At nearly the 2/3 mark of the English Premier League season, several players have improved their stance within their club while others are pushing for international accolades. But who are the top EPL players?
Some are young and some have experience. Some are British and some foreign. But the common factor between all these players is their irreplaceable value to their respective clubs.
Here’s my list to the irreplaceable top EPL players.
Arsenal: Thomas Partey, MF
Partey went through a stretch of injuries, and without him holding down the center of the park, Arsenal was lost. They were frequently dribbled and passed through and around, and they had no creativity to get the ball through to their forwards.
When Partey does play, he is a pivot in midfield for defenders to feed the ball into, and he’s creative enough to slide balls into wingers, putting them in position to create chances.
Aston Villa: John McGinn, MF
McGinn may not be a total goalscoring threat, but he doesn’t need to be with plenty of other options to put the ball in the back of the net for Villa. Instead, he brings the energy to the team, high pressing teams almost solely by himself sometimes and winning the ball back for his team. He brings pace and energy, and an underrated physicality in defense that no other players on Villa can bring each and every match.
Brentford: Ivan Toney, FW
Toney lit up the Championship last year, and they need him to be more productive in front of goal this year. But it’s not just his scoring abilities that are valuable to this Brentford side.
His hold-up play is fantastic, and without being that anchor up front, Brentford quick wingers would have nobody to get them through on goal as most of the offense relies on Toney checking back to receive the ball and dishing it out to an open midfielder.
Brighton: Tariq Lamptey, D
Lamptey is a game-changing wing-back, something that most teams don’t have. He is arguably the quickest player in the PL, and his sheer pace outclasses opponents on the wing. He’s a great deliverer of the ball, and his tenacious defense shuts down opposing wingers.
This was a great piece of business from Brighton who stole him away from Chelsea for cheap, and when Lamptey is on the pitch defenses are centered around stopping him from getting forward.
Burnley: Maxwel Cornet, MF
Cornet has the most goals on this Burnley squad, and frankly, with the loss of Chris Wood to Newcastle, he may be the only scoring option from open play. Without Cornet, Burnley can’t score, and they just play for the one point in a nil-nil draw.
This Burnley side seems to have 10 of the same player, with Cornet being the only glimmer of hope for them to escape what feels like inevitable relegation.
Chelsea: N’Golo Kante, MF
This team is completely different with and without Kante in it. Even when he comes off the bench, he terrifies opposing creative players. He has an unlimited motor, and when everyone else is exhausted, Kante is running the length of the field to intercept a counter-attack. With N’Golo, this Chelsea team seems impenetrable, and it is their forwards and wingers that need to step up.
Crystal Palace: Conor Gallagher, MF
As a midfielder, Gallagher has the team’s top assist-man and top goalscorer. Everything runs through him in the midfield offensively, and he’s the defensive anchor. He has proven his worth at Palace, and will certainly be an important piece in next year’s Chelsea team when he returns from loan.
Everton: Richarlison, FW
Everton has had a difficult year, and they need to score more goals. That starts with the Brazilian winger Richarlison, who is by far the most creative player in the Toffee squad. When he’s not on the pitch, the Everton attack just doesn’t have the energy and the ability to do all that much.
Leeds United: Mateusz Klich, MF
Klich is a midfielder who holds this team together. Sometimes Leeds sends way too many bodies forward, and it’s Klich who covers. Sometimes, the opposite happens, and Leeds sends nobody forward, and Klich is there to distribute balls into spaces where teammates can push the ball forward. With Klich, this team is better balanced.
Leicester City: Youri Tielemans, MF
Leicester has a loaded squad, funded off the backs of their improbable league victory last decade. But perhaps their most talented player is now Tielemans, who is now a consistent piece for his country’s squad as well.
He’s attack-minded and strikes a wonderful ball. He rarely loses possession, and he links up incredibly well with the forwards, bringing the wingers into the attack. Many of Leicester’s scored goals run through Youri.
