The Wonderkid Power Rankings: Chelsea's Cole Palmer fights to stay top as Man City & Aston Villa stars impress

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We rank the ten best young players in the Premier League as Cole Palmer faces competition from Manchester City and Aston Villa starlets.

Welcome to our weekly Wonderkid Power Rankings – our best effort at ordering the ten most talented and in-form young players in the Premier League right now.

Cole Palmer has rightly dominated the top of our table for the last month or so, but after the Chelsea and England man blanked on goals and assists for the first time since February, can anyone displace him? Well, with a few teams out of action since last Tuesday’s rankings, there weren’t too many top contenders involved, but there were still some hugely impressive performances to pore over.

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We do lose one player from the rankings this week in the shape of Rico Lewis. Having forced his way into the top five last time around, he was promptly benched for the games against Real Madrid and Chelsea and so can’t really qualify for our rankings on form. His departure does at least leave room for a brand new entry, fresh out of the Midlands. Without any further ado, let’s get to it…

10. Malo Gusto – Chelsea (⬇️ 1)

Gusto has just about enough credit in the bank to cling on to a spot in our top ten, but he didn’t have the best game of his career in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, and suffered as the game wore on and the fresh-legged Jérémy Doku (more on him later…) came on to torment him.

The Frenchman was beaten no fewer than five times on the dribble (and made just two successful tackles all game) and wasn’t able to make his usual impactful forays down the right flank either, managing just one cross all match. This wasn’t his best game, but his recent form has still been highly impressive.

9. Milos Kerkez – Bournemouth (⬆️ 1)

Kerkez still has some rough edges to sand off of his game as an attacking full-back – his crossing was off in the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa and none of his four attempts reached a team-mate – but his pace and willingness to run at defenders always makes him a threat, as Matty Cash discovered when he sent Kerkez sprawling to the turf in the penalty box after a quick check-back proved too sharp to handle.

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He was pretty solid at the back as well, even if Villa didn’t launch too many attacks down the Bournemouth left on this occasion – most of their play went the other way, and Kerkez wasn’t really to blame for the three goals the Cherries eventually conceded.

8. Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United (-)

A freakish game of football at Wembley was a fairly strange one for Garnacho as well – he was subbed off just before Coventry City started their stirring comeback and will get none of the blame for the farrago that unfolded, but while he was on the field he managed to be both busy and threatening while simultaneously rather ineffective.

He got four shots away, but all were off target. He was excellent on the ball with an 80% dribble success rate and 95% passing accuracy, but didn’t create any meaningful chances. He was, in other words, both really good and fundamentally fairly bad. As we’ve no real idea of how to assess such a performance, we’ve just kept him at number eight.

7. Morgan Rogers – Aston Villa (new entry)

A January signing from Middlesbrough, England Under-21 international Rogers has taken to life in the top flight remarkably quickly and bagged his second goal of the month against Bournemouth, racing onto Moussa Diaby’s diagonal ball, dummying a defender brilliantly to create some room and then lashing the ball into the back of the net.

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If you want to be a critic, you could point out that he did give the ball away quite a lot against Bournemouth, but then again it was also his inch-perfect through-ball that set Ollie Watkins free to tee up Villa’s second as well – and he was pretty tidy against Lille in the Europa Conference League quarter-finals too. A very nice week’s work for a man who looks like he’s been in the Premier League for a lot longer than he has.

6. Harvey Elliott – Liverpool (⬇️ 1)

It’s probably a little cruel to bump Elliott down one just after he finally got a well-deserved 90 minutes against Fulham, played pretty well and picked up an assist, but he gets pipped to this week’s top five by a couple of players who were able to make a bigger all-round impact.

Benched for the Europa League game against Atalanta, he eventually got 23 rather uneventful minutes of action, but he was lively and involved in the 3-1 win at Craven Cottage, setting up a goal (albeit with a simple side-footed pass to Ryan Gravenberch) and generally making a nuisance of himself. He did scuff a left-footed shot well wide from the edge of the area in a promising position, but there was ultimately more good than bad over the course of the last week.

5. Jérémy Doku – Manchester City (⬆️ 2)

The Belgian didn’t get a start this week but did make the most of the minutes he got from the bench against Real Madrid and Chelsea, causing some very good defenders some very serious headaches with two typical livewire displays of dribbling, sharp passing and dangerous movement.

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He was perhaps at his best in the Champions League, creating three chances, drawing three fouls and winning eight one-on-ones as he flourished both in space and in confined areas around the edge of the box. The winger is getting back to his very best.

4. Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (⬆️ 2)

The towering defender was a doubt for Everton’s crunch relegation clash against Nottingham Forest but made it onto the pitch and put in a classic Branthwaite performance – strong, resilient and showing plenty of awareness of dangerous balls over the top and around the back as he made no fewer than seven clearances.

Throw in three tackles, two interceptions and a few key headers, and this was the kind of display that has seen him linked with a big-money move to Manchester United in the summer. When he’s on form, there’s simply no way past him.

3. Adam Wharton – Crystal Palace (⬆️ 1)

The skinny little midfielder may not look like much but he’s become a key player for Oliver Glasner’s suddenly on-song Crystal Palace side and he was very good again in the 5-2 win over West Ham United.

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Before he was taken off just after the hour mark, he managed to contribute four tackles to recover possession, used the ball well when he got it, created one big chance and set up the move for Palace’s opener with a penetrating ball between the lines. His passing is crisp, precise and creative and he’s surprisingly rugged off the ball as well – a very promising start to his Premier League career just seems to get better with each passing week.

2. Kobbie Mainoo - Manchester United (-)

Like Garnacho, Mainoo can’t take any of the blame for Manchester United’s late collapse against Coventry in the FA Cup – he was hauled off with the score at 3-1 after a very tidy game in which his smart, elegant passing moved things around nicely and helped Erik ten Hag’s side to keep possession ticking over in a way that they failed to do quite miserably as soon as he was back on the bench.

Admittedly, he did struggle in one-on-one situations against a more robust Championship side and lost four of his five ground duels as well as being responsible for three fouls, so it was a far from perfect performance and Ten Hag wasn’t entirely wrong to take him off, but Mainoo offers more control than anyone else in that midfield even on a (relatively) bad day.

1. Cole Palmer – Chelsea (-)

Palmer may have failed to score or set a goal up for the first time in seven weeks against Manchester City, but it wasn’t for want of trying or for a lack of quality, and there was no chance he was losing top spot off the back of what was still a very decent performance against the reigning champions.

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In a more just world, perhaps his quick shimmy to create space just inside the area would have resulted in a slightly firmer strike which Stefan Ortega couldn’t palm away at the far post, and his perfect cross for Nicolas Jackson might not have seen the Senegalese striker head straight at the goalkeeper – but this isn’t a just world, so a match in which he once again offered a ton of threat going forward ended without reward. He was pretty useful off the ball, too, making four tackles as he tracked back and pressed with endless industry against his old club. Manchester City may have been the winners on the day, but in signing Palmer from them, Chelsea have already earned a pretty big win of their own.

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