Top ten most creative players in the Premier League

Yes, that’s Jadon Sancho among six Englishmen. Maybe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should try playing him…

We’re not counting the assist-makers because that relies on the chances being taken and we’re not counting the key passes because that is also pretty narrow; we are all about the SCA (Shot creating actions), defined as ‘the two offensive actions directly leading to a shot, such as passes, dribbles and drawing fouls’ by FBRef.

We have taken out those who have played just a few minutes or games.


10) Mo Salah (4.64 SCA per 90)
The Premier League player of the season so far? With ten Premier League goals and seven assists, there can barely be an argument. Only one Liverpool game this season – the 2-0 win over Burnley – has not been marked by a goal or an assist for the Egyptian. No player in the Premier League is taking more shots, so it’s little wonder that no player has created more shots by, well, taking shots. Let’s face it, creating and taking chances is not Liverpool’s issue right now, thanks largely to the brilliance of this man.


9) Callum Hudson-Odoi (4.68 SCA per 90)
We said last month that Callum Hudson-Odoi had just 249 more games to impress Thomas Tuchel as the exasperated Chelsea manager got fed up of talking about turning points. No performance since has quite matched that Norwich cruise but CHO has kept his place under Tuchel because he makes things happen; two Champions League assists attest to that, as does the fact that no Chelsea player is making things happen quite at the rate of CHO right now. Not even the irrepressible Reece James.


8) Jadon Sancho (4.70 SCA per 90)
Well, well. No goals and no assists in 345 Premier League minutes but these underlying numbers suggest he should be getting more than a handful of minutes when things have already long gone wrong. Paul Pogba is the one with the seven assists but the Frenchman would be 18th on this particular list while Sancho is exactly where his mammoth transfer fee really should put him. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot to answer for – not least threatening his England career with a switch in formation that makes Sancho’s opportunities even more rare.


7) Bukayo Saka (4.73 SCA per 90)
Another fascinating inclusion as it is (Arsenal and now England) teammate Emile Smith Rowe who has claimed all the headlines and plaudits this season as Arsenal push towards an unlikely but now seemingly possible top-four challenge. One goal and two assists seems a quite modest return for Saka, but the numbers suggest he is more than pulling his weight when it comes to creating chances. You might be surprised to find that Nicolas Pepe is not too far behind.


6) Conor Gallagher (4.73 SCA per 90)
An absolute revelation at Palace, Gallagher has four Premier League goals and two assists but his influence is actually even greater, with his set-piece delivery and ability to draw fouls adding to his incisiveness in general play. Palace have borrowed a diamond and the only question that remains is whether his first England cap comes as a Palace or a Chelsea player. And for those counting, that’s four English players aged 21 or under in a row. That is very, very healthy indeed.


5) Kevin De Bruyne (5.17 SCA per 90)
Not a single Premier League assist this season for the Belgian, who is not quite at his very best. But when you have this much influence when you are operating at 75%, what could he achieve when he moves into top gear? Well, we know the answer and it might be a fourth Premier League title.


4) Bruno Fernandes (5.17 SCA per 90)
He wants a ‘clear plan’, apparently
. What about ‘give it to Bruno or Ronaldo’ does he not get? He is certainly doing his bit, with four goals and three assists so far this season. though no goals since mid-September suggests that something is going awry with this complex plan. In case you were wondering, Cristiano Ronaldo is so far down this SCA list that he sits below even Nemanja Matic. So it’s a bloody good job he scores goals.


3) Adama Traore  (5.44 SCA per 90)
Clearly infuriating new manager Bruno Lage like he has infuriated every other manager before him with a lack of end product (no Premier League goals or assists this season) but these underlying numbers show he makes things happen when he plays, largely by carrying the ball towards goal very, very quickly indeed. Now he has to persuade the manager to start him again.


2) Trent Alexander-Arnold (5.51 SCA per 90)
Defensively rotten against West Ham on Sunday but he remains one of Liverpool’s most potent attacking threats, particularly with his set-piece delivery; only Fernandes has been credited with more key passes in the Premier League this season. But it’s that first part of his job – the one that should really be a priority for a right-back – that means he remains a bit-part player for England. As we saw further down this list, it’s not creative options that England are lacking.


1) Jack Grealish (5.73 SCA per 90)
One goal and two Premier League assists sounds a tad underwhelming for £100m (not just sounds, it is underwhelming) but he can point to the rather large part he has played in City’s attacking play this season. And those numbers are even more impressive because Grealish does not take set-pieces for City. He played no part against Manchester United but Pep Guardiola explained his decision was based more on United’s ultra-defensive formation than anything Grealish had done wrong.

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