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Is Foden ‘the best in the Premier League right now’?



Phil Foden and Erling Haaland have scored 16 goals between them in Manchester City’s past eight games in all competitions

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said after Sunday’s Manchester derby that midfielder Phil Foden was the “best player in the Premier League right now”.

And Foden has a strong case for that accolade, having scored six goals and provided an assist in his past seven league games.

Using the past 10 rounds of Premier League matches, BBC Sport look at who might currently be its ‘best’ player.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Foden scored twice in a 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday as City stayed firmly in the hunt for the title.

The 23-year-old has scored 11 Premier League goals this season and assisted seven – putting him joint-eighth in the rankings for those categories.

Guardiola: “What can I say? He is the best player in the Premier League right now for the amount of things he does. Unbelievable.”

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator John Murray: “If England were playing their first match at the Euros later today, I think you would expect to see Bukayo Saka on the right, probably Phil Foden on the left, Harry Kane through the middle and Jude Bellingham in the number 10 position.”

Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Haaland tops the Premier League goalscoring charts on 18 – two clear of everyone else. That is despite missing five matches so far this season.

Having featured in City’s past seven games since returning from injury, Haaland has scored four league goals and set one up in that time, as well as hitting five goals in an FA Cup fifth-round victory at Luton Town.

Guardiola: “With top scorers or strikers who score a lot of goals, don’t criticise because he will shut your mouth, that’s for sure.”

Former City midfielder Michael Brown: “He’s got that power, he’s got that dedication. That hunger to finish. We’ve seen him mix up his goals. It’s difficult to just not let him do what he does.”

Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri
Manchester City are unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League matches

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

City midfielder De Bruyne has been in superb form since returning from a hamstring injury which meant he missed the first five months of the season.

He has scored once and claimed four assists in seven league games, despite only starting four of them. He also got four assists in the FA Cup win at Luton.

Guardiola: “He is a special player. He is a legend.”

Former City defender Micah Richards: “We talk about lots of players being world class but Kevin is different. He always seems to gauge exactly what the game needs – and he delivers, all the time.”

Rodri (Manchester City)

Rodri has always been capable of producing big moments when it matters – and the midfielder is on a 59-match unbeaten run in City colours.

Naturally a defensive midfielder, he has added more going forward of late, with three goals and three assists in his past 10 league games.

Guardiola: “He’s the best midfield player in the world currently by far because he is able to do everything.”

Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer: “It’s just a joy to share a football pitch with him. You don’t say that about a lot of players.”

Alexis Mac Allister, Virgil van Dijk and Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez scored a stoppage-time winner for Liverpool at Nottingham Forest on Saturday

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Liverpool captain Van Dijk has been one of the few mainstays in a title-challenging Liverpool side blighted by injuries.

In the Reds’ past 10 league games, Van Dijk has scored once, helped keep three clean sheets and also scored the winning goal in last month’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “Virgil van Dijk, from the first day since he stepped into Liverpool FC, is absolutely outstanding.”

BBC Sport journalist Luke Reddy: “Van Dijk has been a ‘colossus’ in recent weeks.”

Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)

Uruguayan striker Nunez has been in fine form for the Reds of late, and scored the last-gasp winner at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

In Liverpool’s past 10 league games, Nunez has played nine, scoring six goals and getting an assist.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Ljinders: “Each game, he can create six chances just by himself.”

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty: “I think Nunez has loads of ability and his stats alone tell you what an impact he has on games. Not one goes by where he does not have influence of some sort.”

Bukayo Saka (left) and Declan Rice (right)
Bukayo Saka (left) and Declan Rice (right) both scored in last month’s 6-0 win at West Ham United

Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Since a British-record transfer to Arsenal in the summer, England midfielder Rice has been a key part of the Gunners’ title challenge this season.

Despite his defensive responsibilities, he has scored once and provided four assists in the Gunners’ past 10 league games.

Former Manchester City midfielder Michael Brown: “Declan Rice can do every bit of being an all-round midfielder.”

BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone: “I am a huge Declan Rice fan and he could turn out to be the difference between Arsenal fading away in the title race, as they did last season, and really going for it.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

A strong contender for the Premier League’s most in-form player is England winger Saka.

In his past 10 league outings, Saka has scored eight goals, including two apiece against West Ham and Burnley, and added an assist.

BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone: “[The best player in the league] is between four – Haaland, De Bruyne, Salah and Saka. Whoever wins the title is the best.”

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin: “There were plenty of players who caught the eye in Arsenal’s win at Turf Moor, but Bukayo Saka being back close to his best was as important as anything else.”

Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins has scored 16 Premier League goals this season

Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

Watkins is a player who can go under the radar but is certainly a contender. He is ranked top for direct goal involvements and joint-top for assists this season.

In Villa’s past 10 league games, he has seven goals, four assists and is the only player to pass into double figures in both categories this season.

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery: “His commitment is brilliant and the consequence is this when he works hard every day.”

Former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer: “He’s having the season of his life. The form he is in, he is not hoping to score, but expecting to score.”

Cole Palmer (Chelsea)

One of the few bright sparks for Chelsea this season has been midfielder Palmer. He has scored four times and provided the same number of assists in the Blues’ past 10 Premier League matches.

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino: “He is an important player for us. He is a decisive player. I am so pleased with him.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It is not just goals and assists, it is the quality. He is an incredible threat for Chelsea.”

Jarrod Bowen
Jarrod Bowen scored his first career hat-trick last month against Brentford

Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

West Ham winger Bowen is having his best ever Premier League scoring season. having netted 14 times so far.

In the Hammers’ past 10 league matches, Bowen has scored five goals and provided two assists – including his first career hat-trick against Brentford.

West Ham United manager David Moyes: “Some of his performances recently have gone unnoticed because we haven’t won.”

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes to TNT Sports: “You can see Real Madrid, Man City, Arsenal all wanting him. He is a unit and reminds me a bit of Eric Cantona.”

Alphonse Areola (West Ham)

A left-field shout, but from a numbers perspective it is hard to ignore Areola.

In the past 10 games, he’s kept three clean sheets and averaged 5.8 saves per game. He also has the highest save percentage in the Premier League, has made more than 100 saves, conceded four fewer goals than his expected goals against tally suggests he should have, and is the only goalkeeper to save multiple penalties so far this season.

West Ham manager David Moyes: “Our goalkeeper played brilliantly well. He made several saves today that probably stopped Everton getting a result.”

And the rest…

Among those to narrowly miss out are forwards Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) and Rasmus Hojlund (Manchester United) – all overlooked because of recent injury issues.

Honourable mentions also go to John Stones (Manchester City), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Ross Barkley (Luton Town), Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool) and Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur).

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