Who deserves more praise?
Even the most ardent of Manchester United fans would admit that Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are among the Premier League's best players. If the pair maintain their form in the second half of the campaign, they'll take some stopping in the end-of-season awards.
But what about the players who don't always get the credit they deserve? In this slideshow, we pick out 10 underrated Premier League performers.
10. Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
Barring their capitulations against Tottenham and Manchester City (the latter not helped by Sadio Mane’s dismissal), Liverpool have improved defensively in 2017/18 despite the added onus of Champions League fixtures. The only difference in personnel has been youngster Gomez, who was sidelined for much of the last campaign with an ACL injury.
Efficient with the ball and strong without it, the recent England new boy has made the Reds’ backline much more solid. Even the £75m signing of Virgil van Dijk might not be a bad thing for him; with such a commanding presence added to the defence, Jurgen Klopp could be tempted to prefer the ball-playing youngster over flawed rivals like Dejan Lovren.
9. Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Everton endured an extremely tough start to the campaign, but things could have been even uglier were it not for the English shot-stopper. The ex-Sunderland man has made some vital saves in the first few months of 2017/18, while his pinpoint distribution has been key to the Toffees turning defence into attack quickly.
Pickford’s composed performance against West Ham in November spoke to his value: he claimed several crosses and even saved a penalty, demonstrating the type of self-assurance that was lacking down the other end of the field.
8. Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom)
Standing at an imperious 6ft 4in, the Baggies’ Egyptian centre-back has dominated Premier League strikers since his arrival last summer.
The former Al Ahly man’s no-nonsense defending and towering presence has earned many admiring glances, not least from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp – although the German will have to continue admiring from afar after West Brom made the stopper's loan deal permanent. Alan Pardew will hope to repel any raiders as effectively as Hegazi has done, having clocked up 146 clearances in his first 21 league games of 2017/18.
7. Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)
Even during the woeful run that Palace endured at the start of the season, Cabaye remained a class act as the Eagles’ best player. The Frenchman’s exquisite distribution and tenacious tackling have helped provide the platform for a Roy Hodgson revival, and the ex-England chief will be looking at his star midfielder to steer the south Londoners into mid-table.
Cabaye's numbers show his all-round impressiveness. He tops Palace's per-game charts for both interceptions and crosses, while only his less adventurous sidekick Luka Milivojevic has passed more, showcasing just how important he is if they’re to avoid the drop this term.
6. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
After his numerous injuries over the years, it’s easy to forget just how good Ramsey can be at his best. While bigger names have eyed the exit door, the Welshman has arguably been his team’s standout performer this term – whether deployed in a deep-lying or advanced central role. For the first time in a long while, Ramsey looks to be replicating his form for Wales at club level.
The 26-year-old currently has six assists to his name (one more than Mesut Ozil, who has played almost 180 minutes more) thanks to an unerring knack for arriving in the opposition box at opportune moments; that precise passing has been a major factor in the Gunners’ play so far in 2017/18.
5. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)
Perhaps unfairly compared to his predecessor N’Golo Kante, Ndidi has been much better than many give him credit for. The 21-year-old arrived from Genk for £15m in January 2017 and has been virtually ever-present in the Foxes’ midfield since then.
Since the start of the season, the Nigeria international has made more successful tackles (4.1) per game than any other player in the division – the sort of statistic that helped earn Kante to his big-money Chelsea move.
He’s improving alongside Spaniard Vicente Iborra, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the powerful midfielder follow a similar career trajectory to Kante in years to come.
4. Steven Davis (Southampton)
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has continued the club’s drive for possession-based football, and in Davis, the Spaniard has his orchestrator. The Northern Irishman is a gifted technician who carries the ball out of midfield well, picking out passes that others don’t see.
Now almost 33, Davis was among those dropped after the humiliation by Leicester shortly before Christmas, but the skipper will certainly have a part to play in nurturing future talent like Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Mario Lemina.
3. James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Replacing the outgoing Michael Keane in the summer seemed a near-impossible task, so it’s with great credit to Tarkowski (and the management of Sean Dyche) that he’s established himself alongside Ben Mee so seamlessly.
The ex-Brentford man embodies Burnley’s no-nonsense approach to defending: only Brighton’s Shane Duffy has made more clearances per game, while only the Seagulls' Lewis Dunk and Tarkowski's team-mate Mee have made more blocks.
The 25-year-old is willing to put his head where others wouldn’t put their boots, and has proved a dependable part of the Premier League’s joint-best defence.
2. Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield)
Aaron Mooy is more likely to garner praise, but the Australian's midfield partner Hogg has flown under the radar somewhat. The midfielder – who last played Premier League football with Aston Villa five years ago – is quietly enjoying life back in the top flight, after recovering from injury to reclaim his spot in David Wagner's XI.
Defensively, Hogg is his side’s standout performer: he's averaged 2.9 tackles per game (the division's eight-highest average), while also contributing 2 interceptions per match.
1. Kiko Femenia (Watford)
Watford were showered with praise during the autumn – and rightly so – but Femenia has probably warranted more individual recognition. The right wing-back plays an integral role in Marco Silva’s attacking system, overlapping when the Hornets drive upfield.
The defender is enjoying life in England after a somewhat nomadic start to his career; spells with the B teams of Real Madrid and Barcelona (the latter left him “ruined” emotionally, he says) preceded a successful season with Alaves last year.
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