We’re rapidly approaching the midway point of the Premier League season, and as always it’s been a thrilling campaign. We’ve seen Leicester City unexpectedly soar to the top and Chelsea shockingly plummet to the bottom, and in between there are about a dozen teams playing some very exciting football. But on these teams, who have been the most impressive individual players so far in 2015/16? Read on for our top-10.
10. Yaya Touré – Manchester City
Manchester City has had a somewhat-quiet season despite sitting at third in the league behind the traditional high-powered attack its supporters have grown used to. And veteran midfielder Yaya Touré has probably been the best man on the field for them.
9. David De Gea – Manchester United
After 15 match weeks, Manchester United leads the EPL with only 10 goals allowed, which is a remarkable number for this stage. A lot of that has to do with David De Gea, who’s been predictably exceptional in goal. There’s really not much debate over who the best keeper in the league this year is.
8. Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal
It’s tough to pick one Arsenal forward to highlight on this list, because Olivier Giroud has been excellent as well. But much of Giroud’s success has come in Champions League competition, most notably in the form of a hat trick in a must-win final group stage match with Olympiakos. In domestic matches, Sanchez has been the best, and really one of the most electric players in the league.
7. Romelu Lukaku – Everton
You may have read the rumours about Man Utd. targeting Lukaku as a January transfer. Those exist because Lukaku has managed 11 goals already, second only to Jamie Vardy (which we’ll get to below), and Man Utd. needs some help on the scoring end. Lukaku has been a one-man wrecking crew for Everton.
6. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Liverpool has enjoyed a fairly dramatic turnaround under midseason coaching hire Jurgen Klopp, and Coutinho has benefited in particular. Still only 23, the Brasilian has blossomed of late in the EPL, and if Liverpool keeps rising up the tables he’ll begin to be recognised as one of the league’s top players.
5. Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City
Leicester City’s rise to the top of the tables, and sole possession of first place, has been the story of the season (at least aside from Chelsea’s shocking struggles). And while Jamie Vardy is getting most of the headlines as the player driving their success, Mahrez has controlled the midfield with a degree of quality no one really saw coming.
4. Dimitri Payet – West Ham
Payet is injured, but it’s a testament to his form that he belongs on a list like this despite missing time. While he was playing, Payet was superb for West Ham, and he’s one of the most enjoyable players in English football to watch. That alone puts in him the top five.
3. Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
In a preview of the Premier League season from a betting standpoint, there were naturally odds mentioned for the expected golden boot contenders. You can check out the full preview here, but suffice it to say Jamie Vardy was not mentioned. The best odds to lead the EPL in scoring went to the likes of Diego Costa and Harry Kane. But as of December 11, Vardy is on top with an incredible 14 goals through 15 matches. He’s led Leicester City to its improbable top spot in the league.
2. Chris Smalling – Manchester United
As mentioned, De Gea has been exceptional in goal for Man Utd., but that much was expected. What not many people saw coming was that Chris Smalling would emerge as one of the best defensive players in the league. He’s largely responsible for Man Utd.’s defensive prowess this season.
1. Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
Having been a disappointment for much of his time at Arsenal heading into this season, Mesut Ozil has come into his own. And if the German midfielder’s comments following a weekend win in which he notched his 12th assist are any indication, he knows just how good he’s been. You can read the comments here, but basically Ozil said he believes he’s in the best form of his life. He’s driving a formidable Arsenal attack (and plays a big role in the success of Giroud and Sanchez), and has his Gunners in second place in the EPL.