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PREMIER LEAGUE POWER RANKINGS – Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season

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Players like Raphinha, Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher have stolen the limelight from some of the elite playmakers in the league, but who has had the most impact so far this season?

 

As the 2021/22 Premier League season enters the busy and hectic Christmas period, I feel it is fitting that I work on this list of top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season. Moreover, 15 games is a big-enough sample size to gauge how some of our favourite players have fared until now.

Players like Raphinha, Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher have stolen the limelight from some of the elite playmakers in the league, but who has had the most impact so far this season?

 

Before we dive into the thick of the action, I would like to say that there are a myriad of reasons—many unquantifiable—that go into determining lists like these. Most of these entries might even reflect upon my subjectivity, meaning you might agree with some of my mentions, or none at all. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Here’s a list of some honourable mentions who, as per my understanding and knowledge, have missed out on the list this time around but do have the ability to make a surprise entry given how they perform from now on until February.

Honourable Mentions: Jack Grealish (MCI), Dwight McNeil (BUR), Naby Keïta (LIV), Rodri (MCI), Bruno Fernandes (MUN), Phil Foden (MCI), Paul Pogba (MUN), Demarai Gray (EVE), Jordan Henderson (LIV).

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 Premier League season.

 

Also Read – PREMIER LEAGUE POWER RANKINGS – Top 10 defenders so far during the 2021/22 season

 

#10 Abdoulaye Doucouré | Everton

Games – 11 | Goals – 2 | Assists – 4

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Abdoulaye Doucouré
Doucouré had been a revelation for the Toffees, before a stress response in his foot in a narrow home defeat to West Ham United sidelined him for more than a couple of months.

Under Carlo Ancelotti last season, Doucouré was seen operating in a double pivot alongside Allan, which restricted his natural flow, i.e., disguised runs further up the pitch.

Rafael Benítez, much to his credit, saw this facet of Abdoulaye Doucouré’s game and integrated that into his system to devastating effects. From a pivot, Doucoure’s role changed to that of a box-to-box midfielder, breaking lines and driving the play forward. Moreover, it’s the end product at the end of those runs that has made him stand up and be part of this conversation of the Top 10 midfielders in the Premier League right now.

Apart from his six goal involvements, Doucouré has been defensively rock solid, with 1.9 tackles/90’ and 1.1 interceptions/90’ while winning 4.3 duels per game. Additionally, his average of 54 touches per game and 82% passing accuracy, with 2 Big Chances Created, is commendable for someone who is always trying to break the opposition’s lines or carrying out quick transitions as the lynchpin.

RATING: 7.25/10

#9 İlkay Gündoğan | Manchester City

Games – 10 | Goals – 3 | Assists – 1

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - İlkay Gündoğan
With the introduction of a new creator (Jack Grealish) in front of him, it was not surprising to see Gündoğan’s adventurous runs inside the 18-yard box getting restricted. However, his new role is no less important. In his 10 matches so far this season, the Germany international has been heavily involved in the left-hand final third in the opposition half.

Gündoğan plays positional and combinational plays along with the likes of Phil Foden and João Cancelo; both Foden and Cancelo are more adventurous, while the positionally aware and industrial Gündoğan slots into the second defensive shield, but he also darts into the 18-yard-box with his unmarked runs and is currently averaging a decent 2.4 shots per game and scoring three goals, while having missed 4 Big Chances so far this season.

Moreover, Gündoğan has not forgotten his creative duties, as he averages 2.2 key passes per game and has created 3 Big Chances already while maintaining an impressive 90% passing accuracy with 68.9 touches per game.

RATING: 7.25/10

#8 Mateo Kovačić | Chelsea

Games – 9 | Goals – 1 | Assists – 5

Mateo Kovačić
Amidst the defensive stubbornness and the attacking prowess of the Chelsea fullbacks, their engine room has been overlooked by many and, more specifically, Mateo Kovačić and the stellar job he has been doing in the heart of the Chelsea midfield.

Kovačić has seen himself playing much further up the pitch, with Jorginho ideally sitting back as the lone pivot, while the Croatian ventures forward and links up with the likes of Ben Chilwell/Marcos Alonso and the forwards in front.

Thus, it is no coincidence that Kovačić’s output has improved as a result. His five assists are reflection of a continuous pattern within Thomas Tuchel‘s system, where the players overload one half of the pitch before a quick switch of play unleashes the spare wingback in the opposite flank.

RATING: 7.5/10

#7 Saïd Benrahma | West Ham United

Games – 15 | Goals – 3 | Assists – 3

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Saïd Benrahma
The Hammers’ creator started the season in fine form before both his performances and form dipped, but that doesn’t mean Benrahma isn’t worthy of a spot on this list. Six goal contributions in 15 games is more than decent for any player in any league, let alone the Premier League.

Moreover, it might just be me, but I’ve noticed that until the Manchester United game, when Saïd Benrahma was predominantly used as the #10 behind Michail Antonio, both the players were producing crazy outputs, but ever since David Moyes shifted him wide on the left flank, both Benrahma’s and Antonio’s numbers have dropped. Thus, although it would be easy to criticise him for his dip in form, I feel it’s how he’s being used that has played a lot into it as well.

RATING: 7.5/10

#6 Youri Tielemans | Leicester City

Games – 11 | Goals – 3 | Assists – 2

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Youri Tielemans
The Leicester City #8, alongside Jamie Vardy, has been the standout player in a dreadful Leicester side that have failed to hit the ground running even after 11 league games. That their manager’s position doesn’t look secure also doesn’t help any players in the Leicester squad.

The Belgium international, however, has been playing on a different wavelength compared to his Leicester teammates. Apart from his 3 goals and 2 assists so far this season, Tielemans has been the biggest creative force in a rusty Leicester side. His 4 big chances created, along with his 2.1 key passes per game, is matched by none.

