5 Players To Look Out For In The 2021/22 EPL Season
It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?
It might’ve seemed like yesterday that Manchester City were lifting another Premier League trophy, or even Italy lifting their 2nd European Championship but here we are, back again for another 760 matches of football from the world’s most entertaining league.
Like in every season, there are shrewd signings, academy prospects or squad players ready to explode, all set to provide their teams the best chance of success.
So, with that said, let’s take a look at the 5 players that you best keep a keen eye on ahead of the new season.
Emi Buendia (Aston Villa)
Emi Buendia was brought into Aston Villa from Norwich to compliment the talents of Jack Grealish. However, since the homegrown superstar has now jumped ship to Manchester City for 100 million pounds, the burden will be placed heavily on Buendia to create for the likes of new signing Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins. Having the capability to play anywhere behind the number 9, Buendia has unmatched vision and playmaking ability, as well as a wand of a right boot that can pick out the top corner from near on anywhere.
His last season in the Premier League was two seasons ago with Norwich and despite being relegated, he proved how good a player he can be if he is placed around more capable teammates. He ranked 17th for progressive carries with 68, 6th for Key Passes with 79, 9th for progressive passes with 173 and 7th for shot creating actions with 138.
What the above illustrates is that Buendia was capable of creating for a team that finished last, now imagine what he can do for a team vying for European Football.
Milot Rashica (Norwich City)
This singing has gone under the radar. To replace the aforementioned Emi Buendia, Norwich turned to Werder Bremen and Kosovo winger, Milot Rashica. Rashica is a tricky wide player who can also play as a supporting striker. Norwich snapped him up for just over 10 million pounds and considering he was once worth 35 million pounds not that long ago, this could prove to be very astute business by the Canaries. The 25-year-old still has plenty of room to develop and suits gaffer’s Daniel Farke expansive game style brilliantly.
Rashica has both the pace to get explode on the outside, creating width and getting crosses into the box, as well as the agility and dribbling ability to cut in from either side of the pitch. His last season with Werder Bremen proved exactly that as last season where he ranked in the 85th+ percentile in Europe’s top 5 leagues for dribbles leading to a shot, with 0.49 per 90, 2.83 players dribbled past per 90 and 2.65 overall dribbles completed per 90. This coupled with his 0.74 crosses into the penalty area per 90 ranked him in the 94th percentile indicting he’ll be a massive asset for a team desperate to remain in the EPL.
João Pedro (Watford)
Another player from a newly promoted team, Joao Pedro is slowly becoming Watford’s talisman and his performances this season will go a long way in determining whether Watford claim their place as a consistent Premier League side. Another starlet who can play pretty much anywhere along the front line, he's best used as a pure number 9 who has the ability to both drop deep and create or hang off the last shoulder and pounce on any balls coming in behind.
Despite only scoring 9 goals last season in the Championship, the 19-year-old has adapted to English Football seamlessly and will have improved drastically over the offseason. His 1.6 dribbles last season in the championship and 5.3 ground duels won illustrates his well roundness and also his brilliant pressing ability. He’s proven to be tough enough to suit the English game whilst also having that Brazilian flair that’ll make him a fan favourite for years to come.
Yves Bissouma (Brighton)
The Brighton destroyer went under the radar last season despite having a season worthy of higher praise. The Malian defensive midfielder proved to be a very good holding midfielder in a Brighton side that severely underperformed last year. He has all the traits of a world-class midfielder, the stamina to run up and back all day, a good enough dribbler to get himself out of tight spaces and an unmatched reading of the game which gives him the intercept ability which is similar to N'golo Kante.
His stat sheet last season is one to marvel at, he ranks in the top 90th percentile for both overall tackles (3.30) and tackles won (2.14). As well as his 1.74 interceptions and 1.94 clearances rank him in the higher echelons of Europe’s top 5 leagues. Perhaps the most staggering stat, is that his 5.03 tackels+Interceptions has him higher than the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Pierre Hojberg and Kante. These stats point to just how good of a midfielder he is. There is a reason why he has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in England. If Brighton can fix up their attacking woes, then we will truly start to see how good this guy is.
Ivan Toney (Brentford)
Brentford just keeps producing these superstars, don’t they? From Maupay to Watkins, now to potentially the cream of the crop, Ivan Toney. The Northampton-born number 9 lead Brentford back to the promised land last season, and he will be looking to cement his place as a top Premier League striker this season. He scored 31 goals from 44 starts last season and has continually shown he has the quality to dominate the Championship, but can he do it in the Premier League?
He is the definition of an all-round striker. Has the pace to get in behind a defence, has the height and aerial ability to win header after header, as his 3.3 aerial duals won last year indicates. He can drop in and create, which is apparent through his staggering 10 big chances created last year ranks him first for Brentford and 10th for the entire division. Perhaps the only blemish on his CV is that he can be a little bit wasteful, as his 10 big chances missed last season shows, and despite it not being the most in the Championship, if he can get his conversion rate a little bit higher, then he’ll be a handful for nearly every Premier League defence.
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