In this series I aim to cut through all the hype and take a detailed look at what is really happening on the pitch.

I closely analyse the underlying stats of key teams (focusing on the last 6 matches) and discuss their stand out players for performance buzz purposes.

I’ll rotate between the big leagues each week.

To keep it focused I will only discuss key changes that matter on the Index, not general performances of players that readers can get from standard match reports.

Manchester City

A wealth of options at the back for City, rotation being the buzz killer as ever.

If I have to pick out a full back, I’ll go with Mendy due to his forward position and his 1-2 shots in some games. His goal scoring history is poor, but he’s getting some chances.

His understudy Zinchenko is also worth considering. He’s seen some pitch time of late and has all the ingredients to be a strong performance full back in the future.

Again all the centre backs are solid choices when playing. My pick would be Stones due to his relative youth and superb passing numbers. And I can see him getting forward for a few corners on the heat maps, even if he isn’t currently connecting.

David Silva is the performance scoring system made flesh. Very few players can churn out this mix of involvement, distribution and goal threat as consistently as he does. He’d have to be really unlucky not to be a serial winner.

His name sake Bernardo’s stats are not bad but they aren’t brilliant and he is usually out shined by other players on the team. Good involvement in some games and some goal threat. You could argue he was unlucky because neither of his recent goals were match winners and he had limited minutes in both games. But I’ve been sceptical of his prospects since the start of the season when he was being hyped and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind yet.

I was an early Mahrez supporter though and that was quite a lonely occupation back then. He’s taken a while to settle and tested even my patience but he is looking the real deal now. His recent stats are top tier and last nights showing vs Shakhtar is a great example. 87 touches in very dangerous areas, 75 passes and 3 shots from inside the box. That got him 1 goal and 2 assists. He got his first win vs Tottenham on Oct 29th. With these stats, it won’t be his last.

Aguero is as threatening as ever. He has an edge over many strikers because he has reasonable match involvement. But it’s the explosive days that make him worth it and I don’t like betting against him scoring two on any given day.

Sterling has definitely improved significantly over last season in terms of performance scoring. He’s not consistent but in some games he has the involvement and threat to win. I think he will start to get some performance wins before long. But damn does he need to do a lot to start justifying that £6.71 price tag.

Huge goal threat for Gabriel Jesus, but not much else. This means he will need to score at least 2 goals to challenge, as he did last night. He was helped by 2 penalties, but, he does have the threat to be smashing in a couple of goals in a game if he was putting his chances away. To be a consistent performance winner he’d need to be starting much more regularly and showing an Aguero level of clinical. That’s not easy and last night was the first time this year he scored more than 1.

Sané has seen more pitch time of late, and importantly, stayed on for the full 90 in his last 3 starts. His stats are very encouraging and he definitely has what it takes to be a strong performance player in future. He just needs a consistent run in the side and to cut out his tendency to lose possession.

An honourable mention to Brahim Diaz for his performance against Fulham. Two goals, but better than that, his underlying stats and playing position were solid. Promising.

Manchester United

Shaw could nick a win and his possession is decent. He makes forward runs into the final third, particularly against the weaker teams. His early season goal threat has dropped off though. And he will likely need a goal to challenge.

It’s hard to find anything positive to say about a United centre back at the moment. No really. I have nothing. Low passing numbers from the back and limited goal threat makes a win from here extremely unlikely.

Pogba has solid involvement and strong goal threat, particularly vs softer opposition. But he’s fairly deep much of the time and goes missing in some games.

He should grab 2-3 more performance wins but as usual media will be his primary source of returns. Despite Mata’s heroics last night, I can’t see many wins coming his way. His underlying numbers are average and he doesn’t see much consistent goal threat.

It’s not looking great for Rashford. He’s been seeing a fair amount of minutes but his stats are not impressive. With involvement levels this low he’d need to be prolific to challenge for a win and he just isn’t getting enough chances. But, it’s too early to write him off as a performance player, he is still only 21 and could improve.

Lukaku’s torrid time continues. Even at his best he’d be a weak performance player and right now he is well off the pace. Unless you see media returns, I can’t see much cause for hope here.

Martial is finally seeing some minutes and is doing some damage on the pitch. I’ve long thought he has the potential to be a good performance player. His goal threat is strong, and his involvement decent if not great. In a more performance friendly team, I think he’d do significantly better. At United right now, expectations must be managed but I think he is capable of winning and will only get better.

Sanchez has been dire and is well out of the running. When he is on the pitch, he is getting a few shots away which is the only cause for encouragement. His involvement is weak though. He needs something big to change. I can only see media as a source of returns at the moment.

Limited minutes for Lingard and he is not in contention for a win. Even when on the pitch, there is nothing remarkable about his stats.
For some reason I still think of him as very young but he is actually 25 and needs to start making a bigger impression in games.

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