The Premier League season will soon pause for an unprecedented winter World Cup and the tournament will bring a temporary halt to a campaign that has proven compelling viewing to date.
Every player entered the Premier League season with a certain level of expectation, but a number of names have performed well above those to date.
Here are five Premier League players who have surprised so far this season.
Newcastle’s improvement has been one of the stories of the season so far, with Eddie Howe’s team in the top four after just one defeat from their opening 13 fixtures. A water-tight defence has conceded the least goals in the division, which coupled with the fine form of Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron has carried the Magpies into the Champions League places.
Almiron’s recent form has been remarkable, with the Paraguayan enjoying the best period of his career at St James’ Park. The 28-year-old has struggled for consistent end product for much of his time in English football, but has hit a rich purple patch in recent weeks.
Miggy Almirón adds to his collection of stunning strikes! 💥🇵🇾 pic.twitter.com/WVnBEMRMKU
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 29, 2022
He has six goals in six games for Newcastle in October, compiling a quite stunning collection of strikes in the process. Howe’s arrival as manager has handed freedom to a number of players held back under past regimes, with Almiron flourishing amid less defensive responsibility.
He hit a fine run of form in pre-season – scoring six goals and providing two assists during Newcastle’s friendly fixtures – before maintaining that form into the campaign with seven goals so far, just one less than he managed across the past three-and-a-half seasons at St James’ Park.
Almiron is making Jack Grealish’s much-publicised comments – in which the England international aimed insult at Almiron during Manchester City’s title celebrations – look incredibly foolish.
Alex Iwobi is another player who has enjoyed an unforeseen upturn this season, with Frank Lampard having found a role that brings the best from the midfielder on a consistent basis.
Iwobi has been a much-maligned figure across three seasons at Everton, but has appeared a player reborn under Lampard this season. The Nigerian has revelled in a more central box-to-box midfield role for the Toffees, where he has been an important asset both in and out of possession.
That one-two… 🤩 pic.twitter.com/TnYc2hoAZY
— Everton (@Everton) October 22, 2022
Iwobi’s endless energy has seen him regain possession and progress the ball forward, with his ball-carrying skills utilised in a position on the left of a midfield three. Inventive and industrious in equal measure, Lampard has restored confidence to the 26-year-old and is reaping the rewards.
“The manager tells me, ‘Play the way you train’. You can see I’m very confident and I’m able to express myself on the pitch,” Iwobi told the club’s official website.
“The manager gives me so much belief and, when I have confidence and motivation on the pitch, I feel I’m almost unstoppable.”
Iwobi has provided five assists already this season and only Kevin De Bruyne has more across the entire Premier League. He has been directly involved in six goals, just two less than the midfielder managed across the past three Premier League campaigns combined.
Solly March is playing some of the best football of his career at Brighton this season, with the versatile wideman having impressed in a number of roles.
March as shone at both wing-back and further forward, including an excellent showing in the Seagulls’ thrashing of Chelsea last weekend as the 28-year-old caused problem after problem for former teammate Marc Cucurella.
March hasn’t always had the full appreciation of the Seagulls support, but is proving his worth this season with a fine run of performances. Such has been his impact, new manager Roberto De Zerbi this week stated his belief that March was capable of playing Champions League football.
“I think Solly March can play better and better and better because people in football don’t know Solly March really 100%, about his quality and his potential skills,” De Zerbi said, as per The Argus.
“The qualities and levels of March are very important. I don’t know if during his career, clubs playing in Europe were asking about his performances but he has 100% the quality to play Tuesday and Wednesday – and Tuesday and Wednesday you play…
“He is complete. He has technical quality, physical quality.”
Diogo Dalot has had some transformation at Manchester United this season, from forgotten figure to irreplaceable in the Red Devils’ plans.
Dalot has struggled to fulfil his potential since arriving at the club from Porto in 2018, with the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and a loan move to AC Milan seemingly spelling the end of his time at Old Trafford.
The right-back returned to the side last season and featured prominently following Ralf Rangnick’s appointment as interim boss, before taking his game to new levels under Erik ten Hag this season.
The 23-year-old has been an ever-present under the new coach and has emerged as one of the most improved players in the Premier League, demonstrating an increased appetite for defending alongside the forward threat he has long carried.
Diogo Dalot is the only player in the Premier League this season with:
◉ 15+ interceptions
◉ 15+ aerial duels won
◉ 15+ tackles made
◉ 15+ open-play chances created
Erik ten Hag has created a monster right-back. 👹
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 31, 2022
United lacked attacking impetus from full-back in recent seasons and right-back had been deemed a problem position, but Dalot has knuckled down, improved his game, and made the position his own. Only Bruno Fernandes (29) has created more than Dalot’s 20 chances for Manchester United in the Premier League this season.
Granit Xhaka’s redemption has been a key part of Arsenal’s successful start to the season, with the Gunners dreaming of a title challenge after their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign.
After several seasons of underperformance and disappointment, the north Londoners are on the up with Mikel Arteta having built a side that the Emirates have taken to. At the centre of that team has been Xhaka, a man who Arteta convinced to remain at Arsenal following a turbulent career with the club before the manager’s arrival.
Removed as club captain following an infamous clash with fans under Unai Emery, Xhaka’s reputation has since been restored with a string of strong performances under Arteta. The Switzerland midfielder was once viewed as an erratic and unreliable midfield anchor, but is now flourishing further forward with added freedom.
🎯 @Arsenal's Granit Xhaka has already scored three goals this season, as many as in the three previous campaigns combined#ARSNFO pic.twitter.com/Bm3BoXZys7
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 30, 2022
The protection provided by Thomas Partey and inverted full-backs has freed Xhaka from his shackles and the results have been impressive.
Xhaka has been involved in six goals in 12 appearances, as many as in the past two seasons combined. His raids into the left channel have been a feature of Arsenal’s football, with his technical proficiency excelling in more advanced areas of the pitch.
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