With 8 games gone, players are already being applauded for their impressive performances. The list includes Daniel Sturridge and Aaron Ramsey, but what about those who have performed without getting the recognition they deserve? I look at 5 of the unsung heroes in the Premier League so far this season.
Southampton have made an exceptional start to the season and after their draw against Manchester United, they find themselves in 6th place. Lallana, Clyne, and Lovren have grabbed the headlines for their performances, whilst Schneiderlin has continued to quietly do his undervalued job impressively and gradually improve week upon week.
The Frenchmen sits as the deepest midfielder for Southampton and holds a pivotal role of guarding the defence, successfully doing this with 15 interceptions and winning 26 tackles, the joint 3rd best in the league alongside Zabaleta and El Ahmadi. Schneiderlin’s position also makes him the link between defence and attack, shown by a 97% passing accuracy in his own half in addition to having the best passing accuracy in the opposition half (77%) for Southampton.
Delph joined Aston Villa in 2009 for £6 million and struggled to make his mark at the West Midlands club as injuries took their toll. However, after the establishing himself as a regular in the second half of last season Delph has started impressively as a World Cup place looks a possibility.
The former Leeds midfielder has attempted (123) and won (79) the most ground duels in the Premier League this season as well as attempting the 6th most tackles (32) and 7th most interceptions (20). With England lacking options in midfield who are comfortable in possession and Delph pitches his case by completing the most passes for Aston Villa (265) with a passing accuracy of 82%.
Crystal Palace have endured a difficult start to life back in the Premier League, but there are still a couple of names that have caught the eye. While Mile Jedinak already being noticed as a key player for Palace, Joel Ward’s good performances go under the radar.
Ward hasn’t made the most tackles for Crystal Palace, Mile Jedinak holds that marginally with 26 won compared to Ward’s 25, but the right back boasts the best tackle success percentage (96%) than anyone else in the league with 20 tackles or more. An impressive feat for a team managed by Ian Holloway – a man known for setting up his side to score more than their opponents.
Another player who has had problems with injuries, Kieran Gibbs is almost the forgotten man when discussing England’s left-back options, with his name mentioned behind the Baines, Cole and even Luke Shaw at times. The Arsenal left back has managed to overcome his injuries though and stay fit for a consecutive period of time – something that has helped Gibbs to reach the best form of his career and restrict highly-rated January signing Monreal to a permanent place on the bench.
Gibbs has attempted (20) and won (14) more tackles than any other Arsenal defender, and in comparison to his England rivals Gibbs has made more interceptions (13) than Cole (10), Shaw (7) and Baines (8). Gibbs also has an influence in the attacking third, a important factor for a full back at a top 4 club, with 85 passes in the final third and 19 crosses.
Over the years, West Ham have gone through several managers and during this time there has been one mainstay in the team – the inclusion of Mark Noble. This season he has continued his good performances and while Ravel Morrison gets the headlines, rightly so of course, Noble has been West Ham’s best creative player.
Noble has made the most passes (342) for West Ham by such a distance the English midfielder has completed 17.38% of the Hammers’ passes so far. He has also shown an attacking intent with his passing; 91 passes have been in the final third, while 32 have entered the penalty area. With the style of play at West Ham, Mark Noble offers good delivery and accuracy into the box from either a corner (6) or open play (8).