighalo. Watch Watford in any match these days and you’ll believe that stat that he scored more goals in 2015 than anyone else. A poacher supreme, a real fox in the box, he has been a lethal partner to Troy Deeney as many sides have found to their cost. Currently touted as ‘must-have’ by Manchester United, Ighalo has admitted it’s a move that would be “hard to turn down”.

Romelu Lukaku

Although Everton have been having their usual rollercoaster of a season with ups and downs cancelling each other out they have had what it seems they have always had: a great centre forward. Fast, powerful and a real handful, the big Belgian is another possible answer to Manchester United’s scoring problems. The last gig name striker to make the move down the East Lancs Road didn’t do too bad but the Toffees would really miss him.

Dele Ali

Delle Ali

Dele Ali or to give him his full name Bamidele Jermaine "Dele" Alli has only played four England games but such is his quality he seems a nailed-on part of Roy Hodgson’s squad this summer. He also only played 18 games for Tottenham but has performed so well that he has already become a regular. Spectacular goals for both club and country hint at a really bright future and along with Harry Kane, he is one of the reasons that Spurs also look like shaking off their ‘nearly-men’ tag.

Marko Arnautovic

Although it seems he may have already outgrown the potteries by refusing a new contract at Stoke City, Marko Anrnautovic is one the reasons people are raving about Mark Hughes’ current squad. An old-fashioned, hustle and bustle big man he is also possessed of the sweetest of shots and is always willing to try his luck. Hopefully his wish to be at a bigger club won’t affect his form as Stoke look to keep improving in the second half of the season.