Premier League Player Rankings: Kante Up, Van Dijk Down, Kane and Pelle Out

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 16, 2015

Premier League Player Rankings: Kante Up, Van Dijk Down, Kane and Pelle Out

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    Stephen Pond/Getty Images

    Leicester City regained top spot in the Premier League thanks to a thrilling victory over Chelsea on Monday night, ensuring the Foxes' representatives in our player form rankings continue to reign supreme.

    We have three new entries to chew over as we say goodbye to some of the more stale performers in the top 20, freshening things up as we head toward a manic Christmas period.

    The rankings are based on players' last six games, with slightly more emphasis placed on their most recent outing. Only Premier League performances are counted, and typically, one-week wonders do not find their way in.

    We look beyond the statistical measures and into the performance, reviewing tape and gauging impact.

    It's not just goals, assists and heroic clearances that impress. It's about how a player contributes to the tactical plan at hand and what impact he has over a 90-minute period.

    Take a look and see if you agree with our selections, and if you feel like we've missed anyone, let us know in the comments section below.

Dropping out

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    BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

    Dropping Out

    Graziano Pelle, Southampton

    Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

    Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur

    Honourable Mentions

    Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle United

    Scott Dann, Crystal Palace

    Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal

    Olivier Giroud, Arsenal

    Yannick Bolasie, Crystal Palace

20. Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Junior Stanislas has emerged as the playmaking, goal-scoring presence Bournemouth sorely needed over the last few weeks, turning in four consecutive strong showings.

    Three goals and one assist in four games has helped the Cherries garner eight points—a phenomenal tally—despite facing Everton, Manchester United and Chelsea in that spell.

    This is why we love the Premier League; who would've thought Stanislas would make this kind of telling impact this season?

19. Jack Butland, Stoke City

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    PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Jack Butland is quickly becoming the West Bromwich Albion of our Premier League player rankings: he drops in and out of them like a yo-yo.

    Last weekend, he made an eye-popping nine saves and five aerial claims, per, consistently relieving the mounting pressure on his defence and frustrating West Ham United's shot-happy Michail Antonio.

    Can he stay in the top 20 this time?

18. Jonny Evans, West Bromwich Albion

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 20

    Differential: +2

    Once again, Jonny Evans was deployed in midfield to help solidify West Bromwich Albion's formation and the move worked a treat.

    He didn't wow with his passing or crunch through a series of stunning challenges, but his closing down and strong positional play limited Liverpool to long-range shots and forced them to scrabble until the 95th minute to find an equaliser via Divock Origi.

17. Marc Albrighton, Leicester City

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Marc Albrighton frequented our top-20 rankings early in the season but dropped out after being somewhat marginalised in the game plan. He was by no means poor, but he wasn't the star.

    Now, though, he is re-emerging as a key weapon for Leicester City and has spent the last four weeks destroying defenders in his path.

    Against Chelsea on Monday night, he received an arbitrary assist for Riyad Mahrez's incredible goal, but more importantly, he ran relentlessly at the Blues, carried the ball threateningly and created chances.

16. Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    Differential: -5

    Virgil van Dijk struggled on Saturday against Crystal Palace, though the fact Ronald Koeman switched to a 3-5-2 formation didn't help.

    The formation looks clunky and unfamiliar to most Southampton players and Van Dijk's role was clouded in obscurity.

    With Jose Fonte constantly covering for Maya Yoshida, it left too much for the Dutchman to do, and he was quickly overwhelmed.

15. Ross Barkley, Everton

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Differential: -5

    This wasn't Ross Barkley's best day at the office—even Roberto Martinez acknowledged that in replacing him with Darron Gibson in the 76th minute.

    His passing was a little off at times, and he was quite wasteful in good positions. He was by no means the only culprit in this area—Romelu Lukaku botched a lot of chances and Gerard Deulofeu faded too—but the lack of final-third efficiency eventually told on the scoresheet.

    Barkley is far from the consistent playmaker, but that's OK—he has just turned 22 years of age. He's improving rapidly and has been one of this season's best players when on the money; he just needs to ensure these lax days are filtered out of his game.

14. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Differential: None

    We felt for Toby Alderweireld this weekend; he did his best to plug the gaps in Tottenham Hotspur's defence, but ultimately came up empty.

    His long-range passing was great as usual, but he was let down in the defensive phase by team-mate Jan Vertonghen, who put in an extremely ropey display. On the flanks, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker struggled a little too, leaving Alderweireld springing from side to side, fixing leaks.

    They couldn't hold out.

13. Bacary Sagna, Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    Differential: None

    Bacary Sagna was rested in midweek in an attempt to lighten the load on his shoulders, and to some extent it worked. He missed his first UEFA Champions League game of the season and entered Saturday's fixture fresh as a result.

    Defensively he was good, he supported Jesus Navas on the right wing fairly well, and the performance overall looked significantly less laboured than it was against Stoke City the previous week.

