We’re now two-thirds into the 2018/19 Premier League season. I feel now it is fair to assess, and rank, individual player performances.
After several hours of watching each team and combining the eye-test along with statistics and analytics, I have finalised the top 50 players of the campaign so far.
Only performances in the 2018-19 Premier League season affect this ranking. Previous season, reputations, cup performances and European showings matter not – although I will reference previous season amongst other discussions, they are not taken into consideration when finalising the list.
To be eligible for entry, you have to have played at least 15 games this season – so the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen will not be included.
To be clear, this list does not define who I believe the best players are in the EPL. This list is SOLELY based on performances this season.
I will revise this list at the end of the season.
1) Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
In football, it’s pretty rare to find a player who is able to elevate performances around him – Virgil van Dijk does just that. Since his addition to the squad last January, Liverpool’s defence has gone from a dire weakness to a strength. There’s an assuredness to the way VVD defends, bringing a calming, cool and collected presence to a backline which has only conceded 15 goals in 26 games – by far the best defensive record in the Premier League. He’s also a ridiculously good long-range passer. Imagine how good he’d look if he was playing next to a centre-back anywhere close to as good as he was! Hopefully, they’ll start letting take free-kicks soon. Take a look at his set-pieces from his time at Celtic.
2) Fernandinho – Man City
I find pretty remarkable that some can watch Man City play and claim that Raheem Sterling is their best player. Fernandinho has been THE key figure in Pep Guardiola’s side. He was, by far, the best player on the pitch when his side played Liverpool a few weeks ago. He is the player who makes Man City tick. His ability to intercept play, turning defence into attack whilst always a threat to create with his supreme passing abilities is a truly special. As good as N’Golo Kante’s 2016/17 season.
3) Mo Salah – Liverpool
One season wonder, they said. 17 goals and seven assists already this season and looking as good as he did last year whilst playing in a new position at times. He’s not as effective playing in the #9 as he is from the right, but it has allowed Liverpool to become versatile against different oppositions. When playing from the right, the Egyptian has been outstanding. His finishing is improving, but he still has a ways to go. He genuinely could have 25 goals already. Leads the league in goals scored along with the next man on the list (17).
4) Sergio Aguero – Man City
There is now a genuine debate for Kun Aguero being the greatest Premier League strikers of all-time. He’s certainly overtaken the likes of Drogba, van Persie, van Nistelrooy, Owen and Fowler – but that’s a debate for another day. 17 goals in just 23 games this campaign, and continuing to show up in important moments as he’s always done for Man City. His workrate defensively is vastly underrated and he’s been excellent in that department this season. Also added six assists.
5) Leroy Sane – Man City
Leroy Sane is arguably Manchester City’s most dynamic weapon. He has scored eight goals and added nine assists, and most of these goals have come in big games. At the big moment, Leroy Sane is the man who always seems to step up, and show out. Opta stats show that Sane is directly involved in over 33% of the Premier League Champions’ goals this season. Lightning pace, direct approach and comes alive in the final third. Decent name, too.
6) Eden Hazard – Chelsea
— Chelsea FC (at 🏡) (@ChelseaFC) September 27, 2018
Strictly ability-wise, Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are the most talented players in the Premier League for me. After a down year last season, Hazard has bounced back this time around. 12 goals and a league leading 10 assists in 25 games, from a variety of positions with a questionable supporting cast around him. His elegance on the pitch is something to behold, the way he glides around the field, picking pockets and finding space is sublime. Usually links up well down the left with Marcos Alonso, but this season, the Spaniard’s performance levels has drastically declined. Hazard should come alive and be much more productive with Gonzalo Higuain in the team, who makes the smart runs which Alvaro Morata could only dream about.
7) Raheem Sterling – Man City
By far his best campaign of his career, Sterling is beginning to thrive in Manchester City’s system. 12 goals and nine assists. He’s really understanding his role, he knows where to be at the right time and he’s working hard at both ends of the pitch whilst doing it. Defensively, the 24-year-old has always been vastly underrated. Sterling is far from the finished product. His finishing is still not good, and decision-making in the final third has a ways to go, but he’s taken big strides this campaign to fulfil and unlock his true potential.
