Johann Berg Gudmundsson: The most underrated player in the Premier League?
Gudmundsson has an incredible record at Turf Moor (photo: Wikimedia)

Johann Berg Gudmundsson: The most underrated player in the Premier League?

The Iceland international has proved himself to be a key player for Burnley over the last 12 months, pivotal to their recent successes.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

With one goal and four assists in the opening eight games of the 2018-19 campaign, Johann Berg Gudmundsson has already contributed to half of Burnley's goals this season.

A traditional winger who likes to hug the touchline, get to the byline and deliver crosses, such form has been a consistent feature of the 27-year old's game over the past year.

Untouchable at home

Gudmundsson goes against the norm. With an increasing number of teams favouring wing-backs and/or attacking midfielders that drift inside from their false wide positions in a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation, Gudmundsson provides natural width on either side of the pitch. Three of his four assists this season have come from wide areas, despite the trade gradually becoming almost non-existent.

And it is at Turf Moor that he is an irresistible force. Since October 2017 he has contributed two goals and nine assists in 19 home games - that is over 50% of Burnley's 21 home goals during that period. To put the figure into context, Mohamed Salah was the most influential player in the league home and away last season with half of his team's contributions.

It is on the road that Gudmundsson needs to make more of an impact. He has scored just one goal away from home since joining Burnley in 2016 after a summer that saw him create Iceland's first ever major tournament goal during their infamous Euro 2016 campaign.

Yet when the Icelander scores, Burnley tend to do well. They have lost just four of the 16 games he has contributed to a goal, winning nine of those. Of the 30 points collected from those matches, the Clarets would have only picked up ten if it were not from an assist or goal manufactured by the boot of Gudmundsson.

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Keeping up with the Premier League stars

However, the progression of Gudmundsson is not necessary a result of impressing with his country during Euro 2016. The winger scored 16 goals and created just as many during 81 Championship games for Charlton Athletic. All after being dropped by Chelsea and Fulham as a youngster.

Last season he ended the campaign with eight assists to his name, more than the likes of Roberto Firminho, Sadio Mane, Marko Arnautovic, Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard. This year he is joint top of the charts.

Since the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, he has more assists than all but Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Raheem Sterling. The most creative natural winger in the league and best manufacturer of opportunities outside of Manchester City?

Yet Gudmundsson also does his bit for the team going the other way - a crucial element of Burnley's game. He averages a tackle, interception and clearance per match, winning around half of his duels both in the air and on the floor.

Perhaps not such a traditional winger after all?

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