As we head into the final international break of the calendar year when better to pause and reflect on the Premier League season to date, a season which promised plenty and has delivered in some style.
Pre-season predictions have widely been turned upside down following a campaign full of shocks and surprises to date, English football once again having a valid claim as the most competitive top flight in Europe.
Following the domestic season’s pause we’ve decided to delve into some of the best statistics, here are the six Premier League players to make the most tackles so far this season.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 24 tackles (Tottenham)
Amongst a series of shrewd acquisitions from Tottenham during the summer transfer window, Jose Mourinho secured the signing of the Southampton enforcer to bolster his midfield ranks.
The Denmark international has quickly become a mainstay of the Spurs side and has played every minute of their Premier League campaign so far, anchoring the midfield with authority and featuring amongst the division’s most prolific tacklers.
Hojbjerg has bounced back from a difficult debut against Everton to win over the north London side’s supporters, his assertive presence providing the platform for a free-scoring side to flourish further forward.
The midfielder may not have been the most glamorous of Spurs’ summer signings, but he is arguably emerging as their most important.
Stuart Dallas – 26 tackles (Leeds)
Marcelo Bielsa demands nothing short of energy and intensity from his Leeds side and there are few who carry out his manager’s wishes better than Stuart Dallas, the utility man often a trusted lieutenant in a variety of positions.
Dallas has featured in midfield and in both full-back positions over the opening eight fixtures of the season, but the inconsistency in his positioning has not prevented the Northern Ireland international from racking up the challenges.
Only three players in the entire division have managed more than Dallas’ 26 tackles so far, the defender having regularly sought to win back possession in Leeds’ fluid and suffocating system, last season’s Championship winners having taken 10 points from their eight league fixtures thus far.
Luke Ayling – 26 tackles (Leeds)
The second Leeds player to feature on this list, Luke Ayling has matched teammate Dallas’ tally of 26 tackles in the Premier League so far this season.
Ayling has worked his way back to the top flight after being released by Arsenal as a teenager and is one of a number of players to have thrived after buying into Bielsa’s principles at Elland Road, his committed approach and relentless running marking him out as a key player in the side.
Last season’s PFA Fans’ Championship Player of the Season, the defender has handled the step-up admirably and has remained an industrious and hard-working component of arguably the division’s most intriguing side, his work-ethic added to by diligent defensive work, ranking highly across the division for both tackles and blocks.
Andros Townsend – 27 tackles (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the most surprising name on this list, Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend is a player more often associated with his attacking contributions than defensive work.
Townsend, however, has shown his willingness to work hard for the Eagles’ cause and has made more tackles than all but two players in the Premier League this season, his contribution having helped Palace enjoy a strong start to the season.
Roy Hodgson’s side currently sit eighth in the division after eight league fixtures, their new-look attack – featuring a resurgent Wilfried Zaha, summer signing Eberechi Eze and Jordan Ayew – possessing the talent and application to trouble most teams.
Oriol Romeu – 31 tackles (Southampton)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s summer departure to Tottenham handed Oriol Romeu a lifeline at Southampton and the midfielder has responded with a hugely impressive start to the season.
After struggling to command an automatic starting position last season the Spaniard has now become an integral part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s impressive side, with only James Ward-Prowse and Kyle Walker-Peters having played more minutes for the Saints in their opening eight fixtures.
Romeu has averaged almost four tackles per game and ranks second for total tackles, with Southampton the third most prolific tacklers behind only Leeds and Everton.
Those statistics have helped the Saints enjoyed a superb start to sit in the Champions League places heading into November’s international break, Romeu’s protection of the backline in a midfield anchor role helping Southampton to a league leading four clean sheets, level with both Aston Villa and Wolves.
Allan – 32 tackles (Everton)
Everton’s summer signing has provided their midfield with an aggressive, ankle-biting presence in the engine room, Allan having impressed with his combative approach since signing from Napoli.
The Brazil international has bolstered a midfield that often looked powder-puff under the previous regime, his partnership with fellow new recruit Abdoulaye Doucoure providing Everton with a different dimension as they bid to improve under Carlo Ancelotti.
Allan’s tough-tackling and uncompromising approach has seen him win 32 tackles so far this season, though only Leicester’s Jonny Evans has been cautioned on more occasions as the 29-year-old has swiftly made himself familiar with Premier League officials.
The Toffees’ strong start has stuttered following three consecutive defeats, though there remains reason for optimism this season as a new-look side seeks continental qualification.