After each matchday in the English Premier League, Sportsnet will rank the top 20 players for the 2018-19 season. Regardless of reputation, everyone starts from scratch at Matchday 1, and will steadily move up, down, or out of the rankings as the games progress.
1. Marcos Alonso, Chelsea. (Previous matchday: 6)
Add two more key contributions to goals to the Spaniard’s tally to go along with a more disciplined performance in the back. Alonso is looking quite comfortable linking up with Eden Hazard as they did set up the penalty opportunity, and won Chelsea the match at Newcastle with a right-footed shot across the box that American defender DeAndre Yedlin put into his own net.
2. Sadio Mané, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 1)
Good performance that wasn’t quite on the level of his first two matches, so he loses top spot. As long as Mohamed Salah and Mané take turns with superlative performances, though, you can bet manager Jurgen Klopp will hardly have any complaints.
3. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 5)
Aguero is looking incredibly sharp to start this season but was just terribly unlucky this past Saturday. He hit the post after a great cut into the box in the first half, and struck the crossbar with a free kick in the second.
Add the fact that Manchester City should have had a penalty call go their way and Aguero could very easily have come away with a second hat trick in two games on another day.
4. Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 3)
Hard to blame anyone when the opposition scores with a hand ball, so it likely would have been a clean sheet for City outside of that.
Sometimes, your best defence is a good offence, and Nuno Espirito Santo made an interesting change to try and stymie an overwhelming attacking period for City by introducing Adama Traore. The Spanish winger was an instant threat on Wolves’ right side, forcing Mendy to think about more than just bombarding down the left flank.
This could well be a tactic we see other teams employ going forward.
5. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 10)
The Anfield side has three straight clean sheets to open the season and seven straight at home dating back to last season. Their star Dutchman is relishing the stage to show he is a truly world-class defender.
Virgil van Dijk has been involved in more Premier League clean sheets than any other player in the division since making his Liverpool debut in January.
10 clean sheets
9 goals conceded
Transformed the side. pic.twitter.com/MdcHCSRKmB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 25, 2018
6. Naby Keita, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 4)
Already a fan favourite, Keita ensures no Liverpool man walks alone. Whether it’s breaking up forward forays by the opposition or initiating attacks, Keita is in the middle of everything.
7. Roberto Pereyra, Watford. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Apologies for dropping him a week ago after a fairly anonymous performance. Pereyra stormed back in Matchday 3, scoring a terrific goal and providing Watford with plenty of creativity from the left side.
It’s now a dream three wins out of three for the Hornets, and three goals on the season for the Argentinian.
8. Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth. (Previous matchday: 11)
Looked the best player on the pitch against Everton and played a critical role in their comeback to earn a share of the spoils after trailing 2-0.
Leads the league in big chances created with five, too.
9. Eden Hazard, Chelsea. (Previous matchday: 15)
On a per minute basis, he’s probably at the top of the list. Making his first start of the season, Hazard was a constant threat against a well organized Newcastle side and thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award.
Most Man of the Match awards since 2014-15:
Eden Hazard: 34
Harry Kane: 27
Sergio Aguero: 23
Alexis Sanchez: 23
Philippe Coutinho: 22
— SPORF (@Sporf) August 26, 2018
Defenders can’t seem to get anywhere near the ball when he’s on it, but it was a constant show of bodies that minimized his shooting opportunities. No chance on his penalty, though.
10. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 17)
Brilliant goal with a first touch that made it look so easy two of England’s finest tweeted their admiration.
Salah is rounding into the form that some doubted he would carry over from 2017-18, but this is a system perfectly built to bring out his best skills and long may it continue.
11. Alisson Becker, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Goalkeepers hardly ever get the credit they deserve, especially on teams high on quality on the other end of the pitch. Becker has quietly done everything required of him and the fact that he’s come up big in the few moments of need is already looking like the difference between this year’s team and those of years past.
12. Christian Eriksen, Tottenham. (Previous matchday: 9)
The Danish playmaker played a bit more reserved in the first half, with Mauricio Pochettino presumably looking to take the sting out of a United team that would have been looking to right the wrongs of its performance against Brighton a week ago.
As the mistakes in the back mounted for the Red Devils in the second half, though, Eriksen came into his own and teed up Lucas Moura for his first of the night and Tottenham’s second, and steadily maintained his influence in the middle of the pitch thereafter.
13. Callum Wilson, Bournemouth. (Previous matchday: 8)
Showing signs of consistency, rumours are now swirling that Wilson might even be able to squeeze into the England squad. Unlike seasons past, he’s looking more of threat on the ball than ever before, both in creating space for himself to shoot and teeing up teammates.
14. Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: N/A)
He scored a bullet header that pulled City level, but what will be most encouraging for Pep Guardiola is just how comfortable Laporte looked alongside Kompany after pairing John Stones for the opening two fixtures.
Again, the Wolves goal was unlucky, and the first three games have clearly shown that City, unlike the red side of Manchester, have an embarrassment of riches in the centre of defence.
15. Kieran Trippier, Tottenham. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Ander Herrera was interestingly given the responsibility of the right side of United’s defence, and Lucas Moura constantly looked to get in and around him. That wouldn’t have been possible without Trippier’s inch-perfect deliveries, and he got his just reward with a corner that was perfectly met by Harry Kane to give Spurs the lead.
He’s clearly taken confidence from his strong World Cup performances and is making Kyle Walker but a distant memory at Tottenham.
Kieran Trippier for Tottenham after 75 minutes vs. Man United:
Most touches (64)
Most aerial-duels won (4)
Most chances created (3)
Second-most passes (44)
And an assist to wrap it all up. pic.twitter.com/f7GsBID3ut
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 27, 2018
16. Lucas Moura, Tottenham. (Previous matchday: N/A)
The Brazilian’s eyes must have lit up the second he saw how Manchester United were lining up in the back, with neither of the centre-backs nor Herrera on the right side possessing the speed to keep up with him.
Tottenham set out to take advantage of United’s mistakes, and Moura pounced on them with aplomb and will be a key piece for the Spurs look to stake their claim as title contenders.
17. John Stones, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 7)
Did not feature for City this week and so loses ground after some big performances in the opening two fixtures.
18. José Holebas, Watford. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Another beneficiary of the new 4-2-2-2 system, Holebas is a big reason why Watford are undefeated right now but a huge test awaits in Tottenham next.
His goal was a fluke, as he looked to hit a cross into the box that ended up in the back of the net instead, but sometimes, you earn your own luck.
19. Theo Walcott, Everton. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Ever the streaky goal scorer, Theo Walcott may be on one of those runs again. Everton will need him to do so, too, having lost Richarlison through suspension for a needless red card.
20. Harry Kane, Tottenham. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Make that two goals in August! It was a perfect header from distance, too, and with September right around the corner, Kane will be thinking he could even better his career-best tally of 30 a season ago.
David Silva (Manchester City). Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers). Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City). Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal). Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson (Liverpool). Luke Shaw (Manchester United). Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City). Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion).