Wolverhampton midfielder Ruben Neves stole the limelight in Saturday’s match against Everton. Despite two goals from Richarlison, he clawed Wolves back into the game, earning them a point with a stunning goal and an assist. Maryam Naz profiles Neves in the first instalment of The Offside Rule’s Premier League player of the week.
The 21-year-old Neves showcased his superb dribbling ability throughout Saturday’s match. He wove his way through the Evertonian midfield, making a total of 108 touches in the game – the most completed by any player.
His work off the ball also warrants a mention. Neves pressed hard in the centre of the pitch, and did not give Marco Silva’s central midfielders an inch to work with. Both of Richarlison’s goals were created by the Brazilian’s own grafting, and not the work of a midfield maestro.
Neves is adept at creating his own chances, but he shines when providing for others. He is able to feed players further up the pitch with his trademark through balls, but also through longer passes. In Saturday’s game, he completed ten long passes, the most done by any player on the pitch, evident in his link-up play with Raul Jiménez.
In contrast, Everton had to take off their playmaker, Gylfi Sigurdsson, after he was substituted in the aftermath of Phil Jagielka’s red card, significantly weakening their attack. While Neves dictated play through the centre of the pitch, there was a lack of creativity in Everton’s central midfield, allowing the Portuguese to grow in confidence.
While he may operate within the confines of central midfield, Neves’ shooting ability is akin to that of a striker. With all his goals in last season’s campaign coming from outside the box, it is no surprise that he has begun this season in similar fashion.
He scored a stunning free-kick just before half-time to level the score for Wolves, evading Jordan Pickford’s reach with his technique. He nearly doubled his tally after the break, when he was given the time and space to hit a 30-yard shot at Pickford’s goal – he only narrowly missed.
Neves may have been the pick of the bunch for player of the week, but there were also some outstanding performances from other players across the league deserving of an honorary mention.
Liverpool’s Naby Keita impressed on his debut after joining the Red’s over the summer from RB Leipzig. Everton’s Richarlison, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, and Watford’s Roberto Pereyra also stood out for their respective teams, but it was Neves who stole top honours.
All eyes will be on Neves to see whether he can be just as prolific next week when Nuno Espirito Santo’s side face Leicester City.
Follow Maryam on Twitter @mnaz98
Stats via PremierLeague.com