Premier League Player Rankings: Alderweireld Up, Mahrez Down, Giroud out

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 6, 2016

Premier League Player Rankings: Alderweireld Up, Mahrez Down, Giroud out

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    The Premier League threw us a curveball this weekend in the form of a few shock results and even more shock performances. Goals were sourced from unlikely candidates while established stars struggled; it's left us with a difficult task when assessing the form players.

    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

    Olivier Giroud, Arsenal: Nowhere near the level you'd expect vs. Newcastle United.

    Jack Butland, Stoke City: Drops out after conceding two against West Bromwich Albion.

    Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur: Tired and ineffectual against Everton—though he did crack the post.

20. Bojan Krkic, Stoke City

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    Differential: -2

    We moved Bojan Krkic into the top 20 last week after a string of good showings—particularly over Christmas—and how does he repay us? With a genuinely poor showing against West Bromwich Albion.

    In fairness, it's a bad tactical matchup for him; Tony Pulis' team of giants have no regard for silky trickery, and the Spanish withdrawn forward got very little going in terms of movement or attacking fluency.

    Bojan was swapped for Joselu after 64 minutes.

19. Jonny Evans, West Bromwich Albion

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    Tony Marshall/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Jonny Evans wades back into the top 20 after a month or so out of it. His form over the past three weeks has been key to West Bromwich Albion's charge up the table.

    It doesn't matter where he plays—centre-back, left-back, holding midfield—he performs well. The £8 million Tony Pulis spent to bring him to the Hawthorns is looking an absolute steal.

    He scored the winner against Stoke City to take Albion up to 26 points and secure a second successive win. Even in the team's last loss, against Swansea City, he was the best player on the pitch.

18. Marc Albrighton, Leicester City

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Differential: -2

    Offensively, Marc Albrighton was pretty quiet against Bournemouth, which was a genuine surprise to see.

    Leicester City threw everything they had at Eddie Howe's troops in the closing stages but came up empty, and it was N'Golo Kante drifting out to the left and crossing in that emerged as the go-to option, not Albrighton's own deliveries.

    He worked hard off the ball and chased back brilliantly, as is the norm, but it was a disappointingly ineffectual showing from the winger all the same.

17. Yaya Toure, Manchester City

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    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    It feels like Manchester City are overcrowding our top 20 at the moment, but we've no choice but to bring Yaya Toure in after yet another defining piece of skill to influence a game.

    His near-post finish to level the score at Vicarage Road on Saturday was absolutely ridiculous; the way he hits the ball—so clean, so accurate, so powerful—is a joy to watch.

    Over the last five games, the Ivorian has scored three and grabbed an assist. That's top-20 form right there.

16. Erik Lamela, Tottenham Hotspur

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    PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    Last Week: Unranked

    Differential: New!

    Erik Lamela is no longer the £30 million flop signed in the aftermath of the Gareth Bale deal; he's no longer the expensive mistake who couldn't settle in England and find form.

    In truth, Mauricio Pochettino has moulded the 23-year-old into a nasty player to line up against, and in many ways, he epitomises the style Tottenham Hotspur now play. He never stops pressing and running, putting in mammoth shifts every game. He's supremely fit and durable and has kept Heung-Min Son out of the XI.

    Against Everton, he performed key pressing functions for Spurs and won several turnovers to allow dominance of territory of space. In recent weeks, he'd been doing the same thing, only then he was even more effective, with his pressure leading to goals.

15. Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 15

    Differential: None

    Dele Alli continues to impress in his maiden Premier League season, meshing well with the fearlessness and enthusiasm with which Tottenham Hotspur play.

    His performance against Everton was another strong one, and he topped it with a beautiful goal, latching onto a long-range pass, chesting it down and firing home under pressure.

    In April, he was playing League One football with MK Dons. What a remarkable rise it has been.

14. James Collins, West Ham United

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Differential: None

    Over the last month or so, James Collins has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League. Given he started the season as fourth-choice centre-back at West Ham, that's a hell of a feat.

    When put in the right situation—where he simply has to block, tackle, head and clear—he can be monstrous, and he's showing it weekly here.

    The Hammers shut down Christian Benteke and Liverpool with ease this weekend, with Collins marshalling the line superbly.

13. Bacary Sagna, Manchester City

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    Last Week: 13

    Differential: None

    Bacary Sagna was the best of Manchester City's defensive lot against Watford. That's not saying too much given the line's immense struggles, but he did outshine Eliaquim Mangala and Co.

    That said, he swung in a fantastic cross for Sergio Aguero to head home, snatching victory from the jaws of yet another disappointing away performance. The Frenchman is not renowned for that, but he came up with a vital sliver of quality when his side direly needed it.

12. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton

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    Dave Thompson/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    Differential: -1

    Gerard Deulofeu was rested for Everton's game against Tottenham Hotspur but was forced to come off the bench in the second half to try and find a winner.

    His impact was extremely positive, for as hard as Aaron Lennon had worked on the wing in lieu of him, his attacking influence waned alarmingly as the match wore on.

