Eight games in, thirty still to come and we’re into the second international break of the season.
Yes, the Premier League season is well and truly up and running.
As the club season takes a backseat to the UEFA Nations League this week, our friends at Football Whispers reflect on the opening two months of the season by picking their Premier League team of the year so far.
Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)
The Hammers’ form has only picked up in recent weeks but the Poland international has been a consistently dependable presence between the sticks.
Fabianski cost West Ham just £7million from relegated Swansea in the summer and has instantly cemented his place as Manuel Pellegrini’s first-choice, averaging the most saves per 90 in the division with 4.5.
Right-back: Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Not a lot of people would have tipped the Irishman to be in a ‘best XI’ at the start of the season but his stellar displays for Wolves saw him edge out Eden Hazard and Alexandre Lacazette to win the PFA Player of the Month award for September.
It was deserved, too. Doherty has started every game for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, chipping in with two assists and the winning goal against Crystal Palace last time out. His expected goal contribution (xA + xG) is 2.48, the highest of any defender in the league.
A key attacking outlet down the right, the 26-year-old also has been solid defensively with an average of 5.79 aerial duels won per 90.
Centre-back: Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
The 21-year-old has had a rough time over the last few years with injuries but has blossomed wonderfully alongside Virgil van Dijk to make Liverpool a much tighter defensive unit.
Quick, decisive and mature for a player of his age, Gomez has proven himself adept at covering his teammates and making progressive, angled passes out of the back four.
Although Jurgen Klopp shifted him out to the right for the visit of Manchester City to Anfield, his future seems very much at the heart of the Reds backline.
Centre-back: Aymeric Laporte (Man City)
Having adapted to both the English game and the rigorous demands that naturally come with being a student of Pep Guardiola, Laporte has shown why City shelled out £57million for his signature.
The 24-year-old Frenchman is technically astute, averaging more forward passes per 90 (33.62) than any other defender.
Having shown a good understanding with Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones, Laporte seems a natural long-term heir to Vincent Kompany at the Etihad Stadium.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
The Spaniard edges Benjamin Mendy who, after a fast start to the season, has been derailed by injury.
Alonso, however, continues to excel for Chelsea. Having impressed under Antonio Conte, the 27-year-old has chipped in with a goal and two assists to help Maurizio Sarri’s Blues remain unbeaten heading into the international break.
Alonso averages more scoring attempts than any other defender and his expected goal contribution of 2.44 is a reflection of his efficiency in the final third.
Midfield: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
It’s perhaps fair to say Sigurdsson hasn’t consistently met expectations at Goodison Park following his £50million move from Swansea in 2017. Under Marco Silva, though, the Icelandic playmaker is enjoying something of a revival with four goals and an assist in eight games this term.
The 29-year-old has scored four in his last four too, including a brace against Fulham and a spectacular long-ranged winner to see off Leicester.
With Bernard now integrated into the starting line-up, Everton have a potentially lethal front four in Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Theo Walcott.
Midfield: Lucas Torreira (Arsenal)
A £26million capture from Sampdoria in the summer, Unai Emery initially eased the Uruguayan into Premier League action.
He seems to have adapted well, though, and has been a solid cog in the Gunners engine room during much of their nine-game winning run.
It’s also impossible to ignore the stat that has done the rounds on Twitter this week. In the 442 minutes without Torreira this season, Arsenal have scored nine and conceded ten. In 548 minutes with him, they have scored 20 and conceded just three.
Midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
That Silva has continued to operate with supreme creative expression over the last year or so is no surprise. He is, after all, a Manchester City legend.
However, the fact that the Spaniard has juggled his football commitments during his son’s health problems makes him something of a footballing superhero.
Mateo was at the Etihad to see his father score a beautiful free-kick against Huddersfield and, while he isn’t able to make every game, Silva is doing his son proud by continuing as chief architect in one of the most formidable Premier League sides ever assembled.
Right-wing: Richarlison (Everton)
After his form tailed off during the second half of last season, a few eyebrows were raised when Everton paid Watford £45million for Richarlison.
Except for a red card against Bournemouth, the Brazilian has delivered, with four goals in six games. His eye-catching performances for the Toffees have also helped him breakthrough into the Brazil national team, scoring twice on his full debut.
Now that he is playing up front, the 21-year-old is expected to become Everton’s main goal-getter, with Cenk Tosun dropping out.
Left-wing: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
While Sarri’s assertion that Hazard can score 40 goals this season seems a tad ambitious, the Belgian is certainly on course to have his best season at Chelsea.
Considering the excellent standard he has set since arriving from Lille in 2012, that’s saying something.
The 27-year-old Real Madrid transfer target is leading the scoring charts with seven already. Hazard also tops the successful take-ons per 90 metric with 3.43 while he has greatly increased his xG per 90 (from 0.24 to 0.64) and his xContribution (from 0.5 to 0.96).
A clear early front-runner for the PFA Player of the Year award.
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
In February 2017, Aguero’s Manchester City future looked uncertain. He had been dropped by Guardiola following Gabriel Jesus’ arrival and the feeling was that his days were numbered.
But, having embraced Guardiola’s philosophy, the Argentine has added new dimensions to his game – his xA per 90 has increased to 0.48 from 0.25, for example – and remains the most devastating striker in the league.
With five goals and two assists this season, the 30-year-old has started the season with a renewed sense of purpose. He tops the xG and post-shot xG metrics and it would take a brave man to bet against him clinching his second Golden Boot.
* Odds subject to change