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. Eden Hazard, Chelsea. (Previous matchday: 1)
Another game, another goal. What else is there to say? Oh, he added an assist in the dying moments to Alvaro Morata as well. He’s at his very peak and he knows it.
“I don’t know if I’ve played better [than I am at the minute],” Hazard told Sky Sports. I’m just playing good football because we are playing good football. I want to keep doing it and keep everyone happy.”
2. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 2)
The cameras panned to the Argentine striker as soon as Riyad Mahrez blazed his penalty over the bar, and no surprise why. He has scored 22 penalties over the course of his Premier League career, while the Algerian has missed four of his last five.
Too bad City already substituted their leading scorer and can only look back on what might have been. The substitution was valid, though, as Aguero was in Liverpool’s back pocket all game.
3. Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 4)
Arguably could have offered the team more going forward since Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool prepared ever so well for City’s main attacking threats, but Pep Guardiola will have nothing but praise for the way Laporte operated defensively.
Liverpool’s attacking trio can be as devastating as any and that they were rendered bystanders for much of the evening had much to do with the performance of the Frenchman.
4. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 3)
Was so, so good for most of the match, but how different his night could have looked if Mahrez found the back of the net instead of the fans in the top tier with his penalty.
The slide to cause the penalty seemed unnecessary, having already cut off any angle Leroy Sané had to score, but everything else — including his hair if you ask Troy Deeney — has been too good to ignore.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 6, 2018
5. David Silva, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 6)
Challenging as it may be for a creative midfielder to stand out in a 0-0 draw, Silva showed his quality by finding a way with his quick touches and intelligence to always find space for his teammates to find him.
He almost set up a winner, too, his through ball to Mahrez pierced the right side of Liverpool’s defence but the Algerian narrowly missed looking for the far post.
6. Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal. (Previous matchday: 14)
It can take players coming to the Premier League a year to figure things out, and after arriving at Emirates Stadium last season, Lacazette is now firing on all cylinders.
When Arsenal needed a moment of inspiration after Fulham scored an equalizer, it was Lacazette who seized the moment with a brilliant low drive on the turn for his second of the match.
7. Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth. (Previous matchday: 11)
How good were Bournemouth this weekend? In a clash of two of the most pleasant surprises this Premier League season, Fraser was at his very best, providing the team with both pace on the left wing as well as excellent deliveries that kept Watford defenders on their toes all match.
Joshua King and Callum Wilson will take the plaudits this week, but Fraser has been the driving force all season.
8. Marcos Alonso, Chelsea. (Previous matchday: 5)
Alonso has steadily played more in his own half, placing his defensive duties above all else. Chelsea have steadily motored along, but one can’t help but feel they’re not utilizing the Spaniard to his fullest capabilities at the minute.
As long as the wins come, though, that will rightly remain an afterthought for manager Sarri.
9. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham. (Previous matchday: 7)
Another rough outing for Fulham, and it’s tough for a striker of Mitrovic’s nature to have any sort of influence when the team has allowed eight goals in its last two matches and completed just four shots on target.
Cardiff City should provide some relief after the international break.
10. Jorginho, Chelsea. (Previous matchday: 12)
In Jorginho, Maurizio Sarri has a player who will give absolutely everything he has to the team without a single thought about himself (the same applies to N’Golo Kanté).
Against Southampton, Jorginho had 101 touches, completed 91 passes but didn’t register a single shot. He knows his role and executes it to perfection, allowing the likes of Hazard and co. to excel.
11. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 9)
It just won’t happen for him. Guardiola took a risk inserting Benjamin Mendy after his extended layoff from injury but it turns out the combination of strength and pace was just what was needed to neutralize the Egyptian.
Salah was largely anonymous in arguably his worst performance of the season.
Premier League conversion rates this season…
– Murray: 0.38
– Calvert-Lewin: 0.33
– Joselu: 0.14
– Deeney: 0.11
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) October 7, 2018
12. Raheem Sterling, Manchester City. (Previous matchday: 16)
The performance Sterling gave at Anfield shows just how far England’s pacy winger has come. He has steadily improved under Guardiola, but clearly struggled to deal with the negativity the Liverpool supporters threw his way last season.
He looked to attack and make runs in and around defenders for the 75 minutes he was on, but Sané is hot on his heels for a place in the side and showed why from the moment he came on.
13. Andrew Robertson, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 15)
Again, the attacking verve that has been the hallmark of Klopp’s Liverpool was lacking, but Robertson deserves credit for his role in stifling the City attack.
Sadio Mané’s form directly impacts what he’s capable of down that left flank, too.
14. James Milner, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 8)
Hard to say much about Milner since he left the game injured early in the first half, but what was noticeable was the drop in level for the Reds after his departure till they were finally revitalized after Mahrez’s penalty missed.
The attacking threats provide the entertainment, but Milner is the heart and soul of Liverpool.
15. Sadio Mané, Liverpool. (Previous matchday: 10)
Liverpool NEED this man back. Once again, he struggled to attack defenders for the most part, his sharpest moment coming when he beat John Stones on the left side before crossing to what looked like an open Salah until Benjamin Mendy acrobatically cleared away.
History suggested that if there was an opponent he would find his rhythm against once again it would be City, but maybe he just needs the international break.
| Sadio Mane has scored four Premier League goals against Manchester City – only against Crystal Palace (6) does he have more in the competition. pic.twitter.com/q2nYW7cNuU
— Anything Liverpool (@AnythingLFC_) October 7, 2018
16. Wayne Hennessey, Crystal Palace. (Previous matchday: 18)
Had a strong performance once again that included a spectacular one-on-one save to deny Raul Jimenez in the first half, but if we’re being hyper critical, he possibly could have done more to protect his near post when Matt Doherty fired past him from close range.
Even more should be put on the defending, though.
17. Marko Arnautovic, West Ham United. (Previous matchday: 17)
Missed a couple of chances he’d probably like to have back but was lively for the majority of the match and finished with the most shots (five) of anyone on the pitch.
Sometimes, you’re just unlucky.
18. Lucas Moura, Tottenham. (Previous matchday: N/A)
He’s having a bit of a run similar to Salah, in among the chances but just unable to find the end product.
Once again, he was Tottenham’s best player, missed a couple of clear-cut chances to score, and was unlucky to see Cardiff City captain Sean Morrison clear a shot of his immediately after halftime off the line.
19. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton. (Previous matchday: N/A)
With four goals in his last four Premier League matches, the Icelandic midfielder has bullied his way into this list and his latest was an absolute pearler against Leicester City.
Not many in the league do it better from outside the box these days.
No player has scored more Premier League goals from outside the box (19) than Gylfi Sigurdsson since 2011/12.
Bringing his 50 up in style. pic.twitter.com/KXwrF4BSYI
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 6, 2018
20. Matt Doherty, Wolverhampton Wanderers. (Previous matchday: N/A)
Continuity breeds chemistry breeds confidence breeds success. The Wolves are the first team in Premier League history to name an unchanged starting 11 in each of its first eight games of the season, and they’re now unbeaten in their last six league matches including draws with both Manchester clubs.
Matt Doherty has been a beneficiary of that stability and the rest of the defence performed their primary duties exceedingly well before the wing-back scored past Hennessey with a wicked shot that squeezed in by the near post after a nice 1-2 with Raul Jimenez.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City). Firmino, Joseph Gomez, Alisson (Liverpool). David Luiz, (Chelsea). Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham). James Maddison, Harry Maguire (Leicester City). Mesut Ozil (Arsenal). Richarlison, Idrissa Gueye (Everton). James Tarkowski, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley). Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton Wanderers).