Premier League Player Rankings: Dembele Up, Deulofeu Down, Giroud in

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 23, 2015

Premier League Player Rankings: Dembele Up, Deulofeu Down, Giroud in

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    Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Manchester City on Monday night had a big say in shaping the latest edition of our Premier League player form rankings. Three new additions have been made, and all three wear the red and white of Arsenal.

    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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    Dropping Out

    Virgil van Dijk, Southampton: Had a horror day against Spurs and got beaten by Harry Kane for the opener.

    Jonny Evans, West Bromwich Albion: Struggled against a pass-happy Bournemouth

    Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth: Not his usual impactful self, though did hit the woodwork.

20. Jack Butland, Stoke City

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    James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 19

    Differential: -1

    Jack Butland had a decent game against Crystal Palace, but he finds himself moving down the order due to the excellent performances from those around him.

    He could do nothing for the two goals the Eagles scored but did chip in with a few vital saves to keep the scoreline close—including one excellent one-on-one stop on Yannick Bolasie after he'd torched Stoke City's defence.

19. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal

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    IKIMAGES/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Aaron Ramsey is really enjoying himself in a central role after returning from injury and put in another battling display in the win over Manchester City on Monday.

    The previous two weeks had seen him impress, scoring in games against Sunderland and Aston Villa, but we needed to see a performance against top-tier opposition before bringing him into the rankings.

    His form in the middle will provide Arsene Wenger with a fresh dilemma; when Santi Cazorla comes back, do you move Ramsey back wide or keep him inside?

18. Chris Smalling, Manchester United

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Differential: -6

    This weekend bore witness to a rare bad Chris Smalling performance. He seemed at sixes and sevens—as did the rest of the Manchester United defence—and got burned by Cameron Jerome (of all people!) for a goal.

    After getting caught high up, Jerome slipped inside him and sprinted toward goal, easily holding Smalling at arm's length. His finish found the corner via David de Gea's gloves and compounded the defender's error.

17. Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal

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    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Laurent Koscielny's been boiling over for a few weeks now, and after a brilliant showing against Manchester City, now feels like the right time to bring him into the rankings.

    Sergio Aguero was almost completely ineffectual on Monday night due to Koscielny's marshalling. Admittedly, the Argentinian has only just returned from injury and isn't sharp, but it's still an achievement nonetheless.

    Proactive in the tackle, fluid in his movements and impactful bringing the ball out, it was a complete night's work for Arsenal's No. 6.

16. Bacary Sagna, Manchester City

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    Differential: -3

    Bacary Sagna endured an unhappy return to the Emirates Stadium; his side lost and he was at least partially at fault for the opening goal.

    He got confused as to who he should be tracking out of Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin, dallying for a second and giving the former space to open up and slam a wonderful effort into the net.

    Sagna did supply Yaya Toure an assist for the consolation goal after some nice link play, but it was really all about the Ivorian's finish.

15. Olivier Giroud, Arsenal

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Olivier Giroud is in fine form and simply must be brought into the rankings. We tend to stipulate three strong games are required before consideration, and the Frenchman now matches that criteria after bullying Sunderland, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

    The stick with which fans beat him fairly often is that he can't finish one-on-one, but his slick goal against Manchester City—beating Joe Hart from an acute angle—pooh-poohs those calls.

    Giroud has been a reliable constant in an ever-changing Arsenal XI amid a backdrop of turmoil. That, at least, deserves respect.

14. Marc Albrighton, Leicester City

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 17

    Differential: +3

    Marc Albrighton put in another typically hard-working display this weekend and helped his Leicester City side to a thrilling victory over Everton.

    Riyad Mahrez will again take the plaudits after two goals scored, but this winger's telling conduct shaped the third killer strike to ice the game.

    Albrighton closed down relentlessly all game and was rewarded when he caused a turnover deep inside Everton territory. He flicked the ball quickly to Jamie Vardy, who slipped in Shinji Okazaki for a goal.

13. Ross Barkley, Everton

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Differential: +2

    Back in October, Roberto Martinez told Sky Sports that Ross Barkley was a must start for England: "You just need to fit him in the team."

    Performances such as the one we saw against Leicester City this weekend are the reason why the Spaniard states these things.

    Everton may have lost, but that wasn't for a want of Barkley's trying. He flitted about superbly, created chances and played several excellent passes to set opportunities up. He picked up one assist and completed a remarkable eight dribbles, per WhoScored.com.

12. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Differential: +2

    Another week, another excellent performance from Toby Alderweireld. It's no secret who the best centre-back has been in the Premier League so far this season.

    A clean sheet at St. Mary's Stadium is a fantastic achievement regardless of the hosts' current form and confidence levels, and the Belgian made one key intervention on Sadio Mane early on to stop a clear-cut chance.

    Jan Vertonghen bucked his ideas up alongside him too, making for a smoother defensive performance on the whole.

11. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    Differential: None

    N'Golo Kante wasn't as dominant as usual this weekend, but he still played a key part in yet another Leicester City victory.

