Gary Lim's EPL hot shots and flops
Our writer picks the best and worst players of the EPL from the first half of the season
THE HOT SHOTS
The Premier League hotshot's rise to the top from football's backwaters is a truly remarkable story.
From putting in 12-hour shifts in a factory that produces carbon-fibre splints, he is now reportedly on the radar of big clubs, from Manchester United to Man City to Chelsea.
He is the surprise late-bloomer no one saw coming, and one whom defenders are still coming to terms with.
Combining industry with opportunism, the 28-year-old striker has knocked in 15 goals to take joint-top spot in the goal-scorers' chart.
His Premiership record of scoring in 11 consecutive games shows how consistent he has been.
The Algerian winger was plucked from French Ligue 2 obscurity for a mere 450,000 euros ($946,000) in 2014.
Blossoming this season, his attacking repertoire has caught out the most seasoned of defenders.
Intelligent and quick, the 24-year-old is excellent at finding teammates in space, as his seven assists attest to.
Add to that his keen eye for goal - he has scored 13 league goals - and you have the launchpad for Leicester's unexpected title challenge.
Like his teammate Jamie Vardy, he is already attracting attention from Europe's big boys, with Arsenal rumoured to be one of them.
Along with Vardy's, his form will determine if Leicester can continue to defy the odds so spectacularly for the remainder of the season.
Making a successful switch from the heat of Nigeria to the cold of Norway, Ighalo made it pretty clear at the tender age of 18 that he is a survivor.
His previous stints with Lyn FC, then Udinese (Italy), Cesena (Italy) and Granada (Spain) armed him with the experience to significantly cut down the time he needed to adapt to the English game.
The 26-year-old began his maiden Premiership campaign with a bang.
With Troy Deeney acting as the foil, he has scored 14 goals, including strikes against Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs.
The German playmaker is not known as the assist king for nothing. After setting up 16 goals for his teammates, he now has Thierry Henry's EPL assist record of 20 firmly in his sights.
His speed of thought and intelligence put him streets ahead of most of his peers. Previous criticism of the 27-year-old player include a frustrating tendency to go missing when it mattered. Not anymore.
By sheer quantity alone, he has proven his consistency. Through setting up goals in crucial matches, he has shown his big-match temperament.
The 26-year-old centre back has been a beacon of light for the frustrated Old Trafford faithful.
From being ridiculed for his error-prone performances, he has become one of United's best players of this season.
The athletic defender has developed into a leader at the back. His decision-making, tackling and clever use of the ball make him one of United's most valuable assets.
They have been so bad this season that the entire Chelsea team could have made this list.
But none of them has experienced a dip in performance level as dramatic as Hazard, 24, last term's FWA and PFA Player of the Year.
The silky attacker ended the last campaign with 14 league goals and nine assists to guide Chelsea to the Premiership title. This season, the Belgium international has registered just two assists so far, and has yet to score a league goal.
For several years, few fullbacks could hold a candle to the Serbia international. He was the epitome of consistency and reliability, and also often popped up with vital goals to rescue his team.
This season has been one to forget though. He has been guilty of glaring individual errors and amateurish play, making him look like a huge liability.
Ivanovic, who turns 32 in less than two months' time, has half a season left to resurrect his Chelsea career.
His drastic dip in form began much earlier. By January of the 2014/15 campaign, he looked a shoo-in to break Thierry Henry's all-time Premiership assists record of 20, having already notched 15.
Then the tap suddenly dried up. He was to set up just three more league goals in the following four months.
The 28-year-old hasn't fared much better this term either, chalking up just two assists in the league and was often an anonymous figure as Chelsea floundered on the pitch.
His Chelsea days seem to be over too, after some of the fans accused him of intentionally holding back under former manager Jose Mourinho.
He arrived as somewhat of a coup, what with him being touted as one of the best young players in the world.
Depay's start at Man United was a promising one. Then it all fell apart.
Some blamed manager Louis van Gaal for playing him out of position, and for a defensive strategy that couldn't draw the best out of Depay.
But he isn't helping with his disinterested performances. The 21-year-old has scored just twice in the league.
Rooney is going through what every footballer dreads: A sudden and inexplicable loss of form.
United manager Louis van Gaal, somewhat surprisingly, has largely stuck by his captain. He has played the 30-year-old Rooney in different positions, but without much success.
The skipper is increasingly looking like a burden drowning in his own mediocrity. The energetic displays that characterised his game have been replaced by laborious shifts.
Once a prodigy of English football, he is in danger of following in the footsteps of one of Spain's - Fernando Torres.