After 15 rounds of Premier League fixtures, Man City have amassed a record 43 out of a possible 45 points to take firm control of the title race. Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are still in with a shout, but it will take a massive slip up from Pep’s side to derail their title ambitions.
Heading into the festive period, there has been plenty of opportunities to examine players thus far and below the top 10 players in the League are ranked.
The players were picked on a mix of form thus far this season and overall ability. In a league that focuses extensively on attacking players, there is a gulf between forward and defensive players.
Furthermore, the domination of the top six clubs in recent years means that no-one outside the top seven is named.
As with all Power Rankings, not everyone will agree, but without further ado, here it is.
Shane Duffy – Had to be mentioned. A rock at the back for Brighton, developing into a top-class centre-half. Brighton will have a job to keep hold of him.
Fernandinho – Awfully unlucky to miss out. One pass made every minute for his first 1041 minutes of the season is an incredible statistic. Keeps the City juggernaut ticking over.
Sergio Aguero – Does not deserve to be left out but is feeling the effects of having a world class partner to contend with.
Gabriel Jesus – Same can be said for Jesus as Aguero.
David Silva – Like his forward counterparts, the presence of De Bruyne takes from Silva’s excellence. Still world class for City.
Virgil van Dijk – Has everything you would want from a centre-half. Tall, Strong, graceful, Van Dijk will not be at Southampton for much longer.
Christian Erikson – You saw what he did to Ireland.
Paul Pogba – Brilliant midfielder, with so much potential. He is key for United with his ability to do a bit of everything.
Mesut Ozil – On his day he is perhaps the best playmaker in the league which is saying something.
10. Raheem Sterling
Had this list been written last week, Sterling would not have made the cut and Sergio Aguero would rank ahead of his teammate. However, his recent goalscoring exploits have catapulted him into the top ten.
Three match winners in the space of a week have seen Man City continue their winning run in both the Premier League and Champions League as they look a side intent on claiming everything on offer.
His inconsistency was flagged from an early age but this year has been a different story for Sterling. Pep Guardiola has seemingly brought the best out of the winger like he has with the rest of Sterling’s counterparts. He is not just creating for his teammates but is instead scoring vital goals.
9. Cesar Azpilicueta
The Spaniard is the epitome of consistency. Whether he fills in at right back, or the right-hand side of a back three, Azpilicueta excels. Tremendously solid on the ball, Azpilicueta is a calming presence at the back for Chelsea who have used a number of different combinations in defence over the past few years.
He reads the game excellently and is rarely caught out. Not one to get his name on the scoresheet, he has quickly developed a relationship with the free-scoring Alvaro Morata, assisting four goals for his compatriot this season.
In a league dominated by attackers, Azpilicueta is the best defender by a distance.
8. Alexis Sanchez
The Chile man has been far from his best this season, but there is no denying his talent. Since arriving from Barcelona in 2014, Sanchez has usurped all at Arsenal to become the undisputed main man.
Sanchez is the heartbeat of this Arsenal side, who are capable of beating any team on their day. Sanchez also chips in with numerous assists to add to his impressive goal tally.
He was the subject of a deadline-day bid from City which looked to have turned his head. However, the re-emergence of Mesut Ozil has seen a return to form in recent weeks for Sanchez as Arsenal look to seal a return to the Champions League.
7. Mohamed Salah
Salah arrived in England four years ago at Chelsea but failed to make the desired impact, notching just a brace of goals in limited appearances. Was sent to Roma on loan at the conclusion of the 2013/14 season, where he was signed permanently after excelling in his first season.
Signed for a then club record, €37 million by Liverpool at the start of the summer, Salah has yet to look back. The Egyptian has been absolutely immense for the Reds this term, leading the league in scorers despite playing on the wing.
So far this season he has netted a staggering 17 goals in all competitions with that certain to increase substantially over the coming weeks. Blessed with blistering pace, Salah has room to improve which is frightening for opposing defences all over Europe.
6. N’Golo Kante
Kante is the premier midfielder in the league and has been since he moved to England prior to the 2015/16 season. He was instrumental is Leicester’s fairytale title triumph in 2016 and picked up that form for Chelsea the following season to guide them to the championship.
While the likes of Hazard and Morata gain the plaudits with the swashbuckling ability up front, Kante’s importance to the team is unrivalled.
Current Player of the Year says it all really.
5. Philippe Coutinho
There is a reason Barcelona offered well in excess of £100 million for the Brazilian in the summer. On his day is one of the most creative players in the world, with a keen eye for goal.
Signed for only £8.5 million back in 2013, he has brought his game to unimaginable heights. As he demonstrated last weekend against Brighton, if he is on his game, he is virtually impossible to stop.
He is part of a Liverpool attack that is beginning to take shape as one of the best worldwide and Coutinho is to the fore.
Barcelona could be back in January, such is his quality.
4. David De Gea
De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world, let alone the Premier League. He has surpassed Manuel Neuer with his unrivalled shot-stopping ability.
The Spanish international was questioned when he was signed seven years ago as a lanky teenager for a lofty €17 million fee. However, he has answered every critic since, winning club player of the year three years on the trot.
His 14 saves at the weekend against Arsenal were a timely reminder of his class. It is said that a top-class goalkeeper could save up to 15 points a season, De Gea shatters that ceiling with match-winning performances week in week out. Up there with previous United greats, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar.
3. Harry Kane
One man Jose Mourinho might exchange for De Gea, however, could be Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
England’s great hope has had a remarkable rise to the top. Labelled a one-season winder, the Spurs star is into his fourth year of world class output.
He has finished the previous two campaigns as Premier League top scorer and looks a good bet to make it a three-peat, trailing only Mo Salah by a couple.
Kane is a scorer of all goals and also great goals. A predator of the highest order always seems to find himself in the right place. Sometimes is guilty of contributing little in the build-up but is more often than not the man to put the ball into the net.
Only getting better with age and will have a lot to say if England are to advance in the World Cup next summer.
2. Eden Hazard
Hazard was crowned as Player of the Year for the 2014/15 season as Chelsea stormed to the title. Hazard was in imperious form, notching 14 goals in the league. The following year saw Hazard suffer a dip in form.
However, last campaign he was back to his unstoppable best, as the Antonio Conte lead Chelsea romped their way to the title. Hazard was runner-up to Kante in the running for Player of the Year but continuously provided the spark for the electric Chelsea attack.
Unmatched dribbling ability in the league and has added more goals to his game each year. The diminutive Belgian is so elusive and brings teammates into the game with his quality.
He has such a balance and flair to his game, it is difficult not to just stand back and admire him in full-flight regardless of which team you support.
1. Kevin De Bruyne
To think Chelsea deemed him surplus to requirements just over four years ago is incredible.
Since his return to the EPL in the lighter blue of City, De Bruyne has showcased his amazing playmaking abilities.
Alongside David Silva, De Bruyne is City’s fulcrum, from which everything flows. He rarely makes a backward pass, ensuring that his team can always be on the front foot.
The Belgian possess a deadly set-piece delivery and can shoot from distance with either foot. One of the main reasons, City have got off to the best ever Premier League start, dropping just two out of a possible 45 points.
He was an absolute steal at £55 million. England fans will be having nightmares about the prospect of facing both De Bruyne and Hazard at the World Cup.
Best in the League.
Jack Neville, Pundit Arena