By Ssekamatte Allan Mabiriizi
1- Edouard Mendy (Chelsea):
Manchester City custodian Ederson is marching towards the Golden Glove but Blues’ Senegalese shot stopper Mendy has saved the Londoners from the shambles that were Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goalkeeping. Mendy has 12 clean sheets in just 22 Premier League games and a further 5 in the Champions League.
2- Vladimir Coufal (West Ham): David Moyes’ West Ham revolution has come in no small measure courtesy of a Czech connection. Thomas Soucek is the headline grabber because he scores goals but Coufal has been equally productive in helping the East Londoners to 13 clean sheets in all competitions and an unlikely challenge for Champions League qualification.
3- Kieran Tierney (Arsenal): Scotland international Tierney has proved that he is a player for the big time. After an injury ravaged first season, the former Celtic star has excelled as a left sided Central defender in a back three; left back and as a left wing back. His boundless energy and searing pace from a standing start have made him top ammunition for the Gunners.
4-Ruben Dias (Manchester City): Royal Blues boss Pep Guardiola is noted for his ability to improve players but not even his keenest admirers could have foretold his influence on Dias. The Portugal international has created a formidable partnership with John Stones which has seen the champion elects concede just 4 goals in their last 17 EPL fixtures. You can’t beat that.
5-Wesley Fofana (Leicester City). This 19-year-old has been called up by France’s World Cup winning coach Didier Deschamps to join Les Bleus on the back of a stellar start to his Foxes career. Champions League chasing Leicester City never felt the prolonged absence of Caglar Soyuncu thanks to the spotless defending of Fofana.
6- Joao Cancelo (Manchester City): For quite some time, Pep Guardiola has been toying with idea of deploying a right back or left back along with an orthodox holder in central midfield. The experiment has bore outstanding dividends courtesy of the impact Cancelo has made in City’s title charge. I am hard-pressed to ignore the Portugal star as the holding midfielder in an ‘anti-role’ (indefinable role).
7- Harvey Barnes (Leicester City): Last season, a colleague had a laugh at my expense when I said Harvey Barnes was already a better player than Jamie Vardy. He’s now having a second look. Barnes direct running, bulldozer energy and eye for goal are fuelling the Foxes challenge for Europe. It will be a major surprise if England don’t include Barnes in their Euro 2021 squad.
9- Michail Antonio (West Ham): David Moyes has rediscovered his managerial mojo in part because of the form of Antonio. The all rounder (can play left back, right back, wing back and main striker) has been in irrepressible form since competitive football resumed after the Covid-19 break. 9 goals are an excellent return for a striker who has spent months in the treatment room.
8- Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United): During the last 13 months, no player has had a bigger impact than Portugal creative offensive midfielder Fernandes. Even if you exclude the many penalties he scores, his goal involvement stats are way higher than figures ever achieved by United legends Eric Cantona and Paul Scholes. Fernandes is the real deal.
11- Bukayo Saka (Arsenal): Emirates Stadium starlet Saka has settled the argument of who will be a more productive midfielder between him and Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood. Saka’s 17 assists in all competitions are the highest by any Arsenal player in the last twelve months. Saka is tooled to be a Gunners great.
10- Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City): Germany midfield dynamo Gundogan has taken years to show his real class but he is finally playing in his full element. No midfield player is arriving in the opposition penalty box with more frequency and devastating consequences. The former Borussia Dortmund gengenpresser’s chart topping 12 goals for Manchester City say it all.
Honorable mentions are reserved for Aston Villa keeper Martinez, Foxes creator James Madison, Manchester United midfield lynchpin Scott McTominay, Villa skipper Jack Grealish and Spurs winger Son Heuing Min.