So far this season, the likes of Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been stealing the headlines and the attention from the English media, as their consistent output and dominant performances have received the appreciation it truly deserves. But what about the big six regulars who don’t get the same attention as their teammates? We look at six of the most underrated players at the Premier League big six.
Six underrated Premier League players
Arsenal (Takehiro Tomiyasu)
Arsenal have been defensively solid compared to their usual standards and far less open at the back. Although the side have improved with the arrival of Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White last summer, the presence of Takehiro Tomiyasu has arguably played a bigger role in the side’s backline, someone who has made more tackles (30) and more blocked passes (18) than any other defender or any other player in the squad.
When noting how Mikel Arteta wants his team to play out from the back, Tomiyasu has helped the side instantly, whether it is by dropping alongside the centre-back to present himself as a passing option or by escaping the high press from the opposition with his composure to pass with both feet. On top of that, the 23-year-old in his first season of English football has come up against wingers such as Jadon Sancho, Heung-Min Son and Raheem Sterling, and came out on top of all of them.
Chelsea (Mateo Kovacic)
It’s difficult to regard any Chelsea players as underrated, given how much money they have spent in each department in pursuit of the Premier League title. However, Mateo Kovacic is the most underrated player within their squad, with his Premier League performances tending to go under the radar and modern football fans having a knack to worship players who rack up numbers in goals and assists.
The Croatian international plays a crucial role in linking the play from midfield to attack, through his ability to dribble past two to three players with ease as well as utilising the ball within tight spaces. With his physical presence and capability to cover every blade of grass, Kovacic has the intelligence to play as a deep-lying playmaker or as a box-to-box midfielder, as he has begun to contribute well in the final third, with five assists and two goals in 16 Premier League appearances so far this season.
Liverpool (Joel Matip)
Liverpool’s Joel Matip is living proof of a Premier League player who is criminally underrated. After joining club on a free transfer in the summer of 2016, Matip been a regular starter ever since. Even after the impressive breakthrough and rise of Joe Gomez and the £35million signing of Ibrahima Konate last summer, the 30-year-old continues to be a key piece in Jurgen Klopp’s backline.
Liverpool’s defensive area is known for the big names of Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, along with the phenomenal influence up and down the flanks from full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. This leaves Matip with the minimal acknowledgement and recognition he deserves, who plays his part with his independent dribbling into the opposition’s half and his clever reading of the game, something that is quite unique about an old school defender like himself.
Manchester City (Kyle Walker)
Pep Guardiola’s style of play at Manchester City is simply untouchable, with Joao Cancelo playing as an inverted full-back whilst players such as Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden occupy the half space areas and Rodri dictates the play from a deep position and spreads the play out with his range of passing. This allows both Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne to attack with their playmaking ability and the threat they offer into the final third, making the side unpredictable to read and to defend.
As the team sit high up the pitch and dominate possession at an average percent of 63%, none of this would be possible without the presence of right-back Kyle Walker, who has the perfect recovery pace and physicality to prevent the Citizens from getting caught on the counterattack. The former Tottenham defender understands when to drop into centre-back as extra defensive cover or as a passing option, when to push up to progress possession and when to give away tactical fouls, making him a difficult player to replace once his time eventually comes up at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester United (Victor Lindelof )
It’s fair to say that Victor Lindelof has hardly been a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford, especially as the fanbase look up to the vocal presence and proven experience of both Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane. However, the 27-year-old Swede happens to be one of the few players that are completely misunderstood at Manchester United, as the side do not consistently defend and play as a team.
From his ball-playing ability to holding his position when defending against the opposition, Lindelof has done really well for a team that does not hold the presence of an experienced number six and where the full-backs fail to stamp their mark on and off the ball. And when he is not in the starting line-up, the side’s struggles of playing out from the back start to show, which are normally not seen. Of the Manchester United squad he is the best candidate for a list of underrated Premier League players.
Tottenham Hotspur (Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg)
Tottenham had a painful start to the season under Nuno Espirito Santo, where they had lost five out of 10 league games and were sitting in ninth position, before the board had sacked the former Wolves and Porto manager. Nevertheless, Spurs look to have revived themselves following the appointment of Antonio Conte, as they are two points off the top four with three games in hand.
The notable individuals during the side’s inconsistent campaign have surely been the likes of Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and Heung-Min Son, on the other hand, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been a huge player in helping the side to retrieve possession and to win the midfield battle. Compared to the rest of the Spurs squad, he has completed the most interceptions (29), the most passes blocked (34) and second most tackles (42). He will be a player that will receive more credit once there is balance and creativity to Tottenham’s midfield, as Conte does not usually setup his team to attack in numbers.
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