Ronaldo, Salah, Mane: The top five Premier League players in each position this season

  • Kobe Tong
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The Premier League is taking a breather and coming up for air with its annual winter break.

There are now only a few months left to play and a break from action allows us to reflect on the title race, top four scramble, relegation dogfight and much more ahead of the season’s conclusion.

As such, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to pause for thought and unemotionally take a look at who the best performers of the 2021/22 campaign have truly been amidst a moment of reflection.

2021/22 Premier League

Naturally, it’s not hard to identify that players like Mohamed Salah and Joao Cancelo have been in a league of their own, but we wanted to make sure that no stone was left unturned in our assessment.

In order for that to be possible, we’re putting our necks on the line by naming and ranking who we consider to be the top five Premier League players in each major position based on this season.

Therefore, while the decisions will be informed by everything from statistics to the eye test, we are ultimately talking about a subjective exercise and our rankings are by no means beyond reproach.

That being said, we’re satisfied that our selections are a fair reflection of the season with players who flit between multiple positions being placed in the one they’ve occupied the most in 2021/22.

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Let's start easy: who's this iconic character?

Top five Prem players in each position

Got it? Right then, well, ready yourself for debate as we walk you through the top five players in the Premier League this season in every position from goalkeeper to centre forward down below:

Goalkeeper

5. Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

4. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

3. Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

2. David de Gea (Manchester United)

1. Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Pound for pound, Sa has undoubtedly been the Premier League’s best goalkeeper with just 16 goals conceded and a flurry of miraculous saves doing just enough to oust the resurgent De Gea.

Alisson has quietly been returning to his best form this season, too, while we’re not exactly doing anything groundbreaking in identifying that Ramsdale and Mendy have been superb in 2021/22.

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Right-back

5. Matthew Cash (Aston Villa)

4. Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)

3. Tino Livramento (Southampton)

2. Reece James (Chelsea)

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

With the most assists of anybody in the Premier League this season despite playing at full-back, Alexander-Arnold has regained his throne as the division’s premier right-back in emphatic style.

However, it’s not down to a lack of trying from the swashbuckling James who – alongside the stellar efforts of Livramento, Tomiyasu and Cash – rounds off a particularly strong position this campaign.

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Left-back

5. Marc Cucurella (Brighton & Hove Albion)

4. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

3. Rayan Aït-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

2. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)

1. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

We’re more than happy to shine a light on just how brilliant Aït-Nouri and Cucurella have been in 2021/22 as some of the division’s most underrated players, but this is a landslide win for Cancelo.

As much as Robertson has been typically brilliant and Chilwell was unstoppable before his injury, Cancelo is probably only a Salah away from being the leading contender to win PFA silverware. 

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Centre-back

5. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

4. Joel Matip (Liverpool)

3. Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

2. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

1. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Without a shadow of a doubt, this was one of the hardest positions to rank and compare because it feels like it’s been raining world-class centre-backs in the Premier League this season.

As such, it’s a complete shut-out for the division’s top three clubs with Rudiger’s stellar Chelsea form seeing him sneak ahead of the chasing pack who could admittedly be ordered any number of ways.

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Central midfield

5. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)

4. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

3. Declan Rice (West Ham United)

2. Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)

1. Rodri (Manchester City)

Are Rice and Gallagher better footballers than Silva and Kovacic? Of course not, at least not just yet, but they have undoubtedly been two of the best performers outside of the ‘top six’ in 2021/22.

However, nobody can lay a glove on Rodri at the moment as he continues to embark on a one-man mission as the world’s most underrated midfielder with defensive might and passing magnificence.

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Attacking midfield

5. James Maddison (Leicester City)

4. Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

3. Mason Mount (Chelsea)

2. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

1. Pablo Fornals (West Ham United)

Ok, so the well is admittedly a little dry in the world of attacking midfielders because they’re not really the done thing these days, so we’re going a little off-piste by tipping our hat to Fornals.

However, don’t take the decision lightly because the Hammers star’s total of five goals and two assists sees him more than hold his own against the bigger names forming a queue behind him.

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Right midfield/wing

5. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)

4. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

3. Raphinha (Leeds United)

2. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United)

1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Like, duh, we’re not even going to deign to explain why Salah is the top dog because it goes without saying and that’s despite some truly in-form players rubbing shoulders with him in the top five.

Bowen deserves an England call-up, Leeds would be at sea without Raphinha, Saka goes from strength to strength at Arsenal and Jesus has reinvented himself as a wide man for the champions. 

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Left midfield/wing

5. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

4. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

3. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

2. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

1. Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)

Yes, yes, so there are two Arsenal and City players in our top five, but that just goes to show how weak and changeable of a position the left wing is proving to be in the Premier League right now.

But whether or not you think Smith Rowe, Foden, Martinelli and co are best described as left-wingers, we’re still satisfied that Arsenal’s youngsters have mixed it with the big guns in 2021/22.

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Centre forward

5. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

3. Emmanuel Dennis (Watford)

2. Michail Antonio (West Ham United)

1. Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

It says everything about Jota’s brilliance this year that not being a natural-born striker has done nothing to stop him from surging forth as the Premier League’s top marksmen other than Salah.

And that’s despite the best efforts of seasoned goalscorers such as Antonio, Ronaldo and Vardy, while Dennis’ achievements in front of goal for relegation-threatened Watford is simply miraculous.

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Plenty to debate

There’s absolutely nothing that can possibly be contested, is there?

Ok, ok, so the rules of the game inevitably mean that some fans are reaching for their picket signs and pitchforks because there were so many positions, players and club to consider in our selections.

It’s by no means an easy premise, but it’s fun one to think about as the Premier League puts its feet up for a fortnight and we’d be fascinated to hear your personal picks across our social channels.

“Rangnick is struggling at Man Utd” (Football Terrace)

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