Time now to take a look at the Premier League’s best midfielders this past weekend. Continue reading
Evident so far in this season’s English Premier League, has been that the division’s twenty teams each possess a wonderfully talented creative midfielder, blessed with great technical ability.
Such players are blessed with the awareness, skill, touch and vision to excite supporters, whilst orchestrating their respective team’s attacks in an elegant and stylish way.
Although in some instances it is difficult to identify just one creatively skilled playmaker from each of the twenty English Premier League squads, the following list aims to do just that, whilst also drawing attention to similarly gifted players, who contribute positively to their team’s overall performance.
Creatively gifted player makers club-by-club
Arsenal – Mesut Ozil – Now in his fourth season with Arsenal, the 28-year-old German midfielder has scored six goals in eight appearances, including a hat-trick, which was the first of his professional career, as Arsene Wenger’s side beat FC Ludogrets 6-0.
Whilst Ozil has delivered several outstanding performances this season, with his display during Arsenal’s 3-0 league win over Chelsea being particularly impressive, so too has Santi Cazorla.
After missing much of last season due to injury, the former Villareal attacking midfielder has regained full fitness and started this campaign in a similarly positive manner to that of Ozil.
Bournemouth – Jack Wilshere – For the first time since September 2014, when he scored to help his parent club Arsenal draw 2-2 with Manchester City, Wilshere completed 90 minutes in Bournemouth’s last league match against Tottenham.
In addition to playing with great determination and drive, Wilshere was a chief architect of most of his team’s best attacking moves, as he steadily progressing back towards rediscovering his best form.
Burnley – Steven Defour – Although Defour missed Burnley’s 2-1 victory over Everton due to an injury which he sustained in his team’s previous game against Southampton the 28-year-old has shown great adaptability to adjust to playing in the English Premier League.
As a result of his fine early season form, with the accuracy and range of his passing adding an important dimension to Burnley’s play, Defour has established himself as an important member of Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad for the 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Chelsea – Eden Hazard – An ever present for Chelsea in the English Premier League so far this season, Hazard has scored four goals in nine appearances.
In doing so the former Lille player has showcased wonderful technical ability, whilst also adjusting brilliantly to the high intensity and pressing style of play which Chelsea manager Antonio Conte demands his team to play.
Despite only being 25-year-old, Hazard has already played 411 senior club games and been capped 74 times by Belgium, with that level of activity testifies his superb level of fitness.
Crystal Palace – Yohan Cabaye – Whilst competition for places to play in Crystal Palace’s central midfield is fierce, with quality players such as Mathieu Flamini, Joe Ledley, James McArthur and Jordan Mutch among Alan Pardew’s squad, the 30-year-old Frenchman consistently proves himself to be one of his club’s most outstanding performers by displaying his superb vision and wonderful ball control.
Everton – Gerard Delofeu – In addition to being a proficient right winger, who has a direct style of play with a real desire and willingness to purposefully take on opponents, the 22-year-old is also equally adept at playing in a forward position, similar to the way in which his talented English teammate Ross Barkely is.
Due to the quality of offensively minded players at Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s disposal, Delofeu is not guaranteed a starting place in the Dutchman’s side. Nevertheless on each of Delofeu’s appearances this season, he has performed very positively.
Hull – Ryan Mason – Equally adept at playing as either a support striker or attacking midfielder which is the role he is currently performing for Hull, Mason has scored two goals in seven appearances since joining the club from Tottenham. In doing so the 25-year-old has become the fulcrum of his team’s attack and possesses the potential to help Hull end their run of six successive league defeats.
Leicester City – Riyad Mahrez – Last season PFA Players’ Player of the Year has delivered a series of polished performances in the Champions League, as Leicester have won three successive games in European football’s premier club competition.
In addition to scoring twice against Club Bruges as Leicester won 3-0 on their Champions League debut, Mahrez provided the assist for Islam Slimani’s winning goal as Leicester beat FC Porto 1-0.
