The Premier League's most underrated XI: Man Utd, Arsenal and Spurs stars feature

  • Kobe Tong
Man Utd's McTominay fumes.

Who is the Premier League’s most underrated player?

It’s the type of question that you often see posed on social media to the tune of furious debate with fans swiftly piling in to opine that this player or that player simply don’t get the credit they deserve.

In reality, the whole ‘underrated’ and ‘overrated’ debate is an incredibly complex one because it not only hinges on what you think about a certain footballer, but how you view the way that others, well, view them.

Underrated Premier League players

Nevertheless, perhaps foolishly or perhaps bravely, we’re taking on the challenge regardless by attempting to name the most underrated players in the Premier League right now.

To ensure that there’s fairness across all positions, we’re compiling these under-loved gems within a starting XI format using the oft-popular 4-3-3 formation and not getting too particular about certain players being ever so slightly away from their favoured roles.

In other words, while we’ll only be deploying midfielders in the midfield positions, we’re not going to lose our minds ensuring we have a defensive, box-to-box and attacking trio… you get the picture.

The decisions will ultimately be informed by the opinion of your humble writer with the aim of the game being to highlight the players for whom there is the biggest cavity between their quality and the praise they get for it.

So, while, sure, players like Rodri often get called underrated and we’ve said as such ourselves in the past, he’s probably now labelled as ‘underrated’ too regularly to actually be underrated, you follow?

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s impossible for us to plug ourselves entirely into the never-ending stream of football fan discussion as to know how every single Premier League player is perceived by the masses.

Paul Scholes tee - GMS shop

That’s to say that there could be a player so underrated we didn’t even know they were being underrated. Madness, I know.

The Premier League’s most underrated XI

But disclaimers and housekeeping aside, let’s dive into the meat and bones of this thing by walking you through what we consider to be the most underrated XI in the Premier League right now:

GK: Robert Sánchez (Brighton & Hove Albion)

For how often you see fans, pundits and journalists alike drooling at the sight of ball-playing goalkeepers like Alisson Becker and Ederson, it really is frustrating to see how regularly Sánchez is ignored in that conversation.

It’s not for no reason that Sánchez has become a regular fixture in Spain squads – sometimes ahead of David de Gea – recently with his slick passing and distribution at Brighton laying a foundation for a lot of the tactical wizardry that’s bagged Graham Potter the Chelsea job.

Sanchez gives a thumbs up.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion – Craven Cottage, London, Britain – August 30, 2022 Brighton & Hove Albion’s Robert Sanchez acknowledges fans after the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

RB: Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)

Poor KWP gets lost in the right-back shuffle such is the quality of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kieran Trippier and so on, but make no mistake that he’s made a real success of himself at St. Mary’s.

A dynamic, intelligent and kinetic force down the defensive flank for the Saints, Walker-Peters ranks in the 95th percentile for progressive carries and touches in the attacking penalty area compared to other full-backs.

CB: Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace)

The football hipster’s Premier League Player of the Season so far, Andersen is experiencing second-season-syndrome in the best possible sense at Selhurst Park.

A stellar opening weekend performance against Arsenal set the tone for Andersen’s 2022/23 as he’s gone onto look indomitable against Brentford and Newcastle United, while even chipping in with a goal at Manchester City.

Andersen battling away for Palace.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Crystal Palace v Brentford – Selhurst Park, London, Britain – August 30, 2022 Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen in action with Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

CB: Fabian Schär (Newcastle United)

When do you hear Schär praised when people talk about Newcastle? Not enough, that’s when, because it feels as though certain pre-takeover players are ignored a little bit just because they didn’t have a shiny new price tag.

But alas, three and a half years under Mike Ashley’s ownership hasn’t stopped Schär from standing out as a crucial cog in this new era at St. James’ Park, currently ranking as the Premier League’s second-best centre-half.

LB: Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace)

A first call-up to the England squad turned more fans onto the fact that Mitchell, 23, looks like a really tidy player at Selhurst Park, but it already feels as though that hype has unjustly fizzled out.

However, underrate him at your peril because Mitchell is a modern full-back built to succeed in the rough and tumble of the Premier League with combative tackling and indefatigable pressing.

Palace's Mitchell on the ball.
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20: Tyrick Mitchell of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on August 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

CM: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur)

There’s a lot of praise being dished out to Spurs players right now and for good reason, but not enough of it has landed at the feet of Højbjerg despite him playing every single minute of the club’s strong start to the Premier League season.

From a Man of the Match display at Stamford Bridge to keeping Yves Bissouma out of the side, the Dane has become a metronomic presence in Antonio Conte’s side and sadly seems to be held back by simply not being as fashionable to applaud as Rodrigo Bentancur.

CM: Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

Ah, Xhaka. A man so often penalised by his caricatured reputation of being a bull in a china shop and while that has been deserved at times, it shouldn’t be a stereotype that’s blanketed over each and every one of his performances.

After all, it’s time a lot of supporters woke up to the fact that he’s a critical hinge in this slick and exciting Arsenal machine and it’s hard to imagine the midfield working so seamlessly without him.

Arsenal's Xhaka spits out water.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Arsenal – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – September 4, 2022 Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka spits outs water during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

CM: Scott McTominay (Manchester United)

Yours truly will happily hold their hands up and say that they’ve flip-flopped on McTominay pretty often, but the fact that Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick and Erik ten Hag have all loved him really speaks volumes.

Marry that to ‘McSauce’ making a storming start to the season as a destroyer in the United midfield and the constant, hyperbolic criticisms launched his way can only mean that he’s, well, underrated as a result.

RW: Jack Harrison (Leeds United)

Just because he’s not got a suave and sexy-sounding name, it doesn’t mean that Harrison isn’t as crucial to Leeds as the likes of Luis Sinisterra and Rodrigo Moreno. In fact, we’d dare say that he’s even more important.

Harrison embodies the high-intensity football that’s cherished at Elland Road with relentless pressing, tackling and interceptions, laying the foundations for him to kick off the season with one goal and three assists.

Leeds' Harrison on the ball.
LEEDS, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Jack Harrison of Leeds United runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Everton FC at Elland Road on August 30, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

ST: Ivan Toney (Brentford)

It’s not that Toney doesn’t get any credit at all, but when will he get the credit that he deserves? We are, after all, talking about the man currently ranked by statistics as Europe’s 12th best player this season.

There’s arguably nobody in the Premier League more overdue an international call-up than Toney because aside from Harry Kane, you’d be hard-pressed to say that there’s a better English centre forward in the division right now.

LW: Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Truth be told, half the current Brighton team could have argued for a place in the team because the likes of Pascal Gross, Leandro Trossard, Danny Welbeck and Lewis Dunk have all come on leaps and bounds under Potter.

However, instead, we’re going for the firecracker in the Seagulls’ midfield right now as fans slowly start to make up to the fact that Mac Allister – who currently boasts four goals in six games – is an absolute baller.

Brighton's Mac Allister holding a ball.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicster City – The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain – September 4, 2022 Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister waits to take a penalty kick before scoring their fourth goal REUTERS/Peter Nicholls EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Who do you think is underrated?

So, do you think that these players do genuinely get the credit they deserve or do you think that their lack of wide-spread praise is actually justified? Well, that’s how complex the balancing act is.

The simple fact of the matter is that sometimes being so immersed in the melange of Premier League culture means that it’s difficult to take a bird’s-eye view of which players are truly, really being underrated and overrated.

Then again, a lot of the beauty in football debates is that there really are no right answers, so be to sure let us know who you think are the Premier League’s most underrated players across our various social channels.

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