The Student Footballer might be growing up, but we’ve got no intention of depriving you of our biased and half-cooked opinions on the beautiful game just yet. We think the season’s gone on long enough now for the Premier League to start to take shape (worryingly for the Chelsea fans here…) and for new signings to find their feet. So we’ve decided to take a look at some players who have made big contributions to their new teams so far. Here are our pick of the Premiership’s new midfielders.
Swansea have come off the boil a little, recently. Gomis isn’t having much luck in front of goal and Ashley Williams – consistently a rock at the back – has started looking wobbly in recent weeks. But they’re still a great side and they had a formidable run at the start of the season. We can attribute that in part to more intelligence in the centre of the park, largely thanks to Jonjo Shelvey vastly maturing; those ill-timed challenges are rarer and he’s refraining from belting shots at every glimpse of goal. But the threat their wingers have posed has definitely been a major factor. Jefferson Montero’s pace continues to terrify full-backs but it was new man Andre Ayew who picked up August’s Player of the Month award. He’s got the pace, skill and power to beat defenders and has shown evidence of a fantastic tool-box of passes to pick out support; on top of that he’s more than capable of getting on the scoresheet; he’s got 5 goals already this season. He looks like one of the most dangerous players in the league from those wide positions and perhaps his recent appearances in the centre of the park have played a part in the declining fortunes of Gary Monk’s side; who knows?
The Frenchman isn’t strictly a Premier League new boy, having been a pretty key player at Newcastle before an ill-advised stint at PSG. Now he’s back and he’s lighting South London up at his new club, Crystal Palace. He scored on debut to cement a 3-1 away win and he’s added a further 3 goals and an assist to his tally. It’s not the goal-scoring that’s made him a fan favourite at Selhurst Park – although the Eagles have benefited from his cool head over the dead ball – but the consistency of his play. Cabaye can really pick a pass to release players like Bolasie and Zaha and he’s aptly taken over the defensive duties that used to fall to Mile Jedinak. He’s a fantastic all-round player.
It really is frightening that Payet has only earned 15 caps since making his debut for France in 2010. His form in the Premier League has been terrific so far for West Ham. They’ve already beaten Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City and now Chelsea. Payet has been at the forefront of the campaign, with 5 goals and 3 assists already. He’s an influence on the left but really controls a game when he plays centrally. His level of technical skill is phenomenal and his decision-making is sublime; he perfectly executes the final blows to teams under pressure, like he did against Sunderland and Crystal Palace when they were both down to 10 men. We’re wondering if he can keep it up, and if he does, what can he achieve?
Of course there are plenty of other midfield players making impressions at their new clubs. We left Sterling and De Bruyne out, partly because we can’t choose between them, and partly because you’d expect them to produce the goods, given the pair cost nearly £100million. Scheiderlin’s been solid, but his form at Southampton promised so much more; what about four-goal Gini-us Wijnaldum, you ask? We hear you, but that was just one game and he’s looked pretty pedestrian on other appearances.
What do you think of our choice? Do you agree with the players we chose? And who would you pick?