Ahead of the upcoming season we at Sideline View will take a look back at last year and bring you articles listing the top performers in particular categories.
First category, passing.
10) Oriol Romeu
This is a surprising one to me. Surprising because it’s Romeu, nobody really talks about him, not a spotlight stealer or a headline grabber, bit of an unsung hero I guess. Plus let’s be honest Southampton centre mids are normally the flavour of the month during transfer season, Wanyama, Schneiderlin and Lallana have all left the Southampton midfield in recent years, so I find it susprising that such a good passer of the ball in the Saints engine room has gone rather unnoticed. The Spaniard made 2,070 passes in the 16/17 season.
9) David Silva
Not so surprising to see one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation in the top 10 passers of the season. Perhaps slightly surprising that he ranks 9th but nevertheless the Spanish World Cup winner is one of the best passers in the league and he proved that last year with 2,075.
8) Ander Herrera
Another Spaniard. I think teams should take the hint, you need a good passer of the ball then you should go find yourself a Spanish midfielder.
Herrera’s performances for Manchester United go beyond passing a ball, his defensive capabilities, particularly with man marking is incredible, however it’s clear he has the ability to make Manchester United tick in midfield. He racked up a total of 2,089 passes last year from his 31 Premier League appearances.
7) Mesut Özil
Finally a player who’s not Spanish. Özil is a fan favourite at Arsenal even if he and Sanchez are constantly being rumoured away from the club.
Everyone knows Özil is a great passer of the ball paricularly in the opponents final third. The German made a total of 2,110 passes in the 16/17 season.
6) N’Golo Kanté
What Kanté this guy do? Sorry. But seriously you’ll struggle to find someone who doesn’t like this midfield workhorse. Kanté has gained a reputation of being a workhorse by being quick to close down opposition players, making tackles and intercepting the ball when possible. His passing ability doesn’t really get spoke about all that much, but it’s clear he’s capable, making 2,122 passes, as he became a back to back Premier League champion.
5) James Milner
James Milner played much of last year out of position as a left back. I say out of position but at this point we must all be thinking of James Milner as a bit of a utility player. He could probably do a job anywhere he’s asked to play. The Liverpool player is the only Englishman to feature in the top 10 list of Premier League passers. He totalled 2,168.
4) Paul Pogba
Pogba made a record breaking transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2016. Excitement was high for Manchester United fans as they expected a few trademark “Pogboom” goals to go along with the midfield excellence that you would expect from a player costing as much as he did.
Pogba would constantly be criticised for any slight mistake, you go on Facebook after Pogba miscontrolled a ball, or misplaced a pass, you’ll probably see a video of the moment captioned with “This is what £90 million gets you.” But despite all that Pogba still comes in as the 4th best passer in the league, as he made 2,178 passes.
The second Manchester City player to feature on the list, Fernandinho was a big player for Manchester City as they transitioned their style to the Pep Guardiola philosophy, which we all know to be highly possession and passing based. He made 2,180 passes last year, just two more than forth placed Pogba.
2) Granit Xhaka
The Swiss midfielder was incredible in the Arsenal midfield. He scored a couple of decent long range goals last year but also picked up a few cards as well, getting booked five times and getting sent of twice in the premier league.
Xhaka made 2,298 passes from Arsenal’s midfield, which is 118 more than third placed Fernandinho, incredible. He played 31 of Arsenal’s 38 games, so you have to wonder how he’d have faired if he didn’t pick up a couple of suspensions, and managed to play all 38.
1) César Azpilicueta
Of course top of the list is a Spaniard who’d of thought it. Perhaps what is surprising is that it isn’t a midfielder, everyone else in the top 10 is a centre mid by trade even James Milner despite playing left back for most of the season.
I guess it says a lot about Chelsea’s patient build up and ability to play from the back that their left back/centre back Cesar Azpilicueta tops the list as the best passer in the league. The Chelsea player racked up a total of 2,459 passes, 161 more than second place Xhaka.