The most recent international break has been nothing short of a farce.
Players are returning to their clubs with positive COVID tests galore and there has also been a succession of injuries – namely to Joe Gomez and Nathan Ake.
As a result, the very nature of travelling around the world for pretty meaningless games of football during the middle of a pandemic has to be questioned.
It seems barbaric that we’ve sent players off with the ongoing geography of the situation in mind, but the governing bodies have clearly seen no issues.
The Premier League has seen a rise in cases this week with 16 new positive tests, the largest number we have seen since August. That’s a cause for concern heading into the winter round of fixtures, but let’s forget about the doom and gloom for a second.
With the international break in full swing, it feels like an ideal time to assess the best performers in the top-flight this term.
We consulted Football Observatory who have ranked the greatest footballers in the Premier League so far in 2020/21.
They take into account the pitch production and efficiency at both individual and collective level (methodology), using data from OptaPro.
=20. Gabriel, Danny Ings and Rodri – 81.6
Rodri is usually a pillar of consistency in the Manchester City midfield and this proves as much. Danny Ings might now be injured but he has still been his lively self this term, scoring five goals in eight matches. As for Gabriel, he has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water after joining Arsenal from Lille in the summer. It’s difficult to argue with all three of their rankings.
19. Joe Gomez – 81.6
This just goes to show how much Liverpool will miss Gomez now he’s been ruled out with a knee injury for the foreseeable future. The centre-back has been a big influence on Jurgen Klopp’s side.
18. Timo Werner – 81.9
17. Raphinha – 82.1
This is a surprising one. The Leeds winger signed for the Yorkshire side this summer for a fee of £17m but is yet to start a single game. He has made an impression as a substitute, though.
16. Youri Tielemans – 82.3
The Belgian midfielder is a silky technician and capped off his brilliant start to the current season by scoring against England in the recent break. The 23-year-old has three goals this term.
15. Fabian Balbuena – 82.3
West Ham’s defence has never displayed consistency but Balbuena has been quietly solid in 2020/21, making 2.3 interceptions a game.
14. Yerry Mina – 82.6
Everton have suffered back to back defeats but much of their early season form can be credited to Mina as much as it can their attacking threats.
13. Heung-min Son – 82.6
Given Son’s form for Tottenham, it’s incredible to think he’s this far down on the list. The South Korean has been a ball of fun on his way to scoring eight goals in as many league games.
12. Victor Lindelof – 82.7
Manchester United might be struggling at Old Trafford and with Harry Maguire’s temperamental form but they’ve found a more reliable figure in Lindelof this season.
11. Jan Bednarek – 82.9
Southampton currently sit fourth in the table and owe much of that to their central defenders. Bednarek has been excellent and has won an imperious 2.8 aerial duels a match – impressive work.
10. James Rodriguez – 84.4
Whether James was actually free or not, we won’t know. What we do know, however, is that he has been one of the best players in the division since signing. The Colombian has rediscovered himself at Everton and has three goals and three assists in seven appearances.
9. James Maddison 84.6
The Leicester midfielder is struggling to get in the England side and he can’t do much more to stake a claim than he’s doing this season. The 23-year-old may have scored just once in the Premier League but is being fouled at a rate of 1.7 times a match. It’ll only be a matter of time before the goals start to flow again for Maddison.
8. Kurt Zouma – 84.6
The Frenchman has been an absolute rock at the back for Chelsea in 2020/21, winning a colossal 3.3 aerial duels per game and completing over 90% of his passes.
7. James Ward-Prowse – 85.0
Ward-Prowse has been nothing short of excellent for Southampton during the current campaign. The midfielder has three goals and one assist on his way to winning 2.3 tackles per game. He is very effective at both ends of the pitch.
6. Jamie Vardy – 85.3
The man who can’t stop scoring. Give Vardy the ball in front of goal and 9/10 he’ll find the back of the net. The Foxes hero has netted eight goals in seven Premier League outings this term.
5. Sadio Mane – 86.6
Liverpool’s traditional front line may have been outshone by Diogo Jota this term but Mane still manages to top the dynamic Portuguese. He has four goals in the league.
4. Harry Kane – 87.4
Kane has been on fire in 2020/21 and you’ll find it difficult to find a defence that reckons they can deal with him. The England skipper has racked up a haul of seven goals and eight assists.
3. Jannik Vestergaard – 88.0
The best centre-back in the league? That’s the prize that goes to Southampton’s behemoth of a defender this term. He has been a colossal figure in their backline, winning 3.4 aerial duels and making 5.4 clearances a game.
2. Mohamed Salah – 89.0
Salah has recently tested positive for COVID but that’s unlikely to dampen the spirits of what has been another excellent few months for the Egyptian. The winger has eight in eight.
1. Jack Grealish – 89.9
This man is on fire right now and it’s no great surprise to see he takes the prize for the best player in the Premier League so far this season. The Aston Villa star has four goals and five assists in what has been a quite brilliant campaign to date.
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