10 Surprise Performers Who Have Become Vital for their Clubs this Season

By Zorawar Singh Ghumman
Jan. 04, 2017

Following Leicester City's shock march to the title last season, things have gone back to normal this time around with the Foxes languishing near the relegation zone and Chelsea recovering from their abysmal finish last season.

Nobody expected Leicester to retain their title this season, or even another underdog triumphing this season. After last seasons embarrassment, the wealthy clubs invested heavily in players and managerial talent to avoid another shock. All the 'big boys' have returned to the top of the table and world class players like Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Aguero and Pedro have rediscovered their form. Even the new signings like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz and Paul Pogba have adapted to the rigor of the league.

There have, however been some unexpected players during these revivals and the stars of the league this time around making a name for themselves in the most competitive league in the world. Below we have 10 of the best surprise performers in the Premier League season so far!

Tom Heaton ( Goalkeeper)

The English Shot-Stopper has made the most saves so far in the league with 582, saving the Clarets from embarrassment on a number of occasions, most notably keeping a clean sheet against Manchester United where he saved 26 attempts on goal, 12 from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While he has still conceded a lot of goals, his defense has let him down on most occasions. Had it not been for him, Burnley might have been in the relegation fight. Moreover, only Courtois and Lloris have made more saves per goal conceded. 

Virgil van Dijk (Center Back)

The 25 year old has had some stellar performance at the hear of the Saints defense, earning many plaudits and stirring up rumors of a possible switch to Manchester City in January. He has become indispensable, winning the most tackles (30) out of all defenders and making 55 interceptions while winning 67% of his duels. He has not only been a surprise performer, probably been the best defender alongside Laurent Koscielny. 

Ander Herrera (Central Midfielder)

Ander  Herrera has long been adored by Manchester United Fans, but, until recently, struggled to cement a place in the starting 11. The tenacious midfielder has tremendous control on the ball but has added another component to his game: Defending. He has complemented Paul Pogba superbly in midfield, winning the ball back and distributing it with precision. The moment that sums up his determination and guile is, despite suffering an injury against West Ham and requiring stitches, the Spaniard persevered and saved Mourinho a substitution in a tight contest. Out of all the midfielder in the league this season, he has made the most interceptions (55) while winning 47% of all his duels. Furthermore, he has maintained a passing accuracy of 88% and won more tackles than N'Golo Kante. His energy draws comparisons to Kante, whom he has beaten defensively this season in terms of statistics. For all the hype over Paul Pogba after his arrival this summer, it’s Herrera who’s held things together in United’s midfield.

Idrissa Gueye (Defensive Midfielder)

The 27-year-old Senegalese Midfielder has been a revelation in the heart of Everton's midfield this season, forming a wonderful partnership with Gareth Barry. He has been solid defensively, winning more tackles (71) than any other midfielder while also winning 52% of his duels, more than Matic. Furthermore he has made 43 interceptions and been pivotal to Ronald Koeman's men. 

Victor Moses (Wing Back/Right Midfielder)

You could be forgiven for not remembering that Victor Moses was a Chelsea player after 3 mediocre seasons out on loan. His energy and industry came at the perfect time for the blues, after their loss to Arsenal. They were struggling at that point. However once he came into the side and they changed to a 3-4-3, Moses has begun relishing his new role as a wing back, contributing both defensively and offensively. He has contributed 3 goals and 1 assist, a remarkable return considering he operates as a wing back. Most importantly his grit, and energy has really helped the team return to form and go on a 13 game winning streak. 

Adam Lallana (Attacking Midfielder)

It seems as though Lallana has finally shown his true class in a Liverpool shirt. Up until this season and  the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, the Englishman struggled at times to score or even create chances. This season he has been a crucial part of Liverpool's resurgence under Klopp. He has scored 7 goals and made 7 assists to outshine the likes of Mesut Ozil and his team mate Philipe Coutinho. Only De bruyne and Philips have made more assists  than him but in terms of total goal contribution, he is up there with the likes of Ibrahimovic and Diego Costa. 

Matt Philips (Winger)

West Brom have largely depended on the performances of Phillips this season as they climbed to 8th in the League Table. Phillips has run into the form of his life this season, scoring and assisting on a regular basis. He has contributed 8 assists  and scored 4 goals himself, impressive considering that West Brom are not on of the traditional 'big boys'. His creativity, set pieces, pace have all been vital  in a impressive campaign for West Brom. 

Robert Snodgrass (Winger)

Similar to Phillips, Snodgrass has been pivotal in Hull's return to the Premier League. He has scored 7 goals, created 2 more, while also creating 40 chances for his teammates. He has also been the free kick master this season scoring an astounding 4 from set pieces. Hull enjoyed a bright start to the campaign  but later faded away, largely due to his mediocre performances, underlying his importance in the team. 

Michail Antonio (Winger/Striker/Wing Back)

West Ham have been brought down to Earth. After their terrific performance last season, accumulating a record point total and shifting to the Olympic Stadium, their were high hopes for the Hammers this season. However as Payet has faded away and the team seems to have lost confidence, the team is struggling. Perhaps the only bright point to their season has been Michail Antonio, who has scored 8 goals. Furthermore he has been  played in a number of positions and has adapted well due to his athleticism and never ending energy. 

Jermain Defoe (Striker) 

The fact that Defoe has scored 56% of his team goals underlines just how important he has been for his side. Without him, they would have been far worse of. He has scored 11 goals while maintaining a 54% shot accuracy, similar to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is the 5th top scorer even though he plays for a team in 18th place. Despite having a shortage of chances, the veteran striker is up there with the likes of Zlatan, Costa, Lukaku and Sanchez in the race for the Golden Boot, shocking considering he plays for Sunderland!

So despite a lot of the world class players performing brilliantly this season, the league has once again thrown up its fair share of surprises with a number of players performing well above expectations  and being crucial to their clubs. Vote below who you think has been the most vital for their club and Like and Subscribe if you enjoyed  the content. :)


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