As we advance through the first half of the English Premier League schedule, Manchester City is carving through the opposition, on a 9-0-1 start, with a 5-point advantage in the standings over second-place Manchester United.
Man U, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal are bunched tightly in the top 5 with only 4 points separating them. The third tier, which begins with Liverpool and ends with Huddersfield, is an eight-team pack with only 4 points separating sixth place from 13th place. Crystal Palace is the only team well off the pace with only one win in its first 10 matches.
There have been many exciting performances so far, including Tottenham’s elite scorer, Harry Kane, with a league-leading eight goals. Manchester City forwards Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, and Manchester United’s Belgian-born striker Romelu Lukaku are nipping at Kane’s heels with seven goals apiece.
However, there have also been many stars who are being paid well who have not lived up to expectations at this point of the season. Here’s a rundown of the 20 biggest disappointments in the EPL through the first 10 matches.
#20 Wayne Rooney, F, Everton – Rooney’s a legend in the UK and a poor showing so far this season won’t change that, considering he’s scored more than 200 goals in his career. However, Everton has not gotten its money’s worth out of Rooney, who has tallied just 4 goals on 16 shots in 10 matches. He’s only managed 6 on-target shots and whiffed on two big scoring chances. For a striker who put up 27 goals in 34 matches in his heyday, he’s definitely producing like a player who Father Time has caught.
#19 Jack Wilshere, MF, Arsenal – It’s hard to call a 25-year-old player a huge bust, but injuries have limited Wilshere so much that he’s been a shell of the player he was projected to be. In his career, he’s only managed 7 goals in 147 appearances. He’s only managed one appearance this season and hasn’t scored since the 2014-2015 season.
#18 Gary Cahill, D, Chelsea – At 31 years old, it appears his best performances may be behind him. Cahill has already conceded 5 goals in 6 appearances and has been disastrous on the back end for the Chelsea defenders so far. He’s won only about half of his aerial battles (10 of 18) and only slightly more than half of his duels (19 of 31). He was named the most error-prone defender last season, and has not taken a step forward as of yet.
#17 Jesse Lingard, MF, Manchester United – He’s a classic example of a player who provides more value on the pitch than on the stat sheet. Lingard does what his coach Jose Mourinho asks, capably defending opposing fullbacks and creating opportunities to regain possession. However, he’s basically dead weight on the attack. He’s taken a grand total of one on-target shot in 8 appearances this season and has managed only 5 goals in 59 appearances in his entire career.
#16 Daniel Drinkwater, MF, Chelsea – He cashed in on Leicester City’s memorable 2015-16 season, but has proved too slow and too limited to provide enough value to return on the investment Chelsea made to acquire him. He can’t even crack the lineup these days, making only one appearance this season. In that match, he managed only 11 passes and failed to attempt a shot.
#15 Michail Antonio, MF, West Ham – The 27-year-old Englishman has had plenty of chances in his career, but he hasn’t cashed in often enough with the opportunities West Ham has given him. He’s scored a grand total of 18 goals in 64 appearances, meaning he scores in only 1 out of every 4 matches. He’s had 148 shots in his career, whiffing on 13 big scoring chances and putting only 35 percent of his shots on target. He’s managed the same amount of goals (1) as yellow cards (1) in the season’s opening month and has racked up 9 fouls.
#14 Santiago Cazorla, MF, Arsenal – The slick-passing Spaniard will be out until at least December with injury this season, but he’s become his reputation as an EPL disappointment the past 4 or 5 seasons proceeds him. He’s notched only 25 goals in 126 career appearances and like some of this list’s other underwhelming performers puts a low-percentage of shots (35 percent) on target. He also has about half as many yellow cards (12) as he does career goals.
#13 Georginio Wijnaldum, MF, Liverpool – A recent knee injury has sidelined the Dutch-born midfielder, but Liverpool won’t miss much production during an underwhelming start. He’s tallied one goal in eight matches and put only 5 shots on target. He’s not a willing tackler and his defensive lapses have cost his team on more than one occasion. Add up poor shooting and enigmatic defense and it adds up to a player you can’t trust on either side of the ball.
#12 Andros Townsend, MF, Crystal Palace – The affable Englishman often entertains more away from the pitch than on it. Though playing on one of the league’s worst clubs, he’s a talent who can suit up for the national team, but often can’t get out of his own way. He tends to dribble too much, missing opportunities to pass and turning the ball over in inopportune parts of the field. That reflects in his career scoring, notching only 12 goals in 121 matches, and this season, where he’s went scoreless and put only 3 shots on target.
