1. KAI HAVERTZ (8.6)
That’s now five starts in a row with a rating of 7.9 or higher for King Kai, who probably missed his first glorious chance just to make it even more glorious when he did score in the 89th minute. That it left 10-foot-tall Dan Burn keeling over in his wake — Timberrrrrr! — only added to the glory.
I talked briefly about this during my appearance on the London is Blue Podcast (check it out!), but I was reminded of Dennis Bergkamp’s goal in the 1998 World Cup by this effort. The execution was slightly different in terms of the second touch, but the first touches are amazingly similar and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any better — this season or any season.
There’s no award for Premier League Touch of the Year, but this just might be it.
That Havertz first touch is so beautiful it should be hung in a museum.— These Football Times (@thesefootytimes) March 14, 2022
But what is the greatest first touch of all time? As ever, visual evidence greatly encouraged.
2. ANTONIO RÜDIGER (7.6)
Toni get a rare day off midweek, his first since the Chesterfield FA Cup match two months ago, starting a dozen in a row before getting a rest against Norwich City.
Unsurprisingly, he was even more energized than usual, with several of his classic forays forward and bits of silliness sprinkled in elsewhere, such as his high-stepping shenanigans, which fit perfectly with the recently released “Rüdiger” track.
3. N’GOLO KANTÉ (7.6)
It’s not been a banner season for Kanté, but he has seemingly turned a corner around the turn of the year, both in terms of performances (back to world class form just simply good) and in terms of injuries (staying healthy and fit). Those two are probably not unrelated. He’s failed to make an appearance in just 2 of our last 12 games, starting 8 along the way.
vs. NEWCASTLE UNITED (PL, H, W 1-0)
EXCEPTIONAL (9.0+): —
EXCELLENT (8.0-8.9): Havertz (8.6)
GOOD (7.0-7.9): Rüdiger (7.6), Kanté (7.6), Jorginho (7.2), Kovačić (7.2, sub), Mendy (7.1), Christensen (7.0)
AVERAGE (6.0-6.9): Ziyech (6.6), Chalobah (6.3), Pulisic (6.3, sub), Sarr (6.2), Mount (6.2)
POOR (5.0-5.9): Lukaku (5.8, sub), Werner (5.4)
BAD (4.0-4.9): —
TERRIBLE (3.0-3.9): —