With the 2017/18 Premier League season already underway, here are some players you may not hear of every week, but should keep on your radar for the remainder of the season.
Mooy already has the Huddersfield faithful buzzing with delight given their club’s start to Premier League life. Signed by Manchester City in 2016, the Australian international was loaned immediately to Hudderfield Town. After helping The Terriers gain promotion to top flight football via the playoffs, he signed a permanent deal in June of 2017. Even though his name already on the scoring charts, the central midfielder is not a frequent goal scorer. His importance is underlined by his ability to control the tempo and be team’s driving force from midfield. Aaron Mooy in his first 4 Premier Leagues games completed 226 passes with 85% of that tally being successfully completed and 65% of that same total being attempted forward passes. Whilst it is very unlikely that Huddersfield will continue this run of form deep into the season, what is a more likely scenario is that Mooy will continue to be the focal point of his team’s play even if his name isn’t high on the goals and assists columns.
Chris Wood became Burnley’s record signing in the summer of 2017 and with good reason. Following a half season Premier League stint and a single goal for future champions Leicester City, Wood was loaned out to Ipswich Town in February of 2015 before joining and establishing himself at Leeds United in the Championship. 13 goals in his first season at Leeds was bettered by a 27 goal haul in 2016/17. That total saw the 25 year old Kiwi striker finish atop the Championship scoring chart, 4 goals clear of his nearest opponent and all of this despite Leeds finishing outside of a playoff position. Having already found the net for his new club, Wood is proving already to be the bright spark of a Burnley offense that scored only 39 goals last season (the worst offensive record outside of the relegated teams). At 6 ft 3 in and possessing pace, strength and good positioning, this towering striker will add extra dimensions to a team that will not create a high number of chances on a game by game basis. Lookout for a double figure goal tally from Chris Wood in 2017/18.
There’s no question that Bournemouth have had some issues at the goalkeeping position during their 2 seasons in the Premier League. Artur Boruc was far from the model of consistency that Eddie Howe conceptualized upon his purchase. Enter: Asmir Begovic. Despite two stagnated years as a backup on the Chelsea bench, Premier League fans will hardly forget the solidity that Begovic provided during his tenure at Stoke City. One of the most efficient between the sticks prior to the move to Stamford Bridge, Begovic was given the opportunity to return to the #1 position at Bournemouth. The Cherries’ 67 goals conceded in 2016/17 represented the highest number of goals allowed by any of the teams finishing in the top half of the table. Bournemouth have already conceded 8 goals in 4 games and Begovic has averaged 4 saves per game. The Former Canada U20 ‘keeper has already recorded more than 20 saves this season -the only ‘keeper to do so thus far. Clearly there are other defensive issues which need to be addressed, but having Begovic as the last line of defense is one less worry for the manager.
This Chelsea youth product returns to the club he spent his first loan spell with after completing 5 further loan spells in 3 seasons. The Sierra Leone born midfielder has started his season with a 70% passing accuracy, averaging just under 19 yards per pass and has won all aerial battles he’s entered into (9) so far. Watford are unbeaten throughout their opening 4 games in the Premier League and Chalobah has been one of the key figures in Marco Silva’s revamped squad. He recently received his first call up to the England squad off the back of his impressive start to the 2017/18 campaign with Watford after already representing the Three Lions at every youth level. His early season form doesn’t come as much of a shock given that the player was named the 2013 England Men’s Youth Player of The Year. Nathaniel Chalobah has finally found a permanent home at Vicarage Road and it seems to be the best place for him to continue his development.
There wasn’t much musical fanfare accompanying the announcement of Danilo as a Manchester City player. The former Real Madrid man spent an unconvincing 2 years in Spain’s capital following his big move from FC Porto. When the European club champions allowed him to move on to the Premier League, there was always the notion that he would be a backup player. So far this season Danilo has appeared in all of City’s games; substituted in the first game, a sub in the second game and two 90 minute games in weeks 3 & 4. His versatility has been a great asset to Pep – he’s been deployed at left wing-back, right-back and as a right centre-back. Danilo will hardly be one of The Citizen’s key players this season. However, his ability to perform in different positions coupled with what seems to be some regained confidence will prove be an important factor in City’s title charge for 2017/18.
Given the nature of his generally inconspicuous arrival in North London, the fact that Kolasinac was voted into the Bundesliga Team of the Season for 2016/17 seems a bit overshadowed. The marauding left-back departed Schalke after a final Bundesliga season where he racked up 3 goals, 5 assists and created 23 chances in his 25 league appearances for his boyhood club Schalke. His numbers though were inconsequential in him earning his Team of the Season spot however. His pace, strength and abililty to be efficient on both sides of the ball made him a constant threat during his formative years in Germany. His Arsenal career begun with him being utilized in a more left centre-half role, but in recent games Arsene Wenger has reverted him to his familiar left wing-back role. The Bosnian international has already notched 2 assists in the Premier League and the effortless nature with which he has fit into Arsenal’s tactical setup is an indication that he could very well be a key figure for the Gunners this season.
Pace, good at set pieces and a penchant for flair: Manuel Lanzini in a nutshell. The Argentine attacking mid, currently in his third season as a Hammer and is yet to make an appearance for the 2017/18 season. A leg injury has ruled out one of Slaven Bilic’s main attackers and his absence is sorely felt. With only 1 win in 4 games with 4 goals scored West Ham sit at the apex of the relegation zone. The team looks devoid of attacking flair and Lanzini’s return would undoubtedly be a most welcomed and needed one. The 24 year old has been increasing his goal tally in each of his years in London: from 6 to 8. In addition, His finishing and set piece taking have both also been visibly improving. Once he can find full fitness upon his return from injury, West Ham will have even more options in the attacking third.