The 10 Premier League players who’ve surprised us most so far this season

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

Sturridge’s Liverpool career looked all but over six months ago. An injury-plagued couple of years and subsequent goalless loan spell with West Brom at the end of last season led to the Englishman being heavily linked with a move away from Anfield during the summer. He was, after all, clear second (or even third) choice behind Liverpool’s solidified front three. 

But after an excellent pre-season which thrilled Jurgen Klopp, the 29-year-old hitman has re-established himself as a fan favourite on Merseyside and and kept himself well within his manager’s plans. 

Four goals so far this term, including the late stunner which earned Liverpool a point at Stamford Bridge (and Sturridge the Premier League's September goal-of-the-month gong), makes him the Reds’ top scorer alongside Sadio Mané. 

Luke Shaw (Man United) 

Not much good has happened at Manchester United this season. Ninth in the table, already out of the League Cup and with Jose Mourinho seemingly unable to find harmony with his players, the red mist is descending upon Old Trafford. 

One silver lining in the dark skies has been the form of left-back Shaw, however. This time last year, the Englishman hadn’t played a Premier League game (and didn’t until December 13), and seemed destined for a move away from United. 

Slowly but surely things changed, and the 23-year-old’s dynamic and energetic performances this season have helped him reclaim his spot as the club’s first-choice left-back ahead of Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo. Shaw was named United’s player of the month for August, recalled to the England squad for the first time in well over a year and has a new contract waiting for him to sign. Quite the upturn.  

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) 

After helping fire Fulham to promotion last term with 12 goals in 17 games on loan, it was hoped that the burly Serb would transfer his fine form to the top flight.  

Mitrovic’s previous record with Newcastle suggested caution was required – he scored just 13 times in 59 games across first and second tiers with the Magpies – but having managed five goals already this term, the 24-year-old is finally showing why his former club were right to pay £13m for him in 2015.  

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic appears to have soothed Mitrovic’s bad temper, and in turn made him a real asset to the Cottagers’ cause. The west Londoners only made his move permanent in the summer, but that hasn’t stopped January links with local rivals Chelsea. Hmm.  

Glenn Murray (Brighton) 

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Murray may be 35, but he’s arguably in the form of his life right now. The striker didn’t make his first Premier League appearance until February 2014, and his best ever goal tally in the top flight came last year when he managed 12, but the veteran is already well on course to beat that this time around.

With five goals already, Murray is the Premier League’s second-highest scorer behind Eden Hazard, and level on goals with Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Aleksandar Mitrovic. 

Perhaps more importantly, however, Murray is the master of scoring ‘big goals’ – his strikes having earned Brighton five points already, more than half their total so far. 

SEE ALSO 7 Premier League veterans who defied age to dominate in the top flight 

Matt Doherty (Wolves)

It’s been a fortnight to remember for Wolves’s right-back. The 26-year-old scored his first Premier League goal in their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, made his first start for Ireland against Denmark in the UEFA Nations League (opens in new tab), and was voted PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for September. 

Doherty scooped 39% of the vote to beat the likes of Aguero, Hazard and Alexandre Lacazette to the prize after Wolves enjoyed an unbeaten month in the top flight. 

His strike against Palace, as well as the two assists he registered during the month, helped him become the first Irishman in history to win the award. For a player who’s been at Wolves since 2010 and survived their new revolution, that’s some going. 

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James Maddison (Leicester) 

Adjusting to life in the Premier League can be difficult after forging a career in the lower echelons of English football. But not, apparently, for Maddison. 

The Leicester star, who joined the Foxes in a £20 million deal from Norwich last summer, has adapted to life in the top flight seamlessly with three goals and two assists, exerting his influence in each of the Foxes’ eight matches this season. 

The 21-year-old has played with the type of swagger you’d expect from a seasoned top-flight veteran, and his flamboyance and technical ability have been thrilling to watch in such a young, English player. Gareth Southgate has been unable to ignore him, having called Maddison up to the senior England side for the Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.  

Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) 

Lacazette struggled in his early days as an Arsenal player, and his cause wasn’t helped when the Gunners signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang six months later.  

But while the Gabonese’s arrival could have led to the Frenchman’s career in north London fizzling out, it has instead had the exact opposite effect. Lacazette managed nine goals alongside his new strike partner during the second half of last season, and has continued that fine of form in the early stages of the new campaign by scoring five times   

Aubameyang has also been among the goals this term (he’s got six), and the prolific pair already look like they could fire Unai Emery’s side back into the Champions League next season.  

Ross Barkley (Chelsea) 

If you were to hazard (no pun intended) a guess at the role Barkley would play at Chelsea this term, it would surely have been nothing more than squad player. Instead, the Englishman has been one of the Blues’ standout performers. 

Barkley looks a player re-born under new boss Maurizio Sarri: fitter, stronger, faster (the song Daft Punk wish they’d written – Ed.) and more confident than ever. The 24-year-old’s energy, tactical awareness and passing range are making him a perfect fit to the style of play Sarri is trying to implement at Stamford Bridge – most tellingly, ahead of Ruben Loftus-Cheek right now.  

SEE ALSO Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s road is running out at Chelsea – and reaching an inevitable conclusion 

Aaron Lennon (Burnley) 

Lennon was in a “dark place” in May 2017, having been briefly detained under the Mental Health Act after a stress-related episode during his time at Everton. Almost 18 months on, though, the former Tottenham winger is thoroughly enjoying his football again at Burnley.  

The 31-year-old scored his first Clarets goal at the end of last month in a much-needed 4-0 win over Bournemouth – his first league goal since March 2016 – and the grin on his face was one of both relief and joy as he ran to the crowd at Turf Moor. Lennon also set up Ashley Barnes for his side’s third of the afternoon, and hasn’t missed a minute of Premier League football under Sean Dyche this term.  

He’s now targeting a return to the England squad as he continues his remarkable comeback. “It's a long time since I played international football,” said the ex-Leeds man. “Who knows? You never know.” 

Bournemouth 

OK, so we're rule-bending here. After rising from League Two to the Premier League in just six seasons, Bournemouth have enjoyed a mixed few years in England’s top flight. They escaped relegation in their first season, finished ninth in their second, and secured a comfortable 12th-place standing last time out. 

This season looks likely to be the year they truly establish themselves as a top-half force, though. Eddie Howe’s men have dazzled in the early stages of the new campaign, winning five of their eight games and scoring 16 goals – the fourth-highest total in the division. 

The free-scoring Cherries have swept aside Watford, Leicester and West Ham to claim sixth place, although clashes with Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City in the next seven games will be a true test of their mettle. So far, collective excellence.  

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