In his most recent press conference, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho expressed his concern at 21-year-old left back Luke Shaw’s commitment and progression.
Having only featured 15 times this season, the youngster who is widely regarded as a future England international finds himself behind the likes of Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and 31-year-old Ashley Young, who has seemingly come in from the cold after nearly leaving the club in the January transfer market.
Speaking of the comparison between Shaw and his fellow left back rivals, Mourinho said ‘I cannot compare the way he trains and commits, the focus, the ambition. He is a long way behind.’ Perhaps this is a final throw of the dice from the United manager, in the hope of giving Shaw a ‘jolt’ as ex-United player Phil Neville described it.
Some people would say that the ‘Special One’ should be careful in the way he criticises his players publicly. The Portuguese manager took a disliking to Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne in the past, and now one is one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the Premier League and the other cost Manchester City £55million.
Agree or disagree with Mourinho’s criticism of Shaw, there is no doubting that the left back has not been at his best when getting the chance to shine this season.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly why he has not been performing this season, perhaps he is still psychologically scarred from his horror leg-break in 2015, or maybe it is as Mourinho says, and he merely isn’t trying hard enough to claim the starting berth and lacks the ambition to succeed with the Red Devils.
With a lot being said about English football being in decline, we look at the Top 10 English Premier League Players so far according to whoscored.com, and discover where they stand in the overall rankings. There are some surprises here!
Requirements: In order to be included in the Top 10 English Premier League Players of the season so far, our players must:
– have played at least 5 matches so far this season.
– be English.
10. James Milner (Liverpool) Overall Position: 63
Mr. Reliable, James Milner just makes it into our Top 10 English Premier League Players; the hard-working, ever-present midfielder moved from Manchester City to Liverpool this Summer with much speculation around what his role for the reds would be. So far this season, he has played every minute of every game, and has even captained Jürgen Klopp’s side in Jordan Henderson’s absence. Therefore, there is no doubting his worth, especially when considering he was a free transfer for Brendan Rodgers.
[table id=25 /]
9. John Stones (Everton) Overall Position: 55 Young England Centre Back, John Stones comes in at number 9 on the list. Chelsea were publicly pursuing the 21-year-old over the Summer, however they failed and Stones stayed with Everton; and they’ve been reaping the rewards, with the club having kept a Clean Sheet in a third of their matches so far. The fact that Stones has managed to force his way into the Everton starting line-up at such a young age is testament to his mature, confident style of football, and it is clear to see why he is considered as one of the biggest defensive prospects in the world.
[table id=26 /]
8. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) Overall Position: 47 The second young prospect to appear on the list of the Top 10 English Premier League Players so far is Raheem Sterling. After moving to the Etihad from Anfield for £49million in the Summer, Raheem Sterling has got his head down, ignored the media and worked on improving his already impressive game. Despite coming in for a lot of criticism from those associated with Liverpool, Sterling has maintained a mature posture stating that he is disappointed with the way he left Merseyside. This season, the 20-year-old has continued on from his fine form from last year and has put in some stunning displays for Manchester City; scoring his first career hat-trick against AFC Bournemouth and putting in a Man of the Match performance have been highlights for Sterling so far.
[table id=27 /]
7. Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) Overall Position: 43
Crystal Palace’s Centre Back is a surprise inclusion in this list as he is not an England international and is not a household name. Having been relegated twice in three seasons with Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers, the 28-year-old has got his head down and focused on his game, proving that with hard work and determination, a player can be among the best even if they are not the first name to spring to mind. With Crystal Palace flying in 6th place, their defence has been a huge contributing factor, and with Dann playing the full 90 minutes for 8 out of The Eagles 9 games, he should be given a lot of credit.
