Who are the best players in the Premier League and how many are at Arsenal? Two sets of rankings compared

By Tony Attwood

A reader recently raised the point that he didn’t particularly want Arsenal to buy more players but buy better players.  So I wondered just how good Arsenal players actually are.

I’ve taken two measures.  One a list of the top 20 from today’s Daily Telegraph, which runs its own listing, I think with the help of Opta, and one from WhoScored.com which has a detailed set of stats on its site and reaches its numbers from combining these stats.

Of course no set of figures is perfect, but it seems to me to be interesting to compare these two sets of findings.   First the Daily Telegraph’s top 20.

1 – Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

The Telegraph says, “Ozil has made nine assists in the first 10 league games of the season and while at times is said to disappear from sight during a match, you should realise by now that he’s just doing a sort of Predator thing. You’re never safe. When this current Arsenal team goes forward in full flow, Ozil is the magic ingredient that makes it all work and he is playing like the number 10 the Arsenal fans all went doolally over when Wenger spent all of his money on him. A class act. A lot of Arsenal goal celebrations at the moment are strikers running over to Ozil waving a finger at him as if to say “there is no way you actually knew I was there”, after receiving a no-look first time pass into the box. But he did know. He knew all along.”

The statistical point they make is that Mesut Özil has the best games/assist rate not just in the PL at the moment but in the entire history of the Premier League.  No wonder they made him number one.

2 – Dimitri Payet, West Ham

3 – Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

The Telegraph’s view is “In addition to either scoring or being involved in all of Arsenal’s goal, Sanchez dribbles past a defender an average 3.7 times per game and has 4.5 shots per game. He plays out wide. If this is him tired, what is he going to be like when he’s fully recovered? And he’s only 26.”

It seems that a sense of realism does actually exist within the old vicars and colonels right wing daily.

4 – Jamie Vardy, Leicester

5 – Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City

6 – Santi Cazorla, Arsenal

“Santi Cazorla is at the centre of everything Arsenal do well.”  And yes one has to agree as “he completely controls the pace of the game and is the best player on the pitch in most games that he plays. Other players get more goals and more assists… but Cazorla brings others into the match and allows them to finish and set up moves. And anyway, he already creates 3.5 chances per game and has a 91% passing accuracy.”

And of course he is doing it in a new deeper role.  “Cazorla is the best deep lying playmaker in the league.”  Yep, I’ll go with that.

7 – Chris Smalling, Manchester United

8 – Nicolas Otamendi, Manchester City

9 – Anthony Martial, Manchester United

10 – Petr Cech, Arsenal

“Against Swansea, Bafetimbis Gomis had half a pitch and all the time in the world to get a goal one-on-one against Petr Cech but the keeper stood tall, waited his arrival and controlled the exchange completely.”  Well, yes he had the defender in the right place at the right moment to pick up on the last bits of the move, but still, Cech certainly did everything possible.  “Cech really looks like the missing piece in Arsene Wenger’s Premier League title push jigsaw.”

11 – Riyad Mahrez, Leicester

12 – Christian Eriksen, Tottenham

13 – Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal

“Koscielny is easily one of the best central defenders in the league.”  (I love putting bits about Kos here because as I have now reminded him 74,387 times my mate Ian once said at the end of a disappointing home game, “Koscielny simply isn’t up to it.”  I begged to disagree and for just once in my life I got a footballing prediction right.  A rarity.  That’s why I keep reminding Ian.

“His partnership with Per Mertesacker is extremely well balanced and with Petr Cech dependable as the last man, their hard work is producing clean sheets and a big goal difference advantage for the Gunners. Man of the Match in the 3-0 win over Swansea and the scorer of a crucial goal against Everton which earned Arsenal three points. Koscielny’s biggest strength is his ability to read the game – he makes an average of 4.3 interceptions per game, the highest in the league.”

And for once in my life I agree with a Telegraph assessment.  What is going on?  If I can’t disagree with the Telegraph who can I disagree with?

