EPL 100: Ranking of Premier League's Best Players After Matchday 38
Another Premier League season is in the books. They always pass so fast, don't they?
The final day of the 2018-19 iteration saw a sliver of drama, as Manchester City fell behind to Brighton & Hove Albion for just over a minute, opening the tiniest of windows of hope for Liverpool. But normal service soon resumed, as Aymeric Laporte headed them into a lead they would hold with ease.
Agony for the Reds, ecstasy for the Blues.
It's been a pleasure updating the EPL 100 throughout the campaign, charting the rise and fall of players' forms and fortunes while continually providing updates on who has been the very best in each position.
This is the final edition. Any player who features started at least 50 per cent of his teams' games—so, 19 or more. Any player who doesn't make that threshold doesn't feature.
Players who appeared in multiple positions (such as Wilfried Zaha, Mohamed Salah and Bernardo Silva) are categorized by the spot they have played in most. If those values are level, they fall into the category for the role they played most recently.
It feels only right that the Premier League's Golden Glove winner, Alisson Becker, finishes top of our goalkeeper rankings. That award isn't just a product of the league-best defence in front of him; it's down to his exceptional performance levels, too.
Alisson's excellence was a little more difficult to quantify than, say, second-placed Lukasz Fabianski's, as he made significantly fewer saves (148 to 76). But the Brazilian's one-on-one prowess, command in the box and slick distribution are all key factors that tipped him over the edge.
Biggest rise: Martin Dubravka (+1)
Biggest fall: Bernd Leno (-1)
|1||Alisson Becker (Stay)||Liverpool|
|2||Lukasz Fabianski (Stay)||West Ham United|
|3||Ederson Moraes (Stay)||Manchester City|
|4||Martin Dubravka (+1)||Newcastle United|
|5||Bernd Leno (-1)||Arsenal|
|6||Vicente Guaita (Stay)||Crystal Palace|
|7||Kepa Arrizabalaga (Stay)||Chelsea|
|8||Ben Foster (Stay)||Watford|
|9||Jordan Pickford (Stay)||Everton|
|10||Hugo Lloris (Stay)||Tottenham Hotspur|
Right at the last. Trent Alexander-Arnold pips Aaron Wan-Bissaka to the post on the final day. Creating both Sadio Mane goals and helping keep a clean sheet against Wolverhampton Wanderers was enough to lift him into the top spot.
There have been some legitimate concerns regarding his defending over the last month, with opposing teams targeting him with some success. But the volume of high-quality crossing and passing he produces simply cannot be rivalled across the league.
Alexander-Arnold's fight with Wan-Bissaka for the throne was an intriguing battle pitting two opposites against one another—the latter excels in the defensive areas that the former does not, making it a tough call—but we will bow to the incredible attacking weaponry on show from the Red.
Biggest rise: Trent Alexander-Arnold (+1)
Biggest fall: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (-1)
|1||Trent Alexander-Arnold (+1)||Liverpool|
|2||Aaron Wan-Bissaka (-1)||Crystal Palace|
|3||Ricardo Pereira (Stay)||Leicester City|
|4||Matt Doherty (Stay)||Wolves|
|5||Kyle Walker (Stay)||Manchester City|
|6||Cesar Azpilicueta (Stay)||Chelsea|
|7||Seamus Coleman (Stay)||Everton|
|8||Yan Valery (Stay)||Southampton|
|9||Adam Smith (Stay)||Bournemouth|
|10||Pablo Zabaleta (Stay)||West Ham|
Close battles were fought for the title of best goalkeeper and right-back. But over on the left, Andy Robertson smoked the competition. He was far and away the finest in that position.
The only player who really challenged him was Benjamin Mendy, and that was only during the opening stretch of the season before knee injuries struck the Frenchman down. From there it's been plain sailing for Robertson.
An offensive force (11 assists) and a defensive stalwart (36 starts in the league's best defence), he's in the conversation for best left-back in the world.
Biggest rise: Nacho Monreal (+1)
Biggest fall: Ryan Bertrand (-1)
|1||Andy Robertson (Stay)||Liverpool|
|2||Lucas Digne (Stay)||Everton|
|4||Ben Chilwell (Stay)||Leicester|
|5||Luke Shaw (Stay)||Manchester United|
|6||Matt Ritchie (Stay)||Newcastle|
|7||Jose Holebas (Stay)||Watford|
|8||Danny Rose (Stay)||Tottenham|
|9||Nacho Monreal (+1)||Arsenal|
|10||Ryan Bertrand (-1)||Southampton|
Virgil van Dijk at No. 1 makes it a clean sweep for Liverpool across all defensive positions. Given they conceded a league-low 22 points this season, it makes sense.