    An end-to-end game at Goodison Park meant very little stability in midfield was achieved for either side, but Kante was again found breaking up play, starting moves with good bursts forward and making key clearances to help his defence.

10. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Differential: -3

    Kevin De Bruyne huffed and puffed on Monday night, but when it came to blowing Arsenal's house down, he messed up at the vital moment.

    Full of energy, running and pressing, he emerged as a lethal ball-carrying outlet on the counter-attack early in the game, but his performance was spoiled with a particularly bad decisionopting to shoot instead of laying David Silva in for a probable goal.

    It's not often we question the Belgian's decision-making—it's arguably his biggest strength—but everyone has off-nights. Also, he kicked the corner flag and tripped himself up while attempting a quick take. It sort of summed up his night.

9. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton

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    Stephen Pond/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Differential: -3

    Gerard Deulofeu had a difficult day on Saturday—his first difficult day in quite some time.

    Christian Fuchs, a rock at left-back, gave him no room to breathe and frustrated him on the flanks. A diving challenge here and a well-placed leg there meant nothing the Spaniard tried came off.

    He was withdrawn perhaps a little later than he should have been.

8. Fernandinho, Manchester City

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    ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Differential: -3

    Fernandinho put in a mild, unspectacular performance against Arsenal on Monday evening.

    He struggled, along with the rest of his colleagues, to keep tabs on Mesut Ozil floating around in the centre of the park, and he wasn't able to bring his sure and steady approach on the ball into the final third after being deployed in a deeper position.

    There were some nice touches in possession, but nothing threatening to the Gunners.

7. Eric Dier, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Tom Dulat/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Differential: +1

    Eric Dier is back in form! After two rough outings (against West Brom and Newcastle United), the Englishman reminded us all he can be the dominant, physical barrier in front of the defence Tottenham Hotspur have come to rely on.

    Southampton dominated the first 35 minutes of play and put Spurs under real pressure, but Dier and Co. dug in and braved the storm.

    Eventually Harry Kane would scamper through Saints' entire defence and slot home, showing the importance of a prolific No. 9, but also of a sturdy defensive setup to keep you in the game.

6. Odion Ighalo, Watford

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Differential: +4

    Odion Ighalo put Liverpool to the sword on Saturday evening, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory that will be remembered at Vicarage Road for years to come.

    His full set of skills was on display again: He powered past Martin Skrtel and scored from a seemingly impossible angle for the opener, and HE wrapped up the win late on with an easy header after freeing himself of his marker.

    Everyone's talking about Jamie Vardy as a January pickup, but Ighalo—two years his junior—might just be a better bet.

5. Romelu Lukaku, Everton

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Differential: -1

    Romelu Lukaku scored in his seventh straight Premier League game on Saturday, netting the opener against Leicester City in Everton's 3-2 loss.

    It must be said it wasn't one of his finer days in spite of the goal, as he missed a few chances and ruined a couple of good moves with bad touches. There are some who excuse his blunders because he scores every week, but others feel he could be even more brutally effective if he tided up his game still.

    "The sky is the limit for him, so it’s okay for expectations to be up in the clouds," wrote uMAXit Football's Seb Stafford-Bloor.

4. Mousa Dembele, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Differential: +5

    Mousa Dembele was superb on Saturday, bossing the midfield for Tottenham Hotspur against Southampton. It's not often you see such a performance from an away player on the St. Mary's turf.

    He outmuscled Victor Wanyama—a feat many thought impossible—in the centre of the park, broke up play brilliantly and started attacks with weaving, dribbling manoeuvres.

    He brought an overall sense of calm to a midfield sorely in need of it and skips up the rankings after another great showing.

3. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Differential: None

    Jamie Vardy was once again vitally important to Leicester City's performance, despite not scoring a goal. His ridiculous streak in front of goal may be over, but he's still having a big influence in play.

    He grabbed two assists instead, one for Riyad Mahrez and one for Shinji Okazaki. The two events showed to different sides to his game: The first was a darting run, leaving John Stones stock-still, that forced Tim Howard into a rash foul that resulted in a penalty; the second was a quick pass into his team-mate for a killer finish following a turnover.

    It's important for strikers to show worth outside of goal-scoring, and Vardy is doing that.

2. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Differential: None

    Mesut Ozil took his assist tally for the season to 15, per WhoScored.com, by supplying both goals against Manchester City as Arsenal claimed a precious 2-1 victory on Monday.

    His first was rather arbitrary—the pass before the wonder strike from Theo Walcott—but the second, for Olivier Giroud, was classic Ozil: precision delivery encapsulated.

    Thierry Henry holds the Premier League record of 20 assists. At this rate, that won't last through January.

1. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1

    Differential: None

    No changes to any of the top three mean Riyad Mahrez remains our No. 1 form player in the Premier League. 

    His two goals against Everton—both from the penalty spot, raked either side of a sprawling, helpless Tim Howard—took him to 13 for the season. It's a genuinely incredible statistic and talking point.

    The most impressive part of his season so far is his ability to score all manner of goals; he's converted crosses, headed home, scored from a corner, the spot, and from open play. Magnificent.

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