It’s said to be the golden age for a Number 10, but who have been the top 10 players who thrived in their free roles this season? Whoscored spill the beans…
At this point in time, the Premier League is blessed with a raft of creative stars who look to run the show behind the frontmen, and without further ado; WhoScored.com assess the success of the 10 ‘number 10s’ to have been in the spotlight thus far…
Ross Barkley – Everton (WhoScored.com rating 6.98)
Ross Barkley started the season brightly, but after his performances waned a little, Ronald Koeman didn’t hesitate in making an example of the youngster. His strike in Sunday’s 2-0 win over West Ham was the first league goal he has contributed to since the second weekend of the season, with inconsistency again rearing its ugly head.
As the Lukaku-Bolasie show continues to gain momentum, the 22-year-old has taken something of a back seat thus far.
Dusan Tadic – Southampton (7.00)
“I always like making a lot of assists and to create chances,” Dusan Tadic told WhoScored.com last month, and he’s certainly doing plenty of the latter having played the second most key passes (28) in the Premier League this season.
The fact that he’s struggling in terms of having failed to register an assist says more about the attackers failing to convert, but it doesn’t look great on Tadic’s record, particularly with the Serbian playing in a free role behind the two strikers for Southampton this season.
Christian Eriksen – Tottenham (7.10)
This current campaign hasn’t gone quite according to plan for Christian Eriksen. Having penned a new deal back in September, the Dane followed that up with two assists in the 4-0 win over Stoke. However, the 24-year-old’s season has again stalled, failing to make a substantial impact for a Spurs side struggling in front of goal. While he often starts on the left, Eriksen happily drifts infield in search of the ball, yet his insistence on moving into the space behind the striker is at times proving to be more a hindrance than a help.
Mesut Ozil – Arsenal (7.38)
At this stage last season, Mesut Ozil had nine Premier League assists to his name. This term, the German has registered just one assist in his opening nine top-flight appearances.
Nevertheless, his goalscoring output has improved, with Ozil netting three goals already this season, but his key passes per game have dropped from 4.2 to 2.4, with his role changing as Arsenal’s approach play alters from possession-based to a more direct style. Although his special goal against Ludogorets had this pundit describing Ozil as ‘being from another planet’, it won’t up his score in this particular field and only leaves him at 7th on our list.
David Silva – Manchester City (7.41)
Manchester City are blessed to have two of the most potent creators in the Premier League in David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, with more on the latter to come.
The former is arguably one of the most technically gifted players to grace English football and he is maintaining a remarkable level of consistency having impressed in Pep Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad Stadium helm. Indeed, he’s played the third most key passes (27) in England’s top tier this term and is without question one of the club’s most important players.
Joe Allen – Stoke City (7.58)
Joe Allen’s two assists against Swansea on Monday night mean he has now been directly involved in six league goals in his last five appearances. While seemingly signed as a deep-lying midfielder, Stoke boss Mark Hughes has pushed Allen into the number 10 role in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and the Potters are reaping the rewards.
He’s already matched his best goal (four) and assists haul (two) in a single Premier League season, with his present rating (7.58) enough to earn a place in WhoScored.com’s team of the campaign.
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City (7.63)
De Bruyne is the man partners Joe Allen in the current Premier League team of the season. Many tipped the Belgian to launch an assault for the Player of the Year award, though his performances have tailed off due to injury and coincided with City’s dip in form.
Nevertheless, he remains one of the league’s most creative stars having registered more assists (5) than any other player this season, while only Yannick Bolasie (7) has registered more clear cut goalscoring opportunities than the 25-year-old City star (5).
Dimitri Payet – West Ham (7.65)
Dimitri Payet was without question one of the stars of Euro 2016, playing a key role before France’s final disappointment as they lost out to Portugal.
After a superb start to life in England, he has continued his good form into his second season for West Ham, with his four assists second to De Bruyne in the league.
He’s played the most key passes (33) in the Premier League this term and while he has often started from the left, he routinely drifts inside to help carve open opposition defences.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea (7.85)
Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation looks to have freed Eden Hazard from his shackles, with the Belgian now afforded greater license to move into space behind striker Diego Costa. His WhoScored.com rating for October (8.44) was better than any other Premier League player, coinciding with Chelsea’s change in system.
Only Wilfried Zaha (45) has completed more dribbles than the mercurial 25-year-old (43), with Conte evidently keen to maximise his dribbling ability in Chelsea’s bid to return to the Premier League’s summit.
It’s having a positive impact, with Hazard’s WhoScored.com rating (7.85) the third best this season.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool (7.97)
Alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho plays a key role in Liverpool’s fluid attack. The Reds boast arguably the most entertaining frontline in English football, with Coutinho starting on the left of Jurgen Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation before willingly switching positions as Firmino and Mane each actively move across the final third to devastating effect.
Indeed, only three players have been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Coutinho (eight; four goals, four assists) this season, with the Brazilian often moving into central areas to attack opponents.
A deserved No 1 in our list of top 10 Number 10s.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with the new free-to-download WhoScored iOS app.