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 7 in the Premier League.

1. Ollie Watkins – 99.6 (ASTON VILLA vs. Brighton)

There was only going to be one winner this week. With a hat-trick and an assist in Aston Villa’s 6-1 rout of Brighton this weekend, Ollie Watkins achieved an almost-perfect 99.6/100 on our Opta Player Rating Index. What stopped him from getting the last 0.4? Well, he misplaced seven of his attempted 21 passes and the Opta Player Rating Index is a notoriously cruel mistress…

It was a perfect day at the office for Watkins though, who must have been relishing the chance to play against Brighton. Coming into this game he’d netted in his previous three appearances against them, and his treble this weekend now takes him to six Premier League goals against Brighton overall. That’s the outright most goals he’s scored against a single opponent in his top-flight career (overtaking the five he’s scored against Liverpool).

Watkins is now the first player to score two hat-tricks in a single season in all competitions for Aston Villa since Andy Gray in 1976-77. He’s also only the second player to score more than one Premier League hat-trick overall for the club, after Christian Benteke.

Aston Villa Brighton xG race

Aston Villa have now won 10 consecutive Premier League games at Villa Park since the start of March, with only Man City (13) on a longer ongoing home winning run in the competition.

Could Aston Villa challenge for a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification?

2. Miguel Almirón – 94.4 (NEWCASTLE vs. Burnley)

Newcastle had two players inside our top five last week, and Miguel Almirón ensures they have a representative from MD 7.

Almirón opened the scoring in Newcastle’s comfortable 2-0 home win against Burnley with a sublime strike. Burnley’s Aaron Ramsey tried a lackadaisical turn midway inside his own half that Kieran Trippier saw coming from a mile off. His tackle rebounded the ball to Almirón who picked it up and drove towards the Burnley box before unleashing a powerful drive into the top corner of James Trafford’s goal.

It once again demonstrated Almirón’s threat from long range. Since the start of last season, only James Maddison and Kevin De Bruyne (both four) have scored more goals from outside the penalty area in the Premier League than the Paraguayan’s three.

3. James Ward-Prowse – 93.6 (WEST HAM vs. Sheffield United)

West Ham’s signing of James Ward-Prowse this summer felt like an absolute banker. A player with so much Premier League experience was about as surefire a bet as you can make.

He’s already chipped in with two goals and three assists in the league so far this season – only Jarrod Bowen (six) has more goal involvements for West Ham – and while he didn’t register a goal involvement against Sheffield United last weekend, he did showcase the other facets to his game.

His 80 touches were more than any other West Ham player in this 2-0 win, while he created a match-high six chances, several of which came from his exceptional set-piece delivery.

In fact, that figure of six chances created is a joint record for Ward-Prowse in his Premier League career, having done that on two occasions for Southampton.

The midfielder currently leads all West Ham players for chances created per 90 minutes (2.4). Given his delivery from dead-ball situations and West Ham’s threat aerially, it’s safe to say he won’t stay on three assists for long.

James Ward-Prowse chances created West Ham Premier League 2023-24

4. Jarrod Bowen – 92.9 (WEST HAM vs. Sheffield United)

Jarrod Bowen joins his teammate Ward-Prowse in our top five this week.

Bowen opened the scoring with a delicate first-time finish after Vladimír Coufal had got loose down the right-hand side and cut a ball back across the box. Bowen let the ball roll across his body before side-footing it cooly past Wes Foderingham in the Sheffield United net.

Bowen’s performance on Saturday further outlined his importance to David Moyes’ side. It was the winger’s fifth goal of the season (no other West Ham player has more than two), and he has now been directly involved in eight goals in his last nine Premier League games (six goals, two assists).

Bowen took six shots in this game – a tally he’s never bettered in a Premier League match – while registering a match-high 11 touches in the opposition box. Again, that’s a total he’s never eclipsed before in the top flight. In short, Bowen got in dangerous areas very frequently against Sheffield United and got his reward. With 0.51 xG per 90, he leads all West Ham players this season.

Jarrow Bowen touch map West Ham vs Sheffield United Premier League 2023-24

5. Douglas Luiz – 92.8 (ASTON VILLA vs. Brighton)

We remarked in a recent instalment of our knee-jerk reactions that Douglas Luiz would be the next defensive midfielder to make a big-money move. That is looking less and less knee-jerk as the games go on.

Luiz put the gloss on Aston Villa’s 6-1 demolition of Brighton in the closing stages, calming slotting an effort into the bottom corner as Villa once again cut through Brighton on the break. It was his third goal of the season, and his first from open play.

But the Brazilian gets through so much work in the middle of midfield that can go unnoticed. He knitted Villa’s midfield together when they had the ball, making the most passes and the most touches of any player on the home side. And when they were without the ball – as they were for the majority of the game – he was combative and forceful in midfield, winning nine duels (only Boubacar Kamara won more) and winning possession back for his side four separate times.

Top Performers by Game: Matchday 7

Here were the top-performing players across each game in MD 7:

Aston Villa vs. Brighton: Ollie Watkins, 99.6

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester City: Hwang Hee-Chan, 88.3

West Ham United vs. Sheffield United: James Ward-Prowse, 93.6

Newcastle United vs. Burnley: Miguel Almirón, 94.4

Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace: Joachim Andersen, 85.8

Everton vs. Luton Town: Carlton Morris, 92.6

Bournemouth vs. Arsenal: Martin Ødegaard, 92.0

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool: Yves Bissouma, 90.6

Nottingham Forest vs. Brentford: Nicolás Domínguez, 82.1

Fulham vs. Chelsea: Armando Broja, 82.3

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