The top ten performers who have contributed more than we would've expected at the start of the campaign or more than we realise at the end of the season.
At the beginning of the season the consensus among Manchester United fans was that this was Evans' last opportunity to prove himself worthy of wearing the red shirt. The centre-back has often been the subject of the supporters' ire and was memorably given a ticking-off by Alex Ferguson when United played AC Milan at the San Siro in 2010. Evans has shone as a deputy for Nemanja Vidic, though, and looks remarkably assured while going about his defensive duties. Indeed, the centre-back's composure is highlighted by his pass completion rate, which ranks second only to Paul Scholes in the Reds' regulars.
9. Edin Dzeko
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise for a £27million player to have made a significant contribution in Manchester City's title bid, but given Dzeko's performances in the second half of the campaign it's quite staggering that he made the impact he did in the opening months of the season. Although Dzeko now looks rather like a carthorse - typified by his substitute appearance at Newcastle - ten goals in the first nine matches propelled City to top spot in the league. The confidence gained in early shellackings dished out to Man United and Tottenham has played a huge part in City lasting the pace. Dzeko will probably leave the club in the summer, but if we cast our minds back far enough we'll remember that he played his part.
8. Anthony Pilkington
Paul Lambert mapped Norwich's survival on a shoestring budget in the summer, signing Pilkington for £2million from League One Huddersfield. The Irish under-21 international has proved a revelation, notching eight goals in 29 appearances so far. The real contribution comes in the value of those strikes, though, from which Norwich have directly gained nine points - a fifth of their current total. Certainly one of the bargains of the campaign, the 23-year-old impressed with a fearless display at Old Trafford against Man United and will be back next season to terrorise defences with his pace and darting runs.
7. Grant Hanley
Anyone who saw Hanley playing for Blackburn in his debut season in 2010/11 would have been confident that the youngster was never going to make it. Cumbersome and slow to read dangerous situations, Hanley was often left on his backside as attackers easily tied him in knots. But this year the 20-year-old has taken a huge step up. With Christopher Samba throwing a wobbler and forcing the club to sell him to Anzhi Makhachkala, Rovers desperately needed Hanley to perform if they were to stand any chance of survival. And not only did the Scot outshine Scott Dann at the heart of the team's defence, he also earned special praise from Alex Ferguson in United's 2-0 win at Ewood Park, leading to rumours that United will return with a bid for Phil Jones's former deputy.
6. Charlie Adam
While Adam has been derided as a huge failure at Liverpool, the numbers suggest that he's contributed rather more than the fans give him credit for. Currently holding the most Premier League assists for the Reds this season, the Scot would perhaps have had a few more if it wasn't for the profligacy of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. One of the reasons fingers have been pointed at Adam is that he appears to be carrying a few extra pounds, but his robust frame has probably helped him in also becoming Liverpool's foremost aerial-duels winner. The midfielder has certainly made a more significant contribution than Stewart Downing and while the fans may want to see the back of him, Adam is perhaps deserving of a second chance.
5. Moussa Dembele
Fulham's purchase of Dembele in 2010 was intended to add a bit of guile to the team's play. In his first campaign Dembele played across the front line, occasionally supporting Bobby Zamora in the centre but usually occupying one of the wide areas. Despite some sparkling performances, the attacker only scored five goals and following Martin Jol's appointment he was dragged back into midfield. Things suddenly clicked this season, though, and alongside Danny Murphy, Dembele has been the string-puller behind Clint Dempsey's 23 goals. And as well as remaining a creative talent, the Belgian has become something of a spoiler, averaging more tackles a game than Cheick Tiote.
4. January Signings
The winter transfer window usually doesn't offer much value, but arguably the buys of the season were all found in January. After watching Nikica Jelavic in Scotland for the last two years, I doubted he'd make the step up so convincingly, but the Croatian striker settled instantly at Everton. His ten goals thus far helped the team reach the FA Cup semi-final and have given the Toffees the edge in that most exciting of Premier League deciders: 'Who's going to finish highest on Merseyside?'
Similarly to Jelavic, Papiss Cisse has looked as though he's spent a decade playing in England's top flight. The forward's 13 strikes in 13 matches, capped by two magnificent goals at Chelsea, propelled Newcastle into Champions League contention. And Pavel Pogrebnyak's early form at Fulham saw the Russian hit five goals with his first five shots on target. If Martin Jol's team succeed in a joint-best seventh-place finish, it'll be partly down to Pogrebnyak's smooth transition into the first XI. When there was so much value to be found, it makes you wonder what on earth Tottenham were doing.
3. James McClean
No-one had McClean down as one of the success stories of the season when the league kicked off in August. A £300,000 signing from Derry City, the winger was earmarked as a future star for Sunderland. But despite a string of impressive displays for the reserves, McLean failed to make a first-team appearance under Steve Bruce. However, following the manager's departure the Irishman shone in his audition to be a part of Martin O'Neill's plans. In his first start, McClean helped Sunderland to a 1-0 victory over Man City and has since added five goals and several assists. It has been a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old and a dream season has been capped by his inclusion in the Ireland squad for Euro 2012 ahead of unfortunate absentees Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington.
2. Alex Song
While it's no surprise that Song has played a key role in Arsenal's fight for third, it's the manner in which he's contributed. At the start of the season the Cameroonian was the team's midfield anchor and it was presumed that his responsibility was to protect Mikel Arteta to allow the Spaniard freedom to open up the opposition.
However, Song has gained licence to roam himself and his ten assists in 33 matches demonstrates the new attacking mindset of the midfielder. Indeed, in his previous 116 Premier League appearances, he achieved only four assists; it has been quite a change of style. In a reverse of Dembele's positional move at Fulham, we now expect to see Song lofting balls over the back line for Robin van Persie to score. Although whether he'll have as many assists next season if the Dutchman leaves is unlikely.
1. James Perch and Mike Williamson
Alan Pardew's achievements with Newcastle have been founded on his use of the Magpies' squad, with players such as Perch and Williamson having a significant influence on the team's fortunes. When Steven Taylor was ruled out for the rest of the season in December everyone thought Newcastle's season would unravel, considering the standard of replacements available. Eyebrows were raised in January when no defensive reinforcements were obtained and a 5-0 thrashing at Tottenham on February 11 looked set to start the spiral out of the top six.
However, Newcastle can no longer finish lower than fifth after a run of seven wins from nine games including convincing victories against Chelsea and Liverpool. And a large part of that success is down to the unexpected form of Perch and Williamson. The duo have proved themselves to be Premier League players with a string of impressive displays in the second half of the season and as much as Papiss Cisse's goals have led the charge, the team would undoubtedly have missed out on qualifying for Europe if it wasn't for these two.