    Deulofeu gave Ben Davies a severe test and sent in some teasing crosses that Toby Alderweireld had to deal with.

11. Fernandinho, Manchester City

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    Last Week: 12

    Differential: +1

    "Best [player] on the pitch," Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News said of Fernandinho on Saturday following his multi-faceted display against Watford.

    He played a strong, physical game in holding midfield and used the ball well where possible. Then he was asked to drop in at centre-back after Eliaquim Mangala's injury, and not only did he perform brilliantly there (against Odion Ighalo of all strikers), but his presence in midfield was sorely missed, with the Hornets immediately enjoying room to run and spying space to exploit in front of the defence.

    This was an impressive bounce-back game from Fernandinho after his bad performance against Leicester City.

10. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

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    Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Differential: -3

    Kevin De Bruyne was only able to provide glimpses of his quality on Saturday evening as Manchester City overcame Watford's stern examination.

    There was one cross of note and a particularly good one-two with David Silva that teed up a shot well saved by Heurelho Gomes, but apart from that, it was only his energy and ball-retrieval skills that stood out.

    He was far from the worst performer—Silva struggled, while Eliaquim Mangala had a rough day—but he wasn't quite right. Perhaps he needs a short rest?

9. Ross Barkley, Everton

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    Last Week: 10

    Differential: +1

    "Ross Barkley showed he can play in different positions and master them," Roberto Martinez said, per the Liverpool Echo, after Everton's draw with Tottenham. "It was his most mature display in three years."

    Martinez is famous for his lavish praise and Barkley did make a few errors in concentration against Spurs, struggling perhaps with the sheer intensity of the game.

    But considering he's dropped deeper and is playing a No. 8 role rather than a pure No. 10, he battled superbly in there and held his ground.

8. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    Differential: None

    N'Golo Kante huffed and puffed...but couldn't blow down Bournemouth's doors. He's not usually asked to spearhead so much from an attacking sense, but as the Foxes fumbled for a winner, it was Kante who seized the mantle and tried to force it over the line.

    He's made his name in England as an energetic, rumbustious midfielder who defends superbly and shuttles forward, but he's also got a nice pair of feet and a great attacking burst.

    Kante showed some nice touches and played some good passes, but he couldn't break down the Bournemouth wall.

7. Mousa Dembele, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Last Week: 6

    Differential: -1

    Mousa Dembele missed Sunday's match against Everton with a groin injury. Mauricio Pochettino has said he might be out for "a few weeks," per Sky Sports.

6. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

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    Dave Thompson/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Differential: -3

    Toby Alderweireld secured a place in our Premier League Team of the Week this week after putting in a brilliant all-round display against Everton.

    Defensively he was sound, making key clearances at key times and stopping several dangerous crosses into the box; he was a factor offensively too, lifting a stunning pass in behind the Toffees' defence to set Dele Alli up for the equalising goal.

5. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2

    Differential: -3

    Riyad Mahrez, so often the saviour for Leicester City this season, missed a penalty in their 0-0 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday. It's probably the first time this campaign he's let his team down.

    As usual he was full of tricks, flicks and brilliant touches, working hard to create chances against a Cherries side reduced to 10 men and stacking up the defenders as a result.

    Mahrez's effort is not in question, but the usually reliable source of goals came up empty for once.

4. Romelu Lukaku, Everton

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Differential: -1

    Romelu Lukaku left us feeling frustrated after his performance against Tottenham Hotspur; he simply didn't force his way into the game enough to make an impact.

    He was given an assist for Aaron Lennon's wonder strike as he knocked the ball down with his chest, but that was a rare involvement for him as Everton struggled to cope with Spurs.

    Lukaku was released a few times over the top late on after some good runs, but he blazed over and ruined the chances.

3. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

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    PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    Differential: +2

    Jamie Vardy wasas we've come to expecta constant menace on Saturday afternoon, with Bournemouth ultimately failing to keep a lid on him.

    His searing runs in behind constantly worried the Cherries' defence—usually so assured on and off the ball—and he won the penalty which Riyad Mahrez missed, forcing a red card for Simon Francis.

    He hit the post himself when he probably should have scored, but overall it was a strong performance to end a short dip in form.

2. Odion Ighalo, Watford

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Differential: +2

    Odion Ighalo's all-round play against Manchester City was stellar. All that was missing was the finishing touch in front of goal.

    He took three shots that yielded nothing, with one chance in particular—a one-on-one with Joe Hart after wriggling free of Eliaquim Mangala—a golden opportunity to put Watford ahead early.

    This week, his missed chances did cost the team as they lost 2-1 late on, but it's difficult to fault Ighalo for a stupendous showing of power, speed, channel-running and hold-up play.

1. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

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    Last Week: 1

    Differential: None

    Arsenal were pretty dire for long stretches against Newcastle United, but Mesut Ozil still created his customary four chances and the Gunners did, eventually, eke out a victory.

    Some lovely flicks were on show—one backheel to set up a chance was absolutely incredible—and his crossing/wide passing was on point once again, finding near-post runners to fashion chances.

    It wasn't his best performance, and he got no assists (a rarity), but he still played well.