Ranked! The 10 best Premier League players after 10 matches
10. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
As soon as it became clear that Maurizio Sarri would be Conte’s replacement at Chelsea, Alonso might have felt a little uncomfortable. Out would go the three-man central defence and wing-backs; in would come a flat back four.
For Alonso, who had gotten so used to surging down the left safe in the knowledge that there was cover behind him, the concern was that he would either be stymied or simply replaced by a new signing.
Instead, Alonso has carried on merrily doing his thing despite nominally playing in a more defensive position. Only Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata have taken more shots for Chelsea than their left-back. All credit to Sarri for concluding that if you’re going to play Alonso, you might as well let him run free.
9. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
It’s easy to take Aguero’s consistent excellence for granted. Such is the creative genius within Manchester City’s attack, the understandable theory put forward is that anyone could be successful as the striker in this team. Aguero has taken more shots than any other Premier League player this season, and scored six goals. His conversion rate and shot accuracy are both lower than Harry Kane.
But the Argentine is not the poacher in City’s attack; that role is actually taken by Raheem Sterling. In his late 20s, Aguero has been forced to adapt his game to fit the demands of Pep Guardiola’s system.
He drops deep to pick up possession, drag defenders out of position and create space in behind. He is asked to be both selfless and selfish, and pick the right moments to flit between the two. Gabriel Jesus’s goalscoring drought demonstrates how hard that is to pull off, but Aguero has made it work.
8. Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Possibly the most improved player in the country over the last two years. Doherty stuck it out at Wolves despite loans to Hibernian and Bury and relegation to League One. Having improved markedly under Nuno during the club’s Championship promotion campaign, Wolves supporters waxed lyrical about an attacking right-wing-back who seemed perfect for Premier League life.
You bet he is. Wolves’s brilliant start to the season has been tempered by recent defeats to Watford and Brighton, but Doherty continues to shine. Only one of their players has had more shots on target, only one has scored more goals and only two have created more chances.
Given the club’s investment in attack and midfield, and considering that Doherty is a defender, that’s astonishing.
7. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
No Liverpool player has had more shots on target. No Liverpool player has created more chances. No Liverpool player has completed more dribbles. Salah is far below last season’s peak, but still the Reds’ second-highest-performing player. Those are the high standards that he set in 2017/18.
You don’t need to have watched Salah for long to see the differences. Playing at the peak of confidence allows a footballer to perform on instinct. Brilliance is achieved not through deliberation but almost entirely without thought. Right now, Salah is thinking about what he is doing.
But he’s also still achieving. Salah is one of only six players to have at least three goals and three assists in the Premier League this season. When he hits top gear again, we’re all in trouble.
6. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
And so to another of those players with three assists and three goals – a list on which Fraser is joined by team-mate Callum Wilson. The secret to Eddie Howe’s managerial excellence lies in improving players beyond their reasonable potential. Fraser and Wilson are the current best examples.
For Fraser, it’s been a long journey to relevance. The winger freely admits that he was not looking after his body properly when he first broke into Bournemouth’s first team, and was told by Howe in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t play for the club again until he’d got to grips with that element of his life.
Now matured, Fraser is blossoming. The 24-year-old is starting to dominate matches in a manner that we haven’t previously seen. He cites Eden Hazard as a role model to follow, and the similarities are more numerous than you might expect. The Scottish street footballer has been fine-tuned.