We’re now seven fixtures into the Premier League season and it has been a fascinating start to the campaign, the opening months having proven both thoroughly entertaining and unpredictable.
In the midst of an unpredictable start has been a group of players who have followed that trend to exceed all expectations, their performances having proven a welcome boost to their respective clubs.
Here are five Premier League players exceeding expectations so far this season:
Mohamed Elneny’s renaissance at Arsenal has been one of the stories of the north London side’s season to date, a player who had appeared to have no future with the club after being frozen out at the Emirates.
Former manager Unai Emery had deemed the Egyptian international as surplus to requirements and he spent last season on loan at Besiktas, returning during the summer and facing an uncertain future with just a year remaining on his contract.
Mikel Arteta has opted to hand a chance to the previously unwanted midfielder and he has grasped it with both hands, producing a series of impressive performances in the Gunners’ engine room.
Elneny was outstanding in the win at Manchester United last weekend and an energy-sapping press in stoppage-time won him plenty of plaudits, Arteta having spoken of his like for players who ‘have no ego and play for the team’.
We need to talk about how well Mohamed Elneny is playing for Arsenal 👏
91st minute and he does this 🏃♂️
Manchester United had no answers 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/5JDZQsoK6M
— Goal (@goal) November 2, 2020
Elneny certainly fits that profile and has combined tenacious energy with an underrated passing range, whilst his 93.8% pass success rate is the highest amongst all Premier League midfielders and second to only Chelsea defender Thiago Silva so far this season.
Speculation has emerged that Arsenal are now preparing a new contract offer for the 28-year-old, who has shown with the correct work-ethic and application that he can be apart of the Gunners’ emerging side.
Jannik Vestergaard’s role at Southampton was questioned during the summer after an indifferent campaign last season saw him struggle to win favour on a regular basis, the signing of Mohammed Salisu from Real Valladolid seemingly set to push him further down the pecking order.
Salisu’s arrival at the club with an injury has afforded Vestergaard an opportunity and he has enjoyed a superb start for the Saints this season, his displays alongside Jan Bednarek having been both classy and commanding.
It’s been a fine resurgence for a player who had endured two underwhelming seasons on the South Coast, his dominance in both boxes evidenced by two goals for the season already, whilst only Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez can better his 37 clearances.
The towering Denmark international stands as arguably the most improved player in the division, a huge positive in a promising start to the season for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Patrick Bamford finished as Leeds’ leading scorer in their promotion-winning campaign last season, but there were few who predicted the player would continue that form into the Premier League.
Bamford has scored just one goal in the top flight prior to this season and had struggled to make much of an impact at a succession of clubs, though he has found a niche for himself as the selfless spearhead of Marcelo Biela’s intriguing side.
Even with his status as a Bielsa favourite, the club-record signing of Rodrigo during the summer led many to suggest that the Argentine – much like the wider public – thought Bamford was perhaps below the standard required for success at the highest level.
Bamford, however, has responded in fine fashion with a prolific start to the campaign, scoring six times in just seven fixtures to make himself indispensable to the Leeds side at present.
His haul included a stunning hat-trick at Aston Villa, his conversion rate having markedly improved from last season despite stepping up a division.
Whether his purple patch continues remains to be seen, though it has been some start for a player believed to be on England’s radar after finally making a long-awaited impact in the Premier League.
Nampalys Mendy has spent four seasons with Leicester without ever truly convincing, picking up a serious injury on his first league appearance and failing to establish himself at the King Power Stadium.
After a loan spell at former side Nice and just four Premier League starts last season, the Frenchman has finally been handed an extended run in the side amid the continued absence of Wilfried Ndidi through injury.
The Frenchman – who admitted he considered quitting the club during the summer before signing a new deal – has started each of the Foxes seven league fixtures so far, thriving at the heart of the side to invigorate his Leicester career.
Comparisons to former favourite N’Golo Kante and the emergence of Ndidi hindered his progress, but the 28-year-old has been superb so far this season, snapping into challenges and screening the Leicester backline.
Under-utilised for much of his career in English football thus far, Mendy will hope his form can ensure a prolonged run in the team as Brendan Rodgers’ side seek Champions League football.
James Rodriguez arrived in the Premier League as somewhat of a gamble despite his obvious pedigree, with the playmaker having endured a frustrating couple of seasons before leaving Real Madrid.
His decision to sign for Everton was declared by many as evidence of a top player on a downward trajectory, several tipping the Colombian to disappoint upon arriving in the Premier League.
Rodriguez has swiftly shown that class does indeed remain permanent, however, buying into the ethos of an emerging Everton side under Carlo Ancelotti and sprinkling his stardust on a Toffees team with big ambitions.
The 29-year-old has scored four goals and provided three assists in seven starts in all competitions, all done in signature strolled fashion with the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich player hardly seeming to break a sweat.
Many doubted whether the South American superstar would handle the rigours of the Premier League, his superb showings evidence that quality overrides all even amidst the physical demanding hustle and bustle of English football.