#11 Ross Barkley, MF, Everton – Another player hampered by injuries, Barkley has yet to suit up this season with an achy hamstring. He’s just 23 years old, but so far he’s been a lackadaisical defender and lacks concentration from play to play. He’s also just put just 29 percent of his shots on target over his career, and has 21 goals in 150 matches. He won’t be helped when he returns by playing alongside Wayne Rooney, who is struggling this year.
#10 Michy Batshuyai, F, Chelsea – 25 million Euros don’t spend like they once did. That’s the price for this Belgian striker, who has managed just 7 goals and 1 assist in 27 matches in the EPL. Even with the increased prices for transfers these days after the Neymar deal, that’s a pricey proposition. Despite being tall, he loses most of his aerial battles and struggles to control the ball.
#9 Wilfried Bony, F, Swansea City – You don’t want to be known as the striker famous for missing as many chances as you convert, but that’s the case here. The Ivory Coast native has missed 19 big scoring chances in career while compiling only 34 goals in 104 matches. He also has racked up 10 yellow cards and 104 fouls. This season, he’s suited up for only 4 matches and put two shots on target in being held without a goal. For that level of production, you wouldn’t expect him to be earning the 18 million Euro salary he is.
#8 Danilo, D, Manchester City – The Brazilian has raked in 71.5 million Euros from Porto, Real Madrid and Manchester City and has yet to establish himself as a starter his teams can count to put in the lineup every match. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this season, either. He’s appeared in only six matches over this season’s first month and conceded a goal while managing only 4 tackles.
#7 Danny Welbeck, F, Arsenal – With all due respect, Welbeck has had a decent run for the gunners since they gave him 20 million Euros to take him away from Manchester United. However, he’s failed to live up to the hype which surrounded him throughout he’s career. He was supposed to be Harry Kane before Kane arrived on the scene and he definitely has not been that good. Welbeck has 39 goals and 18 assists in 176 matches. Despite playing 51 less matches, Kane has netted more than twice the number of goals (86) that Welbeck has. There’s really no comparison.
#6 Jordon Ibe, MF, AFC Bournemouth – Many EPL lovers are still scratching their heads that Bournemouth would pay 18 million Euros for a guy who can’t even consistently cross a ball. He’s tallied one goal and five assists in 75 matches while connecting only 20 percent of his attempts to cross. It’s understandable to take a gamble on an athletic, 21-year-old winger who can beat defenders, but not if he can’t do anything with the ball once he tries to press his advantage.
#5 Dejan Lovren, D, Liverpool – It’s hard to believe a defender who has conceded more goals (128) than matches he’s played in the EPL (117) is trusted on the back end for coach Jurgen Klopp. Though he’s only played in seven matches this year, Lovren has already conceded eight goals while being successful on only 63 percent of his tackle attempts. It can be argued Liverpool has won matches in spite of Lovren, not because of him.
#4 Kelechi Iheanacho, F, Leicester City – The way the Nigerian has played this season, teammates may wonder if he’s actually on the field. He certainly has been a ghost on the stat sheet. In seven matches, Iheanacho has been held scoreless on only two shots, neither of which were on target. He hasn’t created any big chances, either. It’s tough to consider him a viable striker when one of his leading stat categories is yellow cards (1).
#3 Andy Carroll, F, West Ham – He doesn’t where a ski mask when he plays, but you couldn’t fault fans for thinking he’s one of the biggest thieves in all of the EPL. It’s tough to believe Liverpool paid 41 million who this year has went scoreless in five matches and has managed to put only two of his 18 shots on target. He hasn’t assisted on a goal, either, but has managed to earn 2 yellow cards, 1 red card and 13 fouls.
#2 Daniel Sturridge, F, Liverpool – It’s tough to believe in 2013-14 this guy tallied 21 goals and 7 assists in 29 games. In the three seasons and opening month of this season since that magical performance, he’s combined for 17 goals. Nagging injuries and inconsistent playing time have made his career year look like the anomaly. In eight matches this season, he’s had only two goals and one assist despite taking 19 shots.
#1 Moussa Sisoko, MF, Tottenham – With a 35 million transfer fee, Spurs fans had to think they were getting more production than 1 goal and 2 assists in 35 matches. Sisoko has gone scoreless so far this season, despite appearing in all 10 matches. He’s placed only 3 of his 9 shots on target this season, and managed only 6 on-target shots combined since coming over from Newcastle in 2016. It’s not a stretch to consider this one of the worst transfer deals in the league’s recent history.