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Assessing the Premier League's most creative players position-by-position

2NJ6B8R 19 Feb 2023 - Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Tottenham's Harry Kane during the Premier League match against West Ham. Picture : Mark Pain / Alamy Live News

With six more rounds of fixtures remaining in the Premier League season, there is a plethora of data available on performance on every team.

Using a mix of PFF grades and data we have assessed at each position in the Premier League to provide a list of the most creative player this season, either in building up high-threat opportunities or being the source of them.

Goalkeeper: Alisson, Liverpool

The Brazil and Liverpool No.1 has the second highest PFF passing grade (66.7) among Premier League goalkeepers this season. Only Brentford's David Raya has received more positively-graded passes.

One of five goalkeepers to record an assist this season, Alisson has the joint most line-breaking-passes completed (51) and the joint highest accuracy-adjusted pass completion %  among goalkeepers (85%).

Centre-back: Lewis Dunk, Brighton & Hove Albion

Not many centre-backs are particularly creative but Dunk, and Brighton, have been excellent on the ball this season. His PFF passing grade of 80.8 ranks fourth among centre-backs, while his 228 line-breaking passes completed leads all defenders and ranks third among all players.

The progressive nature of Dunk's distribution can be best summarised by his 7.2 line-breaking passes completed per-90 ranking sixth at his position, as well as the Brighton captain completing 19 ‘over the top’ passes, tied-fourth most among central defenders.

Full-back: Kieran Trippier, Newcastle United

Trippier’s 90 chances created this season is the second most among all players in the Premier League.

The former Tottenham right-back is an elite crosser, his 90.2 PFF crossing grade leads all defenders and is second only to Fulham's Andreas Pereira among all players in the Premier League. His 109 crosses completed, 3.4 crosses completed per 90 and 34% cross completion % all lead the Premier League (minimum 50 cross attempts).

Trippier's six assists are tied for second among fullbacks behind Spurs wing-back Ivan Perišić's seven, but crossing has not been the lone source of his strong production. A PFF passing grade of 81.6 is third among full-backs.

Midfielder: Martin Ødegaard, Arsenal

Arsenal have led the way all season at the top of the Premier League and at the centre of their creative vigour under Mikel Arteta has been midfielder Martin Ødegaard.

The Dane has been an elite passer, demonstrated by a PFF passing grade of 94.5 and a total of seven assists. Ødegaard has also been sharp in front of goal in scoring 11 times this season, beating his tally for last season of seven.

After the loss of Gabriel Jesus for much of the season to a hamstring injury, Ødegaard has been pivotal in providing chances for his teammates. His 68 chances created lead all midfielders, ahead of Southampton's James Ward-Prowse (66) and Brighton's Pascal Groß.

Ødegaard's passing has been to particularly good effect when seeking to break the opposition's defensive line, as detailed in the table below.

Player Team Mins. played Defensive line-breaking passes p-90 PFF passing grade
Martin Ødegaard Arsenal 2,748 2.4 94.5
Bruno Guimarães Newcastle United 2,197 1.8 86.3
Mateo Kovačić Chelsea 1,610 1.3 81.7
Pascal Groß Brighton 2,749 1.2 89.1
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall Leicester City 2,345 1.2 61.5
Alexis Mac Allister Brighton 2,436 1.0 90.5
Josh Dasilva Brentford 1,443 1.0 76.7
Casemiro Manchester United 1,581 0.9 62.9

Attacking midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne recently became just the fifth player to reach 100 assists in the Premier League and his grading and statistical profile makes it clear why.

This season he leads the Premier League in chances created (95), assists (15), 2nd assists (8), & 3rd assists (6).

The Belgian’s 95.9 PFF passing grade ranks second among all players in the Premier League this season. A complete playmaker, De Bruyne’s PFF crossing grade of 87.2 ranks fourth among all players. His 2.6 crosses completed per-90 ranks second behind Tripper, while his 1.4 open play crosses completed per-90 leads all players (min. 50 cross attempts).

Manchester City midfielders Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne
2PJ9X56 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates with teammate Jack Grealish after scoring his his side's 2nd goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, April 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Winger: Jack Grealish, Manchester City

Grealish has become a key player for City this season, his 89.1 PFF passing grade leads all wingers in the Premier League.

In tandem with his 2.0 chances created per-90, which ranks seventh among wingers, Grealish has also been a threat as a dribbler. The England international's 82.4 PFF dribbling grade ranks fifth and his 2.1 dribbles completed per-90 ranks tenth among wingers. However, his 59% dribbles completed % is second highest among that top 10.

As a crosser, Grealish has performed above the average with a crossing grade of 70.8 this season. All in, Grealish’s six assists are joint-fourth most among wingers.

Striker: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

Alongside being an elite goalscorer Harry Kane is also one of the Premier League’s most creative players. Despite having just two assists this season, his 49 chances created leads all centre-forwards in the Premier League.

In per-90 terms, this equates to 1.5 chances created per-90 which ranks third. England’s all-time leading goalscorer has been particularly successful with through ball passes, completing 1.5 through-balls per 90 this season — ranking in first once again.

Overall, Kane’s PFF passing grade is also on trend as well with his 88.5 grade ranking first among all strikers.

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