Premier League Player Rankings: Yaya Toure Out, Ighalo Down, Dele Alli Up
A double gameweek of Premier League action always makes for tough decisions when it comes to shaping the player form rankings, but fear not: We've soldiered on and crunched the performances anyway.
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. That said, if, for example, Sergio Aguero returns from injury and excels in four straight games, he will find his way in—if a player plays very well, they can cut the queue.
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 / Honourable Mentions
Yaya Toure, Manchester City
Erik Lamela, Tottenham Hotspur
Honourable Mentions / On The Radar
David de Gea, Manchester United
Dimitri Payet, West Ham United
Idrissa Gueye, Aston Villa
Harry Arter, Bournemouth
Roberto Firmino, Liverpool
Christian Eriksen, Tottenham Hotspur
20. Shinji Okazaki, Leicester City
Last Week: Unranked
As if to compound Leicester City's dominance over the Premier League, a fifth player of theirs has entered the top-20 ranking this week in the form of Shinji Okazaki. That means one quarter of this list is made up of Foxes players.
Okazaki doesn't grab the headlines due to the players he plays with, but his ability to find space, hold the middle while Jamie Vardy drifts, and link attacks, has been thoroughly impressive all season.
Against Manchester City this weekend, he displayed all of that, constantly getting the better of opposing midfielders; and while he didn't score, he was crucial to the creation of chances.
19. Petr Cech, Arsenal
Last Week: Unranked
Arsenal won this weekend, securing a 2-0 scoreline at Bournemouth, but things could have been very different if Petr Cech hadn't been there to make key saves at key times.
He produced three or four massive stops to prevent the Cherries regaining a foothold in the game, with one in each half particularly catching the eye.
The Czech international has been in inspired form in four of his last six outings, necessitating that he is brought into the top 20 after due consideration.
18. Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton
Last Week: 18
Southampton collected their fifth successive clean sheet on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over West Ham at St. Mary's Stadium.
This set of players have now truly adapted to Ronald Koeman's 3-5-2 formation and are reaping the benefits of a solid base, leaning on star performers like Virgil van Dijk at the back to shut teams down.
He played well in the victory, giving up nothing aerially and matching up to the Hammers' powerful strikers on the ground. Just another day at the office for the Dutchman.
17. Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 17
A mixed bag for Harry Kane last week: In one game he was fantastic, in the other he struggled a little.
Against Norwich City in midweek he scored two and dominated using his strong frame and high football IQ to dictate the attack, whereas against Watford, Spurs had to rely on Kieran Trippier tapping home to break their resistance.
The balance found in the two games—one good, one not so good—means he stays put.
16. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Last Week: 15
Sergio Aguero moves down a spot this week after a relatively unconvincing two games played—despite scoring two goals!
It's notable he scored the winner in Manchester City's 1-0 defeat of Sunderland in midweek and took his chance well, but no one in blue convinced that evening.
On Saturday, he scored against Leicester City but failed to really dig himself into the game—they eventually lost 3-1—and couldn't impact the flow of the game.
It may seem strange that he moves down after scoring two in two, but the competition for places in this top 20 is tough, and his all-round performances didn't convince.
15. Christian Fuchs, Leicester City
Last Week: 16
Christian Fuchs' superb season continued last week, playing a key role in the clean-sheet victory over Liverpool (2-0) and the momentous win over Manchester City (3-1).
He's been rock solid defensively since coming into the team and these two fixtures followed the seasonal pattern, showcasing Fuchs' good tracking skills and combative style.
To ice the cake, he picked up an assist against City—it was his corner that Robert Huth headed home to make it three.
14. Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
Last Week: 13
Chelsea's last two results—0-0 vs. Watford, 1-1 vs. Manchester United—were inclusive of some pretty average performances. They played neither poorly nor superbly, and the same can be said on an individual basis for Cesc Fabregas.
It was his hopeful pass into the box that led to Diego Costa's late equaliser against United, but it hardly goes down as an assist—if anyone gets that, it's Daley Blind for rushing out and slipping over.
Fabregas' passing was tidy, his positioning was good, but nothing stood out as spectacular.
13. Romelu Lukaku, Everton
Last Week: 14
After weeks of sliding, Romelu Lukaku has held fast and lurched the other way in our rankings after two successive good performances.
In midweek against Newcastle United, he was playing well until he had to come off injured, then miraculously recovered for the weekend win over Stoke City, scoring one, coming close to another and generally giving the defence a very tough time.
Despite putting in a mammoth shift, the team bus somehow left the Britannia Stadium without him, per the Liverpool Echo, but it quickly returned for Everton's star man.
12. Diego Costa, Chelsea
Last Week: 12
Last week was just another normal seven-day span in the life of Diego Costa: He riled opposing defenders, got into scuffles and scored a key goal to save Chelsea a point.
Against Watford he put himself about well and troubled the defensive line but could not conjure anything in front of goal—partly due to a lack of service.
Against Manchester United he scored a last-gasp equaliser, then nearly won it 30 seconds later, seeing a good shot superbly saved by David de Gea.
