If you’re going to shine as an attacking force in the Premier League, then you need players who can unlock stubborn defences.
Those players, who can play a killer pass, who have he intelligence to find space in tight areas, and can create chances for their forwards, are worth their weight in gold.
Last season, Kevin de Bruyne was the heartbeat of Manchester City’s title success, with his ability to find gaps in defences, to play the killer ball on the counter and to net himself, ending up with eight goals and 16 assists.
Injury has curtailed his playing time this season, meaning that last season’s benchmark joins Mesut Ozil in not making our top 10; de Bruyne simply hasn’t played enough while the Arsenal man simply hasn’t impressed anywhere near often enough.
With all that being said, here are the top 10 of the season so far.
10. Roberto Pereyra (Watford)
The Argentine midfielder has thrived under Javi Gracia, netting six goals with registering one assist in the Premier League this term.
He has an 86 per cent pass conversion rate as well as a 75% long pass conversion rate, becoming a real menace for Watford , operating from the left side of their midfield.
Earlier on in the season, Watford manager Gracia said he thought his squad was ‘the best in the Premier League’, and Pereyra has played a starring role for the men in yellow.
9. David Brooks (Bournemouth)
The Welsh youngster, in his first season in the Premier League, has made an impressive start. Only 21 years of age, he has fitted into the Bournemouth line up and shone since his summer arrival from Sheffield United.
He already has five league goals in 19 appearances, once again proving how Bournemouth have a knack of doing successful business with young players in the transfer window; Brooks often didn’t start for the Blades last term, but has taken to life on the south coast, and the step up, seamlessly.
Eddie Howe has said how he’s ‘excited’ by Brooks, who boasts a lovely touch, is capable of drifting past opponents with ease and has an eye for a killer pass.
Brooks was on the books at Manchester City for 10 years before being released in 2014; could that become a decision they may regret?
8. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
The World Cup winner wasn’t himself under Mourinho and clearly there was a breakdown between the two.
And yet. He has beaten the keeper seven times, made six assists and has the most shots on target by any midfielder in the Premier League (31) this season. He averages five successful dribbles per game as well as having an 86 per cent pass completion rate; back flourishing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he is proving that he’s not just a provider but also a goal scorer.
Jesse Lingard has recently said how Pogba is ‘back to that player, the player we know’, providing United fans with plenty of encouragement.
The Red Devils will be hoping Pogba can lead United in their bid to push back into the top four. Pogba at his best is a joy to watch – there’s more to come, but he’s not been that bad either.
7. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
The Icelandic international has had a better time of it under Marco Silva this season when compared to his time under Sam Allardyce.
Offered more freedom under the Portuguese, he has netted eight goals and registered three assists, a crucial cog for the somewhat inconsistent blue side of Merseyside.
Sigurdsson is joint top scorer for the men in blue with Richarlison, while also averaging 2 key passes per game (opportunities leading directly to a shot on goal); as Everton look to push to finish best of the rest, the Iceland star will be pivotal.
6. James Maddison (Leicester City)
Having starred in both Scotland and the Championship, the former Norwich playmaker has impressed after stepping up into the Premier League with Leicester .
The Foxes splashed in excess of £20million to land Maddison, and he has shown no shortage of quality, sitting just behind Jamie Vardy in attack. Maddison has five goals and three assists to his name and fans have immediately warmed to the former Canary.
He’s not afraid to run at defences, with a 78% dribble success rate, averages 2.4 key passes per game and week in week out shows intelligence to find clever pockets between the lines.
Already has one of the goals of the season to his name – his wonderful effort in the win over Watford on December 1 – and looks set for a very bright future at the King Power.
5. Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
The boy from Milton Keynes has gone from strength to strength under Mauricio Pochettino and has shown his versatility this season, operating as a No.8, No.10 and also occasionally from the left side.
Alli has tallied up four goals this season, but also has a pass completion percentage of 80%, showcasing his ability to find his man when Spurs go on the offensive and is continuing to cause opponents problems with his off-the-ball running.
But the England man has also become even more important – and a more complete all-round player – with his defensive work off the ball. He averages 1.6 tackles and one interception per 90, but its his smart pressing which really benefits his side, forcing turnovers.
He continues to grow and impress.
4. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
The Brazilian has changed his game once more under Jurgen Klopp this season. In the big games he continues to be used as a false nine in a 4-3-3, but increasingly the Brazilian has been asked to operate in the No.10 role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, behind Salah.
He has all bases covered when going forward. He can pick a pass, with a 75% accuracy for passes into the final third (plus three assists) and likewise knows where the goal is, scoring eight goals, including a splendid double against Arsenal in December.
Between the trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, they share 29 goals this season, making up for over half of Liverpool’s Premier League goals, highlighting their importance. But would the other two be as proficient if Firmino weren’t around?
If Liverpool are to lift the Premier League trophy come May, Firmino will be crucial. His goals, and his ability to produce a piece of magic when his side need it are irreplaceable.
3. David Silva (Manchester City)
The Premier League veteran is once again illustrating his class in England’s top flight, with six goals backed up with a couple of assists; he still remains among the Premier League’s best.
Silva turned 33 this week, and continues to be a major presence for City, making over 62 passes per game as he operates slightly deeper than in previous years – a No.8 more than a No.10 – but is making fine runs to break the lines.
The Spaniard averages 2.4 key passes per game, and has also created eight big chances for Guardiola’s men in the league this year. Combining up with Bernardo Silva, the two magicians are vital in City’s title race with Liverpool .
One of the best players the Premier League has seen, we must make the most of the rest of the time he spends gracing our football pitches.
2. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Another Spurs man who is now without doubt one of the Premier League’s best in the attacking midfielder role, like Alli the Dane has also shown his versatility by combining time playing as both a No.8 and a No.10.
An impressive seven assists combined with four goals showcases why Tottenham ’s Eriksen has been linked with a move to Real Madrid – and why Spurs have reportedly slapped a £225million price tag on his head. His more than impressive 84% successful pass rate speaks for itself.
But much of the beauty of the former Ajax man is how easy he makes things appear, how much time he always appears to have. Like Silva, the 26-year-old never seems rushed, and is always thinking a couple of moves ahead; rarely, if ever, does he receive the ball not knowing where he’s going with it.
If Spurs are to stay in touch with Manchester City and Liverpool, or even get their hands on their first trophy since 2008, they will need the Dane to be at his very best. When he is, he’s a joy to watch.
1. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
The Portuguese maestro has been the standout this season, operating in a central role that in itself is new for the former Monaco man and which perhaps wouldn’t even be his had De Bruyne been fit from the off this term.
Having spent much of his career playing from the right, he has been brought into a central role by Pep Guardiola and has thrived this term, tallying five goals and six assists, proving himself a class above at the heart of the action.
Despite only being 64 kilograms, the little man makes up for his lack of height with his footballing ability. A staggering 86% successful pass rate – plus an average 1.99 key passes per 90 – proves his ability to cut open defences.
With Bernardo, the simple fact of the matter is that, if you have a player with this much vision, this much quality and an ability to dictate matches, then why not get him involved at every available opportunity; offering a central platform has done just that.
He fits City’s style of play perfectly in attack and defensively – witness his display against Liverpool recently, constantly pressing, never giving opponents an inch – and the ex-Benfica kid has proven himself worth every penny of the £44million splashed out in 2017.