Tanner’s Takes: 5 Best Players NOT in the “BIG 6”

by Tanner Pruitt

Hey everyone! Glad I could make it back to writing this week! Last week I had my hands full as I am currently in the process of moving as well as going back to school, but with the International Duty break I’ve had enough time to finally get myself back behind the keyboard for this lovely webset.

So, I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a post on my TL that made me stop and ponder. A lot of what you see on Football Twitter is simply someone pandering to their on biases and putting down some rival (though I guess that’s most of Twitter, if you think about it). But this was actually a really good, simple post. The basic premise was “who are the best players NOT in the Traditional Big 6”, which is a very complex question to answer. The Big 6, of course, are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, and generally speaking the vast majority of players seeking to go to the Premier League aim to go to these clubs. They’re the ones with the history, the money, the prestige, the nice trophy cabinets, the happy lunch ladies making sure to ask how your day is going, and so on.

But of course, not everyone gets to play for these clubs and THAT’S OK! Truly. You gotta start somewhere, and even though it may not always be your first choice, there’s a ton of other great clubs in the Premier League with great history and considering revenues, they all seem to pay really well in most cases.

The following are players who are making waves in the Premier League outside of the Big 6 Clubs:

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish - Player profile 20/21 | Transfermarkt

Seems like an obvious place to start. Jack Grealish is certainly one of the most in-form and in-demand players in the Premier League. Though England Head Coach seemingly harbored some kind of weird resentment towards the former Ireland International for so long (Grealish has only recently made his England debut and has dual citizenship), Grealish immediately rose to the occasion for the Three Lions and has given them a creative outlet they have so desperately needed.

The 25-year old Aston Villa captain has had an impressive season so far in the Premier League, securing 4 goals and 5 assists in 7 games. Grealish was the tip of the spear for Aston Villa when they took down defending Premier League Champions Liverpool 7-2, scoring 2 goals and assisting 3 more. He does have what I could only call a “unique” superstition, purposefully wearing shin-pads that are far too small, but don’t let that fool you: Jack Grealish is a big-time player with more to come.

James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez Best Signing Of Window So Far - Darren Bent

Talk about making an instant impact. Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees were surging in the league at a nightmarish pace at the start of the season making some particularly great transfers. People have been fawning over Allan, who made his transfer to Everton from Napoli, but for me it’s his teammate James Rodriguez that has been the real talisman that Everton have brought in this season. Rodriguez has secured 3 goals and 3 assists in 3 appearances for the club. You don’t have to be great at math to know those are great stats.

His cost from Real Madrid?

$0.

Yup.

Free. Reported by transfermarkt.us, Rodriguez’s former club Club Atletico Banfield was supposed to receive a partial fee as part of a “solidarity agreement” with Real Madrid, the club selling Rodriguez to Everton. Real Madrid instead only sold Rodriguez for a sell-on fee, future money to be earned if Everton sell Rodriguez in the future. Simply, no money was ever exchanged over the transfer of James Rodriguez at the time of his transfer.

Now, let’s all take a moment and spare a thought for Atletico Banfield.

Ok, carry on.

Jamie Vardy

Man City vs Leicester: Jamie Vardy got under Pep Guardiola's skin and might  just have changed his mind forever

Well this one wasn’t going unmentioned.

You know why I love Jamie Vardy so much? Because I feel like I could’ve been Jamie Vardy. He’s your mate that your sitting next to at the bar, you watch in astonishment as he pours a bag of skittles into a neat glass of vodka moments after pounding a whole Red Bull.

Seriously, this man has energy for days and has harnessed that energy to take Leicester City to the top of the Premier League table as of the time of me writing this. Vardy has 8 goals and 1 assist in 7 appearances for the Foxes and had a big hand in decimating Manchester City 5-2 in September.

Vardy has been iconic for Leicester City, but two big questions loom at large for the Foxes: what happens if Vardy gets injured, and how do you replace Vardy at the end of his career?

Vardy may be a live-wire, but at 33 years old he’s no spring chicken. Only Vardy knows how long he’ll keep going, but based on his performances over the last few years, let’s hope he’s got a lot more time left in those sugar-cane fueled legs of his.

James Ward-Prowse

Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse to receive England call-up? -  Sports Mole

So, for this next pick, I was a bit conflicted. I won’t lie to you, in most cases I would’ve written about fellow Saints player Danny Ings and told you how great he is, because he really is great. Like, he really really is. But because of the torrid time he’s had with injuries over the years and considering the injury he’s afflicted with now, that’s going to hurt his chances on a list like this which is truly unfortunate.

Let’s instead talk about his teammate, James Ward-Prowse.

I’ve always had a soft-spot for this guy myself, I think he’s a massively underrated player who has an awesome eye for goals and assists and is a supremely good free-kick taker. So far this season he’s racked up 3 goals and 1 assist in 8 games, 2 goals coming from free kicks on his birthday in a thrilling contest that ended in a 4-3 Southampton win.

There’s really no downside to his game. Defensively he secures an average of 2.25 tackles per game and as far as passing is concerned he completes an average of 84.83% per game.

One final note, he’s a hometown player through-and-through, starting as a Youth player for the Saints in 2003 and never playing for another club since. In an era where loyalty tends to go in the bin in favor of the all-mighty dollar, this hits me right in the feels.

Karl Darlow

Report: John Gibson reveals Steve Bruce's stance on Newcastle's Karl Darlow  | thisisfutbol.com

I had to include a Goalkeeper in the list. It’s such a unique position, one that I personally could never and will never master. Growing old sucks, kids…

Karl Darlow is an interesting case. In most cases he wouldn’t be the first-choice keeper for Newcastle United, that job would normally go to Martin Dubravka. However, a heel injury and a setback or two has kept Dubravka off the field.

Enter Karl Darlow.

A bit of a journeyman, Darlow has settled in nicely in the Newcastle United defense, making a total of 39 saves and keeping 1 cleansheet for the Magpies in a season that has been goals-galore. Against Spurs, a team that has been rampant in front of goal, Darlow made 11 saves, seven of which were inside the box where Spurs have been lethal. Darlow has held up very well under immense pressure and has certainly brought some relief to Newcastle fans everywhere for his cool-headedness.

One thing is for sure for the GK position in Newcastle, Dubravka isn’t going to be handed his spot back on a silver-platter: He’s going to have a massive fight on his hands wrestling it away from Darlow.

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