14 – Odion Ighalo, Watford

15 – Romelu Lukaku, Everton

16 – Ross Barkley, Everton

17 – Yohan Cabaye, Crystal Palace

18 – Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle

19 – Manuel Lanzini, West Ham

20 – Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton

So what does this mean in terms of players per team in the top 20.  Well, it is rather, err, shocking, at least for the “buy better” boys.

  • Arsenal 5
  • Man C 2
  • Man U 2
  • Leicester 2
  • WHU 2
  • Everton 2
Over, therefore, to Whoscored.com who do a whole chart.  I have simplified it quite a bit, as I don’t want to be accused of stealing their copyright – you can find a lot more details on whoscored.com itself
R Name Apps Mins Goals Assists Rating
1 Riyad Mahrez Leicester,  9(1) 779 7 5 8.29
2 Jamie Vardy Leicester,  11 982 11 1 7.87
3   Santi Cazorla Arsenal,  11 979 3 7.80
4   Mesut Özil Arsenal,  10 848 1 9 7.79
5 Dimitri Payet West Ham 11 988 5 3 7.72
6   Alexis Sánchez Arsenal,  10(1) 867 6 7.72
7 Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City,  6(1) 560 3 4 7.68
8 Virgil van Dijk Southampton,  7 630 2 7.66
9   Laurent Koscielny Arsenal 9 810 2 7.65
10 Nicolás Otamendi Manchester City 6 540 1 7.62
R Name Apps Mins Goals Assists Rating
11 Anthony Martial Manchester Utd   6(1) 565 3 1 7.55
12 Ross Barkley Everton,  11 990 3 3 7.55
13   Nacho Monreal Arsenal,  11 990 2 7.54
14 Yaya Touré Manchester City 10 799 2 4 7.53
15 Christian Eriksen Tottenham 7(1) 632 2 3 7.52
16   Francis Coquelin Arsenal, 10 790 7.49
17 Jordan Amavi Aston Villa,  8(1) 746 2 7.48
18 Mousa Dembélé Tottenham, 7(1) 524 2 7.48
19   Héctor Bellerín Arsenal, 10 900 1 7.46
20 Fernandinho Manchester City 11 969 2 1 7.46

A different source, different ways of analysing, and different answers.   But just look at the totals once again by teams.  (Obviously as with the above list I am not putting the clubs with one top player in, in my totals lists).

  • Arsenal 7
  • Man C 4
  • Leicester 2
  • Tottenham 2

Having top class players in your club does not make a club win the league.  But let me ask a question.

We have the finest stadium, and it seems, the finest players.  Was this worth waiting for?

Of course having asked such a pompous rhetorical question we’ll probably have a rotten night in Germany, but even if we do (and of course I hope not), these figures ought to give every Arsenal supporter a good feeing about the rest of this season.

Footnote: I am extremely sorry for the disruptions to Untold in the past week.  If I weren’t grey haired already I would be now!  Believe me it hurts me more than it annoys you, and I’ve been going bonkers trying to work with IT experts to solve the problem.   If you find you can’t get on to the site at any time, please visit www.facebook.com/untoldarsenaltoday  and you will find the article there.  Oh and while you are there, you could like us too.  In fact, if you do enjoy Untold, you could like us on Facebook anyway.  Such little things do help.  

Please stay with us.  I’m really trying to sort it out.   Tony.

30 Replies to “Who are the best players in the Premier League and how many are at Arsenal? Two sets of rankings compared”

  1. WOW , that’s what I say ! Whatever happened to those great players from the last year’s champions ? You know those awesome Spaniards , the Brazilian samba boys , the Belgian serial diver and those brave English defenders who threw their arms and everything else in their -oh-so bulldog spirited way ?
    So I guess that January ‘s transfer window will be another quiet one ? Apparently very few top ,top players abound that are not already in our squad .
    Unless ‘them’ smart-alecks unearth some pricey gems from some yet to be discovered rich mother load .

