The Wonderkid Power Rankings: Liverpool starlets impress & Man Utd youngsters struggle in battle for top spot

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Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea youngsters are among the players battling to be named the best in the Premier League.

It’s once again time for our weekly Wonderkid Power Rankings, our regular attempt to put the ten best young players in the Premier League in some kind of order based on their recent form at the very top level.

We return to something resembling normality after the international break, after last week saw Harvey Elliott usurp Cole Palmer’s throne after some sublime showings for England Under-21s – but can he cling on to top spot after Palmer bagged a brace for Chelsea against Burnley?

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We say goodbye to two players this week – Oscar Bobb sneaked in off the back of his international displays but misses out this time around after failing to get off the bench against Arsenal, while Destiny Udogie’s patchy recent form comes home to roost after a tough game against Luton Town which saw him lose one too many battles down the flank. Given how good he’s been for large parts of the season, we’re sure he’ll be back before long.

Anyway, without any additional ado, let’s find out who comes into replace Bobb and Udogie and see who comes out on top this time…

10. Adam Wharton – Crystal Palace (re-entry)

The dynamic young midfielder has taken a bit of an extended break from the top ten for the simple reason that he hadn’t played a Premier League game for almost a month before the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest – but he rightly retakes his place after another rock solid display at the heart of the Palace midfield.

As usual, his defensive work was energetic and redoubtable and his passing was crisp and accurate, with some especially nice direct balls up to the front line in there. Palace have got themselves a very gifted player indeed.

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9. Jarell Quansah – Liverpool (new entry)

Quansah has been hovering around the edges of the top ten for a while now and finally breaks through after a brilliant defensive display in the 2-1 win over Brighton on Sunday. The 21-year-old was heavily involved throughout and scarcely put a foot wrong in the face of every test that the Seagulls could throw at him.

His anticipation was especially impressive – he made two important clearances and cut out four passes before they even reached their target, and used the ball well when he got hold of it as well, racking up an 89% pass completion rate over a whopping 126 touches of the ball. A mature performance that belied his relative inexperience.

8. Teden Mengi – Luton Town (⬆️ 1)

Mengi was pretty close to being an immovable object against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and while his side couldn’t scrape a much-needed win, little blame can be placed at the feet of the newly-minted England Under-21 international, who dealt with just about everything that was thrown at him.

That included a goal-line clearance after Son Heung-Min clattered both posts with one attempt, which was one of five clearances Mengi made, and he turned possession over four times in the process of stopping several dangerous attacks. This was an old-fashioned sort of defensive display with the emphasis very much on getting the ball as far away from goal as possible rather than doing anything with it himself, but he did the job he was asked to do extremely well.

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7. Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United (⬇️ 4)

There wasn’t a single player in red who comes away with much credit from a dreadful display against Brentford, but while Manchester United escaped with an ill-deserved draw, Garnacho doesn’t escape a drop into the bottom half of the Power Rankings after an entirely ineffective display.

The Argentine only touched the ball 25 times, registered zero shots on goal and didn’t beat a single player on the dribble. He’s been impressive of late, but had he not been on the pitch at all on Saturday evening then it’s fair to assume that nobody would have noticed.

6. Malo Gusto – Chelsea (-)

We saw a bit of a mixed bag from the young Frenchman against Burnley, not least because he limped off with an apparent injury towards the end of the 2-2 draw. But even before that, it was an odd combination of flashes of excellence and iffy moments.

There were some fine tackles but he also allowed Burnley players past him one too many times, with Wilson Odobert going close early on after drifting past Gusto far too easily. There was a lot of threat going forward on the run, but also a good opportunity missed in front of goal and a couple of wayward passes. Not a bad outing, by any means, but not a consistent one either.

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5. Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton (⬆️ 5)

Between the time spent stuck on England’s bench and one or two less than stellar recent performances, Branthwaite had been in danger of sliding out of top ten entirely – but the former chart-topper was pretty much back to his best despite the devastating late defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Branthwaite one every single one-on-one battle that came his way on the ground and in the air, made no fewer than seven clearances as he anticipated everything that Bournemouth could throw in behind the Everton line, and didn’t put a single foot wrong throughout the 90 minutes. Unfortunately for the Toffees, Seamus Coleman did.

4. Harvey Elliott – Liverpool (⬇️ 1)

Elliott spends just one week at the top after getting just 14 minutes of football at Anfield this weekend – that’s not really enough time to show the world what he can do, and he didn’t.

There were a couple of decent balls up to the attacking line but he also gave possession away three times and really didn’t find a way to influence proceedings at all. Sometimes you come off the bench and just don’t get into the game at all – this was one of those times.

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3. Kobbie Mainoo – Manchester United (⬇️ 1)

Mainoo didn’t struggle to the same extent that Garnacho did, but he didn’t exactly stamp his authority onto the game at Old Trafford either. Given a lot of battles to fight in midfield, the youngster lost most of them, and while we won’t punish him too harshly given his excellent recent form and impressive display for England against Belgium, this wasn’t a day he’ll want to dwell on.

The teen sensation never really got much going in the final third, didn’t create anything meaningful, was dribbled past more times than he managed to land a tackle and was out-muscled in several midfield duels. A notch on the learning curve for a supremely talented young player.

2. Conor Bradley – Liverpool (⬆️ 2)

Does Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury even matter at this point? Young back-up Bradley was absolutely superb at both ends of the pitch against Brighton, and arguably the best player on the field for either side. Keep those sort of showings coming, and Alexander-Arnold might not even be needed when he’s fit again…

Bradley was impassable at the back, making six tackles and three interceptions as the Seagulls pecked away at Liverpool’s right flank, was indomitable in one-on-one situations, and offered plenty going forward too with some absolutely brilliant passing – he was responsible, directly or indirectly, for many of Mohamed Salah’s 12 shots on goal. A fantastic display from one of the surprise packages of the season.

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1. Cole Palmer – Chelsea (⬆️ 4)

After taking a week off to sit on the England bench, Palmer goes straight back to number one as he dragged Chelsea kicking and screaming towards another point more or less all by himself. Again.

A Panenka penalty, a cool finish across James Trafford to give his side the lead, some stunning passes (not least a near-perfect cross to give Raheem Sterling a fabulous chance to win the game at the death) and even a 100% success rate with his dribbles – in other words, yet another virtuoso performance from a player that Chelsea simply can’t get by without. They’ve burned a lot of money on a lot of under-performing players in the post-Abramovich era, but let’s give credit where it’s due: Palmer has been one of the signings of the season.

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