Premier League football is upon us, so we at Pundit Arena have compiled a handy club-by-club guide of what player you should look out for from every Premier League side.
We have analysed the twenty sides in the top flight, from Newcastle to Norwich, to Watford and West Ham and carefully selected the one player we expect to have an outstanding campaign or surprise you, the fans. Some of the choices may not be what you expect, but doesn’t that make this less predictable? We have your attention. So Sit back, relax, and scroll through.
1. Hector Bellerin, Arsenal
Francis Coquelin or Alexis Sanchez may have been two of the names to spring to the mind of fans in this scenario but it’s the the boy from Catalonia, who broke into the first team last season and wowed both fans of the Gunners and supporters throughout the Premier League alike. With searing pace and incredible attacking ability, it’s certainly an upgrade on recent right-backs at Arsenal and that is a welcome change. Not for his opponents, of course, but for our eyes. Bellerin’s potential is astounding and could become one of Europe’s most talented players in his position. The Spaniard’s ability in the air could be improved, but at twenty, the sky is the limit. He certainly is one of its brighest prospects. Barcelona may be ruing the fact they let him go. They could just, you know, sign him back. I’m sure they’ve never thought of that before..
Bellerin has come a long way since his days with the Arsenal U19’s. Source: Kieran Clarke
2. Jordan Amavi, Aston Villa
Aston Villa fans are truly excited by the Frenchman’s signing, and so they should be after having to endure meagre left-backs in Joe Bennett, Aly Cissokho and Antonio Luna, et al. Amavi made 147 interceptions in 2014/15, better than any other players in Europe’s top five leagues after only signing his first professional deal last summer. Strong in the air as well as overlapping on the wing to assist in attacks, tackling is his only real weak point, where he succeeded in 50 % of his attempts in Ligue 1 last campaign. With fellow signings in Idrissa Gueye, Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew, Tim Sherwood’s side should see a large number of goals in the ‘for’ category come May.
3. Matt Ritchie, Bournemouth
This particular writer is a supporter of a lower league club, and has horrendous memories of Ritchie tearing the defenders of his team apart a few years ago with Swindon Town in League Two. Nowadays, Ritchie is arguably one of AFC Bournemouth’s most prized assets, having prized him from Swindon for a mere £500,000 in 2013. Quick and voracious on the right hand side, the Scot is dual footed, twenty-five and 5’8″ yet is impressively strong on his feet for a smaller attacker. Out on the wide flank for the Cherries in their championship winning year, Ritchie scored twelve and made sixteen, a division high. Like his manager, his rise has been rapid, and will impress on the big stage.
4. Nemanja Matic, Chelsea
It was difficult to choose an unnoticed star or emerging player in Chelsea’s squad, where it is simply packed with sublime quality, so the Serbian’s inclusion epitomises the underlying need for a player capable of handling Chelsea’s “Makeleke Role”. Upon his return from Benfica, having initially left as part of a deal that brought David Luiz to the Blues, Matic has been nothing short of superb. More than proficient across the board in midfield, there is no one better in the Premier League than Matic at what he does best. Unless his opponents are Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s often better to turn around and pass to someone else than to try and beat the titanium man.
5. Patrick Bamford, Crystal Palace
Bamford has had an incredible past couple of seasons and Jose Mourinho clearly sees his potential. Source: Austin Ogiza, Flickr
It’s rare to see an English striker thrive under pressure. Officially a Chelsea player, he was signed from Nottingham Forest for £1.5 million before eventually being loaned to MK Dons. Following a hugely successful loan spell habing scored fourteen goals in twenty-three appearances, Bamford was thrown into the deep end with Derby County in a division above. He finished the season in the play-off final, having had a tremendous season, eventually losing to QPR. The play-off final was exactly where Bamford ended up a season later, with Middlesbrough, though their 2-0 defeat to Norwich was more than deserved.
The forward did pick up the Championship’s player of the year accolade, as well an outstanding tally of seventeen for the season. He agreed a three-year extension to his contract at Stamford Bridge before joining Crystal Palace on a season-long loan, and having already scored against Manchester City and Liverpool in the past, he should have no problem alongside Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye, Dwight Gayle and company.