Furthermore the forward duo combined brilliantly once again during Leicester’s 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen, with Slimani reciprocating Mahrez’s assist, as the 25-year-old Algerian steered home the game’s only goal.
Liverpool – Phillipe Coutinho – As a wonderfully versatile and technically gifted offensive minded player, Coutinho performs consistently well as either a winger or attacking midfielder, although he is currently prospering in a central role for Liverpool.
Whilst blessed with wonderful balance, dribbling skills and pace, Coutinho strikes the ball superbly well from distance, with the 24-year-old Brazilian having scored five goals in nine appearances this season.
Manchester City – David Silva – Ever since joining Manchester City in the summer of 2010, Silva has been one of the club’s best performers and has featured prominently in the success which they have enjoyed during that period.
Whilst blessed with many outstanding attributes, Silva’s ability to drift intelligently into space from which he can create goal – scoring opportunities characterises his game.
As did each of his predecessors as Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola has afforded Silva a free role, within which the 30-year-old Spaniard expresses his prodigious technical talent.
Manchester United – Juan Mata – As a wonderful passer, blessed with great technique, Mata is highly accustomed at creating opportunities for teammates to score, whilst another of the 28-year-old’s chief attributes is his excellent close control.
In seven English Premier League appearances this season Mata has scored two goals, whilst he possesses the potential to improve upon that due to the manner in which he combines his ability to quietly drift into goal – scoring positions with confident and on occasion improvised finishing.
A prime example of that was when he scored twice as Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in March 2014.
Middlesbrough – Gaston Ramirez – The 25-year-old Uruguayan has struck up a good understanding with Alvaro Negredo this season, whilst also being a chief architect of much of Middlesbrough’s fine counter-attacking play, with Ramirez excelling in his team’s recent 0-0 draw with Arsenal.
Southampton – Dusan Tadic – The 27-year-old Serbian has an ability to effortlessly dictate Southampton’s play, since Tadic is supremely comfortable in possession.
Furthermore his outstanding special awareness and vision enables him to roam around the pitch, as he forms an efficient link between his team’s midfield and attack.
Stoke – Xherdan Shaqiri – Despite missing six weeks of this season due to a calf injury, in five appearances Shaqiri has scored three goals, including a superb double as Stoke beat Hull 2-0.
Not only is the 25-year-old Swiss internationalist a dead ball specialist, as proven by the wonderful free-kicks he has scored this season against Middlesbrough and Hull, but he plays with a refreshing air of unpredictability, which enables him to trick opponents, whilst clever inventiveness is another key aspect of Shaqiri’s game.
Swansea – Gylfi Sigurdsson – Athletic, energetic and skillful, Sigurdsson is also blessed with great touch and vision, as he glides around the pitch, with great elegance and grace.
Although Swansea’s start to the season has been disappointing, the 27-year-old Icelandic internationalist has still delivered a series of polished performances, as a means of continuing the fine form he produced for his country at Euro 2016.
Sunderland – Adnan Januzaj – Although great potential exists for the 21-year-old Belgian to improve as a player, with him often too easily surrendering possession and playing in an overly zealous manner as was the case when he was sent off against Tottenham earlier this season, Januzaj’s is an exciting young talent courtesy of his dribbling ability, enthusiasm and positivity.
Tottenham – Delle Alli – By the age of just 19, Alli had already made 84 senior appearances for MK Dons, with that experience preparing him well to play in the English Premier League with Tottenham.
After scoring ten goals in 33 appearances for the North London club during his debut season, Alli was named the PFA Young Player of the Year. Subsequently he has helped his club embark upon an unbeaten start to the current campaign.
As an extremely committed, driven and powerful player, Alli channels his aggression and desire in a mature way, to pass with composure and stride purposefully around the pitch, whilst taking up excellent goal-scoring positions.
