Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi has performed better in the Premier League than reigning PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk, according to football statistics website Whoscored.
The London-based company have put together their best-rated eleven of 2020 thus far with Mustafi partnering Liverpool’s Van Dijk, widely regarded the best centre-half in the game, at the back.
Mustafi has only played five of a possible eight Premier League games this year, though has completed the full 90 minutes in all of those.
Of those matches, Arsenal won two and drew three, keeping two clean sheets and conceding five goals.
He even helped himself to an assist in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in January, although Gabriel Martinelli had to run 60 yards before finishing.
And Mustafi’s displays make him the highest-rated Premier League defender of the calendar year in Whoscored’s eyes.
Their ratings are based on a unique statistical algorithm that comprises of over 200 raw stats.
They say the importance of every event is taken into account which then has a negative or positive impact on the ratings depending on the area of the pitch where it happened and the outcome of it.
Their Premier League team of 2020 stipulates that only players who have played a minimum of five times in the league this year qualify.
With Mustafi having picked up ratings of 7.6 against Sheffield United, 7.14 in the draw at Chelsea, 7.67 against Burnley, 7.83 versus Newcastle and 7.27 last time out against Everton, he comes out with an average rating of 7.50.
And that is 0.02 higher than Van Dijk, who comes out with a 7.48 for the year so far with Liverpool having began to leak goals in 2020.
The Reds have conceded six goals in their five league games since the turn of the year, having conceded the same amount across their final 12 games of 2019.
Unsurprisingly, league leaders Liverpool are the best-represented team in the line-up with three players, captain Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah – hunting for a third straight Golden Boot – joining Van Dijk.
No other club has more than one player, although Manchester United new boy Bruno Fernandes features.
The Portuguese midfielder has only played five times in the Premier League but boasts two goals and three assists already.
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Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne joins him and Henderson in the middle as he chases the assists record, having racked up 16 so far with the most currently Thierry Henry’s 20 in 2002-03.
Up top, Salah – with 16 top-flight goals – starts on the left with Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin on the right. Richarlison of Everton leads the line.
Elsewhere at the back, Hugo Lloris starts in goal with Ricardo Pereira and Cesar Azpilicueta in either full-back role.
Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Ian Wright recently praised manager Mikel Arteta for getting the best of Mustafi in recent months.
He told Premier League Productions: “Mustafi is playing fantastic now. It wasn’t long ago that after the Chelsea game I thought he was someone they had to move on.
“It seems like he’s [Arteta] getting a tune out of him now. He’s become one of our most solid players.”
Whoscored’s best-rated Premier League XI of 2020
4-3-3: Lloris; Pereira, Mustafi, Van Dijk, Azpilicueta; Henderson, Fernandes, De Bruyne; Salah, Richarlison, Saint-Maximin.
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