Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Wilson’s performances are a big reason why Bournemouth currently lie 10th in the Premier League, in touch with a Europa League spot. The 26-year-old Englishman has stepped his game up with 10 goals in 21 league games so far – making him just the second Cherries player ever to score double digits in a Premier League season. He also has five assists to his name for a total goal contribution of 15.
Considering his previous best goal tally in the top flight was eight in 28 league games last season, that’s a marked improvement – and was rewarded with a first England cap against the USA in November 2018. It’s no wonder that Chelsea were interested in his services last month.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)
Iwobi is one player who has considerably improved under Unai Emery. Although statistics don’t show a huge increase in terms of his output, with three goals and four assists in 24 league games this season so far, Iwobi’s overall play has been much better. His confidence has returned, and that’s been shown by his threat in the opposition box and chances he’s created.
The 22-year-old is still far from the final product – his decision-making can still be erratic – but it’s easy to forget that he’s just 22 and already has over 100 Arsenal appearances under his belt. The Nigeria international will only continue to improve and is on course to finish the season with new career-high tallies for goals and assists.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Rather than big summer signings Naby Keita and Fabinho, it’s Wijnaldum who is gaining weekly plaudits for his performances in Liverpool’s midfield.
While his offensive statistics have dropped, the Dutchman has instead proven to be an important midfield cog that keeps Jurgen Klopp’s side functioning. He leads Liverpool midfielders for passes (1,317) and minutes played (1,941), while only James Milner has had more touches of the ball (1,585). In addition, the 28-year-old boasts a pass-completion success of 91.7% – Mateo Kovacic is the only midfielder who can better that in the Premier League, although he has featured much less in comparison.
Wijnaldum was expected to be a casualty following Liverpool’s summer spree. Instead, his improved performances have made him one of the first names on Klopp’s team sheet now.
Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Sissoko endured a shaky first two seasons for Tottenham and was derided as one of their bigger flops in recent times. However, all of that has changed this season. After missing out on France’s successful World Cup campaign, Sissoko has enjoyed a new lease of life in his preferred central role, helping Spurs overcome key injuries to the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
The 29-year-old is playing the best football of his Spurs career by far, and (frankly, perplexed) Tottenham fans are appreciating him more than ever. Sissoko was recently called back to the national team for the first time since 2017 – a far cry from his debut season, where he only managed eight starts and was pondering a move away from England.
Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Like many players featuring in the Premier League for the first time, Lindelof initially struggled to adapt in England and made just 13 league starts during the 2017/18 season. Thankfully (for him at least), the Swede showed encouraging signs of improvement despite a turbulent first half of the season which culminated in Jose Mourinho’s sacking.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, Lindelof has truly begun to shine. He’s already featured in 28 games in all competitions, compared to 29 last season, and has played in all but one game of Solskjaer’s successful stint so far. Manchester United only conceded nine goals in that time and Lindelof is a big reason for that, as he demonstrated again in last weekend’s 0-0 draw against a rampant Liverpool.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester)
If Chilwell initially struggled when breaking into Leicester’s first team last season, the 22-year-old has more than made up for time since. The Foxes’ youth product has cemented himself as the first-choice left-back over stalwart Christian Fuchs, and has already amassed a career-high 26 league appearances with just over two months of the season left.
He’s also been superb, leading to full England caps under Gareth Southgate after making his international debut against Switzerland in September. Chilwell has credited his improvements to having more confidence, and having worked hard on his positioning and decision-making. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him become a Three Lions fixture for the considerable future.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
It was only just over a year ago that Wan-Bissaka made his senior debut for Crystal Palace amid a worrying injury crisis.
The Croydon native’s performances at right-back were so good that he has kept his place ever since. After seven league appearances last season, Wan-Bissaka has started 25 out of 27 league games so far this campaign, impressing once more as one of Palace’s standout stars. “I was relieved because I was starting to think he might be a robot,” said Hodgson after a rare mistake from the 21-year-old against Fulham earlier this month.
He’s a threat offensively, and has displayed maturity beyond his years further back – especially against some of the league’s top attackers. Most impressively, he is currently second in the Premier League for tackles made (96), behind Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye (99). Well done that lad.
Declan Rice (West Ham)
Rice recently made headlines for choosing to represent England over the Republic of Ireland, off the back of a fine season so far in central midfield for West Ham.
The 20-year-old’s classy passing and breaking up of play – he leads his team with 66 tackles this season – has earned him 24 starts this season, consolidating his place as one of West Ham’s most important players. Having scored his first goal for the club in January after signing a new long-term deal with the Hammers, the times ahead are exciting indeed.
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Like team-mate Wilson, Ryan Fraser is another reason why Bournemouth are doing so well in the Premier League. After five goals and three assists in 26 league games last season, the Scotland international has become a regular goal and set-piece threat with five goals and nine assists in 27 league games this campaign.
It wasn’t always this way. “He’s concentrated on his football, shown a real desire to improve and he wouldn’t have made the journey he has if he didn’t have that commitment to excellence,” noted manager Eddie Howe with pride in January.
As it stands, only Eden Hazard (10) has more assists than Fraser (9), who is also averaging 2.3 key passes per game – the fourth-best figure in the Premier League.
Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Son has been a reliable goalscorer at Tottenham for three seasons running now, but in 2018/19 his all-round game has been cranked up more than a notch. After 12 goals and six assists in 37 league games last season, the South Korean forward is only one goal shy of those totals despite playing in just 21 Premier League matches through enforced absences on international duty.
With confidence, consistency and purpose coarsing through his game now, Son has not only improved from last season but become one of the deadliest players in the Premier League.