We’re only four games into the season, so any definitive statements on the ‘best’ players of the 2015/16 season is something better left until we have a bigger pool of games from which to take data and start to make predictions for the remainder of the season. Fear not however, this train of thought allows us to focus our attention on the players whose form in the early period of the season has perhaps surprised those ‘in the know’.
Ross Barkley – 2 goals, 1 assist in 4 games
The England international has been publicly shielded by Roberto Martinez the last few seasons, aided in that effort by some ‘growing pain’ injuries suffered by the player. There have been flashes of brilliance, the May 2014 wonder strike against Manchester City a perfect example of why Ross Barkley is considered one of the most technically gifted Englishmen in recent generations. This season, he has been trusted enough to start all four Premier League games for Everton, and Martinez has been rewarded with goals against Watford and Southampton (alongside an assist in that game).
Will this good start, that has helped Everton accrue 5 points from their first four games, continue? If we use the past as a measuring stick, we can expect it to stutter to a halt or be interrupted by injury. Everton and England fans will hope he can build upon this start, and by the end of the season they can look back upon what was Ross Barkley’s first, full ‘break out’ season.
Riyad Mahrez – 4 goals in 4 games
Leicester fans have dubbed him the ‘Algerian Di Maria’. The rest of the English media doesn’t quite know what to make of Riyad Mahrez’s blistering start to the season. Goals have come against Sunderland, Tottenham and West Ham this season, arguably three sides from the top, middle and bottom echelons of the Premier League. Cutting inside from the right-midfield position, statistics courtesy of Whoscored.com tell us his direct running and passing has been successful within Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City.
Having already equalled his tally of Premier League goals from last season, Mahrez will be expected to continue to on this path and be a major source of inspiration for Leicester City’s bid to remain in England’s top footballing division. They have been tipped for relegation this year and whilst 8 points from their first four games is almost 20% of their total points achieved last season, it’s now on Mahrez’s shoulders to ensure they continue to pick up points in the upcoming games against Aston Villa, Stoke and West Ham.
Bafetimbi Gomis – 4 goals in 4 games
Wilfried Bony who? That’s the English media’s narrative surrounding the Frenchman’s large contribution towards Swansea City’s continued improvement in the Premier League. Having scored against Premier League heavyweights Chelsea and Manchester United alongside Newcastle United and Sunderland – Gomis has proven he can mix it with all varieties of the defences and he has gone a long way towards erasing the pain of only scoring7 goals in 31 appearances last season.
After rumours of discontent at having to play second fiddle to Manchester City’s new bench-warmer, Gomis has certainly taken to being the new battering ram that leads Swansea’s modern approach to Premier League football. His goals haven’t come before 76 minutes so far, which alludes to a persistence in his game that wasn’t present last season. With Swansea continuing to receive applause under Garry Monk’s leadership, here’s to hoping that Gomis continues to improve with the team, lest he be left behind by the Welsh team’s rise in stature.
Andre Ayew – 3 goals, 1 assist in 4 games
Our second Swansea City player, is included in this list because it’s rare that a player coming into the Premier League will look so at ease and make such an immediate impact as the Ghanian has. Similar to Gomis, his goals against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Manchester United have shown he can mix it with the best, and as a result vindicated the English media’s label as one of the ‘Signings of the Summer’.
With upcoming Premier League games against Watford and Everton, Ayew should look to kick on and fully establish himself as a real threat for the rest of the 2015/16 season. Coming off the back of a 9-goal season with Marseille, Ayew should look to better that after being handed an integral role within the Swans line-up. Given that he is quite versatile along the forward positions, he should find himself given ample opportunities to lead by example.
Cheikhou Kouyaté – 2 goals, 1 assist in 4 games
Certainly a player you or I wouldn’t have expected to register such numbers at this point in the Premier League season. The West Ham midfielder’s offensive contribution in games against Arsenal, Leicester and Bournemouth have meant that West Ham, whilst not experiencing the unusual heights of the Sam Allardyce-led Hammers side, are certainly up and running this season.
With his goals & assists spread over the first three games, alongside a masterful display to shut out an insipid Liverpool in the last Premier League round, Kouyate has established himself quickly as a key member of Slaven Bilic’s West Ham first eleven. He’s halfway towards his career-best numbers of 4 goals and 2 assists from last season. Paired alongside Pedro Obiang or the soon-to-return Alex Song, Kouyate will have the platform to continue to impress. Should he continue his overall form, it would be foolish to not think he’ll be the subject of a move come January, or the summer of 2016.