  2. Great work Tony!

    Was there any doubt by Untolders of this result?? I don’t think so!

    Its great to have evidence to go hand in hand with our gut feeling – we have a great squad – results are only tied to these players IF they playing at their full potential consistently or not.

  3. Great article, Tony. Comparing the two lists, it is interesting to see that stats concur on the extremely high level of Özil, Cazorla, Alexis and Koscielny (as for Cech, since there are no goalkeepers at all on Whoscored´s list, I´m not inclined to think his absence means anything), who mostly constitute the backbone of the team (CB, creative midfield, and a forward). Add to that the presence of both our laterals and Coquelin in the second list, and it really looks like there are no weak spots in the team, or even a predominance of outstanding units. Given the wide variety of trajectories these players followed before becoming Gunners, I´m once again grateful for Wenger´s unparalleled football acumen, to say nothing of his financial and also human deft touch.

  4. Now surely Tony this can’t be right… this absolutely can’t be right. Impossible that this is right.


    Well didn’t “they” tell us that our players are not good enough.
    And add that we didn’t buy an outfield player (wheep wheep moan moan cry cry ….)

    So we aren’t supposed to have so many good players around.

    I think Wenger or Arsenal has given the reporters who made that list a few rounds in the pub to come up with so many Arsenal players in their list. Or maybe they are paid directly by Arsenal to put as many Arsenal players in as possible??? Yeah that must be it.


  5. The legendary Frank Feldman- his story may sound familiar to you .

    A man walks out to the street and stops a taxi just going by.
    He gets into the taxi, and the cabbie says, “Perfect timing. You’re just like Frank.”

    Passenger: “Who?”

    Cabbie: “Frank Feldman… he was a cabbie who did everything right all the time. Like my coming along when you needed a cab, he was always in the right place at the right time. Things happened like that to Frank Feldman every single time.”

    Passenger: “There are always a few clouds over everybody.”

    Cabbie: “Not Frank Feldman. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone, and danced like a Broadway star. And you should have heard him play the piano! He was an amazing guy, perfect in every way.”

    Passenger: “Sounds like he was something really special.”

    Cabbie: “There’s more. He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody’s birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order, and which fork to eat them with. And he could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank Feldman, he could do everything right, he never made a mistake, he was perfect!!”

    Passenger: “Wow, some guy then.”

    Cabbie: “He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid traffic jams. Not like me, I always seem to get stuck in them. But Frank, he never made a mistake, and he really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good.

    He was the best lover in bed, and could take his wife to the top of the mountain. He would never answer her back, even if she was in the wrong. His clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too. He was the perfect man! He never made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Frank Feldman.”

    Passenger: “This Frank Feldman was an amazing fellow. How did you meet him?”

    Cabbie: “Well… I never actually met Frank. He died, and I have the pleasure of being married to his widow.”

  6. In both rankings, Arsenal have 4 players in the Top 10. That’s the amazing & reassuring part.

  7. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at the high ranking of our players ( in any lists). They’re all top quality which is reflected in our our position in the Premier League.
    Walter… you don’t really do humour do you!

  8. I don’t think that Bellerin or Gabriel look too shabby either. Could it also be true that Giroud and Walcott (either of whom would walk into most Premiership teams) have suffered in terms of rankings by being rotated according to how the opposition defense prefers to play?
    All in all we’re probably closer to having the leagues strongest side in just about every position since The Invincibles – with perhaps ol;y two having cost really serious money in transfer fees.
    Staggering business efficiency.

  9. How come no pundit tells us this or acts to our team as if this is true?

    How come majority of the players didn’t cost megabucks but are players with more than 3 years playing together in Arsenal?

    How come the seemingly ordinary individual players seem to go up a few notches, playing together? Could this be what they mean by teamwork?

