What makes a great midfielder? Goals? Tackles? The ability to intercept?
That’s far too open a question to pigeon hole but the most popular seem to be the players who track from their own box to the opponent’s box, looking to be effective all over the pitch.
There have been some standout performances from traditional box-to-box midfielders so far this season, with some players grabbing headlines on a weekly basis while others deserve a mention for more understated performances.
So who is the best box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League? Here are the main candidates?
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Ramsey is the obvious choice for the effect he’s had on the Arsenal attack.
Ramsey has scored five goals so far this season, with three assists and he’s done it all with a passing success rate of 87.2%.
He seems to have transformed his game completely from the player we saw at the Gunners last season.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Henderson is arguably the best ‘worker’ in the Premier League.
He’ll go all out to play out of his skin, regardless of where Brendan Rodgers asks him to play and he’s covered multiple positions this season across the midfield; winger, central midfielder, attacking midfielder and he’s also played the holding role well.
Henderson’s defensive stats this season are superb; three tackles and 3.5 key clearances per game and he’s also been effective in attack with 1.3 key passes per game this season.
Ramires is frequently named in front of the Chelsea back four but he doesn’t always stay there.
The 26-year-old Brazilian is yet to get off the mark in terms of goals in the Premier League but he does have an assist and a passing success rate of 86.4%.
Defensively he’s making 3.5 key tackles per game and he’s making nearly 60 passes per game, whether he’s working to clear pressure with his defence or trying to feed more advanced players.
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Carrick isn’t getting as much praise as he deserves, most likely because Manchester United have made a disappointing start to the season.
Carrick is the modern version of a complete midfielder, able to control things in the middle, intercept in defence and play simple passes in attack.
His ability to intercept the ball is world class and far more advanced than many other midfielders in the Premier League right now; 4.4 interceptions per game.
Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur)
Paulinho is another player often named in front of the defence, but someone who doesn’t always stay there.
He’s been effective going forward this season with one goal and two assists but he has got stuck in defensively with 2.3 tackles per game and 1.5 interceptions per game so far.
He also has the same passing success rate as Aaron Ramsey and shows a superb ability to read the game and cover multiple positions across the midfield.
Leon Osman (Everton)
Osman is definitely a player who doesn’t get the credit he deserves and a player who does a lot of work on and off the ball for Everton.
His passing success rate is higher than Ramsey’s and Paulinho’s at 88.2%, he’s made an assist this season and he’s playing 2.4 accurate long balls per game on average.
Defensively his stats are certainly competitive with 2.5 tackles per game and 1.8 interceptions per game so far this season.
There you have it, who do you think is the best box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League?
image: © wonker