Tielemans has been doing a lot of the dirty work as well, with 1.7 tackles/90’, 1.5 clearances/90’ and 4.5 duels won/90’. If he keeps up with his current form, a big move is definitely on the cards come July 2022.

RATING: 7.75/10

#5 Declan Rice | West Ham United

Games – 15 | Goals – 1 | Assists – 3

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Declan Rice
West Ham United’s surge into the Top 4 race has been down to the midfield steel and resilience shown by Declan Rice and his partner Tomáš Souček. Although the Czech Republic international has had an iffy start to the 2021/22 campaign, Rice, on the other hand, has been immense for David Moyes and the Hammers.

There’s no denying that in about a couple of years, Declan Rice will be considered among the finest defensive midfielders in the game, and such extravagant claims are backed by his consistency throughout this pandemic-hit phase.

In terms of footballing metrics, he ticks all the boxes and then some for his age and position. He already has four goal involvements from his 15 league appearances, which is a vast improvement on his last season’s statistics, while the England international has elite numbers in the defensive department as well, with 2.0 interceptions/90’, 2.5 tackles/90’, 1.5 successful dribbles/90’ and 5.6 duels won/90’.

RATING: 8.5/10

#4 Emile Smith Rowe | Arsenal

Games – 14 | Goals – 5 | Assists – 2

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Emile Smith Rowe
When the Arsenal hierarchy gave Emile Smith Rowe the #10 jersey, along with it came a lot of expectations and burden. And when he went on a five-match run without any goal contributions, it looked like the pressure was going to get the better of him.

Oh, how wrong we were!

In his next six Premier League fixtures, the Hale End product went on to produce six goal contributions (4 goals + 2 assists), already exceeding his tally from the 2020/21 season within 11 games.

When he broke through, people questioned whether Smith Rowe would ever be physically capable of competing against the best, and when he did that, it was his finishing ability that was found wanting. But now that he has added that to his game, he looks the real deal.

Moreover, Smith Rowe has massively improved his technical and physical levels, while working on his movement and positioning, and the results are devastating for the opposition.

RATING: 8.5/10

#3 Raphinha | Leeds United

Games – 13 | Goals – 6 | Assists – 1

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Raphinha
Brazilian sensation Raphinha has been the only shining light in Marcelo Bielsa’s otherwise dreadful Leeds United. Coming from the highs of last season’s 9th-place finish, it looks like Leeds United have got the second season syndrome. But it looks like Raphinha didn’t get the memo, as the Brazilian wide midfielder has produced breathtaking individual displays throughout the 13 league fixtures he has been involved in.

Moreover, with the busy December fixture schedule setting in, it has become quite evident that everything within that Leeds system flows through Raphinha, who is sort of a lynchpin in the absence of Patrick Bamford. The Brazilian has scored five goals so far this season, averaging 3.0 shots per game, while he can consider himself unlucky not to have registered more than one assist, having racked up 4 Big Chances Created and 30 key passes played in 13 league fixtures alone.

The 24-year-old is quite physical too, given his lanky structure, but he has registered 6.2 duels won per game while registering 1.3 interceptions and 1.5 tackles per 90 as well. Thus, given Leeds’ lengthy injury list, if players return quickly over this busy period and Bielsa’s team somehow hit form, it won’t surprise many to see Raphinha’s numbers shot up through the roofs.

RATING: 9/10

#2 Conor Gallagher | Crystal Palace

Games – 14 | Goals – 4 | Assists – 3

Top 10 midfielders so far during the 2021/22 season - Conor Gallagher
Chelsea-loanee Conor Gallagher has been the standout midfielder so far this season. After impressing during his season-long loan with West Bromwich Albion last season, a switch to Crystal Palace under an attractive-football-loving manager in Patrick Vieira looked like the best option for his development. And boy has he grabbed that opportunity!

In a Crystal Palace side that lacked creativity and technical presence last season, Conor Gallagher, along with Michael Olise, has been a top-draw acquisition for Palace and Vieira.

So far, Gallagher has 4 goals and 3 assists against his name, but those numbers could have been way higher if he had not squandered three big chances, while teammates like Christian Benteke and Odsonne Édouard have missed sitters too.

Crystal Palace under Patrick Vieira look secured, and given their relatively easy run of fixtures heading into the busy Christmas period, Gallagher and Co. have the pedigree to produce consistent results.

However, in the past couple of weeks in the lead-up to the busy Christmas schedule, Gallagher has been seen operating in a much deeper role than the one he has been producing outputs in, which is something I feel has to do with who plays alongside him, and should not be that much of an issue for him on the attacking front.

RATING: 9/10

#1 Bernardo Silva | Manchester City

Games – 14 | Goals – 7 | Assists – 1

Bernardo Silva
It all came as a surprise when rumours emerged during the summer transfer window about Bernardo Silva potentially leaving Manchester City. While his lack of minutes towards the end of last season did suggest a possible transfer, when he finally got two full 90 minutes against Norwich City and Arsenal, any speculations of him leaving were put to bed.

Fast forward to the first week of the busy December Christmas period, and Bernardo Silva has been the best player in that Manchester City squad, with his seven goals and an assist that have come during clutch moments when the team needed them.

It might be a contentious call to make, but for me, Bernando Silva and Mohamed Salah have been the standout performers so far this season. If not better, Silva is definitely on a similar level to the Egyptian in the Premier League.

Following the second international break, Silva has been in scintillating form, thus barring any injuries or a sudden dip in form, he will be pivotal to Manchester City’s run from here on till the end of February, which is when Pep’s teams usually run away with the league.

RATING: 9.5/10

 

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