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TRIBAL SPECIAL: The unsung heroes of the Premier League top-six sides

So far this season, we have seen stories on a daily basis about individuals such as Eden Hazard, Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne, who have been constantly mentioned due to their important contributions for their respective teams in terms of assists and goals.

These key players have been praised by many people week in and out, however, there are other footballers who have done their business on both sides of the pitch quietly but have still not been given the right amount of credit that they actually deserve.

At the moment, the focus is on Pep Guardiola's Manchester City currently running away with the league title as well as which two teams will fail to finish in the top four come the end of the season.

Though, it's time to look at the individuals who are showing their worth regularly and are overlooked most of the time due to the fact that they do not dominate games with their moments of brilliance.

So, here are the unsung heroes from the top-six sides within the Premier League...



Arsenal – Nacho Monreal

Whether he is utilised as a centre-back in the back-three system or is continuing to play in his favourite position at left-back, Nacho Monreal has hardly failed to complete a convincing performance for Arsene Wenger's side.

For sure, Arsenal have conceded a lot of goals in the league compared to the other teams above them, though, the Spaniard's presence in the backline has been more than important especially in the games away from home.

On top of that, he has chipped in with a few goals and assists, most memorably one goal and two assists against Crystal Palace in the league last month.

Defensively calm and a seriously attacking-minded player whilst in possession, Monreal is considered as one of the most complete defenders within the league since completing his move to the Emirates Stadium in 2013. He may not get the same amount of attention like Jack Wilshere or Mesut Ozil by the fanbase, but his consistent performances and tireless work rate will be noticed sooner or later.



ChelseaAndreas Christensen

Chelsea have had a rough patch here and there. On the other hand, the rise of Andreas Christensen has been one of the positive factors for the Blues this term and he has actually been the reason to why David Luiz has been benched more times than he has been in the line-up.

The time when the centre back got injured, the side went on to concede seven goals in total against Bournemouth and Watford. But the Blues went got a clean sheet against West Bromwich Albion when he returned to the first XI after coming back from a minor injury.

Antonio Conte's setup does seem defensive and more counter-attack based, however, the Danish international has proven to be the manager's most crucial defender so far this season. Compared to the rest of the squad that have played in over 10 league games, Christensen has the most successful passing rate with a figure of 93.9%, evidently showing how composed he is on and off the ball.



LiverpoolAndrew Robertson

Liverpool's front three have been stealing the show due to their plethora of goals recently, which has helped them to adjust to life without Phillippe Coutinho and has put their campaigns within the Champions League and the Premier League back on track.

Nevertheless, it's been the dominant displays of Andrew Robertson that has caught the attention of quite a number of supporters.

Ever since he returned into the line-up at the start of December, the defender has made the left-back position his very own and has not looked backed since.

These days, it's rare to find a full-back, who hardly commits an error on both sides of the pitch, has a huge engine in him to run up and down the field for the full match as well as produce crosses at the highest quality on a regular basis.

The left-back area was considered an area that was in need of strengthening whenever Alberto Moreno or Joe Gomez was played in that position, however, the side's problems and worries have gone all way after the Scotsman returned into the first XI once again.



Manchester City – Fernandinho

Pep Guardiola's system surely needs many types of individuals such as a ball-playing centre-back or a dynamic and energetic inside forward, though, its importance of having a defensive-midfielder that dictates everything arguably ranks above all the other positions.

In this situation, the role that Fernandinho plays on a weekly basis is straightforward to analyse but it is not easy to complete at the same time.

On most occasions, the Citizens' backline isn't tested by the opposition due to the fact that the Brazilian's ability to intercept and tackle instantly and successfully helps the side to relax with ease.

The 32-year-old has become a crucial member to the squad and has perfected his style of play in recent years, going from an aggressive and dominant box-to-box midfielder to a calm controller sitting just in front of the defence.

When Manchester City are not in possession and are aiming to retrieve the ball, Fernandinho is one of the few players that typically covers a lot of ground in order to help his side to re-control the game.



Manchester United – Antonio Valencia

Going through the Manchester United squad, it's always individuals such as Anthony Martial, David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku that receive the huge amount of appreciation from either the fanbase or the pundits whenever Jose Mourinho's side go on to win a game.

However, the influence and presence of Antonio Valencia is more than important to the Red Devils, a player who was once upon a time, one of the best wingers in the league but has now become a huge asset within the right-back role.

Valencia was given a new responsibility under Louis Van Gaal, though, it was the tactics of Jose Mourinho that has allowed him to make the full-back position his very own as well as give him the total satisfaction of running up and down the right flank to defend and attack. On top of that, he has completed the second most tackles (43) and fourth most interceptions (33) compared to the rest of the team.



Tottenham HotspurMousa Dembele

The main focus at Tottenham Hotspur tends to be on the solid and unbreakable backline or the front three that continues to cause havoc, on the other hand, the creativity and dominance of Mousa Dembele in the middle of the pitch has not been awarded with the acknowledgement or credit he actually deserves.

He may not be your typical goal-scoring central-midfielder, but his attitude and decision-making on and off the ball is one of the key factors to why Spurs have been very good in recent years.

The Belgian international is well-known for his attribute of shielding the ball as well as his ability to be the main driving force for Mauricio Pochettino's side in midfield. After producing two top notch performances against Arsenal and Juventus, Dembele has shown time and time again, how consistent he has become within the system of the former Espanyol and Southampton manager. Although he hasn't featured much for his country as he would have hoped for, it would be more than ridiculous if Roberto Martinez does not call him to the national squad ahead of the World Cup.

About the author

Asif Norat

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