Five Premier League Rising Stars

SAKA-BUKAYO
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (2nd L) chases after the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 15, 2020.
Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

The new Premier League season starts on Saturday with a clutch of young players eager to play a starring role.

After Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood was the breakout star last term, AFP Sport looks at five candidates aiming to emulate the striker’s success in the coming months:

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Manchester City’s English midfielder Phil Foden (L) celebrates with Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (R) after scoring their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Manchester City and Dinamo Zagreb at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on October 1, 2019. Manchester City won the game 2-0.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

Widely regarded as the most gifted of England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning team three years ago, Foden has a golden opportunity to fulfil his vast potential this season.

The departure of City playmaker David Silva has left a vacancy in Pep Guardiola’s team that Foden is determined to fill.

Guardiola showed his trust in the 20-year-old by starting him in last season’s League Cup final win against Aston Villa, when he was the man of the match, as well as the Champions League last-16 second-leg victory over Real Madrid.

“I’ve played many big games for Man City now and I have learned to cope with the fans and the pressure. It definitely helps you,” Foden said.

England manager Gareth Southgate also believes Foden is ready for prime time, but his first callup to the national squad ended in disgrace when he and Mason Greenwood were sent home on Monday after the pair breached coronavirus protocols in Iceland, reportedly after leaving the team’s bio-secure ‘bubble’ after meeting local girls.

Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)

Kalvin Phillips

Just two years after his career was in danger of stagnating, Phillips has inspired Leeds’ long-awaited return to the Premier League and celebrated his first England call-up in a memorable period for the midfielder.

It is a remarkable rise for a player regarded as an underachiever when Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa took charge in 2018.

Bielsa recognised that Phillips was better suited to a midfield holding position than the box-to-box role he had previously been asked to fill.

Since that inspired switch, the 24-year-old has made more tackles, interceptions and successful passes than any other Leeds player.

Those qualities have seen Leeds fans dub him the “Yorkshire Pirlo” in a nod to the perceived similarities between their hometown hero and former Italy great Andrea Pirlo.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s English striker Bukayo Saka (C) vies for the ball against Liverpool’s Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (R) during the English FA Community Shield football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 29, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW COULDRIDGE / POOL / AFP) 

The versatile 19-year-old earned a PFA Young Player of the Year nomination after an impressive 2019/20 campaign.

Now Saka must build on that breakthrough first full season by cementing his place in Mikel Arteta’s side.

Capable of playing on the left or right wing, at left-back and even in central midfield, Saka showed no signs of resting on his laurels as he delivered an influential display when Arsenal beat Liverpool in the recent Community Shield.

Saka’s range of passing was on full display when he found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a raking cross-field ball that led to his captain’s goal against Liverpool.

Only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold have provided more assists for Premier League sides in all competitions since the start of last season than Saka, who has 12.

Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion)

Matheus Pereira spent last season on loan at West Brom.

The 24-year-old Brazilian was Albion’s star performer in their promotion-winning campaign last term.

In his first season in English football, Championship defenders found it impossible to contain Pereira as the winger scored eight goals and provided 16 assists — more than any other second-tier player.

He had initially joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon, but Albion secured a permanent deal for around £9 million ($12 million) that should prove value for money.

“Everybody is aware of the impact he made in his first season and from speaking to him I know he is now very excited by the challenge of playing for Albion in the Premier League,” said West Brom sporting director Luke Dowling.

Curtis Jones (Liverpool)

Curtis Jones scores for Liverpool against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup this season

Jones gave a tantalising glimpse of his ability with a brilliant long-range winner against Everton in last season’s FA Cup third round.

The 19-year-old midfielder’s energy and quality in possession make him an ideal fit for Jurgen Klopp’s high tempo game-plan.

He made eight more appearances after that Merseyside derby wonder-goal and came off the bench in last month’s Community Shield.

With Klopp taking a cautious approach in the transfer market and expressing his faith in the club’s cadre of talented youngsters, Liverpool-born Jones could earn more opportunities when the Reds start the season as English champions for the first time since 1990.

 

 

-AFP

FA Cup: Chelsea Face Manchester City In Fifth Round

FA CupChelsea have been handed the toughest of fixtures in the English FA Cup fifth round.

The English Premier League defending champions, will face Manchester City after thrashing championship side Milton Keynes dons 5-1 away to advance.

A first half hat-trick by Brazilian Oscar put Chelsea in control by halftime.

Eden hazard, who had not scored for 30 matches, made it 4-1 from the penalty spot after 55 minutes before substitute Bertrand Traore, who had been on the pitch five minutes, scored his first goal for Chelsea to make it 5-1 in the 62nd.

FA Cup Defending Champions, Arsenal will take on Hull City in a repeat of the 2014 final.

Arsenal and Hull meet for the third year running, with the Gunners having eliminated the Tigers with a 2-0 win in the third round in 2015.

The fifth round ties will be played on the weekend of February 19-22.

Full FA Cup fifth-round draw

Chelsea v Manchester City

Reading v West Brom or Peterborough

Watford v Leeds United

Shrewsbury Town v Manchester United

Blackburn v Liverpool or West Ham

Tottenham v Crystal Palace

Arsenal v Hull

Bournemouth v Everton

FA Cup: Arsenal, Spurs, Man City Through To 5th Round

fa cupArsenal scored two fine goals to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of a hard-working Burnley side.

The first, from Calum Chambers, saw the right back arrow a curling shot into the top corner, before the visitors equalised through Sam Vokes.

Alexis Sanchez re-established the lead in the second half when he got on the end of a sweeping counter-attack and that was enough to see off the Clarets.

A brace from Nacer Chadli helped Tottenham to comfortably beat League One side Colchester United 4-1.

Nigerian striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, scored a hat trick to help Manchester City to a 4-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Manchester City’s hat-trick hero said after the match “I’m so happy and grateful to score a hat-trick today. I took my time with the third goal, I let the keeper show me where he was going and I put it to his left. It’s a great feeling to score my first hat-trick. I hope there’s more to come.”

Manchester United had on Friday defeated Derby County 3-1 to relieve the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.

Leeds United, Hull City, Crystal Palace, Watford, Blackburn, Bournemouth, Reading and Shrewsbury all secured victories on Saturday to make into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

West Brom and Peterborough will go to a replay after playing out a 2-2 draw.