The 2020/21 season has perhaps surpassed all expectations despite the difficulties facing Premier League sides, a wide-open division currently home to several stars in fantastic form.
We’ve picked out some of the Premier League‘s most in-form players right now, a number of notable names whose performances could yet provide the inspiration for a successful season for their sides.
Here are five players hitting peak form at just the right time:
Manchester City‘s recent form should send an ominous warning to anyone hoping for a tightly-contested title race this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side stretching their unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions with a 5-0 thrashing of West Brom on Tuesday evening.
City have won their past 11 fixtures in succession and have found their form after an inauspicious start to the season, their odds of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons having been slashed by the bookmakers.
Central to their success has been the form of Ilkay Gundogan, who has emerged from the shadows to become the goalscoring midfield threat at the heart of the City side.
Gundogan has often been criticised by the City support when paired in an unimaginative two-man midfield pivot alongside Rodri, but the German has shown over the past month he offers much more than midfield security and safe possession.
The 30-year-old has stepped into the role vacated by David Silva’s summer departure and has thrived after being given a greater licence to attack, with no Premier League player having scored more goals since the turn of the new year.
🤯 Ilkay Gundogan has scored at least two more goals than any other player in the Premier League in 2021 (5) pic.twitter.com/ClD9GlRY5m
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 27, 2021
Gundogan’s double at West Brom made it seven goals in his past eight league appearances, his intelligent runs forward and clinical finishing having provided his side with yet another avenue to goal.
The Germany international had never scored more than six league goals in a season before the current campaign, but his goalscoring form of late has been the driving force behind City’s title charge.
There has seemed to be a continued debate regarding Paul Pogba and his ability to influence games since arriving at Manchester United in a world-record deal, and whilst there have been moments of brilliance, his performances have often been too punctuated with periods of inconsistency.
Pogba’s talent has never been in question and his inability to produce on a constant basis has been a major source of frustration, though there have been encouraging signs in recent weeks that the midfielder is hitting his stride.
The France international’s time with the club appeared to be heading in one direction after his controversial agent, Mino Raiola, insisted Pogba’s career with the Red Devils was ‘over’ last month, though the 27-year-old has rubbished that notion by producing his best form in some time.
Pogba has featured in a variety of positions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side including from the left and right flanks, as well as in a deeper central role, though his influence has shone through during a number of crucial victories.
The club-record signing produced individual moments of brilliance to score winning goals at both Burnley and Fulham, whilst there has been a welcomed sense of determination and discipline to his game which was evident in the FA Cup victory over Liverpool last weekend.
Paul Pogba came up clutch for Manchester United 💥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 21, 2021
Pogba covered the ground and competed for every loose ball, making a number of vital challenges and showing a desire that has been previously lacking from his game.
His increased appetite for the unglamorous side of the game has been evidenced in the statistics with only Fred having won more possession on more occasions than Pogba since Raiola’s comments, whilst he trails only the Brazilian and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for tackles.
There are few midfielders in world football with as complete a skillset as Pogba and the encouraging signs of the star harnessing that talent could yet prove decisive in United’s hopes of a sustained title challenge.
David Moyes’ recruitment has provided the foundation for West Ham‘s push for European football, the Hammers currently sitting in the Premier League’s top four following a fine run of form.
No addition has made a greater impact than Tomas Soucek who has proven to be one of the best pieces of business of the campaign, the midfielder signing on a permanent deal from Slavia Prague during the summer after impressing on loan over the second half of last season.
Soucek has all the attributes Moyes wants from his midfield with the Czech Republic international a running machine, covering every blade of grass in an inexhaustible box-to-box style.
The 25-year-old’s imposing frame provides security alongside the ever-improving Declan Rice in the engine room, whilst Soucek’s goal threat has been a huge factor in West Ham’s season so far.
The summer signing is the club’s leading scorer with seven league goals in 20 appearances, including four in his past six after netting a double in the 3-2 win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 26, 2021
No player in the division has won more aerial duels than Soucek during the 2020/21 season, whilst his attacking threat is evidenced with a huge 20 duels won in the opposition box.
Moyes has found a system that suits the players at his disposal and West Ham have now won each of their six fixtures in all competitions since the turn of the New Year, optimism surrounding the London Stadium once more with Soucek at the heart of it.
Leicester’s pursuit of Champions League football last season faltered at the finish line as a stuttering run of form proved costly, the Foxes dropping to fifth after defeat to Manchester United on the final day of the season.
Amongst the reasons for their drop in results during the run-in was the absence of James Maddison, the influential midfielder having missed the final six games – a period which saw Leicester lose three times to fall out of the top four.
Maddison was introduced back into the side slowly at the start of the season but after regaining rhythm, he has now hit a fine run of form, scoring in each of his past four appearances in all competitions.
The 24-year-old has now scored six goals and provided four assists in just 17 league appearances, bettering his goal contribution tally from the entirety of last season.
The midfielder has spoken of his desire to score more goals and there has been clear signs of progress in the timing of his runs, his performances in recent weeks a reminder of the talent possessed by the one-cap England international.
🗣"I can't speak highly enough of him"
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers was full of praise of James Maddison after another impressive display for the Foxes in the FA Cup pic.twitter.com/YQtUf4XL4I
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 25, 2021
Maddison is a wonderfully intelligent footballer with quick feet and superb technique, his confident style making him an interesting option to Gareth Southgate as he assesses his attacking options ahead of this summer’s European Championships.
After what appeared a dearth of midfield creativity, the Three Lions now have an embarrassment of riches, with Maddison’s current form putting him in contention for a recall alongside the likes of Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and Phil Foden.
The midfielder’s main priority, however, will be building on a strong start to the season with Leicester who currently sit third and three points adrift of league leaders Manchester City.
After the near-miss of last season, Maddison could yet prove the difference in securing the Foxes a place amongst Europe’s elite next season.
Tanguy Ndombele’s renaissance at Tottenham has been one of the feel-good stories of the season with the club-record signing bouncing back from a difficult debut campaign in north London.
The France international was facing a fight to salvage his Spurs career after being publicly lambasted by manager Jose Mourinho in March, though less than a year later is now one of the first names on the Portuguese’s team sheet.
Ndombele has emerged as one of the most exciting midfielders in the division this season and seems on an upward trajectory of progression, the 24-year-old having earned comparisons to former Manchester City star Yaya Toure for his ability to burst forward from midfield and open defences.
Ndombele can be captivating when at his best with sharp turns, acceleration and improvised moments of technical brilliance, twisting and turning away from challenges with his press resistant dribbling ability.
The summer signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has provided Spurs with the midfield enforcer to unshackle Ndombele, a player who thrives best when playing off the cuff and given a licence to rampage forward.
Are people still sleeping on Tanguy Ndombele?! 🤯
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 25, 2021
There is an increased intensity to his play as demanded by Mourinho with his sprint stats vastly improved from 2019/20, an improved fitness capacity allowing him to exert greater influence.
Ndombele has scored four goals and provided an assist in his past six appearances across all competitions, including a brilliant brace after coming off the bench against Wycombe on Monday.
There was understood to be interest from some of Europe’s leading clubs in Ndombele when it appeared clear he would leave Lyon in 2019 and we are now beginning to see why Spurs’ capture of the Frenchman was widely viewed as a coup.