The Wonderkid Power Rankings: Everton star fights to stay top as Palace and Liverpool youngsters shine

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Will Jarrad Branthwaite be named the best young player in the Premier League again? Or can the likes of Adam Wharton and Harvey Elliott take top spot?

Welcome once more to our weekly Wonderkid Power Rankings – our countdown of the ten most in-form young players in the Premier League. Last week, Jarrad Branthwaite took advantage of the void left when Cole Palmer aged out of contention to be named our number one, but can he hold on to top spot once more?

Adam Wharton, Kobbie Mainoo and Harvey Elliott have all been applying plenty of pressure at the top of the table lately and we’ll see how they got on later as well, but we do have to note that two players are making way this time out – Morgan Rogers missed Aston Villa’s most recent match through injury, while Bournemouth’s lllia Zabarnyi drops out after a mediocre outing in the defeat to Brentford.

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All of that leaves two vacancies to fill and we have an early-season star who’s finally returning to form and a brand new entry coming in to take up the slack. So without further ado, let’s find out who’s in our top ten this time around…

10. Jérémy Doku – Manchester City (⬇️ 5)

Naturally, compiling this list every week involves a lot of highly subjective decisions, but one rule we have is that a player can’t be knocked out of the top five because of one bad game or a single match missed through injury or suspension. Doku really tested that rule this week.

He only got 15 minutes of game time against Fulham but probably made more of an impact for the opposition that he did for his own team – he only had time for 18 touches of the ball but managed to give it away six times. So in other words, a third of the times he got possession, he gave it right back. He didn’t manage to do anything useful with the 12 touches he didn’t make a meal of, either. Not the Belgian’s finest quarter-hour.

9. Pape Matar Sarr – Tottenham Hotspur (re-entry)

The Senegalese midfielder was superb in the first half of the season but tailed off a bit after the Africa Cup of Nations and lost his spot in our top ten – but he’s finally hauled himself out of the rut and breaks back into the rankings after a series of rock solid displays for Spurs.

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His passing, in particular, was impressive in the 2-1 win over Burnley, and he ended up with a 98% pass completion rate, misplacing just one ball across the entire match. He was also excellent in tight spaces and handled the Clarets’ physicality very well – this was the kind of sturdy, consistent performance that his side have missed since the turn of the year.

8. Jhon Durán – Aston Villa (new entry)

The 20-year-old Colombian has spent the entire season firmly in the shadow of Ollie Watkins – but what a way to break out of it and make sure the spotlight is on you for a change. His two late goals against Liverpool not only earned his side an improbable point in the chase for the Champions League but also represented one of the most impactful cameos of the season.

You can argue all night about whether he intended his eventual equaliser, which looped up and over Alisson via a flick of the boot, but his first was superbly taken, a fabulously confident finish from the edge of the area which belied the relatively minimal minutes he’s been given this season. Perhaps this will prove to be a flash in the pan, but Durán cooked up a storm at Villa Park on Monday night.

7. Tino Livramento – Newcastle United (⬆️ 1)

The former Southampton man is proving a very able deputy for Kieran Trippier and he impressed with the ball again over the course of the 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion, using the ball well and making several dangerous runs into the Seagulls’ territory.

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He wasn’t able to find a telling final ball on this occasion and he demonstrated the need to be a little stronger in one-on-ones (he lost over half of his duels and didn’t land a single successful tackle) but he also showed that he can read the game superbly well, making several important clearances and interceptions over the course of the game. A very promising display.

6. Murillo – Nottingham Forest (⬆️ 3)

Forest may have fallen to a late defeat to Chelsea over the weekend, but the young Brazilian defender did everything in his power to prevent it. He made a huge number of contributions at the back over the course of the match – four tackles, eight clearances, and he won every single aerial battle he was able to get involved in.

He used the ball pretty well too. Mostly he was asked to get the ball down the field of play as quickly as possible, a tactic which can do terrible things to a player’s passing accuracy stats, but he completed five of seven long passes (more impressive that it might sound) and generally managed to keep Forest moving rather than simply hacking it clear. A very mature performance which maybe deserved better than it got.

5. Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United (⬆️ 2)

There are two ways to view Garnacho at this stage of his development – the first, more pessimistic, reading is that he’s a wastrel whose talent is spent selfishly. All that dribbling and those darting runs against Arsenal produced seven shots on goal, but they only amounted to 0.26xG and, rather more importantly, no goals.

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But we prefer the kinder take, which is that he was the only player in red who even offered any meaningful spark in attack – the only player willing and able to beat his man and try anything a little risky in the final third. It didn’t come off this time, but any fair reading of Garnacho’s game should offer him plenty of credit for at least having ambition and flair.

4. Kobbie Mainoo – Manchester United (⬇️ 1)

Mainoo recycled possession very well over the course of the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but despite barely misplacing a pass he drops a spot after finding himself unquestionably outmuscled in midfield – he lost nine of the 15 one-on-one duels he got involved in and was dribbled past on three occasions, only managing one successful tackle.

That isn’t a great defensive return, all told, but spoke more to his inexperience than to any lack of coolness – some rather bizarre comments have circulated about him being less than unflappable, a claim which doesn’t tally with anything we’ve seen. Game after game, Manchester United have lost their heads, while Mainoo alone keeps his.

3. Harvey Elliott – Liverpool (⬆️ 1)

The wiry-haired little wizard finally seems to have nailed down a starting spot under Jürgen Klopp (just in time for him to leave, naturally) and picked up another assist in yet another display of creative excellence against Aston Villa on Monday.

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It was his superb cross from a free-kick which found the head of Jarell Quansah – who, by the way, hovers on the fringes of the top ten himself – for Liverpool’s third and he put in plenty of other dangerous final balls over the course of the game. Not everything came off this time around, but he was arguably Liverpool’s best playmaker on the night and showed plenty of little flashes of technique and quality throughout.

2. Adam Wharton – Crystal Palace (-)

This wasn’t, all told, Wharton’s best game for Palace, but he still ended up with an assist for his troubles and made a lot of telling contributions – and now there are even reports that Bayern Munich want to sign him just a few months after he moved from Blackburn Rovers in the first place.

Granted, his assist really just consisted of passing the ball to Michael Olise and letting him do the rest (and boy did he) but it’s the regularity with which he looks for and finds quick forward balls that has made so many of Palace’s recent goals happen – and he was typically dogged in defence, even if Wolves did get the better of him in quite a lot of one-on-one situations and forced him to commit three fouls. That said, he drew three himself, so that evens out... A game in which he reminded us, as if it was required, that he has enormous quality, but also a bit left to learn.

1. Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (-)

Another clean sheet, another rock solid display, another game in which he proved himself to be one of the most reliable defenders in the league at just 21 years of age. His performance in the 1-0 win over Sheffield United wasn’t necessarily a five-star display, but it was more than enough to keep him top this week.

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You have to really dig deep to find a foot put wrong this weekend – he won every aerial duel, lost just one on the ground, made four tackles, cleared three balls that made their way over the top, and passed the ball around nicely, too, which is an area in which he has shown considerable development over the course of the season. A brilliant player and astonishingly mature for his years.

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