12. Chris Smalling, Manchester United

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    VI-Images/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Differential: None

    Chris Smalling missed Manchester United's 2-1 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday after picking up an injury on Champions League duty against Wolfsburg. They looked weaker without him.

11. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Differential: +5

    You can count on N'Golo Kante to deliver a rumbustious midfield display when you really need it, and he impressed again versus the defending champions on Monday night.

    He burst forward with the ball from deep regularly, starting attacks, and got through a mammoth share of defensive work in the middle. His trademark positional skills were also evident as he cleared several dangerous crosses.

    If there are to be a few blemishes on his performances they can be found in the odd needless foul he committed, but Kante is trending firmly in the right direction.

10. Odion Ighalo, Watford

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Differential: +5

    Odion Ihalo hit double figures for the season on Saturday as he fired the winning goal past Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.

    Watford's ascent up the Premier League table continues—thanks in large part to this Nigerian's goalscoring talents.

    He's by no means a clinical finisher—he takes a lot of shots per game and misses his fair chunk of chances—but is usually able to come up with the goods when it really matters, and his misses don't cost his team.

9. Mousa Dembele, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Differential: None

    Mousa Dembele's presence in midfield was sorely missed this weekend. The Belgian was absent from Tottenham Hotspur's loss—their first since the opening day of the season—due to injury.

8. Eric Dier, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Differential: None

    Eric Dier scored the goal that put Tottenham Hotspur ahead against Newcastle United, rising at the near post to direct a firm header into the far corner.

    But that aside, it was a second straight questionable performance from the stand-in midfielder. He wasn't able to impose himself upon the game and saw the flow of play turn against him in alarming fashion. He was by no means the lone culprit, but the goal doesn't quite gloss over a disappointing showing.

    The goal keeps him afloat in eighth.

7. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

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    OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Differential: -2

    Kevin De Bruyne was rested for Manchester City's home win against Swansea City, starting from the bench, but he was sent on to try and rescue a result in the 68th minute. There wasn't much to judge, other than some good probing runs.

6. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton

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    Stephen Pond/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Differential: None

    "Extraordinary in a dominant first 45 minutes, less than ordinary after the break, Gerard Deulofeu showed both sides of his game," wrote David Prentice of the Liverpool Echo in summarising the Spaniard's up-and-down showing.

    His cross for Romelu Lukaku's early goal was brilliant, and he built on thatjinking his way down the right side consistently and creating chances.

    But his star faded in the second period and he was eventually withdrawn as the Toffees sought out a winner.

5. Fernandinho, Manchester City

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    LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Differential: +2

    Fernandinho recovered from his poor performance against Stoke City last weekend to produce a far better one against Swansea City this time around.

    He swept up in front of the defence superbly, won plenty of contested balls and pushed forward with purpose.

    On a day where Manchester City struggled to fully assert their authority and had to rescue a win very late on, Fernandinho was real a shining light.

    After dropping two last week, the Brazilian regains his position inside the top five.

4. Romelu Lukaku, Everton

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    Stephen Pond/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Differential: None

    It's difficult to know what to make of Romelu Lukaku's performance on Saturday afternoon. From one perspective, he took up great positions and scored a good early goal, but from another, he proceeded to ruin many second-half attacks with poor touches and turnovers.

    Norwich City would eventually bite back, draw level and secure a point, leaving Everton with a feeling of "what could have been." Lukaku's profligacy and clumsy feet cost them in the end.

3. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Differential: None

    Jamie Vardy's goal against Chelsea, to open the scoring in a thrilling 2-1 victory, just oozed class and confidence.

    Jose Mourinho told reporters after the game he felt "betrayed" by his players, per James Whaling of the Daily Mirror, because he warned them about the runs Vardy makes. But it's one thing to identify them, and another entirely to stop them.

    His overall performance was fairly quiet, but that one sliver of quality shone through for all the right reasons. It keeps him third.

2. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

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    James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Differential: None

    Mesut Ozil flashed his considered genius once again this weekend, shaping to shoot when finishing off a ruthless Arsenal counter-attack...before sliding a reverse pass for Aaron Ramsey to tap home.

    It's that selfless streak that makes him so popular among his colleagues, consistently searching for a better angle for the finish rather than trying his luck himself.

    He's now up to 13 assists for the season, per, and well on course to break the single-season Premier League record—fitness permitting.

1. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    Differential: None

    Riyad Mahrez retains his spot atop the Premier League player rankings after a marvellous performance against Chelsea on Monday night.

    His cross for Jamie Vardy's opener was a stunning delivery, while his left-footed curler to double the advantage had Thibaut Courtois clawing at thin air.

    Such immense showings will only grease the rumour mill ahead of January, prompting Claudio Ranieri to state post-match, per BBC Sport: "[...] they [Mahrez and Vardy] don't have a price."

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