The 2020/21 Premier League campaign is already shaping up to be a season not quite like any other.
With empty stadiums and the traditionally dominant sides struggling to hit the ground running after shortened summer layoffs, there has been a ridiculous amount of goals in the top-flight this term – 221 scored across seven matchdays.
So amid these incredibly unusual circumstances, which players are flourishing the most? With that in mind, we bring you GIVEMESPORT’s Fans’ Player of the Month award, this first edition of the season looking back at the first two months of Premier League action.
Browse through our six nominees and then cast your vote below…
Nominee: Karl Darlow
Due to the high-scoring nature of this season, it’s not an ideal time to be a goalkeeper in the Premier League. Only four goalkeepers have kept more than two clean sheets so far, while just ten have recorded more than one and a mere three have done so in 50 percent of their games or more.
Nonetheless, when we look at the saves rankings one name does stand out – Newcastle United’s Karl Darlow. Despite not being first-choice at St. James’ Park, that honour belonging to the injured Martin Dubravka, the 30-year-old is a whopping six saves ahead of any other Premier League goalie this term with 34 in total.
He’s also one of just three goalkeepers to have saved a penalty this season and ranks second for percentage of saves from shots faced, only beaten by Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy.
In fact, the summer signing can count himself a little unfortunate not to make this list; he’s saved all four of the attempts at his goal so far this season, keeping three clean sheets in as many games, but missed out through the sheer fact his Premier League career thus far is limited to 270 minutes of action.
Nominee: Ben Chilwell
While any member of Wolves’ backline deserves an honourable mention for being part of pretty much the only Premier League defence consistently keeping clean sheets right now, tactical evolutions in recent years have obliged us to judge defenders as much on what they can contribute in possession as the protection they provide without the ball.
In that respect, Andrew Robertson is one of the usual suspects with three goal involvements already, while Kurt Zouma has made the net ripple three times with booming headers from corners and Aaron Cresswell’s deadliness from set pieces has resulted in three assists for the Hammers.
Youngster Tariq Lamptey’s been earning rave reviews too for his dynamic displays down Brighton’s right-hand side but our only defensive nominee this time around is Ben Chilwell: as well as producing a virtuoso display on his Premier League debut for Chelsea with a goal and assist against Crystal Palace, he’s been present for all three of the Blues’ clean sheets this term, having conceded six goals in the three games without him.
The England international’s influence is already being felt at Stamford Bridge, looking well worth Frank Lampard’s sizeable summer investment.
Nominees: Jack Grealish, Mohamed Salah
They say No.10s are going out of fashion – just look at Mesut Ozil’s plummet into obscurity at Arsenal – but Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is nothing if not an epicentre of creativity, flair and netting prowess for the rest of Dean Smith’s side to revolve around.
Throughout the entire of the Premier League, Grealish ranks second for assists and tenth for goals, as well as fourth for dribbles per game and third for key passes per game. He also lays claim to arguably the most exceptional individual performance in the Premier League so far this season, inspiring Villa’s incredible 7-2 romping of Liverpool with two goals and three assists.
Winger-forwards, on the other hand, are very much in vogue and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah remains one of world football’s archetypes. He finished fifth in the Premier League’s scoring rankings last season but appears determined to reclaim the Golden Boot this time out, having thus far netted seven times in as many games. If he can maintain that potency Liverpool will have a great chance of successfully defending the title.
Other midfielders have stood out in the first seven matchdays of the Premier League, albeit not quite enough to earn nominations. Saints skipper and free kick wizard James Ward-Prowse has netted three times while willingly partaking in the midfield dirty work, while Everton’s James Rodriguez is surely the front-runner for signing of the season; in five of his six top flight outing, he’s recorded at least two key passes, dribbles and shots, and that consistent influence has resulted in three goals and three assists.
Should either of those keep it up, they’ll be in with a huge chance of making next month’s nominations.
Nominees: Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Far from the days when the constant influx of foreign players was deemed to have significantly impeded the chances of English footballers making it in the Premier League, nine of the 14 players to have scored at least 4 goals this term were in fact born in this country and thankfully for England fans, all but two of those (Jamie Vardy – retired, Wilfried Zaha – declared for Ivory Coast) are available to Gareth Southgate.
Chief amongst those is joint-top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has averaged more than a goal per game with eight from seven outings and is already in sight of eclipsing his Premier League total from last season (13). Whether the 23-year-old’s scoring exploits have staying power remains to be seen, but those tough training sessions with Everton’s iconic-striker-come-assistant-manager Duncan Ferguson are clearly paying off, earning him a nomination for our first awards of the season.
Meanwhile, just when it seemed we all knew everything there is to know about Harry Kane, the England skipper has added another string to his bow, suddenly proving to be as effective a provider as he is a goalscorer.
As well as holding his own in the Premier League scoring charts with six goals, he’s also notched up a division-best eight assists – seven of which have gone straight to Spurs team-mate Heung-min Son, who was unlucky to miss out on a nomination himself as the Premier League’s fellow top scorer alongside Calvert-Lewin.
Vardy, Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford all deserve a shoutout for bagging hat-tricks already this season, while Callum Wilson’s electric start to life at Newcastle has somehow slipped under the radar with seven goal involvements in as many games.
But Kane and Calvert-Lewin have been a level above the rest of the class, completing a very competitive opening list of monthly nominees for 2020/21.