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5 Things We Learned From The Opening 11 Matches Of The Premier League

Mohamed Salah after scoring a goal
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The 2021/22 Premier League season is 11 weeks old, which is now a healthy enough sample size to safely judge teams and players’ performances and look at some of the trends to start the new campaign. There have already been five manager sackings, plenty of clubs placed in temporary ‘crisis mode’, as well as a three-horse title race.

Here are five things we have learned from the Premier League season so far:

1. Mohamed Salah is the best player in world football


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A post shared by Mohamed Salah (@mosalah)

Ever since Kaka’s move to Real Madrid in 2009 and eventual decline, the answer to who is the best player in world football has been binary, either Messi or Ronaldo. However, for the first time in over a decade, there is a new heir to the throne with the rise of the Egyptian King Mohamed Salah. Salah has been the most consistent performer in English football since he arrived from AS Roma in 2017, but the Liverpool winger has taken his game to another level this season for the Reds – registering 10 goals and 7 assists in his first 11 games.

Salah has been the difference-maker for Liverpool to start the campaign, and his offensive potency has reached a new level of consistency this season. His goals against Manchester City and Watford shine a light on his excellent close control, spatial awareness and extraordinary ability to create the slightest piece of separation from his marker to get his shot away.

Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe are all amongst the conversation for the title of the best player in the world, but on current form, no player is as unstoppable or inevitable as Mohamed Salah.

2. The Championship Contenders are no longer untouchable


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A post shared by Liverpool Football Club (@liverpoolfc)

Between 2017/18 and 2019/20 the winning points total for the Premier League Champions were 98, 100 and 99 respectively. The two teams who achieved those points totals – Manchester City and Liverpool – were lightyears ahead of the rest of the competition, and looked impregnable at times as they broke record after record in the Premier League.

However, while Manchester City and Liverpool and now Chelsea are undoubtedly the three best teams in the league, their level of dominance has dwindled compared to the heights of that three-year cycle. The current table-toppers Chelsea are on course to win the league with only 89 points, and the evidence of the first 11 weeks of the season have shown that Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City are no longer not infallible.

While there has been an inevitable drop off for Manchester City and Liverpool through age and squad turnover, the level of quality across the league has risen. Teams like West Ham, Brighton, Brentford, Arsenal and now even Crystal Palace, Southampton and Wolves have adopted similar footballing philosophies while also raising the technical and physical level of their team – making them increasingly difficult to play against.

City, Liverpool and Chelsea will still be the top three teams in the table come May, but their dominance is no longer an unwritten rule, and the rest of the league is catching up.

3. The Process is Working


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A post shared by Arsenal Official (@arsenal)

Three games into the season, Arsenal were in crisis mode after defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City

However, just a little further down the road and Arsenal are sitting in 5th position in the table – two points behind Liverpool – after going unbeaten in their past eight Premier League games. The transfer business that was criticised by the majority of the public has turned out to be a masterstroke with Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Lokonga and Tomiyasu already establishing themselves as key members of Arsenal’s starting XI.

The jigsaw pieces are slowly starting to fit together in North London, and the signs of progress couldn’t be more evident with Mikel Arteta’s side continuing to forge their own identity and bring some relevance back to the Emirates.

4. Edouard Mendy is the best goalkeeper in the world


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A post shared by Edouard Mendy (@edou_mendy)

Chelsea spent over £200 million in the summer of 2020 to bring Mercurial talents such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell to the club, but the best piece of business done in that summer was the addition of Edouard Mendy from Rennes.

Almost any goalkeeper would be an upgrade over Kepa Arrizalabaga, but Chelsea hit the jackpot with Mendy, who has grown in stature and confidence to become the best goalkeeper in the world. In the Premiership, Mendy has an astonishing league-leading save percentage of 93.1%, which has already saved Chelsea approximately three goals so far this season according to xG.

More importantly, Mendy is dominant when it comes to commanding his area on crosses, and his ability on the ball under pressure has elevated Chelsea’s build-up play and allowed them to progress the ball from the back with ease.

5. West Ham are the real deal


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A post shared by West Ham United (@westham)

It might be a surprise to most, but the third-best team in the country after more than a quarter of the season has been West Ham United, who currently sit just three points behind league leaders Chelsea and above the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.

This hasn’t been a fluke either. David Moyes’ side are currently fourth in the league for both Expected Goals created and Expected Goals conceded, and have managed to maintain their form despite balancing Europa League football with a thin squad.

The squad has been perfectly constructed to Moyes’ liking, with an energetic front four, an industrious midfield pairing of Soucek and Rice to go along with two excellent full-backs – Cresswell and Coufal – that provide reliable deliveries from open play and set-pieces.

West Ham’s success in the Premier League looks sustainable, and with other teams struggling, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Hammers continue on this trajectory and finish the season in the Champions League places.


[Featured Image Credit: Premier League]