Premier League Player Power Rankings: Rooney Rises, Liverpool Trio Top the Bill
Welcome back to our latest issue of Premier League player power rankings, as we once more assess the fortunes of the top flight's most in-form performers.
This week, we've got two new entrants, a host of falling Chelsea players after their disappointing defeat to relegation candidates Crystal Palace, and a full podium occupied by Liverpool's regular starters.
Dropping out and Honourable Mentions
Our two players to drop out are Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Manchester City's Yaya Toure.
Cahill has had a stand-out season and is arguably the league's top centre-back this term, but a slight dip in his team's form recently has coincided with his own standards dropping a touch.
Toure battles it out with a Chelsea central midfielder for 10th spot but ultimately just comes up short after not dominating at the weekend as much as he often does—but consolation comes in the form of a team-mate taking his spot.
Jay Rodriguez of Southampton certainly deserves a mention and is unlucky to not get a top 10 spot of his own.
Liverpool's surge to eight games unbeaten has yielded a host of great individual displays, with left-back Jon Flanagan also close to getting his name on the list over the past few weeks. He was excellent against Tottenham.
Santi Cazorla, Jordon Mutch and Peter Odemwingie have all been in good form over the past few games.
10. Nemanja Matic
Last week: 5
Former Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic has been awesome since rejoining Chelsea in January, but he couldn't dictate play and protect his defence as much as usual against a surprisingly effervescent Crystal Palace side.
He was uncharacteristically sloppy in his passing at times, and though he still made two tackles and five clearances, Chelsea's midfield ranks were broken through countless times.
9. David Silva
Last week: NEW!
David Silva has really stepped up his game over the last few weeks, proving a pivotal part of City's title charge.
His genius on the ball has been used in a central No. 10 role more often of late, where he can drop into space, dictate play and find clever passes inside the penalty area—as well as attack the box more himself. He scored a fantastic goal against Hull recently, and another—more fortunate—strike against Arsenal was further indication of his improvement.
8. Adam Lallana
Last week: NEW!
Was there a better-hit strike in the Premier League this weekend than Adam Lallana's thumping left-footed effort for Southampton against Newcastle?
Perhaps not, though the Magpies' midfield and defence made it shockingly easy for him to amble through.
Elsewhere, though, he was a real star performer again for Saints, dictating play and creating space for others. He's one of the most in-form English players around at present and must really be making a case for inclusion in the World Cup squad.
7. Martin Skrtel
Last week: 7
No movement for Skrtel, but it's only because others have moved up at a greater rate of knots from behind him last week.
He was outstanding for the Reds, defensively solid against Spurs' sporadic attacking threats, though with a terrific block on Christian Eriksen coming with the scoreline still close. In possession, he was also Liverpool's starting point for attacks, bringing the ball out of defence, spraying passes the width of the pitch and surging forward at pace to leave two or three opponents out the game.
6. Eden Hazard
Last week: 3
Hazard has been one of the league's top performers, and certainly Chelsea's top man, this season.
He was not at his influential best against Palace, though, even though he looked like the man most likely to find the breakthrough at times.
Perhaps it was the overall malaise of the team which failed to help extract the best of Hazard, but either way, he drops this week.
5. Daniel Sturridge
Last week: 2
Like Hazard, Sturridge falls three places this week, but like Skrtel, it's more because others have improved significantly while he has generally maintained the same standard of playing well.
The Liverpool striker worked hard off the ball, dropped deep to create space for his team-mates and generally linked up well with the onrushing midfielders, though he didn't get the opportunity to have clear sights of goal himself.
A back-heeled effort, saved by Hugo Lloris, was as close as he came—though he may well have scored after only one minute had Younes Kaboul not done the job for him.
4. Wayne Rooney
Last week: 10
One of our big movers for the week is Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, who has escaped the drudging mediocrity of his side in recent games to show he remains one of the very top players in the league.
He twice hit the back of the net in the 4-1 win over Aston Villa, but again it was his all-around endeavour, movement, technique and vision which made him the real stand-out player on his side.
That's been the case for some time now, even in games when results don't go United's way.
3. Jordan Henderson
Last week: 6
A new entrant to our top three sees Liverpool's Jordan Henderson complete a 3-2-1 of Reds.
As the most in-form team in the Premier League that's not entirely surprising, Liverpool have won eight matches in a row now, scoring 30 goals in that time and surging to the top of the table.
Key to so much of their good work has been box-to-box midfielder Jordan Henderson, who put in another terrific display against Spurs. His passing was concise and neat, he harassed and harried defensively and made excellent, long-distance runs off the ball to stretch play and offer through-ball options.
A free-kick goal to make it 4-0 was well deserved.
2. Steven Gerrard
Last week: 9
If you want to judge whether the Liverpool players really believe they can win this league title, just take a look at the performances and expressions of club captain Steven Gerrard.
This is his best chance to do so, and he knows it. And he believes he can.
Gerrard smashed into a few early challenges against Spurs, sent passes from deep to his attacking team-mates, made a spectacular (though probably unnecessary) diving block on a long-range Kyle Naughton shot and also played the searching pass which led to Liverpool's second goal.
Another all-round top performance from Gerrard, almost without exception, until he was subbed with 20 minutes to go to try to prevent a two-game suspension, which would arise with his next booking.
1. Luis Suarez
Last week: 1
There's no stopping Suarez.
The Uruguayan forward increased his goal tally for the season to 29, a record for a Liverpool player in a single campaign in the Premier League, with a well-taken, left-footed shot into the far corner.
Although he wasn't even in absolute top form against Spurs, he still ran the defence ragged, closing down relentlessly and moving across the entire width of the front line.
Suarez is the league's top scorer, top assister, he's top of our rankings—and now he's top of the league table.