8) Aymeric Laporte – Man City
His name is rarely mentioned, and that might be a testament to how good he’s been. The Frenchman has played in every EPL game this season for City, and has been their best defender, by far. After making the big money move from Bilbao last January, he settled straight into the City squad and looked comfortable from the go. He possess the ideal combination of strength and speed, is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and reads play as well as anyone in the league. A threat from set-pieces, too. He leads the league with the most passes (2,313).
9) Harry Kane – Spurs
Although he’s missed a few games, he still deserves to be in the top 10. 14 goals and four assists for Harry Kane. He’s had a few poor showings, but even in games where his all-round game is below bar, he’s a threat to score. His instinctual play around the box is still improving. He’s ironed out those moments when he picks up the ball from 25-yards out and has a pop, opting to shift the ball out wide, or give the ball to his creative #10’s and making the right runs – always a higher percentage chance of scoring. Is he the best finisher in EPL history?
10) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal
The support around him is absolutely dreadful. Their only real creative #10 can’t get into the team – meaning he’s had to rely on Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey for service. Most of his goals have come from his insanely good movement and instinctual play. He’s linked up well with Alexandre Lacazette, though. His close control is ridiculously good, he’ll beat you for pace and is strong in the air. It’s a shame he didn’t come to the EPL three or four years ago. A very good finisher, but still leads the league in missed chances (17).
11) Andy Robertson – Liverpool
This is pretty bad timing, as he’s has struggled in the past few games. But besides one or two poor showings, Andy Robertson has been an absolute revelation. He seldom gets caught out defensively, even though he’s usually far up the pitch as a wing-back and whipping balls into the box. He’s excellent going forward, providing Liverpool with width down the left. He leads the league in recoveries (157) and assists any defender (6). Engine.
12) Paul Pogba – Man Utd
When Paul Pogba plays further forward, he’s one of the best midfielders in the world. He’s a good defender when he wants to be, but his effort, attitude and workrate can be really poor. Many Manchester United fans had simply had enough of him at the beginning of the season. Now, pushed further up the field, the Frenchman has been outstanding. 11 goals and eight assists whilst pulling the strings for Solskjaer’s side. He could find himself further up this list if he continues this form until the end of the season, but his production from August through December can’t be ignored.
13) Bernardo Silva – Man City
He’s taking a giant leap from his performance level which we saw last season. Five goals and six assists so far and continues to impress in big games. Lacks pace, but his workrate, technical ability and eye for a pass will see him thrive in the Premier League for a long time. He’s ready to take over as that free-roaming midfielder when father time catches up with David Silva.
14) Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Started the season like a house on fire, before a little slump. He’s now back firing on all cylinders again, with four goals in his last four games. He has 12 goals already this season, but has only managed one assist. His decision-making in the final third can be incredibly frustrating, but his pace and movement will always see him able to get in positions to make things happen. He’s had a few glaring misses that he’ll want back, though. He’s adapted his game better than expected, moving from the right-wing to the left.
15) Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) August 29, 2018
Arguably the best ‘false 9’ in world football. Bobby Firmino started the season slow, but he’s back to his best as of late, continuing to link up play with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. Jurgen Klopp has deployed him in the #10 and at times this season, which is not his optimal role, but they’ve need him to do just that. He’s been impressive dropping deep to receive the ball from defence and driving the Reds forward. Nine goals and four assists so far, but now he’s back playing #9, expect those numbers to continuing rising. Firmino is arguably Liverpool’s most important player in the system which they play. Very good defensively.
16) Toby Alderweireld – Spurs
Quietly playing some of the best football of his career, the Belgian is still an extremely solid defender at the heart of Spurs’ backline. Another centre-back who has very little flaws. Great combination of strength and speed, whilst dominating in the air and very good with the ball at his feet. Played a huge role in the side only conceding 20 goals. He has had zero errors leading to an opposition chance.
