The Premier League Players Who Have Been Surprisingly Excellent This Season

This Premier League season hasn't quite gone as expected, has it?

We're eight games in and Leicester City are top, Southampton are fourth and Manchester United are below West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa in 14th.

This volatile start to the campaign has also extended to individual performances, with a long list of players surprising everyone with how well they've done, compared to everyone's pre-season expectations.

Here are ten of those players who have proved their doubters wrong thus far...

1. Ollie Watkins

He's fit and he's knows it | Visionhaus/Getty Images

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa splashed a huge £28m on Brentford star Ollie Watkins in the summer.

However, Watkins has proved his doubters wrong, netting six goals in his first seven Premier League games. Five of his strikes have come against either Liverpool or Arsenal as well, proving that the Englishman can mix it with the big boys.

Keep up this kind of form and a place in Gareth Southgate's squad in the summer could be his.

2. Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Goals. Tom Davies. Top Knots. In that order | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The handsome Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been transformed since Carlo Ancelotti arrived at Goodison Park.

The once selfless pressing machine is a one touch poacher these days, netting eight goals in as many games so far. DCL's transition into a fox in the box has helped the Toffees storm up the table and few people saw it coming.

He's already just five goals away from equalling his best ever tally in a Premier League season. Did we mention he's very handsome? We did. Oh, sorry.

3. Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford got five A*s at GCSE - very impressive | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Leeds United's violin playing number nine was universally panned as a realistic Premier League striking option before the start of the season.

Not to be deterred, Patrick Bamford rolled up the sleeves on his tweed hunting jacket and got to work terrorising top flight defences. So far this season, the 27-year-old has nine direct goal involvements in eight games.

This includes a superb hat trick against Villa, in which two of the goals were absolutely sumptuous. Not bad for a player unsuitable for the top flight, eh?

4. Nampalys Mendy

Everyone loves a bit of Papy Mendy | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

If you'd forgotten Leicester City's Nampalys Mendy existed before the start of this season, few could blame you.

The Frenchman - who was brought in to replace the irreplaceable N'Golo Kante back in 2016 - only featured for 291 minutes during the 2019/20 campaign. He was even briefly released by the Foxes in the summer, before making an understated return just before things got underway.

Despite all of this, the 28-year-old has played each of the table topping Foxes' game so far. Keeping things neat and tidy in front of Leicester's back three, his composed displays have meant his side have barely missed Wilfred Ndidi. That's quite an accomplishment considering how badly their form tailed off when the Nigerian got injured last season.

5. Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley is back with a vengeance this season | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

On the evidence of the season so far, Ross Barkley and Aston Villa are a match made in heaven.

The Chelsea loanee has seriously impressed, putting in particularly inspirational displays during his side's demolition of Liverpool and the 3-0 win over Arsenal.

Barkley has averaged 5.8 shot creating actions per 90 minutes, providing the perfect foil to Jack Grealish in Dean Smith's system. The shackles are off and the 26-year-old is reminding everyone exactly what he's capable of.

6. Karl Darlow

Darlow has returned with a vengeance | Stu Forster/Getty Images

After not featuring at all last season, not much was expected from Karl Darlow this term.

However, an injury to starting stopper Martin Dubravka has seen Darlow start each of the Magpies' opening eight Premier League games. He's not been perfect, but he's still managed to register an impressive 75% save percentage.

The only goalkeeper to register a better one? Chelsea's Edouard Mendy - another contender for this list.

7. Tariq Lamptey

Just 45 minutes into his debut, it was abundantly clear that Brighton had quite the player on their hands in Tariq Lamptey.

Signed for just under £3m from Chelsea in the summer, the pocket rocket has been superb at right wing back all season long, even making it into the 90min Team of the Month for September.

His stat line for the season is already formidable, with the 20-year-old registering a goal and three assists as well as over two combined tackles and interceptions every 90 minutes.

He's also seriously rapid.

8. Wesley Fofana

Leicester had to struggle to sign Fofana - but it's been worth it | Pool/Getty Images

Thanks to a particularly stubborn Claude Puel, Wesley Fofana's move to Leicester very nearly did not happen.

Eventually, a £30m-ish fee was agreed and, due to an injury crisis, the 19-year-old (yes, you read that right) has been thrust straight into the first team. Despite his tender years, the Frenchman has not put a foot wrong so far.

Calm and composed in possession and also keen to engage the opposition, he's made an exceptional start. The transfer rumours have already began, with Manchester City and Liverpool already mentioned as potential destinations.

9. Mohamed Elneny

Elneny has returned from the wilderness to feature for the Gunners | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

He may be someway off being considered the best Egyptian in the Premier League, but Mohamed Elneny's mini renaissance this campaign has still been pretty impressive.

After spending last season on loan at Besiktas, it was widely expected that the midfielder would depart the Emirates Stadium permanently in the summer.

Instead, he has emerged as a reliable squad member for Mikel Arteta, particularly impressing with an energetic performance against an admittedly static Manchester United midfield.

10. Matty Cash

Matty Cash probably still has Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in his back pocket | Pool/Getty Images

Many Championship players struggle when stepping up to the Premier League - but Matty Cash is not one of them.

Signing for Aston Villa from Nottingham Forest in the summer for just shy of £15m, the 23-year-old has been solid as a rock at right back so far. None of his displays have been better than the one he pulled out against Arsenal.

He registered six clearances, two blocks, three interceptions and restricted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a grand of ZERO shots on goal.

Source : 90min