    Is this what a good coach is supposed to add to his team to make it become a good team but which few coaches are unable to do or prefer to spend megabucks trying to obtain by some other means?

    How come no newspaper or pundit ever talk about the consistent ability of Wenger to make his teams punch above their weights?

    The British press and bloggers certainly owe Mr. Wenger some apologies for their tunnel visions. Thanks anyhow, to the technical analysis blogs for supplying the “facts” or “evidence” that had always been hiding in plain sight and have been well-known to Untold all this whilr.

  10. Well, regarding the footnote, I havent faced any problem with Untold. I access untold through chrome web browser on pc and the default chrome browser on my nexus phone. No issues on either of those.

  11. Another example of the fools that infest our media.

    Despite all those wonderful players, when John Hartson was asked ‘can Arsenal win the league’ his response was?

    “No, I don’t think so, because they need a striker and at the back Mertesaker is still too prone to making mistakes”

    Do we?

    Is he?

    Now as I said yesterday, I understand if you don’t think Arsenal will win the League. City are a great side. Maybe better than us. We haven’t won it for a long time so we may have a psychological barrier to cross. It’s still very early in the season. I get it.

    But still hanging your coat on the ‘Mertesaker isn’t good enough’ hook, when he is part of the best back four in the premiership over the last 12 months, defies all rational thinking.

    Has Hartson not seen how many goals we score?

    Has Hartson not noticed how few goals we concede?

    Is he Lazy? Clichéd? Just plain stupid?

    I don’t know, but whatever it is, Hartsons comments are symptomatic of many pundits that are so entrenched in there views, that no matter what happens in front of there eyes. No matter what the statistical evidence tells them, they just cannot see past there original misjudgements.

    As I say, I understand if people doubt we can cross the line but geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez at least put some thought in to why, and construct a logical argument, rather than just repeating the same old rubbish.

  12. Tony

    On the back of Bellerins withdrawal from the squad, the inclusion of Jeff Reine-Adelaide should be a course of great confusion in the BT commentary box tonight.

    I mean, how are the going to explain the existence of someone who doesn’t exist? After all, we where the ONLY Club in Europe who didn’t buy a single out field player in the Summer transfer window and yet here he is.

    How did that happen?

    It’ll be interesting to see how they explain that one away.

  13. @ Insideright

    Correct. Who’s scored allocates a score to each player based on what they achieved in the game which is cumulative. So in the case of Giroud, for example if he comes on for 30 minutes a game (as has happened), even if he scores, he can’t accumulate enough points to get up to the 7.5 or 8.0 level and the table is based on average score.

    If on the other hand you look at minutes played per goal scored he’s top of the table at 88.5 minutes per goal with Vardy on 89.3 and Aguero on 91.3 with the others way behind.

  14. Indulge me please as I attempt to answer my own question.

    I think they have no choice than to completely ignore it.

    Because the truth is it’s actually very embarrassing. Not just because they joined in with the ‘Arsenal where the only Club that didn’t buy an outfield player’ but because of what it says about them.

    Which is what?

    Well, that they are either just plain stupid or ignorant, or both, or worse, that they are no more than a bunch of lying *******.

    But the truth is, everybody knew we had bought young Jeff.

    BT,SKY, Talkshite, 5Live, the printed media, everyone.

    The embarrassing truth is that they just chose to ignored it.

    But why?

    Simple. Just another excuse to bash Wenger. To bash Arsenal.

    We all know how it went. Look at how inept arsenal are. They need a goalie, a central defender, a ball winner, and a striker and all they’ve got is Cech. What a useless fool that Wenger is. Not a single out field player.

    So it’s f*** the truth. At least the real truth.

    Just another example of the media creating there own, alternative truth, which, often as not, involves slagging off all things Arsenal, particularly Wenger.