17) Lucas Torreira – Arsenal
Can easily make the case that he’s been the signing of the summer. Probably the best CDM in the league this campaign. Excellent defensively. Imagine if Carlos Tevez played in the #6, a tenacious little player who didn’t stop working until he won the ball back before gliding around the pitch when on the ball, that’s kind of like Arsenal’s number 11. Still very young, and in his first season in the EPL, he’s only going to get better. Chill out on calling him the Uruguayan Kante, though…
18) David De Gea – Man Utd
David de Gea imp saves vs Spurs. Enjoy. pic.twitter.com/IWsf7ST6hs
— ⁹🔰 (@BeastMartial) January 15, 2019
His performance against Spurs pushed him above Alisson in my rankings. David De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world, and he’s displaying that once again this campaign. He’s athletic, quick of his line, very good with his feet and commands his six-yard box as well as any keeper all-time. Quite bizarre to think that he’s only 28 years old.
19) David Silva – Man City
Coming towards the end of his career, still, he’s one of the best. Six goals and four assists playing in midfield. It’s a joy to watch him glide around the pitch and play those one-two intricate passes. His contract expires this year, and his namesake, Bernardo Silva is ready to take over. He has to be considered as a top 20 Premier League player of all-time.
20) Heung-Min Son – Spurs
He started the season very slowly, but recently he’s been right up there with the best players in the league. No goal until November, but he now has 11 goals to go with his five assists. A West Ham United season ticket holder told me that Son put in, by far, the best performance that he had season by anyway at London Stadium. Spurs are going to need him moving forward with Harry Kane out and Dele Alli underperforming. Would be higher but started the season extremely slow.
21) Marcus Rashford – Man Utd
Started the season just okay under Jose Mourinho, but since Solskjaer has come in, Marcus Rashford has been explosive. Nine goals and six assists for Man Utd’s number 10. Still only 21 years old, he has every chance to be United’s cornerstone player for the next 10 years. He’ll continue to climb up this and other lists if he can remain consistent.
22) Declan Rice – West Ham Utd
Thought he was hugely overrated at the beginning of the season, but, yeah, he’s really good. One of those players you can plug into your midfield and he’ll perform right away. Excellent defensively, as good of a centre-back as he is a midfielder. Constantly in overdrive, he’ll work all day long, continuing to press. One of the best ball-winning midfielders in the league.
23) Alisson – Liverpool
Liverpool have been crying out for a world class goalkeeper for over 20 years. Now, they finally have one. Alisson has the best save success rate (6.91) in the top five European leagues and has already gained countless points for the Reds with last minute, important saves. Few dodgy moments from playing out with his feet, he needs to iron that out. Something to remember; Goalkeepers who come to the PL usually suck in their first season. Leads the league in clean sheets (14). Worth every penny, although, he needs to be a bit less chilled out when he has the ball at his feet!
24) Christian Eriksen – Spurs
Replaced Philippe Coutinho as the best number 10 in the Premier League. Five goals and nine assists so far for Spurs in a year they’ve needed him the most with Dele Alli underperforming. Needs to add more goals to his game to take that jump to world class. Likely to move to Real Madrid this summer, which would be a great fit for his game.
25) N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
So irritating. Imagine, having the best central defensive midfielder the Premier League has seen since Claude Makelele, or prime Michael Essien, and you play him on the left so that Jorginho can play. Unlike Jorginho, the Frenchman is world class at what he does – reading the play, intercepting the ball and initiating attacks. Jorginho just passes the ball quite well to the wingers. Kante would be top three if he played in the #6.
26) Georginio Wijnaldum – Liverpool
His contribution can be hard to measure. He is not at the top of the list of tacklers, or high up for goals and assists. But it is his near constant involvement in both the defensive and attacking phases of the game that helps to knit this Liverpool team together and gets them flowing when they are at their very best. He’s one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp’s teamsheets when fit, and is arguably Liverpool’s most important midfielder to ensure their system is at its optimal.
27) Callum Wilson – Bournemouth
How annoying it is when Chelsea look abroad to sign average, overpriced strikers like Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi when Callum Wilson is doing the business right in front of their nose, is half the price and double the standard of player. What happened to English players being valued higher, eh? Wilson has, once again, been outstanding for the Cherries. 10 goals and five assists in 21 games this season. Although he’s in a great system, Wilson makes the most out of everything around him. The new Jermain Defoe.
