As we reach the halfway point of the 2023-24 Premier League season, we can reveal the team of the season so far thanks to the Opta Player Ratings.
With 19 matchdays down, the 2023-24 Premier League season has reached the halfway point. With that in mind, now is an ideal time to assess the best players of the campaign so far using the Opta Player Ratings. Taking every player to have played at least 1,000 minutes into consideration, we have formed a team in the most commonly used formation in 2023-24 (4-2-3-1) and picked the player with the highest Opta Player Rating in each position.
For a quick primer on how the Opta Player Ratings are calculated, you can check our explainer here.
In short, the Opta Player Ratings take into account over 100 different metrics to provide an accurate measure of performance for every 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.
These ratings are at the heart of our set of brand-new, free-to-play gaming experiences, so if you think you can predict the upcoming Opta Player Ratings each week, you should have a go at playing. There are a ton of prizes to be won.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the top performers of the Premier League season so far, as we hit the halfway mark of 2023-24.
It’s been another solid season for Brazilian goalkeeper Allison, helping Liverpool reach the top of the Premier League table at the halfway point.
No goalkeeper has more Premier League clean sheets than him in 2023-24 (6), while his saves-to-shots-faced ratio of 78.3% is the highest in the competition. His 50 saves have prevented the opposition from scoring at least three goals more (3.4) than the quality of shots on target (expected goals on target) suggests they should have.
Allison is heavily involved in Liverpool’s build-up play, too. He averages 31 successful passes per game – a close third in the Premier League to Man City’s Ederson and Burnley’s James Trafford (both 32) – while only Ederson (2.4) is involved in more shot-ending sequences in open play than he is (1.8) on a per-90 basis among all goalkeepers.
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Kyle Walker is still proving his worth at Manchester City despite being one of the veterans of the side at 33 years old. No defender has completed more passes in the opposition half in the Premier League this season than he has (605), showing his threat to opponents going forward.
Such is his importance to Pep Guardiola’s side, Walker has missed just three minutes and 43 seconds of Premier League football for City this season and his 1,812 minutes overall (including all added time) is the most of any player at the club.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Liverpool have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season with just 16 goals conceded in 19 matches, while no side have kept more clean sheets than they have (7). A huge reason for that is Virgil van Dijk.
No player across the entire Premier League to have been involved in 100+ duels (that’s 181 different players) has won as high a proportion as Van Dijk (78.3%), while he also leads for aerial duel win rate in the league (81.8%).
Marc Guéhi (Crystal Palace)
Guéhi will arguably be the biggest surprise to most reading this, what with him being a central defender for a bottom-half side. Still only 23 years old, the England international has been a consistent performer for an otherwise unimpressive Crystal Palace this season, with his 62.3% duel success rate above the Premier League average for a defender (56%).
Not a prolific ball carrier – 24 central defenders average a higher progressive ball carry distance per 90 than he does – Guéhi often prefers to pass without travelling far with the ball. He averages more successful passes per 90 than any other Palace player in the Premier League (51.3). Also, no Palace player has won possession back from opponents to begin open-play sequences that end in a shot more times than he has (5).
Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)
Ukrainian full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko forms an important part of Arsenal’s squad as they hunt for their first Premier League title since 2004.
No Gunners player averages more touches of the ball in the Premier League this season than he does (92.8 per 90), while only Spurs’ Pedro Porro (5.7) has averaged more open-play attacking sequence involvements in the Premier League among defenders on a per-90 basis than Zinchenko (5.6). His ball-winning qualities are also crucial to Arsenal, with the left-back averaging the most tackles per 90 for the club (2.8) this term and the second-best per-90 rate when it comes to winning possession back (5.7) behind William Saliba.
Admittedly, some of Zinchenko’s recent performances have been below-par, but overall this season there haven’t been many left-backs to perform as well across the Premier League.
Rodri (Manchester City)
The importance of Rodri to Manchester City’s title defence has been made abundantly clear by their results in the games he has missed this season. City have lost all three of the matches he has missed through suspension, while the Spaniard is undefeated in his 15 games, winning 11 and drawing four.
Despite playing in only 15 games (while plenty of teams have played 19), Rodri has completed more successful passes in the opposition’s half (833) and in the final third (373) than any other player. And despite playing in what is primarily a defensive role, Rodri ranks in the Premier League’s top 15 for open-play expected assists per 90 (0.20 xA), and second behind Kieran Trippier (0.22) of players other than attackers or attacking midfielders. His influence on the ball isn’t limited to the final third, of course; of players with at least 1,000 minutes under their belt this season, Rodri has been involved in more shot-ending sequences in open play per 90 minutes than any other player in the top flight (8.1).
Of course, much of Rodri’s most important work comes when his side is out of possession. Only Brentford’s Christian Nørgaard (7.8) has won possession more times per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season than Rodri (7.4). In truth, there isn’t much he can’t do.
