FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 12

Nothing much changed at the top of the Premier League as the best performing teams dropped points. Tottenham and Liverpool could only draw their respective games and Chelsea lost their first match in 3 months as they lost 1-0 at Everton.

There were wins for West Ham, Southampton and Leicester and those three clubs put pressure on the top 3. The much hyped Manchester derby was quite a dire affair that ended 0-0 and the pressure has grown on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta who saw his club lose their 4th game at home in a row, Arsenal are in 15th position.

Let’s take a look below at the best performing players over the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Nick Pope- Burnley 7pts

Nick Pope gets the vote ahead of other goalkeepers that kept a clean sheet as Burnley were never expected to get a win and a clean sheet at Arsenal. Pope made some good saves and had to be alert as Burnley were under a lot of pressure and Arsenal had six shots on target. Pope now has 14 points overall.

Defender: Jan Bednarek- Southampton 7pts

Jan Bednarek earned 7 points at the weekend as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. Not only did Bednarek keep a clean sheet, which is his 5th of the season but he also assisted in the Saints first goal which set their victory up.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard-Southampton 5pts

Jannick Vestergaard is having a great season for Southampton and he commanded the defence and back four with a veterans touch. He made some good interceptions and was always seconds ahead as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. The defender’s value is 6m.

Defender: Michael Keane-Everton 5pts

It’s never easy shutting out Chelsea and Michael Keane was part of an Everton defence that showed resilience against the Blues who had not tasted defeat in 3 months. Keane was inch perfect and his timing was spot on. He now has 10 points for the season which is the most of any Everton defender and he can be added to your team for 6.5m.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 5pts

Yerry Mina is looking more solid as a player under Carlo Ancelotti and he had an eventful game getting into the thick of things as Everton saw out a 1-0 victory over Chelsea. Mina has helped to keep 2 clean sheets at the back for Everton so far this season.

Midfielder: James Maddison- Leicester 10pts

James Maddison not only helped out in defence with his run backs but he also scored 2 goals, Leicester’s 1st and 3rd as they beat Brighton 3-0 at home. Maddison has really showed his quality again this season and the midfielder has scored 3 goals and been involved in 4 so far for the Foxes.

Midfielder: Stuart Armstrong- Southampton 6pts

Stuart Armstrong now has 22 points overall and capped another splendid weekend as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. Armstrong scored the 2nd goal which set up the club for all three points and they have started the season very strong as they look to finish in a European position.

Midfielder: Nathan Redmond- Southampton 6pts

Nathan Redmond was commanding in midfield and he scored his first goal of the season as his club overpowered Sheffield United 3-0. Redmond now has 12 points overall and is valued at 7m.

Midfielder: Mateusz Klich- Leeds United 4pts

Leeds lost against West Ham 2-1 on Friday but Mateusz Klich is proving to be one of the Leeds’ best players this season. He scored the penalty for Leeds goal and put in a very good and energetic performance. The midfielder now has 23 points and is valued at 6.5m.

Striker: Jamie Vardy-Leicester 8pts

Jamie Vardy is here once again and the striker assisted in goals and scored one at the weekend as Leicester beat Brighton 3-0 and he earned 8 points in the process. This season is turning out to be a good one for both him and club and Vardy now has 10 goals to his name.

Striker: Dwight Gayle- Newcastle 4pts

There were a few strikers who made it to 4 points but Dwight Gayle saved his club with just 8 minutes to go and won the game for them as Newcastle beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Gayle was also returning from injury and what a way to get back on track. Gayle’s value is just 5m.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 10

The three top clubs, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all drew and there is just 2 points between them. Wolves are back in the mix with  a terrific 2-1 win away to Arsenal and the Gunners have fallen to 14th.

Manchester City who have had a slow start to the campaign by their standards thumped Burnley 5-0 and they are now 10th. Manchester United also recorded a brilliant comeback against Southampton and are now in the top 8.

It was another exciting weekend of football where we witnessed 19 goals from 8 games, but did any of your players make the team of the week, let’s have a look.

Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier- Leeds United 7pts

Illan Mesier kept a clean sheet even though Everton had seven good shots on target as Leeds beat Everton away from home 1-0. It was a tough afternoon for the goalkeeper who had to keep 100% alert. It was Meslier’s 4th clean sheet of the season so far.

Defender: Kyle Walker- Manchester City 7pts

Manchester City romped home to a 5-0 win over Burnley and that means that on top of getting a great win Kyle Walker in defence kept his 3rd clean sheet of the season. Walker also assisted in the clubs 2nd goal to wrap up a brilliant match for him.

Defender: Benjamin Mendy- Manchester City 9pts

Benjamin Mendy was the stand out performer in defence for the 2019 champions, keeping a clean sheet as City thrashed Burnley 5-0 and scoring the clubs third goal effectively killing the game off at that point.

Defender: Robin Koch- Leeds United 5pts

Robin Koch put in a stellar performance at the back to give Leeds a rare away win and a good one as it was against Everton. Koch had to make some brilliant interventions and decisions during a tense victory for Leeds and kept a clean sheet in the process.

Defender: Thiago Silva- Chelsea 5pts

Thiago Silva played one of his most assured games for Chelsea in the back four since his move from PSG in the summer. His quality and experience held his defence line firm as Chelsea drew 0-0 against Tottenham the current league leaders.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 6pts

Kevin De Bruyne has had better seasons but when everything clicks he is still one of the best midfielders in the world. At the weekend it wasn’t about goals for De Bruyne but about assists and he set up 2 of Citys five goals.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 16pts

Riyad Mahrez always seems to do well against Burnley but he did exceptionally well at the weekend as City ran out 5-0 winners and Mahrez grabbed an incredible 16 fantasy points to boot. Mahrez scored a hat trick and now has four goals for this season overall.

Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse- Southampton 5pts

Though his team Southampton let a 2 goal lead slip against Manchester United to lose the game James Ward-Prowse had another eventual weekend. He assisted in the clubs first goal and scored the second, though he did some points as he was also booked during the match.

Midfielder: Daniel Podence- Wolves 4pts

And step up Daniel Podencenewcast who has really come to light for Wolves this season when they have neeed a goal. Podence scored what would turn out to be the winner as Wolves stunned Arsenal at the Emirates to win the game 2-1.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- Manchester United 10pts

Edinson Cavani had scored for Manchester United before of course but perhaps this was the weekend when the player truly arrived. Cavani scored 2 goals and also assisted in United’s opener as they came back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle United 6pts

On Friday Callum Wilson was the hero for Newcastle as they pulled off an excellent away win beating Crystal Palace 2-0. Wilson assisted in one goal and scored the other and the striker now has seven goals overall.

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The new handball rule is outrageous and ruining football

The new handball rule has been affecting Premier League games of late as no one seems to know what is going on.

Goals have been disallowed and penalties have been given, too many it seems. There has been 5 already given adjudged for a player to have handled the ball, and we are in the first month of the league. Last season there was 19 the whole season. The rules have without a doubt changed what is happening on the pitch- but for the wrong reasons.

There were plenty of controversial moments just this weekend. The game that sticks out is Tottenham v Newcastle. The home side were pretty much dominant for the whole game, creating plenty of chances, although deep into injury time the score was only 1-0. That was until Andy Carroll headed the ball towards Eric Dier’s arm, Dier was looking away at the time, and whilst Newcastle appealed for a penalty, the referee waved it in. For him it wasn’t a penalty, and he had made what looked like to be the correct decision.

Yet a few minutes later, the game was recalled back because VAR had got involved. Once the referee went to the on screen monitor and checked again, he changed his mind. The question is did he change his mind because he was told rules are rules or did he change his mind because he genuinely thought he had got ti wrong? Newcastle got the penalty and scored- it was their first shot on target the whole game. They had been poor and deserved nothing from the game but because of the new rule which states even if a player handballs by mistake off of another attacker a penalty should be awarded.

There were other incidents too. Everton won the game at Crystal Palace due to the same incident at Tottenham. Yes there was handball but it was very clear that it wasn’t intentional. And then why was nothing said when Kai Havertz handled the ball in Chelsea’s run up goal which gave them a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion?

