Unsung heroes

In the world of the Premier League, not every player can get equal billing. But the Opta statistics do not lie. Here we pick out five players impressing for their clubs whose work this season might have gone under the national radar...

Premier League Unsung Heroes

Sky Sports uses Opta data to pick out those Premier League players going under the radar.

It's no surprise to see Sergio Aguero and Robin van Persie in the goals this season, while a host of new arrivals from Mesut Ozil to Morgan Amalfitano have stolen the headlines. Then there are the youngsters such as Adnan Januzaj and Ravel Morrison, whose displays have simply demanded attention. But what about those players going under the radar? The following five players have just two goals between them so far this season and they won't be sampling Champions League football anytime soon. But the Opta stats suggest they've been quietly impressing for their sides...
Tackles per 90 mins - PL Defenders 2013/14
Player Club Number
Joel Ward Crystal Palace 5.00
Nathaniel Clyne Southampton 4.90
Pablo Zabaleta Man City 4.86
Erik Pieters Stoke City 3.71
Mathieu Debuchy Newcastle Utd 3.31

Joel Ward - Crystal Palace

It's been a difficult start to the season for Crystal Palace with Ian Holloway's team losing five of their first six matches on their return to the Premier League. But one man who has undoubtedly enhanced his reputation is right-back Joel Ward. A bargain £400,000 signing from Portsmouth in May of last year, the 23-year-old has taken his form into the big league with some dominant displays. He has made more tackles per 90 minutes than any other defender so far this season and has shown the sort of backs-to-the-wall resolve that the Eagles will need to come up with if they are to avoid the drop.

Winston Reid - West Ham

West Ham may find themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League table, but - Ravel Morrison excitement aside - that owes much to their struggles in front of goal. Keeping them out has not been a problem with only two teams conceding fewer goals than the Hammers. As ever, Winston Reid has been a big part of that. The powerful Kiwi ranks in the top three in the top flight for headed clearances so far this season and is equally adept on the ground - featuring among the top 10 defenders for interceptions too. Nobody at the Boleyn Ground is underestimating Reid's contribution.
Headed clearances - PL 2013/14
Player Club Number
Curtis Davies Hull City 51
Nemanja Vidic Man Utd 50
Winston Reid West Ham Utd 46

Curtis Davies - Hull City

"He hasn't surprised me," said Hull boss Steve Bruce following a man of the match performance by Davies in the goalless draw with Aston Villa. "For me to pay £2.25million is a lot of money. I've still got big connections at Birmingham and he's been their player of the year for the last two seasons, which is not easy to do for a centre-back." Davies played just eight Premier League match between May 2009 and August 2012, but he returns to the top division as a more complete player. The athleticism remains but the 28-year-old is now doing the basics well too. His 51 headed clearances this season is a Premier League high.
Fabian Delph - PL Rankings 2013/14
Discipline Total Ranking
Tackles 28 7th
Interceptions 18 5th
Dribbles 21 4th

Fabian Delph - Aston Villa

"I knew about his potential at Leeds because I'd seen him there, but you're never quite sure until you actually work with somebody how good they are and how good they can become," said Paul Lambert earlier this season. "But he's playing really well at the minute. He's only a young lad still, so if he can keep injury free he's got a big, big future." Delph is a rarity in the era of midfield specialists - a combative midfielder with impressive dribbling skills. He currently ranks among the top 10 players in the Premier League for tackles, interceptions and dribbles, doing a defensive job for his team, while also providing the thrust that helps make Villa such a threat on the counter-attack.
Successful passes - PL 2013/14
Player Club Number
Michael Carrick Man Utd 504
Yaya Toure Man City 498
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal 434
Steven N'Zonzi Stoke City 421
Jose Canas Swansea City 399

Jose Canas - Swansea City

First it was Joe Allen, then Ki Sung-Yueng, now Jose Canas is the man helping knit Swansea's midfield moves together alongside the ever-reliable Leon Britton. The 26-year-old arrived on a free transfer from Real Betis in the summer and has performed a dual role in the middle of the pitch by stopping opposition attacks and keeping that ball moving for his side. Michael Carrick is the only Premier League midfielder to make more interceptions this season, while only four players have made more successful passes - with only Yaya Toure among them bettering the Swansea man's passing accuracy of over 90 per cent. Which Premier League player do you think deserves more praise? Let us know in the comments section below...

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