28) Ryan Fraser – Bournemouth
If he was four inches taller then we’d be talking about him as one of the better players in the Premier League this season. Five goals and nine assists already this season, whilst creating 17 big chances for Bournemouth. He’s got pace to burn, he’s shifty and more often than not makes the right decision. Might be one to look out for this summer.
29) Felipe Anderson – West Ham Utd
West Ham took a calculated risk, spending £40 million on a player coming off the back of two average seasons at Lazio – they got it right. Felipe Anderson has continuously impressed in his first year in England, scoring eight goals and adding three assists. Whilst risky, West Ham assured that should clubs look to sign him this summer, they’ll likely have to pay £70m+. Is he worth that? Probably not. Could be a Hammer for the next 3-4 years.
30) Ben Chilwell – Leicester City
A seriously talented, young English left-back. Chilwell is strong, fast and athletic with minimal weaknesses. He’s one of the best defensive full-backs in the league. Although only 5’10, never seems to lose headers and reads the play well to get into position. Still can improve offensively. Expect him to sign for Manchester City this summer.
31) Ricardo Pereira – Leicester City
Leicester City might have the best full-back partnership in the league. Two goals and three assists from right-back with 135 recoveries. Pereira is a sneaky signing of the season candidate. I’d argue he’s the best right-back in the Premier League.
32) John Stones – Man City
Still has his flaws, but he’s slowly realising his potential. When he’s playing alongside Laporte, City’s back four look pretty dominant. His tackle success is near the highest in the league, has 87 recoveries and has made zero mistakes leading to chances. Still brilliant playing the ball out of the back, a calming presence.
33) Jonny – Wolves
Four defenders in a row! I hadn’t taken too much notice of him until a few weeks ago. Looking at his stats, and watching him against Everton and West Ham, he’s one of those players that jumps off your screen. Excellent going forward, even better defensively. Has an absurd 107 recovery tackles this season. Decent name, keeping it simple, like it.
34) Lukasz Fabianski – West Ham Utd
Fabianski has quietly been dominant this season. Probably has the best hands in the Premier League. Playing in front of a bang average back four, the Pole has been a marquee signing for West Ham. Has a very weird, specific goal kick routine. Keep your eye on him next time West Ham are on the telegraph.
35) Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal
If Lacazette was at Manchester United, he’d probably one of the top scorers in the league. Instead, he’s in a system which doesn’t really suit him, having to be pushed out wide or coming off the bench so that Aubameyang can (correctly) be in his optimal position. Deadly finisher who has very little flaws. Underrated passer who usually makes the right decision in the final third.
36) David Brooks – Bournemouth
Day #20 of our Bournemouth advent calendar.
2️⃣0️⃣ David Brooks’ 3 goals for us this season 🔥 #afcb
— 🍒 TheCherries 🍒 (@TheCherries_com) December 20, 2018
The youngster is looking like prime Adam Lallana this season, and he’s still 21 years old. Five goals and three assists in 21 appearances, most of them whilst playing out of position is very promising. Needs to work on his finishing though – he could easily be into double figures this season. He’s got a great motor, at both end. He’s going to get a big move this summer.
37) Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Excellent at both ends of the pitch this season. Alexander-Arnold has always been impressive going forward, but it is his improvement defensively which has been most pleasing. Liverpool’s back four has not looked the same without him. One of the best crossers in the PL and is always a danger from set-pieces. Would be higher if not for injuries.
38) Aleksandr Mitrovic – Fulham
10 goals in 25 games in this team is very impressive. There’s no way in hell Fulham should get relegated with the roster they have. Without Mitro’s goals, they’d have zero wins and just seven points this season. They NEED to give their star striker some service to feed off, with Ryan Sessegnon and Andre Schurrle flattering to deceive, Fulham have signed Ryan Babel and Lazar Markovic… Bold strategy, Cotton.
39) Fabinho – Liverpool
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) February 20, 2019
Why, oh why does Jurgen Klopp not start Fabinho every week? Liverpool are so much better in possession, so much more fluid with their Brazilian defensive midfielder in the team. Fabinho shows every quality aspect you look for in a defensive midfielder, whilst driving forward turning defence into attack. His first-half performance against Manchester United was absurd. Jurgen, please stop dropping him, he doesn’t need the rest.
