Now a third of the way into the season, the Premier League hierarchy is starting to take shape and the outstanding individuals have come to the fore. So too have the failures – and we’ve gone through the trouble of listing them.
Here’s our shortlist of the biggest let downs of 2015/16 (so far).
5. Gylfi Sigurdsson
A one time fantasy must-have, Gylfi Sigurdsson has been very wide of the mark this time around.
There are a few reasons for this and the division of creative duties at Swansea is just one. Shelvey, Montero and Ayew both started the season with a bang, laying on chance after chance for the seemingly unstoppable Bafetimbi Gomis.
Then the summer ended, and Gomis’ powers with it. Aside from a memorable freekick in Gameweek 10, the Icelander has been unable to stop the rot setting into this side or lead them out of a miserable run that has seen them claim just one win since their 2-0 victory over Manchester United.
Once the creative fulcrum of this side, Sigurdsson has created just one goalscoring chance per game on average this season and managed just a single assist. His form this time last year puts his current incarnation – and most other Premier League midfielders for that matter – to shame with seven assists and two goals back in 2014/15.
The key difference? No Bony.
Outperformed By: Riyad Mahrez. Need we say more? Cheap, cheerful and extraordinarily effective.
4. Wilfried Bony
This time last year, Bony was the undisputed big fish in the relatively small pond that was Swansea City. Scoring five goals in ten appearances and reveling as the main conduit for his side, Bony looked an unstoppable force and an unplayable opponent.
Then the big fish got the big time January move to Manchester City, where he spent much of his time patiently waiting on the bench for the odd run-out. This season however, Bony has had ample opportunity to stake a claim for himself as City’s top dog in Sergio Aguero’s injury absence.
It hasn’t gone quite to plan. The Ivorian got himself a brace and assist in a 5-1 drubbing of Bournemouth but his other contributions have been few and far between. Playing for the most creative side in the league – a chance created every five minutes on average – you’d expect a better return for a forward of his pedigree.
Or is that pedigree now up for dispute?
Outperformed By: Odion Ighalo. The Watford man has been a unabashed hit in the Premier League, scoring seven goals and setting up a further two assists through a budding partnership with Troy Deeney.
3. Roberto Firmino
Firmino was supposed to be the answer to a number of outstanding issues at Liverpool.
One, how to replace Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan’s absence was all too keenly felt at Anfield throughout 2014/15 and Firmino was deemed to be his long-awaited successor in the relentless, dynamic forward role.
Two, Raheem Sterling, the youngster who was originally put forward to pick up the departed Suarez’ slack was overburdened, overworked and just not as effective in a diminishing Liverpool side last season. He soon left for Manchester City.
In a way, Firmino is filling the shoes of both players – and it hasn’t been an overly successful exercise. The Brazilian has plenty of potential and looks to be slowly working his way into the starting XI, but his fantasy contribution has been negligible.
The ex-Hoffenheim man is facing Manchester City in Gameweek 13, but with little more than an assist to his name in nine appearances, don’t expect him to buck that trend too soon.
Outperformed By: Alexis Sanchez. One of the fantasy stars of the season so far, with six goals and more goal attempts – 53 – from midfield than anyone.
2. Eden Hazard
Among a list of ample nominees, he ranks as quite possibly the most underwhelming and disappointing performer in a team of haphazard individuals – pun intended.
With all the rumoured wrangling and in-fighting affecting much of the Chelsea squad and backroom staff this season, the drop-off in the Belgian’s displays have been stark. This has lead to its fair share of speculation – a move to Real Madrid, one such story to emerge.
On current form, the Belgian wouldn’t get his game at the Britannia let alone the Bernabeu.
Hazard has created 32 opportunities but registered two assists and no goals across 11 starts this season. For comparisons sake, the wideman had already bagged four goals and one assist by this time last year. It’s not entirely his fault. Diego Costa’s interest street-fighting has apparently overtaken his instinct for goals and Fabregas’ shocking start has likewise tempered Hazard’s overall threat.
Creating a chance every 32 minutes, statistically, the creativity is still in there somewhere. But the PlayON 14.4m man’s outlay, especially when weighed up with his on pitch efforts – the defeat to Liverpool a case in point – have left a lot to be desired.
Outperformed By: Dimitri Payet. Until a cruel injury put him out of action, the Frenchman was arguably the player of the season so far – five goals and three assists from the West Ham midfield.
1. Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney’s apparent decline has been a long-running and, to be honest, increasingly dull thread of this Premier League season.
Louis van Gaal and a large proportion of fantasy managers – 7.9% for Gameweek 13 – have stood by him through bad times and worse, holding out against hope that the Rooney of this, and this and this will somehow emerge from obscurity an inject a huge swell of fantasy points. Wishful thinking.
By this stage last season, Rooney had secured a very respectable five goals and two assists from ten appearances. This coincided with a period where LvG had shifted him around the field in a number of positions, including central midfield. This time around, while Rooney has alternated between the forward and number ten positions – prime goalscoring real estate – he’s managed just two goals.
England’s captain ranks low across the board among Premier League strikers, clocking a lacklustre 8% goal conversion rate from 25 attempts on goal. Similar to his equally disappointing counterpart on the other side of Manchester – Wilfried Bony.
Outperformed By: Jamie Vardy. The 12 goal Leicester City man has stolen the thunder of the marquee strikers of this Premier League season and is now threatening to likewise displace Rooney from the England set-up.