6. John Stones, Everton
There is a reason that Chelsea so desperately want the England international, and putting it simply it’s because he is an immense talent. Signed from Barnsley for £3m when he was just 19, Stones has become a regular fixture in Roberto Martinez’s side, he signed a five-year deal with the club last summer to show Everton’s intentions on keeping their iron grip in their star.
According to WhoScored, Stones completed 89.5 % of his passes whilst winning 2.6 aerial duels per game last season, as well as making 1.4 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game – bettering current Chelsea centre-backs John Terry and Gary Cahill.
7. Shinji Okazaki, Leicester
He was amongst the best forwards in the Bundesliga before his £9.5 million move to the Foxes and should be one of the main men in Claudio Ranieri’s team. Twelve goals in thirty-two appearances last season for an average Mainz side was eye catching, and his total of fifteen in 2013/14 shows his killer instinct in front of goal, something fans of Leicester will look forward to seeing. He is Japan’s third highest scorer of all time, with forty-three from ninety-three appearances, whilst also holds the record as the German top flight’s highest Japanese scorer in history.
8. Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool
We could have sworn we heard very loud yelps of excitement coming from Liverpool when Glen Johnson was not offered a new deal at the club. Instead, a defensively disciplined and intelligent on the ball wing-back was added, from Southampton. Clyne has pace as well as an eye for the perfect pass, and really needs no introduction after impressive spells at both Southampton and Crystal Palace. For £12.5m at the age of twenty-four, it could prove to be shrewd business by Brendan Rodgers.
9. Bruno Zuculini, Manchester City
City’s reported chasing of Juventus’s Paul Pogba could come to a halt as a potential alternative could lie from within. Bruno Zuculini was signed from Racing Club for £2.2m last summer and has impressed in the club’s youth set-up, and his performances during pre-season alongside first team stars such as Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero may earn him a chance to show his worth on the big stage. Predominantly a holding midfielder with an enthusiasm for going forward, the Argentinian is a slick passer and tackler, and has the ability to produce pin-point cross-field balls to his team mates, a skill reminiscent of Steven Gerrard.
This was pretty good, too. Not the worst finisher to boot!
10. Matteo Darmian, Manchester United
Darmian has had two stellar seasons at Torino and has had experience with Italy at a World Cup to boot. All eyes will be on fellow recruits Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, but Darmian is the type of player who diligently works hard, strong defensively and offensively, to help his team. This quote from an article last month before Darmian’s arrival at Manchester United should highlight his best characteristic that could be utilised by his manager.
His versatility is undoubtedly Darmian’s most outstanding trait. Able to perform exceptionally in both full-back positions in a 3-5-2, a formation favoured by Louis van Gaal during parts of last season, the 25-year-old can also operate in the centre of the defence if the situation arises where that role needs to be deputised.
11. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Newcastle
A striker was one of many things required at Newcastle last season, as well as a P45 for John Carver. Steve McClaren has since been appointed in Carver’s place, and his £13.5m addition of Aleksandar Mitrovic from Anderlecht. Arsenal fans should be familiar with the forward after his fantastic header helped his now former team to a 3-3 draw with the London side. Aerially superior to most defenders at 6′ 2″, Mitrovic will be relied upon as the instrumental player in Newcastle’s attacking line up, and having scored 28 % of Anderlecht’s goals last campaign this shouldn’t be an issue.
12. Nathan Redmond, Norwich
Extraordinarily calm, quick and precise with his crossing on the right-wing, Nathan Redmond was one of Alex Neil’s key man in the Canaries’ leap into the Premier League. Aged seventeen, he did not look out of place in Birmingham’s first team, and should dazzle the Premier League. He was tremendous in both legs of Norwich’s play-off semi-final success over rivals Ipswich, whilst finished off a beautiful seven man, sixteen pass move in the final against Middlesbrough. His team mate Bradley Johnson is a fine player also and barely missed out on taking Redmond’s place in this very, very important list.
