Premier League player rankings: Aguero nets statement hat trick

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Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, left, and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (Dave Thompson/AP)

Welcome to the Premier League player power rankings after Matchday 25. Following each gameweek 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.

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1. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 2)

The match against Leicester City featured arguably his biggest mistake of the season, losing Harry Maguire on the cross for the equalizing goal.

Against West Ham, he could only watch as Naby Keita lost his marker for the Hammers’ equalizer and despite a more composed performance than during the week, wasn’t the inspirational figure he’s been for much of the season.

2. Raheem Sterling, Manchester City (Previous matchday: 3)

Manchester City needed to make a statement that they were going to push Liverpool to the limit after losing to Newcastle United mid-week, and the best players ensured they did so. Sergio Aguero may have scored a hat trick, but Sterling was every bit as impressive as he took on all defenders in sight and constantly created space before teeing up teammates with scoring opportunities.

Now, it sounds like he’s hoping someone will return the favour when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton Wednesday.

3. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 1)

Liverpool needed something extra, first against Leicester City and then again against West Ham United. Their talisman couldn’t deliver.

The story is yet to be told on whether or not those four missed points will cost them, but Salah definitely earned his share of criticism for failing to provide a spark in a match that could have sent his side seven points clear at the top of the table.

4. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal (Previous matchday: 4)

Added a penalty to his goal tally for the season against Cardiff City but didn’t have much support against City. Arsenal are just under too much pressure defensively in the big games for Aubameyang to be a deciding factor.

5. Eden Hazard, Chelsea (Previous matchday: 5)

After a quiet few weeks and a stunning 4-0 loss to the Cherries, it certainly appeared as though Chelsea were in a downward spiral with no light at the end of the tunnel.

After a lull over the last five matches, Hazard finally awoke from his slumber against the worst side in the Premier League, and perhaps it was the Super Bowl that got his juices flowing again.

6. Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City (Previous matchday: 6)

Played a vital role in the build-up to City’s first goal against Arsenal, before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Aguero to head home.

This was the second time Pep Guardiola slotted him on the left flank in a big match — he did against Liverpool as well — and the Frenchman delivered in spades. He’s now completed a year at the club, and has already firmly taken up the vacancy left by Vincent Kompany as the lead-man in the middle of City’s defence.

7. David Silva, Manchester City (Previous matchday: 8)

Yes, Silva is great and all but the only topic worth discussing with regards to him this week is the magical return of his hair.

8. Andrew Robertson, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 7)

Even the working class hero can’t save them at the moment, it seems. Long balls and set pieces are becoming a bigger part of Liverpool’s undoing defensively, and it was an unnecessary concession of a free kick by the Scot against Leicester that led to the Foxes’ goal.

9. Sadio Mané, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 11)

Scored a quality goal mid-week to give Liverpool the lead against Leicester early on and did the same against West Ham.

That might be a bit of a bad omen, though, as the Reds drew both matches and have seen almost all of their advantage atop the table disappear.

10. Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal (Previous matchday: 10)

Scored a gem of a goal against Cardiff to give his side a two-goal cushion but had nowhere near the same liberties afforded to him against City.

Arsenal consistently looked a man short in midfield and the Frenchman spent much of his time on the field looking to make up for it by plodding around in the middle of the park instead of challenging the City defence alongside Aubameyang.

11. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City (Previous matchday: 15)

Header, right foot, hand-ball? It was certainly a unique hat trick for Aguero, whose third goal appeared to come off his chest initially before replays confirmed it actually came off his hand.

It’s better to be lucky than good, but when you’re that good, you earn a bit of luck. The Argentinian was sensational in a big game yet again, and might just catapult City over Liverpool to the title if he keeps delivering like this.

12. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham (Previous matchday: 12)

With Harry Kane and Dele Alli out with injury, Tottenham are having to rely more and more on top quality performances from their defence.

Leading the charge is their solid-as-a-rock Belgian, and they now have three narrow wins in their last three to put them closer to the title than out of the top four as many suspected when the injury bug bit.

13. Harry Kane, Tottenham (Previous matchday: 9)

Still another month away from a return, so will maintain a steady drop until then.

14. Son Heung-min, Tottenham (Previous matchday: 16)

After missing a couple of matches due to the Asian Cup, he returned a bit earlier than expected after South Korea was knocked out in the semifinals.

Tottenham will be thrilled, with Son having scored crucial late goals in each of their last two fixtures. With no Kane, the Spurs are asking a ton out of him and he’s coming up big.

15. Ryan Fraser, Bournemouth (Previous matchday: 13)

David Brooks is steadily taking over the reigns for the Cherries and that will be a bit of a relief for Fraser, who has been labouring a bit after digging in deep for his side over the first half of the season.

With Callum Wilson seemingly spending more time off the field than on it of late, Fraser’s struggles may continue.

16. Alisson, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 20)

His teammates seem to be buckling under the pressure of being league title front-runners, and it’s left him with no chance on the two goals conceded in the last two matches.

Still, he leads the league in clean sheets and, but for two bad mistakes, has been a fortress in net.

17. Callum Wilson, Bournemouth (Previous matchday: 14)

Missed the last two matches and isn’t expected to return before Feb. 23.

18. Leroy Sané, Manchester City (Previous matchday: 17)

Missed out on the big match against Arsenal and failed to inspire in the loss to Newcastle.

19. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool (Previous matchday: 18)

It’s all becoming a little disconnected for Liverpool’s front three that was tearing apart defences at will for much of the season.

Firmino has tried to be at his inventive best, but the synergy between him, Salah and Mané is steadily fading.

20. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Crystal Palace (Previous matchday: 19)

Leads the league in tackles now and is setting himself up quite nicely for a summer transfer to one of the big clubs.

Honourable mentions:

Sol Bamba (Cardiff City). Mathew Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion). Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool). Dele Alli (Tottenham). Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford (Manchester United). Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, Ederson (Manchester City). Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton). James Tarkowski (Burnley).

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