Premier League: the 10 most in-form players before lockdown | Football

With a return date now in place and anticipation building, it is easy to forget just how the season was left off. Bruno Fernandes had made a fine start to life in England after his arrival from Sporting in January, yet others had dipped. Having looked back at the last six rounds of fixtures, here are the 10 players who were enjoying the best form before the league was suspended in March.

Matt Doherty, Wolves

Matt Doherty has been instrumental in Wolves’ bid for a Champions League spot this season and he played a pivotal role in their five-game unbeaten run before the lockdown. The Republic of Ireland international scored the opening goal in Wolves’ 3-2 victory at Tottenham on 1 March, having set up a goal in their 3-0 win over Norwich the previous week. The full-back also made 15 tackles in that unbeaten run. Rating: 7.40

Sébastien Haller, West Ham

After a strong start it had been a difficult debut season for Sébastien Haller, though the Frenchman was showing signs of a return to form before the break. The striker scored his seventh goal of the season in the Hammers’ last home game – a 3-1 win over Southampton – winning a massive 14 aerial duels and even completing four dribbles. The absent fans will be hoping for more of the same once the action resumes. Rating: 7.46

James Tarkowski, Burnley

He has seemingly fallen down the pecking order in the England set-up, but James Tarkowski has enjoyed another impressive season for Burnley, excelling since the turn of the year in particular. A man mountain at the back, he played a key role in Sean Dyche’s side keeping four clean sheets from their last six matches, winning 29 aerial duels in that time and blocking 12 shots. Rating: 7.46

Harvey Barnes, Leicester City

An answer in many a lockdown football quiz, Harvey Barnes scored the last Premier League goal before lockdown in Leicester’s convincing 4-0 win over Aston Villa with what was his second of the game. The youngster certainly enjoyed home comforts before the break, having also scored in matches against West Ham and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium since the turn of the year. He mustered an impressive 15 shots in his last six outings. Rating: 7.47

Richarlison, Everton

Richarlison has thrived since Carlo Ancelotti took over at Goodison Park and will be hoping to pick up where he left off. The Brazilian scored in four of his last seven appearances pre-lockdown. He was playing in a more central position and was forming a strong partnership with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Rating: 7.47

Harry Maguire, Manchester United

While some will suggest that the money spent on the England international was excessive – it was a world record fee for a defender, after all – but Maguire has had a very positive impact on United’s defensive resolve. He has been given the captaincy and has shown real leadership from the back. The 27-year-old was in top form earlier in the year, helping the club to four clean sheets in a five-match unbeaten run before the break. United have been strong at the back. They have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals without conceding a goal and have only conceded three in nine Europa League games. Rating: 7.49

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester United

Another summer signing at Old Trafford who has undoubtedly come good since the turn of the year – if not before – Aaron Wan-Bissaka was beginning to show more attacking quality to complement his unquestionable defensive work. His tally of 14 dribbles in his last six outings attest to as much. He also maintained his impressive tackling numbers, with 21 in that time. Rating: 7.52

Dwight McNeil, Burnley

If Dwight McNeil can maintain the form he was showing before the lockdown, he will certainly be competing for a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championship next summer. His delivery from the left wing has been superb, with his crossed gobbled up with glee by the likes of Chris Wood. McNeil created 13 chances in his five appearances before the league was suspended. The 20-year-old’s industry has also been invaluable, with 15 tackles in his last six outings to complement a recent goal and assist against Bournemouth. Rating: 7.57

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

While many feel this has been the Egyptian’s weakest season in a Liverpool shirt – ironically, in the Reds’ finest in Premier League history – Salah seemed keen to prove a point prior to the break. Five goals from his last six league appearances have thrust the forward right back into the running for what would be a third consecutive Golden Boot, while chipping in with 15 successful dribbles in that time. Rating: 7.59

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Liverpool may have dominated the season, but Kevin De Bruyne has been the league’s top individual performer. He has set up 16 goals this season. To put that in some context, Trent Alexander-Arnold (on 12) is the only other player in double figures and the all-time Premier League record is 20 in one season, set by Thierry Henry in 2002-03. De Bruyne was at his creative best before the league was suspended, setting up four goals in his last six appearances. Rating: 7.73

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