Liverpool: Virgil Van Dijk, D
It’s difficult to choose just one player because their entire starting 11 is so essential to their success, but Van Dijk is who transformed this team. Without Van Dijk, the defense can be vulnerable, despite outclassing opponents on the offensive end.
The wing-backs can occasionally be beaten by top-class wingers, and Van Dijk’s ability to never get dribbled past makes all goals very well-earned by the opposition.
Manchester City: Bernardo Silva, MF
Silva has had an expanded role as City has phased out some of their older stars. He’s quick, elusive, and creative. With City’s lack of goal-scoring from the forward position, Silva not only nets goals but sets up the rest of his teammates to succeed as well. He is the perfect fit next to De Bruyne that this team desperately needs to compete for Europe’s top prizes.
Manchester United: Bruno Fernandes, MF
When Bruno is off the pitch, it’s a painful team to watch. There really isn’t another player on this United side that has the ability to create chances as Fernandes can.
The Red Devils have plenty of star power on the wing and in the center of the attack, but the inability to get it to those players and the inability for those players to find an outlet shines brightest when Fernandes is off the pitch.
Newcastle United: Allan Saint-Maximin FW
Despite their new signings as a result of the new Saudi ownership, Saint-Maximin is still their best and most important player. Newcastle really can’t score, and watching their games, it feels like Saint-Maximin provides them with 99% of their chances.
His ability to dribble past an entire defense is threatening and scary for opposing center backs who just can’t keep up with him, and without him, Newcastle may not have registered a shot on target this year.
Norwich City: Teemu Pukki, FW
Finding the most important player on Norwich was difficult because Norwich has been so awful this season, that not one player really looks irreplaceable. The one player who has the ability to maybe get Norwich out of this mess is forward Teemu Pukki, who is a streaky goal-scoring machine. If he can find some top-class form, who knows what could happen with the Canaries.
Southampton: James Ward-Prowse, MF
Southampton is having yet another Southampton-like season, and the one who does it all for them is James Ward-Prowse. Regarded as one of the best free-kick takers in the world, Ward-Prowse is sort of carrying this team.
They don’t have much of an offense without his distribution and pivot play, and their defense isn’t as strong without him intercepting passes in front of them. Southampton, without Ward-Prowse, may not even be a Championship-level squad.
Tottenham Hotspur: Heung-Min Son, FW
Yes, Tottenham has Harry Kane, one of the most productive scorers in EPL history. But what is Kane without his robin, Son? The answer is pretty much nothing.
Son adds something to this team that the other expensive wingers on this Spurs roster do not have. He finishes wonderfully, and defending him in space is pretty much impossible, his connection with Kane is top-class, and without doubling him, it’s pretty much impossible to stop the South Korean Maestro.
Watford: Ismaila Sarr, FW
It’s difficult to place a finger on how Watford has managed even a point this season, and a lot of it must have to do with star forward Ismaila Sarr, who is the team’s most dangerous weapon. He has the class of a bigger club’s winger, and when he isn’t on the pitch, there is a clear lack of movement from the Watford side.
West Ham: Declan Rice, MF
This one is a no-brainer. Rice is one of the top central midfielders in the world, and West Ham is lucky to have him, for the time being, that is. He’s physical, he’s controlled, and he’s creative. He’s one of the best in the world at his position for a reason. Rice is imposing and absolutely ruins another team’s tactics.
The Hammers have plenty of talent, which is why they are having another fantastic season, but it all starts and ends with Declan Rice.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Conor Coady, D
Wolves have plenty of creative and surprisingly quick wingers and midfielders, all of whom are very important to this team’s attack. But because they have so much talent, many of them are replaceable in their system.
One player who is simply irreplaceable is Coady, who anchors the center of the defense. He’s one of England’s preferred center-backs for a reason, and the reason they win games is that they can score, but they won’t concede as well, and that’s mostly on Coady.
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