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

Lukaku, Lingard Strike As United Beat West Brom

Manchester United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard gave Manchester United a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday as Jose Mourinho’s men kept their faint title hopes alive.

Lukaku put United ahead at the Hawthorns and Lingard netted with the aid of a deflection to double the visitors’ lead before half-time.

But what looked destined to be a comfortable win became tense when Gareth Barry prodded home a second-half goal for the hosts.

And United ended the game defending for their lives before claiming the win that kept them 11 points behind neighbours Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

United made a dominant start with West Brom guilty of squandering cheap possession on a frequent basis.

Yet it was the hosts who threatened first in the ninth minute courtesy of a clever backheel from Salomon Rondon to release James McClean on the left.

He crossed towards the far post for Oliver Burke, but the winger could not control a difficult ball on his full Premier League debut.

United’s first sight of goal came on 14 minutes when Ashley Young angled a dangerous cross from the left towards Romelu Lukaku at the far post.

Baggies defender Kieran Gibbs made an important header and Lukaku was penalised for handball as he tried to keep the move alive.

West Brom enjoyed a handy spell of possession midway through the opening half as United lost their way following a decent start.

The home side forced two corners on the left but both were poorly directed by Grzegorz Krychowiak.

But United opened the scoring on 28 minutes as Lukaku returned to haunt his former club.

Burke lost the ball cheaply on the Albion right, Marcus Rashford was given too much space and his cross was glanced home by Lukaku, who had ghosted between Jonny Evans and Gibbs.

There was a glimmer of hope for Albion on 34 minutes when Allan Nyom crossed towards Rondon at the near post but he was denied by Chris Smalling’s interception.

But a minute later it was 2-0 to United as Lingard struck.

– Heated –

He was set up on the edge of the area by Juan Mata after good work by Lukaku, and Lingard’s low shot struck the leg of defender Ahmed Hegazi and looped past helpless goalkeeper Ben Foster.

West Brom already looked beaten but just before half-time Jake Livermore did at least draw a save from goalkeeper David de Gea with a low shot that the keeper held well.

There was a heated start to the second half when Rashford went down holding his face after a collision with Hegazi.

Replays showed there had been little contact but the United player was booked after leaping up and confronting Hegazi head to head.

But that clash did not provide the spark for a fiery second half as United sat back on their lead and Albion were unable to pose any consistent threat.

They had a rare chance when Rondon forced De Gea into a routine save with 17 minutes remaining before substitute Chris Brunt fired over the crossbar from the edge of the area.

But with 13 minutes to go Albion did grab the goal that gave them hope.

Brunt delivered a corner from the left, United failed to clear and Barry profited from an ugly scramble to poke home the club’s first goal under Alan Pardew and his first for Albion.

Things might have got worse for United in the closing stages but Brunt’s superb left-wing cross was headed wide of the near post by fellow substitute Jay Rodriguez.

AFP

Tottenham Held By Managerless West Brom

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (2L) vies with West Bromwich Albion’s English midfielder Sam Field (L) and West Bromwich Albion’s English midfielder Gareth Barry during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

Tottenham’s troubles against defensive teams resurfaced as they were held to a damaging 1-1 draw against managerless West Bromwich Albion at Wembley on Saturday.

After complaining this week that his team had struggled to break down teams that defend deep, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was frustrated again as lowly West Brom held on.

They took a surprise early lead through Salomon Rondon before Harry Kane gained a point for Spurs with an instinctive near-post finish in the 74th minute.

It was the Baggies, led by caretaker boss Gary Megson in the first match following Tony Pulis’s sacking, who could easily have claimed all three points as Hal Robson-Kanu missed a fine chance at the end.

Pochettino’s men are some way off the title pace and now sit 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, who visit Huddersfield on Sunday.

West Brom showed the spirit needed to lift them away from the drop zone and with upcoming matches against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Swansea, whoever takes charge at the Hawthorns will have reason for cautious optimism.

Tottenham had restored their pride following their derby defeat at Arsenal with a fine comeback victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

West Brom were on a 10-match winless run, yet it was Spurs who started poorly as the Baggies took the lead after just four minutes.

Ben Davies’s throw to Dele Alli was difficult to control and Alli’s England colleague Jake Livermore was quick to pounce.

Livermore’s perfectly weighted through-ball picked out Rondon.

Davinson Sanchez tried to challenge but bounced off Rondon’s muscular frame and the Venezuelan’s well-placed effort deceived the stranded Hugo Lloris and trickled into the bottom corner for his second Premier League goal of the season.

– Miles better –

Alan Pardew, sacked by Crystal Palace in December 2016, has been heavily linked to the position, but the Baggies’ first half display would have done Megson’s prospects no harm.

West Brom looked miles better than the team that tamely rolled over during the 4-0 home defeat against Chelsea last week to seal Pulis’ fate.

The visitors looked fresh and Christian Eriksen, Kane and Son Heung-Min were reduced to shots from distance with Ben Foster in goal rarely troubled.

Son’s deflected strike on 45 minutes that looped on to the roof of the net was the closest Spurs came in the first 45 minutes.

Despite 70 per cent possession in the first half, Pochettino’s men lacked guile and the forward movement was too slow.

On came Fernando Llorente, who is yet to score for Spurs following his move from Swansea, while Mousa Dembele added extra thrust in midfield.

Tottenham poured forward and the equaliser arrived on 74 minutes.

Kieran Trippier and Alli doubled up on the right and as Alli crossed, Kane’s movement to the near post wasn’t tracked.

His instinctive finish from close range went through the legs of Foster for his 10th Premier League goal this season.

Spurs though couldn’t find a winner and were grateful at the end that Robson-Kanu failed to connect to Matt Phillips’ cross deep in stoppage-time.

AFP

Hull City Sack Mike Phelan As Manager

Hull City Sack Mike Phelan As ManagerCoach Mike Phelan has been sacked as Hull City head coach less than three months after securing the role on a permanent basis.

Phelan was installed as Hull caretaker boss following the departure of Steve Bruce in July and led The Tigers until October 13, when he was finally given the role on a full-time basis until the end of the season.

The 3-1 defeat away at West Bromwich Albion on Monday left Hull in 20th place on 13 points and without a win in the Premier League since November 6.

Hull have won just three times since securing promotion back to the top flight via the championship play-offs last May and are currently three points from safety.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Earns Man Utd Third Win In A Row

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Earns Man Utd Third Win In A RowZlatan Ibrahimovic continued his fine form with two goals for Manchester United that were enough to beat West Bromwich Albion.

United took a fifth-minute lead at The Hawthorns as Jesse Lingard’s first-time cross was headed in by Ibrahimovic.

Wayne Rooney almost doubled the score but his fierce shot was tipped on to the bar by Ben Foster, while Salomon Rondon’s first-half header went narrowly wide for West Brom.

Ibrahimovic produced his 11th Premier League goal of the season when he received Rooney’s pass, turned and saw his deflected shot go in.

The win, United’s third in a row, put them seven points above their opponents, and level with Tottenham Hotspur, who play Burnley on Sunday.

Another big performer on the day was Alvaro Negredo, who’s brace helped Middlesbrough return to winning ways as they beat Swansea City at the Riverside.

The striker broke the deadlock on 18 minutes, expertly finishing Adam Clayton’s cross past Lukasz Fabianski.

Negredo doubled the lead from the penalty spot 11 minutes later after Jordi Amat’s foul on Adam Forshaw.

Earlier in the day, Chelsea extended their lead on the Premier League table with a narrow 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, courtesy Diego Costa.

Saturday’s Results:

Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Chelsea

Middlesbrough 3 – 0 Swansea City

Stoke City 2 – 2 Leicester City

Sunderland 1 – 0 Watford

West Ham United 1 – 0 Hull City

West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Manchester United

Arsenal Fight Back To Draw West Ham 3-3

Arsenal West HamAndy Carroll’s hat-trick for West Ham dealt another blow to Arsenal’s already slim title hopes, despite the gunners fighting back to draw 3-3 at Upton Park.

Arsenal are 10 points behind leaders Leicester at the third position, with six games to play while West Ham are seven points behind Arsenal on the sixth position.

Both teams have played 32 matches this season.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez converted Alex Iwobi passes at the 18th and 35th minutes respectively to put Arsenal two goals up but Carroll netted twice in 160 seconds to bring his side level by half-time.

A fifty-second minute far-post header completed Carroll’s treble, before Laurent Koscielny hooked in Arsenal’s equaliser from 10 yards.

The hosts extended their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 14 games but Slaven Bilic’s are five points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1.

Odemwingie Considers Permanent Deal At Bristol City

OdemwingieNigerian international, Osaze Odemwingie, is considering making his loan move to English championship side, Bristol City, a permanent deal this summer.

Stoke City are not willing to extend his stay at the Britannia Stadium and this led Odemwingie to the championship side on loan till the end of the season.

Despite hoping for an English Premier League return, Odemwingie has not ruled out playing in the second tier.

The former Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion forward was impressive in his debut as he came off the bench to inspire Bristol City to a 2-1 win after they trailed 0-1 at the break on Saturday.

Earlier, Bristol City signed Odemwingie on loan from Stoke City for the remainder of the season, after he failed to score in eight appearances for the potters this season.

He moved to Stoke in January 2014, as part of a player-exchange with Kenwyne Jones going in the opposite direction to Cardiff City.

Arsenal-Leicester: Wenger Says Both Teams Under Pressure

wengerArsène Wenger says his side cannot wait for Sunday’s top-of-the-table fixture against Leicester City because it is the kind of game they relish.

Arsenal have taken 10 points from four matches against the other sides in the top five so far this season, and won 5-2 at King Power Stadium back in September.

The Foxes have lost only one Premier League match since and go into Sunday’s match five points clear at the top, but Wenger believes his side will rise to the challenge.

“What is important is to find the momentum back and that means that you win a few games,” the boss said. “After, let’s not count too much on the weakness of Leicester because they have not shown too many.

“We want to find a consistency in our results until the end of the season, because we have big game after big game now.

“What I believe is that you do not have to be a super mathematician to analyse that it is a very important game, maybe not a decisive one for the Premier League but it is not far away from that.

