Monday, 16 November 2015

Players Who Haven’t Shown Up Yet

It’s been only 8 games into the season, but some of last season’s headline makers haven’t got going yet. Here’s a list of players who really need to pull their socks up for their clubs to succeed.

1) Arsenal strikers
At the start of the season, every football pundit in the world was talking about Arsenal not strengthening in the forwards department. Having brought in only Petr Cech, and announcing that Danny Welbeck was set for a long lay-off with injury just one day after the transfer window slammed shut, Arsene Wenger was clearly putting a whole lot of faith in Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

In 8 premier league games, the gunners have scored 13 goals, but only 4 have come from the Arsenals strikers. Both Walcott and Giroud are guilty of not taking their chances, and even missing gifted opportunities in front of goal.

With Chelsea misfiring, and Manchester United having a hit-and-miss start to the season, Arsenal’s title push against Manchester City lies firmly in the hands of their English and French attackers. If they fail to produce an end product in the next 5-6 games, City could well be on their way to an easy title victory.

2) Chelsea midfield
Enough and more has been said about Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas’ poor form this season, but an article about underperforming premier league players is unfinished without mention of the Blues’ midfield pair.

Amidst Jose Mourinho’s media misadventures and Chelsea’s horrible start to the season, Hazard and Cesc are the key to turning the club’s fate around. Last season we saw how destructive the pair could be and to say they’ve been underwhelming this season would be an understatement.

What’s needed is simple – goals from Hazard, and assists from Fab. Where they get it from is down to the players and the Blues’ boss. One thing is for certain, if the two midfield maestros fail to get going, Chelsea are in for a rough ride.

3) Harry Kane
Last season Harry Kane stepped up to the plate and scored 21 goals to lead Tottenham Hotspur to a 5th place finish. This season, he has scored just 1 in 8 games. It’s quite possible that opposition managers have directed their defenders to play a lot tighter on the English striker after last season’s exploits, but great players and managers need to learn to adapt and evolve to such situations.

Even without Kane’s goals, Tottenham haven’t struggled this season  - what with a 4-1 victory over league leaders Manchester City and a seven game undefeated run since their loss to Manchester United in the season opener. Nonetheless, 4 of those seven games have been draws, and draws do not make for a successful 4th spot challenge. If Spurs are to achieve their long standing hopes of finishing in the Champions League spot, they’re going to need goals, and Harry Kane better find his bag of them soon.

4) Wayne Rooney
3rd on the table and tied on points with 2nd place Arsenal isn’t a bad situation at all for Manchester United. What is a bad situation though, is their striker Wayne Rooney’s form – One goal in 8 premier league games.

The England hero’s football career has forever been in the spotlight and now, more than ever, is coming under scrutiny as the goals dry up. The media hype around every game will not help relieve the pressure on Rooney, but hopefully for United, Van Gaal’s latest acquisition – Anthony Martial, could.

With Depay looking in good knick, Martial keen to make a name for himself, and Juan Mata finding his form again, this could be the best time for Rooney to find his shooting boots and get going. The 3-0 loss to Arsenal showed just what Manchester United are missing – a sharp, quick attacking force that can punish teams on the counter. Right now, with Wayne’s form, all they’re doing is knocking the ball around until the England captain boots it out for a goal kick.

5) Coutinho
Arguable Liverpool’s best player last season – Philippe Coutinho hasn’t quite carried his form forward into 2015-16. 1 goal from 25 shots, and 2 assists in 8 games is not a record to boast of.

Jordan Henderson’s absence means Coutinho’s freedom to roam is a little limited, and departing manager Brendan Rodgers might not always have given Coutinho a license to shoot, but now that the boss is gone, Phillipe needs to make the most of this opportunity.

It’s almost certain that Jurgen Klopp will come in to replace Rodgers and what that means is that Coutinho’s aggressive approach will be favoured a lot more. Klopp’s mentality and approach to the game could be the turning point in Coutinho’s season and career. It’s only a matter of time before the Brazilian makes a name for himself, or goes down as a one-hit wonder.

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