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 6 in the Premier League.
1. Son Heung-min – 98.3 (Arsenal vs. TOTTENHAM)
Our top-rated player from MD 6 is Son Heung-min, who scored both of Tottenham’s goals in a pulsating north London derby at the Emirates.
Both of his strikes displayed the traits that make Son such a deadly forward. For the first, he showed electric acceleration and anticipation to beat three Arsenal defenders to a ball fizzed across the box. For his second, he showed his threat in transition, breaking forward with speed with James Maddison, before clinically sliding a first-time finish past David Raya to level the game.
The Tottenham captain had just 18 touches, the fewest of any Spurs player who started the game, but when you’re able to take your chances like Son can it doesn’t really matter. Since his Premier League debut in 2015, only former teammate Harry Kane (+37.5) has overperformed their expected goals (xG) tally more than Son (+32.3).
After failing to score or assist in his first nine Premier League north London derbies, Son has now contributed six goals and two assists in his last eight games against Arsenal. His two strikes on Sunday saw him become the first Spurs player to score two goals away at Arsenal in the Premier League since John Hendry in May 1993.
2. Anthony Gordon – 97.8 (Sheffield United vs. NEWCASTLE)
Such was their utter dominance against Sheffield United on Sunday, you knew it wouldn’t be long before a Newcastle player appeared in this list. That player is Anthony Gordon, who grabbed a goal and an assist in this rout. Gordon started on the bench but was called upon early as Harvey Barnes had to go off in just the 12th minute with a toe injury.
It didn’t take him long to get into the action, receiving a throw-in down the left channel, cutting inside a forlorn Anel Ahmedhodzic and squaring the ball for Sean Longstaff to score (even if there was more than a hint of handball). His assist was the second-earliest ever by a substitute in Premier League history (21st minute), after Lee Bowyer (for Mark Viduka) for Leeds against Manchester United in March 2002 (20th minute).
After seeing four of his teammates score, Gordon finally got his name on the scoresheet on the hour mark, drifting in off his left wing to bend a fantastic curled effort passed Wes Foderingham.
Five names became eight as Newcastle ran out 8-0 winners. In doing so, they became the first side in Premier League history to have eight different players score in the same match (excluding own goals).
Gordon ended the game with four shots (one behind Callum Wilson) and a match-high 11 touches in the opposition box. He was a livewire all game from the left.
Gordon made 17 sprints while Newcastle were in possession, the most of any player, showing how much he threatened the Sheffield United backline with his pace.
This victory was Newcastle’s biggest ever away win in the league, while it is their largest overall league victory since their 8-0 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday in September 1999.
3. Kaoru Mitoma – 97.0 (BRIGHTON vs. Bournemouth)
Introduced as a half-time substitute, Kaoru Mitoma scored twice for Brighton as they came back from a goal down to beat Bournemouth on Sunday.
Roberto De Zerbi is rightly receiving many plaudits for the way in which he’s transformed Brighton, but even he must have been surprised by how effective his half-time substitutions were.
Mitoma replaced Facundo Buonanotte at the break and it took him just 16 seconds to put Brighton in front, as Bournemouth made a total mess of the seemingly simple task of kicking off.
Mitoma’s strike is the fastest by a substitute in a Premier League game since Sammy Ameobi scored eight seconds into the second half for Newcastle United against Spurs in October 2014. Yes, they were given a helping hand by Bournemouth in the lead up to the goal, with the away side squandering possession in their own half, but Mitoma still showed his threat carrying the ball forwards. He picked up on a loose ball, drove at Philip Billing before playing a one-two with Pervis Estupiñán and finishing neatly into the bottom corner.
That combination worked again for Brighton’s third goal, with Estupiñán running loose down the left flank and crossing for an unmarked Mitoma to nod home.
Brighton are such a fun side to watch under De Zerbi. They’ve scored in their last 22 Premier League matches in a row, which is the longest ongoing run in the division. They’ve also gone 10 consecutive Premier League matches without keeping a clean sheet for only the second time in their history. If you like goals, you must like Brighton.
4. Bruno Guimarães – 94.8 (Sheffield United vs. NEWCASTLE)
Bruno Guimarães joins his teammate Gordon in our top five this week (Wilson and Kieran Trippier weren’t far off either by the way).
Guimarães also found himself making Premier League history on Sunday, with his goal the seventh of Newcastle’s eight. Moments earlier, he’d also grabbed an assist with a perfectly weighted through ball to Miguel Almirón.
The Brazilian kept things knitted together in midfield, making 85 touches and completing 61 passes. Both were the second-highest totals in the game behind centre-back Sven Botman.
Guimarães also won all eight of his duels as he bossed Sheffield United around in the middle of the park. Of players to have won eight or more duels in a single game so far this season, only one other player (Mads Andersen for Luton vs. West Ham) has won 100% of them.
5. Darwin Núñez – 92.3 (LIVERPOOL vs. West Ham)
Despite a complete midfield overhaul this summer, Liverpool continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win over West Ham, thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez and Diogo Jota. In our season-long predictions, Liverpool’s chances of winning the title have doubled since the start of the season. They were given a 4.1% of winning at the outset and that’s now shot up to 8.7%.
They’re going to need Darwin Núñez to continue to step up to have any chance of challenging Manchester City, particularly when Salah departs for the African Cup of Nations in January.
This was a pure Núñez display, full of baffling chaos. The Uruguayan had three shots – two of which were really quite straightforward – and ended up scoring with the hardest one of the lot, running off the shoulder of his marker to volley a clipped ball from Alexis Mac Allister into the far corner.
Núñez continues to put up crazy numbers. He’s averaged more shots per 90 (5.7) and more non-penalty xG per 90 (1.07) than any other player in the Premier League so far this season.
Darwin Núñez still makes no sense. The sooner we accept that, the more we can enjoy watching him entertain us every week.
Top Performers by Game: Matchday 6
Here were the top-performing players across each game in MD 6:
Crystal Palace vs. Fulham: Sam Johnstone, 85.8
Luton Town vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers: Alfie Doughty, 80.9
Manchester City vs. Nottingham Forest: Phil Foden, 91.2
Brentford vs. Everton: Abdoulaye Doucouré, 88.1
Burnley vs. Manchester United: Bruno Fernandes, 88.3
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Son Heung-min 98.3
Brighton vs. Bournemouth: Kaoru Mitoma, 97.0
Chelsea vs. Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins, 92.1
Liverpool vs. West Ham United: Darwin Núñez, 92.3
Sheffield United vs. Newcastle United: Anthony Gordon 97.8