“The pressure is on us as well, of course. I don’t deny that but I take that in a very positive way and as an opportunity to show how strong we are.

“I think the biggest pressure in our job is to play games without pressure. This is the kind of game we want – the kind of game we relish. When you play at Arsenal Football Club, that’s what you want.

“(Leicester) are still in a position where they think they have nothing to lose. But once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have.

“That is where the nerves come in a little bit. I do not know how they will respond to that.”

EPL Results: Leicester City Beat Manchester City 3-1

leicesterEnglish Premier League leaders Leicester City’s title challenge have reached unprecedented heights as they went six points clear at the top after beating Manchester City 3-1.

It was Manchester City’s first defeat in seven Premier League games as frailties in their back-line were once again miserably exposed this time by the scintillating Foxes attack.

Robert Huth turned in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to give the Foxes an early lead.

Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero’s late consolation.

Riyad Mahrez ended a personal goal drought and was the first player this season to achieve a significant goals mark.

It was also the second time in his Barclays Premier League career that Huth has scored more than once in a match, last scoring a brace in February 2011 for Stoke against Sunderland.

Sergio Aguero’s late consolation for Man City was his first Barclays Premier League goal against Leicester and as a result the striker has scored against 26 of the 28 different opponents he has faced in the competition (Bolton and Burnley are the exceptions).

The defeat was Man City’s third at home this season as they continued their run of failing to beat any opponent in the top six in 2015/16.

Other Results

Aston Villa     2 – 0  Norwich City

Liverpool       2 – 2   Sunderland

Newcastle       1 – 0  West Bromwich Albion

Stoke City      0 – 3   Everton

Swansea City    1 – 1   Crystal Palace

Tottenham       1 – 0   Watford

Southampton 1 – 0   West Ham

EPL: Man City, Tottenham, Bournemouth Earn Convincing Victories

EPLTottenham Hotspur beat Sunderland 4-1 at White Hart Lane in the English Premier League early kick off on Saturday.

Bournemouth also defeated Norwich city 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium to move further above relegation in the EPL.

Goals from Fabian Delph, David Silva and a brace from Sergio Aguero ensured that Manchester City thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Ethihad Stadium.

Elsewhere Steve Mclaren’s Newcastle United defeated West Ham 2-1 at Saint James’ Park while Southampton secured a convincing 3-nil victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Chelsea captain, John Terry, came from being the villain to a hero as the Blues escaped another home defeat on Saturday.

A late equalizer by the 35-year-old ensured the game against Everton ended 3-3 at Stamford Bridge.

 

FA Cup Final: Arsenal To Maintain Pattern Of Play

arsenal vs aston villaAhead of the FA Cup final match against Aston Villa, Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, has given the assurance that Arsenal would not change its pattern of play.

He is confident that his team knows how to cope with the pressure ahead.

Wenger said: “The best way to keep things calm is to focus on your game and keep your priorities right. It’s not because the environment is different that you should completely change your approach or your game, it’s still important to express your strengths on the day.

“The championship is a slow process but this is one game, it’s ‘show me that you can do it’. That intensity is very strong and you have to deal with that kind of stress, but this squad of players is exceptional and we have an opportunity to show that.

“I’m convinced that the players just want to go out and win the game. They don’t make statistics, they produce performances and they just want to win things. On the day, that’s what you want them to focus on, just on the performance of the day”.

Arsenal Midfielder, Mesut Ozil, has shown optimism that his team would win the game saying: “I’m looking forward to this year’s match. Everyone watches these games and we know that we have to bring our best performance on the day.

“We’ve prepared very well this week and when you look at our performance in the last game [against West Bromwich Albion], if we can replicate that, we’ll win the game.

“Our opponents will do all they can to win but we’re Arsenal and we’re convinced of our own ability. If we play to our potential, we’ll win the trophy for the second year in a row”.

Santi Cazorla also said, “I remember how loud they were last year; to see all those red shirts was really special and I’m looking forward to seeing all those Arsenal fans supporting us again”.

Walcott mum over Arsenal commitment as Wenger gets frustrated

A frustrated Wenger has opened up concerning the Theo Walcott’s on-going contract wrangle that he is frustrated and losing his patience with the player’s refusal to commit himself to a new deal with the club.

Arsenal manager; Arsene Wenger said Walcott is about to enter the final six months of his current Arsenal deal and he has been urging him to show commitment to the club that has helped to transform him into a big name in English football.

“I have no news,” he said when asked about Walcott’s future. “I am not involved in that directly, of course indirectly yes I am, but at the moment we have not made any progress.

“I am frustrated by it. Honestly, yes I am. There is not a problem between the player and me because he knows what I want. He has to make up his mind.”

With this latest development Wenger will likely shift grounds when it comes to Walcott as he earlier before now promised to keep Walcott at Arsenal until the end of the season even if he does not sign a new deal before the end of December, but his increasing annoyance with the contract dispute may affect his desire to hang onto the player when the transfer window opens next month.

Walcott will miss Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion, with German forward Lukas Podolski and Laurent Koscielny also side-lined for the visit of a Baggies side, that are five points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League standings.