By Tony Attwood
The other day we asked, Why are the rest of the league fouling Arsenal so much?
One possible answer comes from the table of top players provided by WhoScored. This table is adapted from their data, and the final rating column includes various other factors such as shots per game not listed here, but the figures shown below give the main thrust of the issue.
Which leads to a possible answer to the “why are they fouling?” question, which is that we have five of the best players in the league in our XI and most oppositions can’t keep track of them, so the only option they have is to foul them.
What makes this even more interesting is that the top players in the WhoScored ratings do indeed cluster around certain clubs. Indeed we might note that while there are 20 clubs in the league only eight of them have a top 20 player in their squad.
- Manchester City: 6 players – league position 2
- Arsenal: 5 players – league position 1
- Newcastle United: 3 players – league position 6
- Brighton and Hove Albion: 2 players – league position 7
- Tottenham Hotspur: 2 players – league position 3
- Fulham: 1 player – league position 9
- Leicester City: 1 player – league position 20
- Liverpool: 1 player – league position 10
Of the 12 clubs not listed here as they don’t have a player in the top 20 according to WhoScored, the highest ranked are Chelsea and Manchester United, currently fourth and fifth in the league table.
So now to return to the question: Who are this season’s best players in the Premier League – it turns out that the question that is more interesting is where are this season’s best players?
Because this question gives an answer that is roughly in accord with the league table. But it is not a case of needing one or two of the top 20 players in your squad to be top of the league, but rather than the top three clubs in the league (Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur) are represented in the “best player” chart.
Of course in one way this seems blindingly obvious because no team is going to club up toward the top without having top players, but this table does help explain a little about why some teams are doing particularly well, while others are not and why one club is living very much on the edge being so dependent on one player (Leicester).
And Liverpool to look at one other example, are now in 10th, also find that they have only one of the top players in the league in their squad.
But there is more to it than this. For at the end of last season, the media universally agreed that Arsenal would not make the top four this season, and most of the scribblers claimed they were getting the answer through the use (which would have been profoundly illegal) of a super computer.
What the poor little supercomputers presumably didn’t take into account was how many top players each club would have! Which (if true) would be a bit worrying since these are the machines controlling our nuclear deterrent capabilities.
The table also makes clear what I think we’ve all, already, realised, and that is the Manchester City are odds on to win the league again, even though at the moment Arsenal are above them. Although that doesn’t stop those of us going to the matches are having a jolly good time at each game.
Of course these figures by themselves don’t tell us everything but they do give us a clue as to what is going on. And they are yet another reminder, if one were ever needed, what a total cock up Manchester United made when they turned down Martinelli, not just once, but four times!!!
Actually Caught Offside has a lovely way of putting that story, saying, “When forking out large transfer fees on the likes of Jadon Sancho, who haven’t hit the heights expected of them, Manchester United may regret not snapping up a young talent when they had the chance to do so for next to nothing.”
“Manchester United may regret…” I love that phrase.
Here’s the league table showing the new big six