As the 5th week of the Premier League ends, some players have stolen all the limelight with their impressive performances. At the same time, there has been a different lot of players, who despite their good performances have been kept in the shadows of the better or more popular players.
We take a look at the Premier League’s Underrated XI so far:
- GOALKEEPER: WOJCIECH SZCZESNY (ARSENAL)
Even as the Arsenal backline has received quite some flak for its sloppiness so far, it has been Szczesny that has saved them from further blushes. Even though he might have had to make lesser saves than many goalkeepers in the League, he has made some critical saves already- his effort to deny Jamie Vardy in the dying minutes against Leicester helped them hold onto a draw, while a brilliant save to deny Edin Dzeko’s shot against Manchester City in the last minute of injury time saved Arsenal from a heartbreak. Most recently, Szczesny made a point-blank save to deny Ciaran Clark an opener for Aston Villa when the game was still goalless.
With Columbian goalkeeper David Ospina challenging him for the glove, Szczesny has looked really sharp and been Arsenal’s best man at the back. Yet, his good work has been barely noticed due to the glaring issues in the Arsenal defense.
- RIGHT BACK: ALAN HUTTON (ASTON VILLA)
Alan Hutton has made a fantastic turnaround to his career being an integral part of Aston Villa’s fantastic start to the season. Having been an outcast for Villa over the years, Hutton has returned strongly and established himself as first choice right-back.
Even in the absence of Ron Vlaar, Villa has been really solid at the back this season, and the credit goes to the two full backs Hutton and Aly Cissokho who has used their physicality to provide enough cover to the centre-backs. In comparison with the likes of Brainslav Ivanovic, Eric Dier and Nathaniel Clyne, who have all been grabbing the headlines, Hutton’s defensive stats have been much better. And even when going upfront, Hutton has higher chance creation and key pass rates than Dier and Clyne which shows how he has been flying under the radar.
- CENTRE BACK: JASON SHACKELL (BURNLEY)
After gaining promotion to the Premier League on an extremely tight budget, Burnley are battling hard to remain in the top flight. With just one goal scored in 5 matches, Burnley are struggling for goals; yet they have managed three points credits to three goalless draws on the trot. Burnley has defended pretty well in all matches since conceding 3 against the unstoppable Chelsea and their captain Shackell has been leading from the front.
At 6’4, Shackell has put his imposing figure to good use inside the box and in aerial duels. He has also organized his backline well and has made sure his goalkeeper Tom Heaton is not tested often. With sterner tests yet to come, Burnley will really need their captain and his backline to keep up the good form to continue in the League.
- CENTRE BACK: JOSE FONTE (SOUTHAMPTON)
The mass exodus at Southampton at the beginning of the season created an initial feeling that Southampton would struggle to keep up their good work from last term. But despite the offers to move from various clubs, Jose Fonte penned a new deal with Southampton and was made their captain.
After 5 matches, Southampton sits at second place ahead of heavyweights like Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, with 3 clean sheets already. Fonte has had 3 different partners at centre back this season- Maya Yoshida, Toby Alderweireld and Florin Gardos- yet, Southampton has not looked shaky at the back and the credit goes to Fonte’s calm demeanor. He has shown incredible vision to make crucial interceptions and blocks to nip the opposition attacks in the bud and have also impressed with his distribution of the ball, with his long balls often being instrumental in the Saints’ quick moves upfront.
- LEFT BACK: ANDREW ROBERTSON (HULL CITY)
Signed from Scottish club Dundee United in the summer, the 20-year old has impressed for Steve Bruce’s side at left-back. Robertson was Hull’s savior alongside Allan McGregor in their first game of the season with a goal-line save against QPR. He has provided Bruce’s side with genuine width on the left and has impressed at both ends of the pitch.
Even though Hull are still struggling to get the victories despite scoring goals and controlling games, Hulls’ combination of youth and experience in all areas of the pitch is likely to see them improve over the season. And Robertson looks destined to play a major part in Hull’s quick playing style and its attempt to rise into the top half of the table.
Click on the next button to continue