[table id=28 /]
6. Micah Richards (Aston Villa) Overall Position: 42 Just ahead of Scott Dann in the Top 10 English Premier League Players so far is 27-year-old Aston Villa captain, Micah Richards. After being somewhat suppressed over the years at Manchester City, Richards was sent out on loan to ACF Fiorentina in the Summer of 2014. However, his time at the Italian club was not a happy one; after only making 17 appearances for La Viola, Richards joined Aston Villa on a free from his parent club Manchester City. Despite Villa languishing in the relegation zone, the ex-Manchester City man has been a solid performer for the Villans, and has played every minute of every game for them so far.
[table id=29 /]
5. Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) Overall Position: 38 In the Summer of 2014, Spurs signed the relatively unknown Central Midfielder, Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon for £4million. Since then, the 21-year-old has been one of the most impressive players for Tottenham in the last two seasons. In his 8 appearances for The Lilywhites this season Dier has scored 2 goals and has been influential in the middle, winning the Man of the Match award for example, for his performance against struggling Sunderland. After being utilised as a Central Defensive Midfielder by head coach Mauricio Pochettino at the beginning of the season, Dier has gotten better and better at breaking up attacks and setting up his team for counter-attacks and the stats prove it.
[table id=30 /]
4. Luke Shaw (Manchester United) Overall Position: 35 At the start of the season, Luke Shaw was playing some of the best football of his life. Perhaps it was the superstition of moving from number 3 to number 23, or perhaps it comes to down to getting fitter over the Summer break. Either way, it looked as if Shaw was going to have a stellar season, playing 90 minutes in every game. However, his season was cut short after his horrific leg-break against PSV Eindhoven. Despite only playing 5 games this season, the 20-year-old Left Back has found himself high up in the Top 10 English Premier League Players so far list due to his illustrious work-rate at the beginning of the season. We wish him all the best with his recovery and hope he comes back better than ever!
[table id=31 /]
3. Chris Smalling (Manchester United) Overall Position: 30 Chris Smalling has not had the best of starts to his Manchester United career. He has often looked off the pace and out of position when playing for the reds, however, this season we have witnessed an almost-new man. Louis Van Gaal seems to be getting the best of ‘Mike’ Smalling and has started him in every game so far, whilst also playing the full 90 minutes in every league game so far. Aiding his team in keeping 5 clean sheets out of their first 9 games, Smalling’s partnership with Dutchman Daley Blind has been what United have needed for quite some time now – stability – and his big physical presence seems to give the players around him some much needed confidence at the back. Smalling’s name is now one of the first on the team-sheet for many fans, and this comes at great credit to the man who many have doubted over the past few seasons.
[table id=32 /]
2. Ross Barkley (Everton) Overall Position: 20 Considered as one of the brightest prospects of the Everton youth team since Wayne Rooney, the young England international has had a lot of pressure to deal with. However, he has shown, with style, that he can turn that pressure into confidence, becoming an integral part of Roberto Martinez’s Everton side, having played every minute in the league so far. His performances for Everton this season have been very impressive, scoring 2 goals and assisting 3, he is the live-wire the Toffees need to link the midfield up with the attack. The 21-year-old from Liverpool seems to be working towards a place on the plane to France next Summer after multiple impressive performances for both club and country, he finds himself at number 2 on the Top 10 English Premier League Players this season chart.
[table id=33 /]
1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) Overall Position: 3 Out of all the superstars in the Premier League, the only 2 to be rated better than Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy so far this season are Manchester City’s David Silva and Vardy’s Leicester teammate Riyad Mahrez. After having a good season with The Foxes last year, Vardy has continued his impressive form, having already scored 9 goals so far this season. Although the 28-year-old may not be the first player to spring to mind when thinking of impressive Englishmen, the statistics do not lie, and they state that the free-scoring forward is the best of the bunch. Somewhat of a late bloomer, Jamie Vardy has just broken into the England senior squad, and has impressed on his 4 appearance for the Three Lions. If he continues this impressive run of form in the league, then surely the Sheffield-born striker is a definite for the England squad for next Summer’s European Championships.
[table id=34 /]