13. Sadio Mane, Southampton
Mane recorded the fastest ever Premier League hat-trick last season against Aston Villa, but the Senegalese winger did not arrive in the Premier League just to accomplish that feat and wave goodbye to his career. Mane began as he meant to go on by winning a penalty on his debut in a 2-1 win against Arsenal in January in the League Cup before assisting in his league debut against QPR. His unpredictably on the ball and incredible work-rate has Ronald Koeman more than confident it was £11.8 million well spent on the former Red Bull Salzburg player.
He was easily the man of the match against Vitesse Arnhem in the first leg, where he oozed class as he slipped the ball through to Graziano Pelle for the opener, and scored in the Netherlands to assist his side to a 5-0 aggregate win. With Jordy Clasie and Juanmi clever acquisitions in midfield and up front, with Mane involved Southampton should be a delight to watch again.
Watch the ice cool touch and pass from Mane as Pelle scores against their downed opponents.
14. Marco Van Ginkel, Stoke
After an tremendous tournament for the Netherlands U21’s in 2013, Chelsea signed Van Ginkel from Vitesse Arnhem, and experienced tough conditions at AC Milan on loan in 2014-15, where he made seventeen appearances scoring one goal. Several injuries as well as a misuse of Van Ginkel’s talents on the pitch saw the player and his agent frustrated, and he was even ruled out for two months after his own team mate Sulley Muntari injured him in training. At Stoke however, the midfielder should see a fresh new start for a career at a club that is crying out for a combative all-round arsenal in their ranks. Van Ginkel joins on a season’s loan as part of the Asmir Begovic move to Chelsea.
It may be pre-season, but this impressive clip shows that the Dutchman is more than comfortable in his new surroundings, scoring on a run from Stoke’s own half.
15. Adam Matthews, Sunderland
It may not be the most exciting signing for Sunderland fans to cheer about in what looks to be a tough season, but he is one that will add that little something extra to the Black Cats’ play, and give them a more formidable attack down the right hand side. This fantastic statistic from Fantasy Football Scout highlights how impressive he is.
The former Celtic defender tallied a whopping 20 assists in the past three seasons, despite clocking just 5,285 minutes of pitch time – to put that into context, the rampaging Leighton Baines tops the assists charts (19) for Premier League defenders across the last three campaigns, yet he needed 4,244 more minutes to achieve that total.
The differences between the Scottish Premier League and the English version aside, it bodes well for the offensive side of Sunderland’s game with Jeremain Lens also signed from Dynamo Kyiv.
16. Jack Cork, Swansea
Despite the arrival of Andre Ayew, Jack Cork will still be as instrumental as ever to Swansea’s play eight months after his £3m move from Southampton. Calm, composed and steady on and off the ball, Cork is effectively the criteria of player that keeps a midfield ticking along nicely, the cog in a machine that would disrupt it’s very heartbeat should it be removed. Swansea’s attacking stars will undoubtedly steal the show, but Cork is a player worth watching.
17. Ryan Mason, Tottenham
His tireless energy and desire to work and win for the team is one of the many reasons why he and partner in crime Nabil Bentaleb are one of the Premier League’s finest midfield pairings at the moment, and Mason’s rapid development is increasing at a staggering rate. His loan spell with Swindon Town was a success without a moment’s thought, but battling against Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard was not what Mason or anyone was expecting come 2014/15. Nevertheless, that is the case, and his key role in locating Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela after Bentaleb has crunched an attack will be crucial to how Mauricio Pochettino wants to play this season.
18. Troy Deeney, Watford
Troy Deeney has been ready for the Premier League for about two years. For the last three seasons, he has surpassed the twenty goal mark in the Championship, trying to drag Watford back to the top flight at times. An incredible play-off semi-final against Leicester, which we are sure you remember, highlights one of the many reasons why Deeney is ready to do battle with the best in England, having kept his cool in such a high pressure situation. West Brom tried to sign him last year, and there will be bigger clubs than the Baggies after Deeney following this campaign. The 26-year-old is quick, strong and an incredible finisher.