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The 10 Most Improved Players in the Premier League so Far this Season

The 10 Most Improved Players in the Premier League so Far this Season

Saturday, 28 October, 2017 - 09:00
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring a goal against Feyenoord during a Champions League match in September. (Reuters)

With five of their forwards among the Premier League’s most improved players, it’s no wonder Manchester City are five points clear at the top of the table:

10) Leroy Sané, Manchester City

Having understandably taken some time to settle into life at a new club in a new country last season, Leroy Sané is unquestionably up to speed now, offering Pep Guardiola great options in the final third. He scored and set up a goal against Burnley at the weekend – his fifth goal and fourth assist of the season – the German has already had a hand in more goals this season (nine) than last (eight) despite playing 1,290 fewer minutes. He is taking more shots per game (up to 2.9 from 1.7), is making more key passes (up to 2.3 from 1.8), and is more accurate with his crossing (up from 17 percent to 25 percent). Rating: 7.53, up 0.47 on last season.

9) David Silva, Manchester City

With six assists from his first nine appearances of the season, Manchester City’s skipper is relishing the extra responsibility. That tally is just one shy of his figure from 2016/17 and his all-round passing game has been metronomic. The 31-year-old is seeing considerably more of the ball; he is averaging 79 passes per match this season compared to 61 last season, while his passing accuracy is up from 87 percent to 90 percent. Rating: 7.76, up 0.49 on last season.

8) Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Kevin de Bruyne was the top Manchester City player in our rankings last season and the sixth highest in the league lowest overall – below Eden Hazard, Alexis Sánchez, Paul Pogba, Harry Kane and Philippe Coutinho – so the fact he has made it on to a list of the most improved players this season is testament to his brilliance over the last few months. His current rating of 8.05 leads the way in the Premier League and comes after one goal and six assists in his first nine games. He, like Silva, is on the ball far more often this season, pulling the strings from a more withdrawn position and creating more chances (30) than any other player as a result. Like Silva, he also has six assists and one goal. Rating: 8.05, up 0.50 on last season

7) Raheem Sterling, Manchester City

He may still divide opinion among many in England, but Raheem Sterling has earned the faith of Pep Guardiola, scoring six times already in the league – only Harry Kane, Sergio Agüero and Romelu Lukaku have scored more. Sterling has never been this prolific in his career. He has never broken into double figures in the Premier League; he has only scored twice in 35 England caps; and he only scored seven goals in 33 appearances last season. But this season he has six goals from five starts. He clearly feels more comfortable in Guardiola’s system and is taking nearly as many shots per 90 minutes this season (4.1) than his previous two at City. Rating: 7.60, up 0.56 on last season

6) Alberto Moreno, Liverpool

Having seemingly lost the faith of manager Jürgen Klopp, Alberto Moreno is not only back in the manager’s plans but back as Liverpool’s first choice left-back. The team’s defending has remained calamitous at times this season but Moreno has looked a little more assured regardless, showing more restraint than in previous seasons. He’s keeping the ball better than he has in the past too, with a pass accuracy of 86.3 percent, and has revived a Premier League career that had seemed to be over. Rating: 6.86, up 0.56 from last season

5) Sergio Agüero, Manchester City

Bringing the best out of all of his attacking players could have been a problem for Pep Guardiola but Sergio Agüero’s appearance as the fifth and final City player in this list shows just how devastating a force they have been so far this season. Somewhat surprisingly, the Argentinian has forged a successful partnership with Gabriel Jesus as Guardiola has opted to play both strikers together. Agüero has had a direct hand in more goals than any other Premier League player (10), despite starting just six of their nine games. His tally of three assists is already enough to match his total from last season, while his shot conversion rate has improved significantly (up to 25.9 percent from 14.4 percent). Rating: 7.98, up 0.64 on last season

4) Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal

Another player who seemed to be falling down the pecking order at his club last season, Aaron Ramsey has looked far brighter after a disappointing 2016-17. He scored his first and only goal of last season in the 91st minute of their final match, but managed to make it on to the scoresheet on the very first night of this campaign in Arsenal’s 4-3 win over Leicester City. – before adding a second against Everton at the weekend. He also produced a second assist of the season at Goodison and has regained the trust of Arsene Wenger, having started seven of nine league games thus far. Rating: 7.37, up 0.65 on last season

3) Abdoulaye Doucouré, Watford

Undoubtedly one of the real surprise packages of the season, Abdoulaye Doucouré was little more than a squad player under Walter Mazzarri last year but has been pivotal to Watford’s early success under Marco Silva. The 24-year-old has played every minute under the new manager and is the Hornets’ top scorer with four goals. He has kept keeps things ticking over nicely for Watford, with an impressive 62.3 passes per game, and no player has won possession more times in the middle third (43). Rating: 7.17, up 0.70 on last season

2) Marcus Rashford, Manchester United

After a relatively frustrating first season under José Mourinho, Marcus Rashford has played a more prominent role this time around and is relishing the chance to impress. With three goals and three assists so far, he’s already had a hand in as many goals this season as he did in all of last season – and from 1,160 fewer minutes. With a greater freedom to attack and more opportunities to counter-attack, the teenager is averaging 3.3 shots per 90 minutes compared to 2.3 in 2016-17, while also completing more key passes and dribbles. Rating: 7.33, up 0.74 on last season

1) James Tarkowski, Burnley

Burnley looked vulnerable at the back when Michael Keane left this summer, particularly when they didn’t reinvest the £25m fee the received from Everton. Sean Dyche’s reasoning has become very clear over the last few months; they have a more than capable stand-in already at the club in the form of James Tarkowski. The 24-year-old’s no-nonsense approach to defending suits Burnley perfectly. He has won more aerial duels (4.8), made more clearances (9.4) and blocked more shots (1.8) per game than any other center-back in the league. Rating: 7.23, up 0.83 on last season

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