We all know Sergio Aguero is a genius, but of the matches he has played so far this season (7 from the start) he has been a little way short of his best. David Silva has missed more than half of City’s games to date (yet still notched up 6 assists). Eden Hazard has been almost non-existent in a terrible Chelsea campaign thus far. This is not a homage to the players we know are superstars. If it were, it would just be a repeat of 100 articles you have read on the topic before. Instead, this is a salute to those players who have had fairy-tale starts to the 2015/16 season, have contributed to team success, and are an integral part of any expert football tipster’s pick selection process. All statistics are courtesy of Whoscored.com.
Jamie Vardy – Leicester City
It’s hard to start anywhere else. Not only is Jamie Vardy the season’s top goalscorer so far (with 10), he has now scored in a eight consecutive matches – a record that has only ever been equalled by Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, and bettered by ex-Manchester United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Vardy also has newly secured England caps, an assist, and the second highest player rating in the league at this juncture (7.87), all incredibly achieved in only his fourth season in the football league – Vardy was playing non-league for Fleetwood Town as recently as 2011-12. A must in any football tipster thinking.
Riyad Mahrez– Leicester City
Those believing Leicester’s impressive start is due entirely down to Jamie Vardy are doing a massive disservice to some of the other star performers in Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes’ side. Perhaps the star that has shone the brightest this season is that of RiyadMahrez, who’s surgein form has coincided with his side’s huge improvement in fortunes since March. Just this season’s statistics alone make wonderful reading for Mahrez and Leicester supporters. 7 goals, 5 assists (making him the top contributor in the Premier League) and the league’s stand-out performer in regards ofaverage rating – 8.29. Here’s another interesting fact – Mahrez has assisted Vardy in three of his goals, meaning that if one of these guys is missing, it also reduces the effectiveness of the other. Top football tipsters have already taken note.
Romelu Lukaku – Everton
Speaking of combinations, did you know that RomleluLukaku, as well as scoring 6 goals, has also contributed 4 assists, all of which have been to ArounaKone (who has 5 goals in total). Notwithstanding Lukaku’sprolific relationship with Kone, there are a host of other statistics that point to the effectiveness of the 22 year old forward. He is now the highest scoring Belgian in Premier League history, since 2012 only Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie have scored more Premier League goals – and by the age of 21 he had scored more league goals than Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen. The most astute football tipsters never doubt the effectiveness of the young centre forward to his team’s fortunes, so why do some pundits (and Jose Mourinho)?
Chris Smalling – Manchester United
Chris Smalling has been Manchester United’s best player so far this season, which in itself is rather a shock. Smalling’s United career reached its nadir in the Manchester derby last season where his first half red card contributed heavily to a 1-0 defeat. Since then, it has been nothing but improvement for the 25 year-old, who has played every minute of United’s Premier League campaign so far, contributing massively to the league’s meanest defence (8 goals). The Red Devils may not score many often these days, but with Smalling in their ranks, they don’t concede many either – something top football tipsters know only too well.
Toby Alderwiereld – Tottenham Hotspur
Sometimes it requires more than individual statistics to tell the story of the importance of a player. Other than the Belgian, signed from Atletico Madrid after a fruitful spell at Southampton, the Tottenham back five remains the same as last season, when they duly conceded the most goals in the top half of the table, more than relegated Hull City, and the same as relegated Burnley. This season, Spurs have the second best defensive record with 11 games played, and have been beaten in the league only once. If either of Tottenham’s two Belgian centre halves are missing (the other being Jan Vertonghen) diligent football tipsters take notice, and the threat to the Spurs’ net increases accordingly.
Sadio Mane – Southampton
The young Senegalese attacker has been nothing short of a revelation since joining the Saints from Red Bull Salzburg in September 2014. Last season he notched the Premier League’s fastest ever hat trick (2 minutes 51 seconds) and this campaign he has already bagged 3 goals and 4 assists, all the while maintaining a rating of 7.32. Along with Graziano Pelle, Mae is integral to the Saints success, and a main protagonist in the rise to seventh so far this season. Without the young attacker, Southampton’s attack is severely blunted, and top football tipsters take note.
Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
Mesut Ozil is a footballing superstar. A World Cup and La Liga winner, the German has surprisingly often been the subject of criticism during his short time in the Premier League – perhaps a victim of his own impeccably high standards. This season, he has been nothing short of sensational – his league-high nine assists and general scintillating displays a major factor in Arsenal’s rise towards the summit of the Premier League table. Along with Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, Ozil could well be the catalyst for a genuine Arsenal title charge. The Gunners may possess an attacking threat without him, but with him, any football tipster worth his salt will tell you, it is difficult to back against his side scoring.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Lauren Koscielny (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
By: Steven Paget