When it comes to attacking opponents, it benefits a team to have two players on the same wavelength in a bid to put the opposition defence to the sword. With that in mind, WhoScored.com runs through the six deadliest combinations in the Premier League this season.
Dimitri Payet & Manuel Lanzini – West Ham (17 chances)
West Ham may be languishing in the bottom half of the table, but they haven't lacked creativity. Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is able to call on the talents of Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini in the final third, with the pair ranking first (74) and second (21) for key passes played of all West Ham performers this term. Despite failing to reach the standards of last season, the duo have remained a threat for the east London outfit this season as Bilic's side struggles.
Of Payet’s 74 key passes, nine have been for Lanzini, while of the Argentine’s 21 chances created, eight have been for his French teammate, with the 17 key passes combined for one another the sixth best in the Premier League this season. While traditionally, a player hopes to create for a striker, West Ham’s lack of consistent goalscoring forward means the duo have routinely looked to one another in pursuit of goal in England’s top tier this term, yet despite their best efforts, have failed to produce an assist for one another.
Diego Costa & Eden Hazard – Chelsea (17)
Top of the table and deservedly so after a 13-match winning run lifted Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League, much has been made of Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation. The system benefits his two most potent attacking players in Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, with the pair creating 17 chances for one another this season.
Naturally, 12 of those 17 have been Hazard providing for Costa, but the striker’s willingness to bring teammates into play is a boost for the Blues and reinforces a statistically calculated WhoScored strength of ‘key passes’. Hazard, meanwhile, will always look to provide for Costa where possible, with 30.8% of his total key passes in the Premier League this season coming for the Spaniard, with their effective partnership clear to see when Hazard provided for Costa in Chelsea's 2-0 win at Southampton in October. Either way, 17 key passes for one another ranks among the top six in England’s top tier.
Fernando Llorente & Gylfi Sigurdsson – Swansea (18)
Fernando Llorente has emerged as a surprise target for Chelsea, but given Swansea's perilous position, they would be reluctant to let him leave in January. The Spaniard is the club’s joint-top goalscorer with six goals to his name, but it’s his ability to bring others into play that has made him an effective weapon for the Swans. The Spaniard has made just 17 key passes this season, but 10 of those have been for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Icelander also turns creator for Llorente where required, with eight of Sigurdsson’s 41 key passes coming for the 31-year-old. The duo’s link up play is a rare ray of sunshine in what has been a dreary season for the Swans and Paul Clement would undoubtedly rely on the pair’s understanding in his bid to guide Swansea away from the relegation zone. Llorente, after all, is an ideal target for Sigurdsson's impressive set pieces, with the latter turning provider for the former in the Swans' recent 3-0 win over Sunderland.
Christian Benteke & Jason Puncheon – Crystal Palace (19)
Another team in desperate need of points, Crystal Palace will hope the appointment of Sam Allardyce will steer them away from the bottom three, with the Eagles currently a solitary point above the relegation zone. The former England boss has at his disposal a ready-made squad to mould in his image and boasts a player he has coveted for some time – Christian Benteke – leading the attack.
His aerial capability is a boost to the side, as is Jason Puncheon’s delivery. The Englishman has created 16 chances for Benteke, the best return in the Premier League this season, with a prime example of their efficiency coming in the 3-0 win over Southampton where Puncheon provided the assist for Benteke's second and Palace's third. Benteke has returned the favour on just three occasions for Puncheon, but the 19 key passes between one another combined is the third best return in the Premier League this season.
Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil – Arsenal (20)
The Alexis Sanchez to Mesut Ozil assist-to-goalscorer combination is the joint-best in the Premier League, returning four goals this season, the most recent of which came in the 5-1 trouncing of West Ham. The Chilean has been far and away Arsenal’s best player this term, while Ozil has impressed in bursts over the course of the campaign. The pair rank fourth and fifth for key passes in the Premier League this season – Alexis with 54 and Ozil with 45 – so it’s no wonder the duo feature so highly in this list.
Of Alexis’ 54 chances created, nine have been for Ozil, while 11 of Ozil’s 45 key passes have been for Alexis, with the 20 chances combined the second highest return in the Premier League this term. At the time of writing, Arsenal sit eight points off top spot as they go in search of their first Premier League title in over a decade and the attacking twosome have a big role to play in the Gunners’ attempts to secure domestic glory.
Paul Pogba & Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United (25)
It was a summer of excitement for Manchester United fans, with arguably the two biggest acquisitions coming in the form of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Supporters had hoped they would quickly strike up an understanding and they haven’t been disappointed this season. Pogba has created 14 chances for Ibrahimovic, which includes the assist for Ibrahimovic's winning goal at Crystal Palace, while the latter has provided 11 key passes for the former.
25 goalscoring opportunities combined for one another is the best in the Premier League by some margin as the duo continue to impress for United. Pogba and Ibrahimovic are arguably the club’s stand out performers this season, with their respective WhoScored ratings – 7.85 and 7.53 – first and second of all United players. If Jose Mourinho is to enjoy success in his debut campaign at Old Trafford then he needs the summer signings to maintain their fine form in pursuit of glory.