Premier League Player Rankings: Vardy, Morgan and Mahrez Up; New No. 1
It was a telling weekend of football in the Premier League at both ends of the table. Newcastle United were mired further into the relegation mix, Leicester City lifted the trophy and Manchester City clung on to their slim advantage in the top-four race.
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 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 be selected—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.
Please note: This ranking does not take into account Tuesday's West Ham United vs. Manchester United or Wednesday's triple slate. They will be included in next week's set.
Mousa Dembele, Tottenham: Suspended for clawing at Diego Costa's face.
James Milner, Liverpool: Has stopped playing Premier League football as Liverpool focus on Europe.
Robert Huth, Leicester City: Suspended for a tussle with Marouane Fellaini last week.
Mark Noble, West Ham United: Like his team-mates, struggled against Swansea City in a surprise thrashing.
20. Andy Carroll, West Ham United
Last Week: 16th (-4)
Blimey, West Ham, what happened?
The Irons were blown away by a reserve Swansea City side, who rested Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor, losing by a 4-1 scoreline in the penultimate game at Upton Park (the Boleyn Ground).
Andy Carroll never really got into it. The Hammers struggled to assert any form of creative flow, and thus no service was provided.
19. Vurnon Anita, Newcastle United
Last Week: Unranked (New!)
What a week it has been for Vurnon Anita; first he makes our Premier League Team of the Week, then he enters the top 20 player rankings. It has been some upturn for him.
Since being relocated to right-back under Rafa Benitez he's been superb, providing a defensively solid outlook and whipping dangerous crosses after regular bursts forward.
His deliveries at the weekend against Aston Villa were particularly good, and his striking colleagues really should have converted at least one.
18. Jermain Defoe, Sunderland
Last Week: Unranked (New!)
Three goals in four games is enough to propel Jermain Defoe into the player rankings, and it might just be enough to save Sunderland from relegation, too.
If he can net against Everton in his club's penultimate fixture on Wednesday, the Black Cats will scrape clear again and retain their Premier League status.
He has a habit of producing key goals at key times, and his performance this weekend against Chelsea was huge. The Englishman netted a lovely goal that turned out to be the winner, placing Sam Allardyce's troops in a great position heading into the final week of the season.
17. Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
Last Week: 11th (-6)
Chelsea were extremely disappointing this weekend, letting a winning position slip against Sunderland and coming away from the Stadium of Light with nothing.
Guus Hiddink has managed to coax form out of Cesc Fabregas since January, but he dropped off here.
While the Spain international wasn't the worst performer on Saturday—John Terry and John Obi Mikel suffered the most—he struggled to initiate play and control proceedings.
16. Joe Allen, Liverpool
Last Week: Unranked (New!)
Joe Allen's performances in the Premier League of late have given Jurgen Klopp a big decision to make ahead of the UEFA Europa League final. Could the Welshman spoil the first XI plans and force his way into contention?
He's a master passer—we knew that from his time at Swansea City—but under Klopp, he's become a more attacking threat, making runs into the box and troubling goal.
He netted to make it 1-0 this weekend after Christian Benteke's knockdown; it was a goal he would never have scored at Swansea.
15. Dusan Tadic, Southampton
Last Week: Unranked (New!)
Dusan Tadic has six assists and two goals in his last four Premier League games. That's an absurd level of production that the likes of David Silva would be thoroughly proud of.
The Serbian creator is an immense crosser and deft passer but flits in and out of form. Right now he's hot, though, and has made fools of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in back-to-back games.
Tadic's late-season boost in form has reminded us all how brilliant he can be. Now, can he take this into next season and be a more consistent player?
14. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea City
Last Week: 13th (-1)
Gylfi Sigurdsson was among three rested for Swansea City this weekend, but they won 4-1 without him anyway.
13. Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton
Last Week: 19th (+6)
It takes some centre-back to keep Harry Kane quiet, and Virgil van Dijk managed that on Sunday. He had help from his friends—it was a group effort—but the Dutchman was front and centre for the day's task.
Southampton announced at the weekend that he has signed a new six-year-deal less than 12 months into his first one—a true sign of how stellar he has been—and he celebrated the news with a typically imperious performance.
12. Sadio Mane, Southampton
Last Week: 15th (+3)
For once, Sadio Mane was actually the least impressive of Southampton's attacking midfield three. That's not to say he played badly—he didn't—but two-assist Dusan Tadic and two-goal Steven Davis stole the show.
