It doesn’t feel like very often where you can genuinely turn to your pal and say: ‘This has been a great season, hasn’t it Margaret?’ But 2018/19 has been one of those.
With four/five matches remaining, two of the finest sides in top-flight history are fighting for the Premier League title; four teams are scrapping for the two remaining places in the top four; four more teams have a realistic shot at the final European place; and the last remaining relegation slot hasn’t yet been allocated.
Right now, Liverpool and Manchester City matches are must-watch events where the smallest slip-up could cost either side everything. As a result of their excellent seasons, many of their players feature in the higher echelons of this list – but there’s been much more than those two sides to celebrate this term. Behold the below…
(Please note: The first 20 names of our 50 are below. Come back on Thursday for the next 20, before we hit the top 10 on Friday.)
50. Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Did anyone see this coming? Even Mauricio Pochettino himself, the elixir of life, must have been surprised by Moussa Sissoko 2.0. The Frenchman has stripped his game right back, and in doing so has become one of the most effective central midfielders in the Premier League.
His technical deficiencies are still laid bare on occasion, but Sissoko has learned to play to his strengths this season – and the results have been staggering.
49. Shane Duffy (Brighton)
The giant Irishman has been in hot scoring form this season and currently sits second in Brighton’s top-scorers list. You might think that’s not hard in a Seagulls side that’s struggled for goals this year – and you’d be right – but the imposing defender has a valuable weapon from set-pieces and only one central defender in Europe’s top five leagues has scored more (one S. Ramos).
Duffy has been reliable this season while those around him often haven’t been. If Brighton go down, the 27-year-old surely won’t be going with them.
48. Salomon Rondon (Newcastle)
It’s not easy scoring nine goals in a team as defensive-minded as Newcastle, but the West Brom loanee has done just that in helping to make the Magpies safe with relative ease this term.
It’s no wonder that the Venezuelan striker is held in high regard by Rafa Benitez: if there’s one thing the Newcastle boss respects, it’s hard work and discipline – and Rondon has demonstrated both in good measure this term.
47. Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
Burnley have already scored more goals this season than last, when they finished seventh and qualified for Europe.
Ashley Barnes is a big part of that. Sean Dyche’s first cash signing as Clarets manager in 2014 has become a Turf Moor legend, and the striker has scored more Premier League goals for the club than anyone else. Ten more this season mean he’s Burnley’s joint-top scorer alongside Chris Wood.
46. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
To describe Doucoure merely as a midfield destroyer would be an unfair summation of his skills. The Frenchman carries the ball beautifully and is adept with either foot, while his surging runs from deep have helped Watford transition to attack in a direct fashion that many teams have struggled to deal with.
Five goals and six assists this term make for a good haul overall, and it’s not difficult to see why the rumours linking him with PSG refuse to go away. He’s made no secret of his desire to move on up soon.
45. Ashley Westwood (Burnley)
Westwood recently turned 29 and he’s still waiting for the respect he deserves. Very few footballers have transitioned overnight from League Two talent to Premier League regular, as he did with Aston Villa in 2012, and he’s closing in on 200 top-flight appearances.
Importantly, he is still willing and able to develop: once, an efficient but unambitious ball recycler, now he’s often playmaking from deep – vital in a Burnley side that can lack creativity. His pass success rate in 2018/19 is significantly lower than ever before, yet he has assisted more goals (seven) than in his previous five campaigns combined.
44. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
The Danish dynamo has, by his own high standards, endured something off an underwhelming season. Whether it’s post-World Cup fatigue or the continued uncertainty over his future, Tottenham’s long-time creative lynchpin hasn’t seemed to wave his magic wand with the same regularity as in previous campaigns.
And yet, despite all that, he’s still (at the time of writing) the Premier League’s joint-highest provider of assists, with 12. Well, we said those standards were high…
43. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)
No player has won more tackles than the telescopic-limbed Nigerian, who also ranks ninth for interceptions. Leicester were never going to replace N’Golo Kante like for like, but in Ndidi they arguably got the next-best thing.
The 22-year-old would likely be at a bigger club if his passing was better – but for now, the Foxes are the ones enjoying his all-action talents. “How he wins the ball is incredible,” said his manager Brendan Rodgers. “[How] he covers the ground, his anticipation of where the ball is going and how he reads it, and the number of counter-attacks he stops.”
42. Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Wolves’s longest-serving outfield player has recovered superbly from an own goal in the second game of the season against Leicester, and his consistency has been a key tenet of Nuno Espirito Santo’s Black Country revolution.
Doherty was rejected by 15 English clubs before Mick McCarthy took a punt in 2010, after he’d impressed for Bohemians in a pre-season friendly against Wolves. It must go down as the best £75,000 that the club has ever spent.
41. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
It’s naive to think that Ramsey could have slunk off to Juventus after half-arsing his final few months at Arsenal, when professional pride is at stake. The Welshman has done more than just turn up. Instead he has driven his team, most notably against Newcastle and twice against Spurs, coming off the home bench to engineer a comeback win with two magical assists, before scoring at Wembley.
Arsenal haven’t conceded in the seven hours he’s spent on the pitch in league games since his impending move was announced.