11. Bacary Sagna, Manchester City
Last Week: 11
We're going to have to monitor Bacary Sagna's situation extremely carefully, as it appears as though Manuel Pellegrini has instigated a timeshare in the right-back position, swapping the Frenchman and Pablo Zabaleta regularly.
If that is the case—and it probably is, given last year they did the same—we may have to drop Sagna to make room for a player who plays every game. This top 20 is too competitive for rotational performers.
It'd be a shame, because Sagna has been the best right-back in the league this season.
10. Gerard Deulofeu, Everton
Last Week: 10
Like Bacary Sagna, Gerard Deulofeu may just be in a spot of bother. His place in the XI is now being rotated and, of late, Aaron Lennon has been receiving an extended look-in on the wing and stands as a threat to his place.
Deulofeu has not played in the Premier League since January 24, so if he misses the next fixture, we'll have to strongly consider dropping him altogether.
9. Ross Barkley, Everton
Last Week: 10
Ross Barkley put in two cracking performances last week, scoring two in the midweek victory over Newcastle United and impacting heavily in the win over Stoke City.
He's been consistently excellent this season when driving forward with the ball at his feet, and he took the Potters apart with relative ease, pushing on and leading attacks. He still needs to work on when to release the pass, but these are growing pains worth bearing.
He's very unfortunate to only move up one spot, but almost all of the top 10 played well.
8. Odion Ighalo, Watford
Last Week: 9
Odion Ighalo is this week's big slider, emulating Romelu Lukaku from a couple of weeks back.
His goals have dried up, with Watford as a team struggling to service him. Quique Sanchez Flores rested Troy Deeney against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend—a move that made Ighalo look even more isolated than he already was.
The Nigerian's bout of iffy form is likely temporary, but his place in this ranking is under threat all the same.
7. Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 8
Dele Alli had a strange week. He only played 69 minutes of football across two games due to complaints of dizziness, but he still managed to impact heavily in both despite the ailment.
In midweek he scored one and assisted one before being taken off at half-time, then joined the fray against Watford from the bench and delivered the assist for Kieran Trippier's winning goal.
Not bad, eh?
6. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Last Week: 7
As football writer Cian Carroll so aptly put it on Twitter: Riyad Mahrez can do things that "make your toes curl."
His exquisite goal at the Etihad Stadium this weekend capped a fine performance; he dumped Martin Demichelis on the floor, feinted left, then right, then arrowed a finish into the top corner. Incredible stuff.
He added an assist, delivering a lovely corner for Robert Huth to head home early on, and generally impressed.
5. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Last Week: 5
Due to the superb performances from those ahead of him in the rankings, Mesut Ozil stays rooted in fifth.
He created a boatload of chances against Southampton midweek, but no one in Arsenal red could find a way past Fraser Forster, who made a ridiculous 10 saves, per uMAXit.com's Andrew Mangan.
Against Bournemouth he scored the opener with his right foot, stealing in and converting a very good Olivier Giroud knock-down. Not a bad haul for the German over the space of five days.
4. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City
Last Week: 6
If the season stopped now, N'Golo Kante would claim the crown of best central midfielder in the division and land a spot in everyone's Team of the Year. That's how dominant he has been.
He proved on Saturday just how dangerous it is to match up one-on-one against him and try to better him; he wiped the floor with Manchester City's beleaguered middle section, displaying speed, power, tenacity and high football IQ.
His tackle and pass preceding Riyad Mahrez's goal was classic Kante: nick it, spot the pass and move it quickly.
3. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 3
In perusing several Tottenham Hotspur fan columns and blog posts this weekend, it was odd to see so many lauding Toby Alderweireld for taking on "extra responsibility" in lieu of Jan Vertonghen.
Up until the 3-0 win over Norwich City in midweek, Alderweireld and Vertonghen had started every single Premier League game together in defence, but it's the former who stands as the consistent, mistake-free centre-back of the two.
He was never going to struggle without Vertonghen (now injured), and, on cue, he and Kevin Wimmer secured two clean sheets in succession.
Alderweireld is the star and the leader in this line, not Vertonghen.
2. Mousa Dembele, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 2
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Mousa Dembele's recent great form is that all of his performances feel and look the same. He does the exact same things every week, yet no one can stop him.
Whereas others excel in different aspects each week—one week, for example, defensive positioning is key, whereas the following week it's the surging forward aspect that wows—Dembele's consistency in what he does stands out.
He runs the midfield; he bullies opposing midfielders; you cannot knock him off the ball.
1. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Last Week: 1
Another week in this season passes by and Jamie Vardy still sits atop our rankings. Despite slowing down in front of goal, he's still putting in some irresistible performances.
His golazo against Liverpool in midweek was eye-poppingly good, measuring a long ball down and smashing it into the corner from 30-plus yards.
Just as impressive—from a purist's point of view—was his showing against Manchester City, in which he didn't score, but did tear the defence to shreds with his runs, darts and feints.
Even when he's not scoring, he's central to the gameplan and creates acres of space for others.