With almost a third of the season gone, we thought we would take a look at 10 players who have been surprisingly good thus far in the Premier League.
10) Alex Iwobi, Arsenal
Plenty of Arsenal youngsters have shifted into the first team for short amounts of time before fading away, doomed to a series of loan spells before eventually leaving for good. Alex Iwobi seems like the real deal though, and while his promising form last season means few will be surprised about his ability, what might have been more unexpected is that he has continued and even improved on that form. The young Nigerian has looked a little tired in the past few weeks, and Arsene Wenger recently said he was "nervous" in front of goal, but his manager had plenty of encouraging words for him as well. "He turns the game forward," Wenger said. "He passes the ball through the lines very well, he has a final ball in him. I think he has all in the locker to pass and give the final ball."
9) Etienne Capoue, Watford
It's not necessarily that Etienne Capoue displaying he's a good player has been a surprise, but more where he's been doing it. Used primarily as a holding midfielder in his career prior to this season, Capoue has been given more license to attack by Walter Mazzarri at Watford, and that has paid off very nicely. The Frenchman scored four goals in his first five games this season, and while a slight shift in formation has meant his opportunities to score goals have been slightly limited in recent weeks, he's still in impressive form. "I have more freedom to attack because the coach believes in me and gives me confidence," he told the Independent earlier this season.
8) Adam Smith, Bournemouth
As well as being the source of some niche jokes about the 18th century economist, Adam Smith has been one of the more surprising success stories since Bournemouth arrived in the Premier League. A product of Tottenham's youth system, Smith rattled around seven clubs on loan before signing a permanent deal with the Cherries in 2014. He was a regular part of their defence in their promotion season from the Championship but didn't receive too much attention last term in the top flight. This season, however, his performances have been impressive enough to earn some international attention, and Gareth Southgate was reportedly close to naming him in his most recent England squad.
7) George Friend, Middlesbrough
Perhaps anyone who has watched the Championship with any interest in recent years won't be surprised about George Friend's performances for Middlesbrough this season. But it's always something of a lottery as to which players cope with the step up, as some who excel in the second tier never quite make it at the top. Friend, just like Boro, had a slightly sticky start to the campaign, but in recent weeks both performances and results have started to pick up, with terrific away draws against Manchester City and Arsenal sandwiching a solid win over Bournemouth. And as the team has improved, so has Friend: Those who know what the left-back is capable of will know that is no coincidence.
6) Marouane Fellaini, Manchester United
A player that suffered more for his association with a failed managerial regime than might have been fair, Marouane Fellaini's days at Manchester United have looked numbered on more than a few occasions since David Moyes signed him in 2013. However, after the arrival of Jose Mourinho in the summer, Fellaini found something approaching a role in the United team, acting as Mourinho's enforcer at the base of midfield. Mourinho still seems to be working out how to best make use of Paul Pogba, and hasn't quite found the right midfield balance, but Fellaini is at least in the picture. And there have been times over the past three years when that looked like a distant possibility.
5) Theo Walcott, Arsenal
Now 27, Theo Walcott has amazingly been a promising forward for around a decade. Patches of fine form have been interrupted by injuries, and for a long time he simply didn't appear to have a position to call his own. However, in the summer he knuckled down, did some extra training, came into this season refreshed and it has shown. Eight goals in 12 appearances so far, and a stronger, more focused Walcott has looked a much more effective attacking threat. Accepting the notion that his best position is out wide seems to have helped too, as he has formed part of a fine attacking unit behind Alexis Sanchez.
4) Oriol Romeu, Southampton
Southampton of course receive plenty of praise for being able to maintain their performance despite constantly losing their best players, but usually that praise is directed towards their ability to buy replacements. This season Claude Puel has made use of what Southampton already had, players who had been relatively peripheral before but who now form a crucial part of their side. The most prominent of those has been Oriol Romeu, the sitting midfielder who has started every game so far this season -- after just 17 starts last term -- and you can see how much his importance has grown. It's as big a compliment as any to say Southampton have barely missed Victor Wanyama.
3) James Milner, Liverpool
In any "positions that need to be filled" lists in the summer, "Liverpool, left-back" would have been near the top in big, block capital letters. Alberto Moreno had shown himself to be a minor liability, and they had nobody else, so it wasn't a surprise they were linked with the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, Bruno Martins Indi and Jonas Hector. But instead of spending big on a new man, Jurgen Klopp simply made do with what appeared to be a stopgap, uber-utility man James Milner. And yet far from being a sticking plaster solution, Milner has been excellent, his tenaciousness proving enough in defence and his more natural attacking instincts adding threat down the flank.
2) Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth
Of all the surprising potential England call-ups mentioned in recent weeks, one for Junior Stanislas might be the most unexpected. The former Burnley and West Ham winger was a bit-part player in Bournemouth's promotion season, so few will have anticipated the improvement in his game at the higher level. But improved he has, becoming a crucial part of Eddie Howe's side in recent weeks, the high point being a starring role and brace in Bournemouth's 6-1 win over Hull. "The most important thing is he has developed an end product to his work," said Howe recently. "I think he's always been an outstanding footballer and technically very good. But now we are seeing the goals and assists, which I think every wide player is judged on."
1) Victor Moses, Chelsea
When Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea many thought he would introduce a three-man defence straight away, and might well have done it if his summer transfer window had gone to plan. It didn't look like he had the personnel for it when the season got underway, but after some damaging defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, he improvised. The most surprising part of that improvisation was not just the use of Victor Moses, but the use of him at right wing-back, a position he had rarely (if ever) played before. And even more surprising is how well Moses is performing in that position, although given his qualities -- pace, industry, smart use of the ball --perhaps it should not have been so unexpected after all.