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Nine players to watch out for in the English Premier League

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Crystal Palace attacker, Eberechi Eze Photo: Crystal Palace

By Temisan Amoye,

At the start of every season, you are pretty sure the usual suspects will turn up and deliver the goods.

Salah, Kane, Vardy, Aubameyang, Mane, Aguero for the goals, De Bruyne, Trent, Robertson with the assists and Kepa being Kepa. So they expectedly don’t make my list.

Instead, I look at “unsettled” players, youngsters and players on the verge of breaking into the first team that could potentially have  standout seasons

Kalvin Phillips
Age: 24
Club: Leeds United
Pos: Defensive Midfielder

Photo: EFL

Nicknamed the “Yorkshire Pirlo” by Leeds fans, the defensive midfielder was a core part of the Leeds team that secured promotion to the Premier League. With the midfielder earning a call up to the English national team before playing PL football on the 25th of August, 2020.

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Leeds United have shown real intent so far, with Phillips distribution being a major part of their attacking and open set-up. His ability to turn defence to attack real quick was highlighted in his assist for Jack Harrison against Liverpool, where he pinged a beautiful long-range pass to the winger.

Whatever success Leeds achieve this season, Phillips is sure to play a key role.

Tariq Lamptey
Age: 19
Club: Brighton and Hove Albion
Pos: Right-Back, Right wing-back

Photo: Talksport

Tariq Lamptey made his debut for Chelsea in December 2019 under Frank Lampard where he dropped a lively performance against local rivals Arsenal. But by Deadline Day in January 2020, he was off to Brighton on a permanent move.

Chelsea’s loss seems to be Brighton’s gain, Lamptey has been one of Brighton’s standout performers so far. The right-back has emerged as an attacking threat for Brighton and has also managed to be solid defensively.

He stood out in the loss against Chelsea with his quick attacking runs, setting up Trossard’s goal. Against Newcastle, his movement and dribbling saw him win a penalty, and was also involved in setting up Brighton’s second.

He and Trossard can go on to form a potent partnership on Brighton’s right flank, to the detriment of opponents.

If he keeps this up for Brighton, his rumoured 3m pounds move from Chelsea might turn out to be daylight robbery.

Phil Foden
Age: 20
Club: Manchester City
Position: Midfielder

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

The 20-year-old midfielder has been around the first team since he made his debut as a 17-year-old in November 2017. With his performances eliciting high praise from Guardiola.

The departure of David Silva presents Foden with the chance to cement a place for himself in Pep’s City side, and the U-17 World Cup Golden Ball winner has taken his chance. With a goal in City’s 3-1 win against Wolves, Foden scored the winning goal for Man City against Bournemouth in their 3rd round Carabao Cup fixture.

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Going by Man City’s attacking style, Foden’s well-timed runs into the box and eye for goal,  his racking up high G/A figures by the end of the season should be no surprise.

Christian Pulisic
Age: 22
Club: Chelsea
Position: Forward

Photo: Premier League

Injuries and selection limited Pulisic to just 19 starts in 25 apps in the Premier League but ended the season with a decent return of 9 goals and 4 assists, including a hatrick at Burnley.

His confidence on the ball, strength, speed, dribbling and technique make him a defenders nightmare. His performance against Liverpool in the 5-3 defeat stands out. His assist where he danced past Liverpool defenders to set up Abraham stoked memories of past tormentor-in-chief, Hazard. He later went on to score a brilliant goal in the match.

With Chelsea looking to challenge on all fronts this season, a fit and available Pulisic will be instrumental to their push for glory this season

James Rodriguez
Age: 29
Club: Everton
Position: Midfielder

Photo: Getty Images

Despite not finding a home in Real Madrid under Zidane, and not being able to settle in Bayern it is still shocking that James Rodriguez ended up in Everton, especially with reports that it was a free transfer.

James’s qualities have never been in doubt, and with Everton, he is at a club where he is really wanted. He has been impressive so far with a goal and assist in two appearances.

His impressive link-up with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin will be instrumental in Everton’s mission to secure European football this season.

Gareth Bale
Age: 31
Club: Tottenham (Loan)
Position: Winger

Photo: Getty Images

It seems like ages ago when Gareth Bale set the PL alight for Tottenham, his unforgettable performance against Inter Milan in the Champions League.

After a trophy-laden seven years in Madrid, Bale is back to Spurs after falling out of favour with Zidane. Bale’s arrival will help boost an already potent attack of Kane and Son as Mou seeks to return to Champions League football.

Spurs present Bale with another chance to display his talents, and with a long season ahead, he’s sure to get a decent run of games to do just that.

Thiago
Age: 29
Club: Liverpool
Position: Midfielder

Photo: SkySports

The signing of Thiago might just be the boost Liverpool need to retain the PL title. His dominating second-half performance against ten-man Chelsea showed how important he could be to Klopp’s side.

Liverpool have often struggled with teams who are happy to sit back and defend deeply, knowing their midfielders “limitations”. The arrival of Thiago adds a different dimension to Liverpool.

With great vision, distribution, technique, tidy in possession, the Spaniard spices up a midfield that has been found wanting in terms of creating chances and breaking down opponents.

The arrival of Thiago could be the signing that heralds Klopp and Liverpool’s dominance in the coming seasons.

Eberechi Eze
Age: 22
Club: Crystal Palace
Position: Attacking Midfielder

Photo: Crystal Palace

Eze has come a long way, from part-time TESCO worker to making the 2019/2020 Championship Team of the Season.

His rave performances for QPR earned him a big-money, cross-division move to the PL’s Crystal Palace in addition to being named Supporters Player of the Year, and a Championship Player of the Season nomination. A direct attacker with good dribbling and eye for goal, Eze could from a lethal link-up with Zaha, should he remain at the club.

Despite starting on the bench for the opening two league games for Palace, It is only right that he gets a chance to display his talent.

Eddie Nketiah
Age: 21
Club: Arsenal
Position: Forward

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal FC celebrate after scoring 1st goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

After proceeding on multiple loans to the Championship, Nketiah looks to have finally nailed a spot in Arsenal’s first team.

With goals against Leicester in the Carabao Cup and West Ham in the league, Nketiah has started the new season on an impressive note.

His impressive work rate, pace, movement on and off the ball, bar some suspect finishing on his part has seen him emerge as a challenger to Lacazette. With Arsenal competing on four fronts, Nketiah is likely to get improved game time this season.

Far from the finished product, the talented Nketiah could lay down a marker this season if he continues to put in the work and improve his finishing.

Vanguard

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