Stats gurus recently conducted a study to determine the best performing outfield players in each of Europe’s top 32 leagues. The Premier League’s results are in – and it’s Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool that lead the way.
Per the CIES Football Observatory, ‘players were ranked according to their performance level with respect to both teammates and opponents, their playing time, as well as their team and league sporting strength’ across 15 categories.
Once the numbers had been crunched, the Reds’ players came out on top in eight of those 15 categories in terms of the Premier League.
Defensively, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho emerged as the best in their respective classifications.
Matip was recognised as the league’s top ‘air-to-ground blocker’ for his sturdiness at the back for Liverpool, while Van Dijk got the nod for his role as an ‘air blocker filter man’ – celebrating both his aerial prowess and his work rate.
Fabinho’s discipline and composure at the base of Liverpool’s midfield saw him rank highest in the category of ‘ground blocker filter man’.
There was even greater success further up the field with dynamic full-back partnership Andy Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold each winning categories based on the creative threat they offer from wide areas for Liverpool.
Robertson bagged the ‘infiltrator creator’ category, beating Manchester City’s Bernando Silva, with Trent snagging the ‘playmaker creator’ prize,
Not only did both land domestic honours in the survey but – alongside Van Dijk – they also claimed their overall categories across the whole of Europe.
The top spot in the category of ‘shooter infiltrator’, which looks at a player’s ability to take on their opposition and get a shot away at goal was always going to be a keenly contested one in the Premier League.
The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez of Man City were all live contenders. Ultimately, though, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane claimed top billing in the survey – only beaten to the European prize by Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior.
Mane’s attacking colleagues, Mo Salah and Diogo Jota were also recognised for their potency close to goal by researchers, who awarded them each a category based on their shooting ability.
Although several Man City stars lost out to their Liverpool peers elsewhere, four categories were ruled by players from the Etihad Stadium.
Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri and Bernardo Silva each scored top marks in categories which celebrated the ability of an individual to play out from the back – both domestically and in Europe.
Liverpool and City, then, claimed Premier League supremacy in 12 out of the 15 areas examined by the study.
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Curiously, proving that stats don’t always tell the full story, the final three categories in the domestic portion of the survey went to Arsenal players.
Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette each ranked top of a classification based more on the potential of what they could produce, rather than what they actually have.
Lacazette’s work rate has been impressive at certain points this season, leading to him landing the ‘all-rounder target man’ category.
However, with just four goals in 25 Premier League games this season, that ‘all-round’ game hasn’t extended to the Frenchman hitting the back of the net all that often this term.
You can check out the winners of all 15 categories in full – for both the Premier League and Europe overall – below.
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