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Race to POTY – van Dijk top for Christmas

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1/ Virgil Van Dijk

(Last week: 2)

After a couple of weeks at No. 2, Van Dijk hits top spot following another imperious display against Wolves. Not only did he mastermind the Reds to yet another clean sheet, the Dutchman popped up with the clinching second goal to help give Liverpool a 2-0 win and a four-point lead going into Christmas. Former Anfield star Jamie Redknapp describes Van Dijk as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic all rolled into one. On current form, it’s a soundbite not without foundation.

2/ Raheem Sterling

(Last week: 1)

The best attacking player in the Premier League this season with nine goals and six assists. He’s been a huge part of City’s fast start but with Liverpool now top dogs it seems right to have a Red on to top at Christmas so Sterling’s four-week reign at No.1 ends…. for now. One goal in his last five games has coincided with City losing twice so Pep will be hoping the England man can get back to his brilliant best soon.

3/ Mo Salah

(Last week: 4)

While Van Dijk has been Liverpool’s standout star, Salah is coming up on the rails fast. Yes, he didn’t look quite right earlier in the campaign but his beautifully-taken goal at Wolves showed a player oozing confidence again. That’s 11 Premier League goals for the season now (just one off top spot) and, notably, he’s scored the opener for the Merseysiders nine times in all comps, often in tight games in which the first goal was vitally important.

4/ Harry Kane

(Last week: 6)

Spurs, now just two points behind second-placed Man City, need some recognition in the top end of this chart and Kane is the obvious candidate after two goals and an assist in their 6-2 rout of Everton on Sunday. That’s 11 in the Premier League and 15 in all competitions for the England striker and, if he stays fit, another Golden Boot and a serious title challenge from Spurs beckons.

5/ Eden Hazard

(Last week: 3)

Held top spot in the charts from Week 5 to Week 12 and, after a dip, I promoted him back to third place last week after he returned to goalscoring form with a goal at Brighton and added his ninth assist of the campaign. But Chelsea lost for the third time in six PL games against Leicester and Hazard struck the bar when he really should have scored.

6/ David Silva

(Last week: 5)

Silva has sparkled this season with eight goals and three assists in his 20 Man City games but since being taken off after 68 minutes in the 2-0 loss at Chelsea he hasn’t been seen. Influence can often be highlighted in absence and City were crying out for his quick feet and sharp mind when suffering their shock 3-2 loss at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend.

7/ Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

(Last week: 8)

After four games without a goal (three PL, one in the Cup defeat to Spurs), the Arsenal frontman hit back with a brace against Burnley. They were goal numbers 11 and 12 in the Premier League, taking him back to top spot, one above Salah and Kane. Has 14 in 23 games overall so he continues to be the horns of the charging Arsenal bull which looks rejuvenated under Spaniard Unai Emery.

8/ Leroy Sane

(Last week: 7)

Sane has been given an extended run in this City side after some early -season frustrations and so often has delivered the goods. The current count? Six goals and seven assists in the Premier League and a big reason why City are the top-flight’s top scorers with 50 goals. Has made six starts in December though and perhaps looked a little jaded in the startling defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

9/ Son Heung-Min

(Last week: N/A)

What a week for the all-action Korean! His opener against Arsenal helped Spurs into the last four of the League Cup before he scored twice and added an assist to be Man of the Match in Tottenham’s 6-2 romp at Everton. Five goals in his last six games, eight in his last 13 and a vibrant force in Spurs’ hugely impressive campaign to date.

10/ Ryan Fraser

(Last week: N/A)

One of two Bournemouth standouts going forward this season and the other, Callum Wilson, has spent 10 of the 17 weeks inside the top 10. But I’ll promote Fraser back for the first time since Week 11 as he continues to deliver. The Scot has eight assists (ranked second) after setting up David Brooks against Brighton while he’s weighed in with four goals too, probably just edging Wilson in his overall displays.

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