Declan Rice (Arsenal)
Declan Rice has been an incredible signing for Arsenal since his summer more from West Ham, and he has immediately become an integral cog for Mikel Arteta’s title hopefuls. He has started every game this season and ranks ninth in the entire top flight for minutes played by outfielders (1,654), having been on the pitch 96.7% of the time.
He does a fantastic job of helping his team move up the pitch through central midfield, ranking fifth in the Premier League for total carries (374), defined as moving with the ball at least five metres, and third of non-defenders for progressive carries (183) – moving at least five metres towards the opposition’s goal.
Rice has also contributed significantly with his passing in dangerous areas, too. He ranks second to Rodri both for successful passes in the opposition’s half (669) and in the final third (368), also adding three goals. Two of those goals were winners scored in second-half injury-time, and the other helped claw his side back from two goals down to draw at Chelsea.
Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
It would be fair to label West Ham as erratic this season – just this month they’ve lost 5-0 to Fulham but also beaten both Manchester United and Arsenal 2-0, for example. However, they head into Matchday 20 of the Premier League season in sixth place, only four points behind Manchester City in fourth, and Jarrod Bowen has been hugely influential in their successes.
Playing from the right, through the middle or in a sort of hybrid of the two, Bowen is West Ham’s chief goal threat. He has already netted 11 times in the Premier League this season, just one shy of his personal best of 12 in a single top-flight season despite there being half of the campaign still to go.
He’s been incredibly efficient in front of goal as well. Scoring at a rate of 0.65 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes, only Erling Haaland (0.77) is converting at a better frequency than the England international (minimum 750 minutes played) this term even though as many as 20 players average more shots than his 2.77 each game.
A chunk of Bowen’s goals came during a run of seven successive goalscoring appearances away from home, a streak only Robin van Persie (nine) has ever bettered in the Premier League; if the second half of his season is as fruitful as his first, Bowen will likely fire West Ham into Europe again.
Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal)
At this point, it seems unlikely Ødegaard will match the 22 Premier League goal involvements he tallied last season as he’s managed only seven (three assists, four goals) in 2023-24, and in October he was fielding criticism for a slump in form.
He’s looked sharp again since the November international break, though, and his influence on Arsenal cannot be denied. He has been involved in 115 open-play sequences that ended in a shot, a figure only Dejan Kulusevski (119) can better in the Premier League this term, evidence of his importance to them in build-up.
Similarly, Bruno Fernandes (492) is the one Premier League player to attempt more passes in the final third than Ødegaard (434), while the Norway international ranks joint-third among midfielders for chances created in open play (32).
It’s in his chance creation where arguably the biggest difference has been noted with Ødegaard since the last international break, laying on 3.7 opportunities to teammates per 90 since compared to 1.7 beforehand.
Perhaps it just took him a little time to adjust to the new make-up of Arsenal’s midfield – he certainly seems to be thriving again now, and that can only be a good thing if Arteta’s side are to get their title challenge back on track.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Manchester City may not be collectively at the same level they were last season, but any blame for that shouldn’t be placed at the feet of Bernardo Silva, which have been typically reliable sources of magic.
With Kevin De Bruyne out injured for much of the first half of the season, Bernardo seems to be the one who’s shouldered much of the additional creative burden. As such, his nine big chances created – defined as opportunities a player would be expected to score from – is the joint-most among all Premier League midfielders, while his chances created in open play (27) puts him in the top five.
That’s helped Bernardo accumulate 0.29 expected assists (xA) per 90 in open play this season, putting him third behind all players (minimum 750 minutes played), highlighting the value of the opportunities he’s been teeing up.
This creativity is combined with drive and positivity on the ball that see him rank among the most forward-thinking midfielders in the competition; he is fourth for progressive carries (175) and fifth for the distance he’s progressed the ball via carries (1,654m) among midfielders.
He’s always been a jot to watch, but this feels like one of the strongest spells of Bernardo’s City career.
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur)
With Harry Kane leaving and Hugo Lloris losing his place in the first team, Son Heung-min was always going to inherit a lot of responsibility at Tottenham last summer. On top of having to shoulder the burden for the loss of goals that Kane’s departure meant, Son was also named Lloris’ replacement as club captain. He has taken on any added pressure impressively.
Only Mohamed Salah (19) and Erling Haaland (18) have more goal contributions in the Premier League this season than Son (16), with his goals (11) and assists (5) worth 14 points to his team. In away games, only Haaland (8) has scored more goals this season than Son (7).
He has proved the perfect fit for Ange Postecoglou’s new-look Spurs both in and out of possession, and Son’s work rate and tactical intelligence have been crucial in Tottenham’s transformation into a proactive pressing team. The Korean leads the Premier League for pressures in the final third (361 – 58 more than anyone else) and pressures in the final third resulting in a turnover (69), while only Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher (26) has directly won possession in the attacking third more times than him (21). Having thrived both up front and on the left side of Tottenham’s attack, he has had a really strong first half of 2023-24.