40) Lucas Digne – Everton
It was always expected that he’d struggle defensively after coming from playing in Italy and Spain – had a few Alberto Moreno-esque moments defensively which he needs to iron out of his game. However, he’s been the Toffee’s best attacking outlet creating 12 big chances, whilst scoring three goals and adding three assists.
41) Idrissa Gueye – Everton
Andre Gomes is the man who has been receiving the hype, but it’s his midfield partner who allows him the freedom to play, and push forward without worrying about the midfield being exposed defensively. ‘Gana’ is one of the better defensive midfielders in the league, averaging 4.2 tackles per match, protecting a leaky Everton back four. PSG are only interested in signing world class players and came close to acquiring him in January as a long-term replacement for outgoing Adrien Rabiot. Although, they did recently sign Choupo-Moting! No-one has made more tackles than Gana this season.
42) Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace
Aaron Wan Bissaka. Believe the hype. pic.twitter.com/FrA9M3umZs
— REGGIE. (@OneBissakaa) February 16, 2019
Wish I could put him higher, but he’s still incredibly raw. Wan-Bissaka is one of only two players in Europe’s top five leagues to have completed 40 tackles and 20 dribbles through 20 games. He’s also the only Premier League player to rank in the top 10 for tackles, dribbles and interceptions. Wan Bissaka is a name to watch this summer, he’s having a breakout year.
43) Anthony Martial – Man Utd
Just looking at his stats, Martial has a case to be way higher. Eight goals in 18 games is undeniably impressive, but his decision-making is incredibly frustrating. Only created three chances for teammates all season. Probably one of the best finishers in the league. Feel like he might be suited to playing #9 rather than on the left, as he wants no part of defending whatsoever.
44) Ruben Neves – Wolves
A fun player to watch. Alongside countryman Joao Moutinho, who just misses out, Neves has been tremendous in the middle of the pitch. Very underrated defensively, with damn near three interceptions a game and nearly 200 recovery tackles, Neves has translated his Championship form into the EPL. Plus, he scores worldies.
What a goal from Ruben Neves 💥
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 7, 2019
45) Richarlison – Everton
Ridiculously good start to the season for the Brazilian and already has 10 goals, but his inconsistency has begun to frustrate some Everton fans. Decision-making has been questionable at times and tends to look for goal too often rather than playing the right pass. Only one big chance created all season. He could easily finish the season in the top 20, though.
46) Jesse Lingard – Man Utd
He’s had some great moments this season, but that’s about it. Only four goals and two assists so far in an attacking position for Manchester United probably isn’t good enough. There’s no denying his obvious talent, though. He’s also an underrated finisher. Composed under pressure. Decent dancer, too.
47) Kyle Walker – Man City
The attacking full-back has been underwhelming at both sides of the pitch this season, even finding himself dropped in favour of Danilo at times. His crossing has been way below his average, he’s been sloppy in possession and has only managed one assist. Defensively, he’ll always have his struggles, but he’s one of the best recovery players that the Premier League has ever seen.
48) Dele Alli – Spurs
Dele Alli has only created three chances all season?! And only has one assist. That’s really poor. Alli is ridiculously talented, and has had some moments of magic, but it hasn’t been seen regularly enough. He’s lucky to be on this list at all.
49) Ander Herrera – Man Utd
The Spaniard suffered a pretty poor start to the season, but his improvement since November has played a huge part in United’s turn of form. Herrera has been excellent defensively with over 30 interceptions – nearly two a game – whilst averaging .7 key passes per game. Could be higher, has put in some pretty dire performances at times earlier in the campaign.
50) Ederson – Man City
One of the best goalkeepers in the league and will be right up there at the end of the season with the best defensive records in the EPL. However, he’s conceded a few he will probably want back and hasn’t been as commanding as what we saw last year. Still, the fourth best performing keeper in the league. He’s had two absolutely ridiculous assists this season.
Just missed out: Neil Etheridge, Matt Ryan, Ben Foster, Matt Doherty, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Solly March, Joe Gomez, Sol Bamba, Luke Shaw, Joao Moutinho, Moussa Sissoko, Ilkay Gundogan, Diego Jota, James Maddison, Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon, Raul Jimenez, Wilfried Zaha
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