Welcome to a new series on Opta Analyst, where each week we use the Opta Player Ratings to review the top-performing players from each Premier League matchday.
The Opta Player Ratings are something we introduced this summer. For a quick primer on how they’re calculated, you can check our explainer here.
In short, the Opta Player Ratings take into account over 100 different metrics for every player to provide an accurate measure of performance for a player over a single match, specific period or whole season. Those metrics power six subcomponents for each player – categories like shooting, passing and defending. Then, those subcomponents are combined to calculate a total score (from 20-100) according to a player’s position in the match.
With that out the way, here are the top performers from Matchday 3 in the Premier League.
1. Pascal Groß – 98.4 (BRIGHTON vs. West Ham)
Pascal Groß’ player rating score of 98.4 against West Ham on Saturday means we’ve now seen back-to-back winners from Brighton, after Solly March’s matchday-winning score last weekend.
Granted, March’s came in much better circumstances, with Brighton suffering a disappointing 3-1 home defeat against West Ham in MD3.
It was a game which they dominated in terms of possession but were frequently ripped open on the counter-attack by David Moyes’ charges. Despite the visitors having just 12 shots overall, they managed to register 3.23 expected goals; at an xG/shot of 0.27 that’s the highest any team have managed in a game this season.
Groß might seem an odd matchday-winner this week, but he was extremely influential on the ball for the hosts. It felt like everything flowed through him, and as if to emphasise that, his 133 touches of the ball were the most he’s ever had in a Premier League game.
Groß scored Brighton’s consolation goal, a fine strike from outside the box that arrowed into the bottom-right corner, and that was one of five shots he attempted during the match. The German also created another six chances – a match high – meaning that 44% (11/25) of Brighton’s shots flowed through him.
His goal saw him become Brighton’s top Premier League scorer, scoring his 27th goal for the Seagulls and overtaking Neal Maupay and Glenn Murray, who both scored 26.
2. Moussa Diaby – 98.3 (Burnley vs. ASTON VILLA)
Moussa Diaby is off to a flyer at Aston Villa. His goal and assist in Villa’s impressive 3-1 away win at Burnley took his total goal involvements for the season to three in his first three Premier League appearances. That makes Diaby the first Frenchman to be involved in three Premier League goals in his first three appearances in the competition (2 goals, 1 assist) since Anthony Martial in September 2015.
He leads all Aston Villa players for shots per 90 (3.2) and ranks second for chances created per 90 (2.5), just showing how much of an attacking impact he’s made since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen over the summer. One facet that Diaby has brought to Villa Park is his ability to drive with the ball upfield. Across the opening three games so far, Diaby has made five chance-creating carries, more than anyone else on his side, while his average carry progress upfield of nine metres is the highest on the team.
Diaby is just one of Aston Villa’s players clearly thriving under the stewardship of Unai Emery. Since the Spaniard took charge, only Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have picked up more league points than Villa, and if you looked at a league table that spanned 2023, Villa would be second!
3. Darwin Núñez – 97.8 (Newcastle vs. LIVERPOOL)
Darwin Núñez may have only played 13 minutes of football this weekend, but the fact he got the third-highest player rating of any player in the league tells you all you need to know about his impact off the bench.
With Liverpool down to 10 men and clinging on at St. James’ Park, Jürgen Klopp introduced attackers Diogo Jota, Harvey Elliott and Núñez as his team searched for an equaliser. It was the latter who would turn the game on his head.
So often wasteful in front of goal – only two players missed more clear-cut chances in the Premier League last season than the Uruguayan (20) – Núñez was in a lethal mood.
First, he scored a goal that looked like it had rescued a point for Liverpool, finishing expertly across goal after a mistake from Sven Botman. Then just moments later in the dying embers of the game, he ran onto Mohamed Salah’s through ball to smash home the most improbable of winning goals.
In Peter Drury’s simple, yet effective words on commentary, “Whoa, that is crazy.”
4. Matty Cash – 97.5 (Burnley vs. ASTON VILLA)
Despite being a defender, Matty Cash now leads all Aston Villa players for non-penalty expected goals per 90 (0.68). OK, so we’re pretty confident that won’t hold for long, but the Villa full-back was at his attacking best against Burnley, scoring what was just the second brace of his career in his 253rd appearance across all competitions.
Cash’s touch map from the game shows how advanced he was up Villa’s right-hand side, and his six shots in total in this match were the most he’s ever had in a single game in his career.
Cash’s 20th-minute brace was the earliest an Aston Villa player has scored twice in an away Premier League game since Darren Bent vs. Arsenal in May 2011 (15th min).
5. Raheem Sterling – 97.3 (CHELSEA vs. Luton Town)
Raheem Sterling looks completely revitalised under Mauricio Pochettino. Despite results not going their way in their opening two games, Sterling was consistently one of Chelsea’s best performers, looking like a real threat whenever he got the ball out wide.
He was once again on scintillating form – scoring twice – as Chelsea ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Luton Town.
His first was a classic Sterling goal. Receiving the ball on the right touchline, Sterling picked it up and drove at Ryan Giles, Luton’s left wing-back. The Chelsea winger forced Giles back into his own box before skipping inside, beating a covering challenge and slotting the ball into the far corner. It was a goal that showcased Sterling’s ability to take players on and underlined a confidence that had sorely been missing in Chelsea’s disastrous campaign in 2022-23.
We’re only three games into the new season but comparing Sterling’s output to last campaign is stark. He’s getting on the ball far more this year – often in dangerous areas – and both attempting and completing more dribbles, while winning the ball back more often, too.
Remarkably, Chelsea’s win over Luton was their first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge since March (1-0 vs. Leeds), ending a run of eight home league games without one (D5 L3).
Top Performers by Game: Matchday 3
Here were the top-performing players across each game in MD 3:
Chelsea vs. Luton Town: Raheem Sterling, 97.3
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham: James Maddison, 95.5
Brentford vs. Crystal Palace: Kevin Schade, 87.7
Arsenal vs. Fulham: Andreas Pereira, 84.1
Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest: Morgan Gibbs-White, 77.7
Everton vs. Wolves: José Sá, 92.9
Brighton vs. West Ham: Pascal Groß, 98.4
Sheffield United vs. Manchester City: Jack Grealish, 94.6
Burnley vs. Aston Villa: Moussa Diaby, 98.3
Newcastle vs. Liverpool: Darwin Núñez, 96.2