  15. In my book, Arsenal have:

    -the best goalkeeper in the world,

    -the best pair of full-backs in the league,

    -the best central defender in the league,

    -the best defensive midfielder in the league,

    -the best deep-lying midfielder in the league,

    -the best No.10 in the league and

    -the best left winger in the league and one of the best neither-Messi-nor-Ronaldo players in the world.

    If only strength of the starting line-up had been a factor in winning the league and if the referees in England hadn’t been Deans and Rileys (I suggest this expression to be used in a way Scilas and Haribdas have been used), we would have been the comfortable leaders by now.

  16. Here is a proposal:

    Can the next pundit to say that Arsenal need 2 to 3 quality players in order to win the league be smacked across the mouth for spouting an overused cliché?

  17. Jambug

    When Arsene arrived, Hartson was our best attack player. Arsene sold him to wet spam. Anelka replaced him. Arsene knew and knows best. Hartson hasn’t moved on.

  18. Some great points Jambug.
    I think the reason is that all these pundits are downright lazy, and despite their no doubt excessive wages they have to fall back on a handful of well-worn anti-Arsenal soundbites.
    Untold should keep a league table on how often these are repeated

    “Arsenal will always let you down” Lawrenson
    “Arsenal are just 2 players short of being potential EPL winnmers” Hartson
    “Arsenal are the only team in the top 5 European leagues not to buy an outfield player” Adrian Durham
    “Arsenal always fail against the big clubs” Hansen, Lawrenson, Keane
    “Arsenal don’t have the mental toughness to win the league” Keane, both Nevilles
    “Arsenal always fall away in the 2nd half of the season” all of the above
    “Arsene Wenger is past it and should be replaced by Klopp, Guardiola, Moaninho, etc etc” Piers Organ
    “Arsenal injury CRISIS!!”

    I’m sure your audience can add to the list

  19. BarryL


    “Arsenal always try to walk it in the net” – Somehow Giriud seems to walk it in with his head.

    “Wenger never ‘zees it'” – Of course no other manager has ever said that.

    “Arsenal don’t have any leaders” – Mert? Le Coq? Arteta?

    “Wenger’s always whinging” – Of course no other managers ever whinge do they Jose?

    “Arsenals ticket prices are the highest in the Universe” – Classic selective data usage.

    “Highbury the Library” Read Emirates – Yes it can be quiet but no more than OT, Anfield et el

  20. Colario

    It’s worth mentioning that Hartson continued to have a good career after he left Arsenal.
    He never was Premiership class, but he did very well for Celtic where he still has legendary status.
    And then of course there was the cancer.

  21. Colario

    “When Arsene arrived, Hartson was our best attack player”

    Not true!
    When Arsene arrived our best attack players were Ian Wright, DB and possibly Merson.

  22. Loving it guys. The AAA will sitting in a corner crying at the moment. Of course tonight offers them great hope so they may perk up for this one!

  23. Ok good article and great research from Tony (as usual). Arsenal have some great players and a good team; of that there is no doubt. BUT with Aguero and Silva not on the lists (due to injury) and Hazard out of sorts at an out of sorts Chelsea, the list of players isn’t really comprehensive. I don’t deny for a second that many of our players have been in form and deserve the rankings in the list for the season so far. However with these missing players available and or in form, the lists might look a little different. Certainly I disagree that just because we have some fine footballers it means we shouldn’t go out and get some more (which is kinda what Tony’s opening lines imply.)
    At the end of the day, the end of the season will tell us whether we have the best footballers and whether they were “best enough” to win the League. If they don’t, either they were not, after all, the best players or they were the best players but playing in a team that was either not motivated or playing the wrong system. Gotta say though the addition of Cech, Ozil and Alexis to the club clearly, evidently and indisputably has increased the quality of the players at Arsenal and if Arsene added more of that kind of quality to the squad, we probably would be a better team. So not completely sold on Tony’s assessment.

  24. I’m pretty sure that Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla and Koscielny are confirm entry in the team of the season of 2016

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