Still, the problems Mane caused due to his speed across the ground and positivity in the dribble were obvious.
Eric Dier and Co., missing their usual master controller in Mousa Dembele, struggled to bottle him up.
11. Shane Long, Southampton
Last Week: 12th (+1)
No goals for Shane Long this weekend, but he did terrorise with his movement and physicality.
As the weeks tick by, it looks more and more like he will be Ronald Koeman's first option next season—not Graziano Pelle.
Giving Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen the runaround is no simple feat, but the Irishman managed it and created space for others to use. He lends his weight to the team's cause.
10. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 8th (+2)
A second straight disappointing performance from Toby Alderweireld? We were shocked too.
A beacon of consistency all season, his level has dipped noticeably over the last fortnight, struggling against Chelsea and Southampton in consecutive games.
Shane Long proved difficult to clamp down on Sunday and the Belgian seemed half a step behind his usual pace. In his defence, it has been a long old season.
9. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Last Week: 7th (-2)
Mesut Ozil missed Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Manchester City this weekend due to injury.
8. Dimitri Payet, West Ham United
Last Week: 5th (-3)
It was an irritating day for Dimitri Payet, as despite West Ham's pushing and probing—they registered 25 shots on goal, per WhoScored.com—they went down 4-1 to a rotated Swansea City side.
He was responsible for five of those shots and, astonishingly, took 12 corners as the Irons ramped up the pressure, but to no avail.
Payet was, quite literally, a picture of frustration.
7. Christian Eriksen, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 9th (+2)
For the vast majority in a Tottenham shirt this weekend, Sunday afternoon was a minor disaster, but Christian Eriksen at least represented a silver lining to the fans.
He was arguably Spurs' best player on the day, created one huge chance and passed well in a congested central zone.
There were times when he looked surprised at the lack of support he received, but that's what happens when two of your star men are suspended.
6. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Last Week: 14th (+8)
Sergio Aguero's performance at the weekend was excellent, though it wasn't good enough to move him up eight spots.
He's the beneficiary of four dropouts and an iffy Tottenham performance, which forced their players to move down.
Against Arsenal, Aguero was voracious in his running and hunting of chances. He netted the first goal with a well-taken strike and continued to squeeze the opposing defence, pulling them around and opening space for others to use.
5. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Last Week: 10th (+5)
It's such a shame Jamie Vardy couldn't bag a hat-trick to see out his 2015-16 season at the King Power Stadium; it would have been the ideal ending for the newly crowned Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.
He scored two in Leicester City's win over Everton, converting a lovely Andy King cross and scoring a penalty.
Vardy was given a second spot-kick for the chance for the hat-trick but blazed it wildly over. Fortunately, no one in the stadium actually cared.
4. Wes Morgan, Leicester City
Last Week: 6th (+2)
The rise of Wes Morgan continues. He breaches the top five for the first time this season thanks to a strong end to the campaign.
He lived the dream of any player on Saturday by lifting the Premier League trophy, a smile glazed across his disbelieving face.
In the actual game—which acted as something of a sideshow to the festivities—he played well despite losing Robert Huth as a partner in defence.
3. Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
Last Week: 1st (-2)
Harry Kane endured a disappointing afternoon against Southampton on Sunday. He missed a few chances and made some bad decisions at key moments—two traits not commonly associated with him.
There were a couple of moments where he was a little selfish, squandering chances for his team to score, but did have the presence of mind to leave an Erik Lamela pass intended for Son Heung-Min which eventually led to a goal.
2. Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City
Last Week: 4th (+2)
No goals or assists for Riyad Mahrez this weekend, but he still played well in the 3-1 defeat of Everton.
The big question now becomes whether or not the Algerian will stay. It'd take some offer to lure him away—he has guaranteed UEFA Champions League football and a trusting coach in Leicester, after all—but fears over a big bid will stay with the fanbase all summer.
Can they hang onto their game-breaking star?
1. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City
Last Week: 2nd (+1)
It's back to the top for N'Golo Kante, who played well against Everton this weekend as Leicester City celebrated the Premier League title.
He has been the most consistent player in the division this season, so it's only fitting that he enters the final week of play a champion and top of our rankings.
He tops the statistical charts for tackles, interceptions and blocked passes, per WhoScored.com. Doubt his prowess at your peril.