'Michu in running for Player of Year' after goal exploits

Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez have been mooted as possible winners

Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez have been lauded by many critics for excellent seasons to date and are set to be front-runners for the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year award, but how about stating a case for Michu, Swansea's Spanish "sensation"?

That viewpoint is shared by his team-mate Jonathan de Guzman, who supplied the assist for the 26-year-old to score his 16th goal of a remarkable campaign during the 2-0 Capital One Cup semi-final win at Chelsea on Wednesday night.

There is no denying that Van Persie, who heads the domestic scorers' list with 16 league goals this term, and Suarez, leading Liverpool's front line with distinction, will be favourites for the award, yet De Guzman reckons Michu is a worthy contender because of his goalscoring record of 16 goals in just 25 appearances since his £2.2m move from Rayo Vallecano in the summer.

"Of course, people talk about Van Persie and Suarez, but Michu should be in the reckoning for the top awards," De Guzman said. "He's a great player and he's been doing well for us. He's been the sensation of the Premier League this season.

"The number of goals he has scored for us has been remarkable. Usually it takes time when you move from the Spanish league to the Premier League to get used to everything. But he has settled in really well.

Looking back at the win over Chelsea, the midfielder added: "We didn't have many chances in the first half, but he was there and took it with ease. He's very calm, cool and collected in front of goal. It was a job well done by Michu and the team."

After Michu's first-half strike, Swansea edged closer to a Wembley final showdown against either Bradford or Aston Villa next month when Danny Graham capitalised on a second Branislav Ivanovic error of the night in the dying seconds.

But De Guzman, on a season-long loan from Villarreal, insists the tie is far from over when Rafa Benitez's side travel to the Liberty Stadium on 23 January. "Two away goals is a wonderful job, especially against last season's champions of Europe," he said. "It wasn't a result we thought we'd get, but it's a great opportunity for us to get to the final.

"But the tie is not over. We have a job to do at home and we'll keep our feet on the ground – we can't underestimate Chelsea. They are a great team and we can't take anything for granted."

Those downbeat sentiments are echoed by the Swansea captain, Ashley Williams, who claimed his team-mates had achieved nothing yet despite being on the verge of a first major final appearance in the club's 101-year history.

Williams said: "It would be a crime if we went into the return game thinking that we've already gone through but I don't think we will after listening to the boys in the changing room. We enjoyed the win without going too crazy. We know we haven't won anything yet and we're still a long way from Wembley but, hopefully, we will get the job done.

"It's a dream scenario as we would have been happy going to Stamford Bridge and getting a draw. We were thinking 0-0 and then bring them back home, but to be two goals up is a huge bonus.

"The boys up front are clinical and for us at the back it gives us inspiration and drive to keep a clean sheet because we know that, more often than not, when the boys get a chance they are going to take it. We'll stick to our game plan that we've had all along. We don't have to change anything for the second leg and as long as we do that I'm sure we'll be OK."

Player of the year: Latest betting

8-11 Robin van Persie

6-1 Juan Mata

10-1 Leighton Baines, Luis Suarez

12-1 Gareth Bale

16-1 Michu

33-1 Sergio Aguero, Santi Cazorla, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Oscar, Wayne Rooney, David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Yaya Touré, Jan Vertonghen

Odds: Stan James

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