Making the grade: Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean wizard has set the league alight since joining from Barcelona in the summer. Only Ian Wright (14 games) has been quicker to 10 league goals than Sanchez (17) for Arsenal in Premier League history. If it wasn’t for his contribution of goals and assists, the Gunners may well be far worse off than they are now.
Missing the mark: Per Mertesacker
The lanky German struck up a fantastic understanding with Laurent Koscielny last season, but due to the Frenchman’s injury problems Mertesacker has struggled this time around. He has lacked concentration, which has led to sloppy positional errors, and has failed to command the backline with his usual assurance.
Making the grade: Alan Hutton
Hutton’s Villa career appeared to be over after loans at Nottingham Forest, Real Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers over the last two seasons, but the Scot returned this season completely rejuvenated. Hutton has nailed down Paul Lambert's right-back slot after some fine displays – no Villa player has made more interceptions (25) or won a higher percentage of their tackles (59%) this season – and earned himself a new three-year contract in the process.
Missing the mark: Charles N’Zogbia
Like Hutton, N’Zogbia has been given a similar opportunity to revitalise his Villa career but has failed to make a similar mark. In fact, the Frenchman has been given 11 starts and has only completed 90 minutes once in the league this season.
Making the grade: Jason Shackell
Burnley’s best hopes for survival are surely the goals of Danny Ings, but centre-back Shackell has been an absolute rock this season. He is yet to miss a minute of Premier League football and has been able to win the majority of his tackles and aerial duels, blocking numerous shots to boot. No player has made more clearances (218) in the Premier League so far this season.
Missing the mark: Kieran Trippier
Trippier was superb in the Clarets’ promotion campaign, where he racked up 14 assists. Thus, there were big expectations on the full-back before a ball was kicked this season. However, it hasn’t quite happened for him so far – he’s made the most defensive errors and only has one assist to his name.
Making the grade: Nemanja Matic
It’s not easy picking an overachiever from this table-topping Chelsea side. Cesc Fabregas already boats 13 assists, but Matic is quietly excelling in his defensive midfield role. The Serb is an expert tackler (the joint-most in the top flight this season, 51) and interceptor (39, 10 more than any other Blue), but he is equally good at starting attacks when he wins the ball back. He is proving himself to be a complete midfielder.
Missing the mark: Andre Schurrle
Schurrle has failed to find regular football under Jose Mourinho. The 24-year-old World Cup winner has made just five league starts, scored twice and completed just five dribbles at a 36% success rate this season, meaning Willian has been preferred. He was hauled off at half-time in their most recent game at Southampton.