Watford – Roberto Pereyra – The 25-year-old Argentinean has seamlessly settled into Walter Mazzari’s side, since joining Watford from Juventus in the summer, with Pereyra vividly portraying that his dynamic, quick and industrious style of play is ideally suited to the English Premier League.
Although each of his Watford performances have been impressive, he was particularly influence as the club secured their first league win of the season with a 4-2 victory over West Ham, whereby Pereyra
West Brom – Nacer Chadli – In just five league appearances for West Brom, since joining the club from Tottenham, Chadli has scored four goals, whilst displaying his ambidexterity and attacking versatility, to quickly become a key member of Tony Pulis’ side.
It is testament to the quality of the offensive minded players at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal, that the Tottenham manager enabled Chadli to leave the club.
West Ham – Dimitri Payet – One of the most outstanding performers at Euro 2016, Payet endured a difficult start to this season as he struggled to recuperate from his summer exploits for France.
Nevertheless after scoring a sublime solo goal to earn West Ham a 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough, as the 29-year-old slalomed past several defenders before producing a precise finish, Payet has regained his confidence to help his team to two successive 1-0 victories.
Creative talents enhance quality of English Premier League
Each of the aforementioned creative midfielders each plays extremely important roles for their respective teams, by consistently showcasing the technical ability with which they are blessed in the English Premier League to improve the overall quality of the division.
Play European Fantasy Football against your friends and colleagues, sign up now with Eurofantasyleague.com
The presence of Yaya Toure, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and Marco Reus in the top positions in Euro Fantasy League’s midfielder rankings suggests that you generally get what you pay for when it comes to players in the middle of the park.
Bale was the most expensive of the group, with the general consensus being that Real Madrid paid Tottenham Hotspur £86m for the Wales winger. Then comes Eden Hazard, who cost Chelsea £32m from Lille. Yaya Toure’s price-tag puts him third at £24m, leaving Reus in fourth at a bargain £14.5m. That’s a combined fee for four players of £156.5m. You could buy entire clubs for that.
The top 10 Euro Fantasy League midfielders is generally a mix of expensive purchases and home grown talents. Thomas Muller of Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid’s Koke fall into the latter category as, technically, does Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona, although La Blaugrana did pay £35m to repatriate the former Arsenal captain from England.
Raffael is the closest thing to cheap in the list and his 15 goals in 32 games have helped Gladbach to a decent position in the Bundesliga, having cost a reported €5m. But the Brazilian is very much the exception that proves the rule.
Goal-scoring midfielders are at a premium and tend to move for fees usually reserved for strikers. But when Toure is netting 19 times, Bale and Hazard 14 and Reus 16, not to mention the best part of 40 assists between them, it’s clear to see why clubs with cash are willing to splash it on midfielders.
A midfielder who reaches double-figures in both categories is akin to having two players for the price of one. They ease the burden on the front man – usually a lone striker with 4-2-3-1 still a fashionable formation – and create chances for their colleagues. In the case of Hazard, he is Chelsea’s top scorer this season, and without the Belgian the Blues’ Premier League title challenge would never have got started.
They’re each accordingly expensive to have in your Euro Fantasy League team, too, although James Rodriguez offered far more value here than in the real world. A €45m signing for Monaco cost €7.5m in Euro Fantasy League; nine goals, 12 assists and 435 points suggests the Colombian would have been money well spent.
But it is Toure who boats the best points-to-value ratio. The Ivory Coast powerhouse cost only €8.5m in Euro Fantasy League and would have delivered 560 points. His 19 goals and 6 assists have put Manchester City in third in the Premier League and while they might yet overhaul Liverpool with the help of their game in hand, if Toure had been fit all season the title could have been wrapped up already.
Indeed, none of the top four players represent teams at the top of their domestic league. Toure, Hazard and Bale could all still claim winners’ medals and it appears clear that to stand a chance of lifting silverware, a goal-scoring midfielder is a must. If you can afford it.