Crowned the PFA Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season, Van Dijk put together performances this season that have redefined what we should expect from a top central defender. Aymeric Laporte of Manchester City was excellent, but his Dutch rival was simply levels above.
Biggest rise: Fabian Schar (+2)
Biggest fall: John Stones, Jan Vertonghen (-1)
Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders
The way Bernardo Silva ended this campaign was astonishing. Big performance after big performance—from one so small, too—dragged Manchester City to the title. It's no exaggeration to say he was the key figure in the run, even more so than Vincent Kompany.
Kevin De Bruyne missing half the season due to injury would cripple most teams, but Pep Guardiola was fortunate to be able to call upon this Portuguese schemer, whose dribbling is starting to resemble Lionel Messi's at times, and whose tackling is rivalling Fernandinho's.
Biggest rise: Ilkay Gundogan (+3)
Biggest fall: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (-2)
|1||Bernardo Silva (Stay)||Manchester City|
|2||Fernandinho (Stay)||Manchester City|
|3||David Silva (Stay)||Manchester City|
|4||Joao Moutinho (Stay)||Wolves|
|5||Georginio Wijnaldum (Stay)||Liverpool|
|6||N'Golo Kante (Stay)||Chelsea|
|7||Declan Rice (Stay)||West Ham|
|9||Moussa Sissoko (+1)||Tottenham|
|10||Paul Pogba (-1)||Manchester United|
|11||Idrissa Gueye (Stay)||Everton|
|12||Etienne Capoue (Stay)||Watford|
|13||Ruben Neves (Stay)||Wolves|
|14||Abdoulaye Doucoure (Stay)||Watford|
|15||Ilkay Gundogan (+3)||Manchester City|
|16||Lucas Torreira (-1)||Arsenal|
|17||Jordan Henderson (Stay)||Liverpool|
|18||Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (-2)||Southampton|
|19||Wilfred Ndidi (Stay)||Leicester|
|20||Ashley Westwood (Stay)||Burnley|
Raheem Sterling ran Virgil van Dijk close for the PFA Player of the Year award—so strong was his season—as he truly shot to the fore in terms of importance to Manchester City's team.
Seventeen goals and 10 assists is one hell of a haul, and he was responsible for one of the finest individual performances of the campaign back in November when he scored two and assisted two more in a 6-1 win over Southampton.
He had good competition for the No. 1 spot, as Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were consistently productive, but he comes out on top.
Biggest rise: Sadio Mane, Wilfried Zaha (+1)
Biggest fall: Mohamed Salah, David Brooks (-1)
|1||Raheem Sterling (Stay)||Manchester City|
|2||Eden Hazard (Stay)||Chelsea|
|3||Sadio Mane (+1)||Liverpool|
|4||Mohamed Salah (-1)||Liverpool|
|5||Heung-Min Son (Stay)||Tottenham|
|6||Diogo Jota (Stay)||Wolves|
|7||James Maddison (Stay)||Leicester|
|8||Leroy Sane (Stay)||Manchester City|
|9||Ryan Fraser (Stay)||Bournemouth|
|10||Nathan Redmond (Stay)||Southampton|
|11||Wilfried Zaha (+1)||Crystal Palace|
|12||David Brooks (-1)||Bournemouth|
|14||Christian Eriksen (Stay)||Tottenham|
|15||Gerard Deulofeu (Stay)||Watford|
|16||Gylfi Sigurdsson (Stay)||Everton|
|17||Felipe Anderson (Stay)||West Ham|
|18||James Ward-Prowse (Stay)||Southampton|
|19||Lucas Moura (Stay)||Tottenham|
|20||Dele Alli (Stay)||Tottenham|
Thanks to a final-day brace, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang jumped ahead of Sergio Aguero in the goalscoring charts, bagging 22 to his 21.
That doesn't move him to the top of our rankings, though. A striker's game is about more than just goals, and Aguero has offered so much to his team this season in terms of creativity, buildup play and work rate.
Just as Manchester City looked like they were fluffing their lines on the final day, going a goal down to Brighton, Aguero was the one who stepped forward and scored immediately, equalising and settling the nerves. You can count on him to make the right move when it really counts.
Biggest rise: None
Biggest fall: None
|1||Sergio Aguero (Stay)||Manchester City|
|2||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Stay)||Arsenal|
|3||Harry Kane (Stay)||Tottenham|
|4||Roberto Firmino (Stay)||Liverpool|
|5||Raul Jimenez (Stay)||Wolves|
|6||Jamie Vardy (Stay)||Leicester|
|7||Callum Wilson (Stay)||Bournemouth|
|8||Salomon Rondon (Stay)||Newcastle|
|9||Alexandre Lacazette (Stay)||Arsenal|
|10||Marcus Rashford (Stay)||Manchester United|
All statistics via WhoScored.com.