It makes very little sense, if on one hand the rules stay and there not good for the game, then at least make them consistent. But that has always been the problem, and whilst the rules are mostly to blame so is VAR. Had VAR not got involved in the Tottenham game and respected the referee’s decision Tottenham would have won the game. And there are plenty of sides to the argument. For example if Tottenham were 2-0 up and the penalty was given, would this even be a story?

The IFAB who approve the rules need to take a long hard look at themselves. They and VAR should never be the star of the show, just like before VAR, the referee should be respected but never seen, it’s an art. Since when did we suddenly forget the job the referee does?

If this continues it seems clear that the referee’s job will be obsolete soon. No officials are complaining as of yet but as time goes on who wants to keep being overruled in the biggest decisions?

Last night there was a panic meeting where a back tracking IFAB admitted that referees and VAR could use leeway in how they judge their decisions for penalties from now on. Wrong decision, the new rule should have been abolished there and then, watch this space because the recent meeting will change nothing, in fact it will bring even more controversy.

One final harrowing thought is on cheating. We know that even the best professional players in the heat of the moment can cheat, mostly to wind up a player to get them sent off or dive for a penalty, we don’t like talking about it, but it does happen.

How long will it be until skilled players going for a header, choose to head towards a defender’s hand and not the goal, knowing that they can get a penalty from a useless situation? It is worth thinking about.

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Is controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley finally waving goodbye to football?

A consortium backed by Saudi Arabia looks to have secured Newcastle United after owner Mike Ashley has finally agreed to sell the club.

Reports suggested that the deal had been at the advanced stage in the region for the club to be sold at £370m. That figure has dropped to £300m, although maybe 370 was always going to be an inflated figure. The deal looks likely it will go through now and fans of the club will be more than happy if it does giving their disdain for Ashley over the years.

Ashley of course has threatened to sell the club on numerous occasions before, each time deals have fallen through usually at the eleventh hour, and although this new one has not been confirmed it could well be the real deal.

But why do Newcastle fans have such a dislike to Ashley who took over the club in 2007? It probably all started when Kevin Keegan a local hero resigned from the club as as manager when Ashley had just begun ownership. Ashley had brought in Keegan which was a huge plus, but then he reportedly didn’t let him do his job properly in the transfer market and Keegan couldn’t take it anymore before handing in his resignation. Obviously this didn’t go down well with fans.

There was also the curious case of giving a manager an 8 year contract, unheard of in football. That manager was Alan Pardew who hardly had the best track record ever, and once he had the contract, form for the club duly fell apart and Pardew soon moved onto Crystal Palace.

Ashley owns many business’s with his most famous in England being Sports Direct, and made the mistake of renaming Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground, The Sports Direct Arena. It made sense for him, more exposure, but let’s face it the name also sounds very flat and of course fans of the club were very displeased. It was no surprise that the name didn’t stick and the original was returned.

Perhaps Ashley’s biggest mistake was sacking Rafa Benitez a genuinely good manager who many felt could have taken the club forward. But Beintez and Ashley clashed over transfer funds, something that the fans could see coming when he was appointed and Benitez lost out, or rather the fans did and the Spaniard was gone.

Ashley used to be able to sit next to the fans during games and that didn’t last long. Is he completely to blame though? True he’s made mistakes, but he has also injected money into the club. It’s good to look at both sides and there is a mentality in football of anger towards owners, even the best owners are always accused of being in the game just for the money. In that football unlike many other sports still has that bitterness wrapped in it. For example rival supporters unlike say rugby cannot sit together, and therefore even club owners need to be discreet when entering stadiums, just look at West Ham’s ones if you needed any further evidence.

Ashley may be more than happy that he is finally severing links, in that case everyone will be happy. As for Newcastle it is yet unknown how much money the new consortium will be able to bring to the club, but the fans are going to be happy for now and may start wondering if this is the beginning of a new chapter in the clubs history?

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Nicolas Pepe

It has been a slow start for Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe who was being thought of as the next best player to come from Ligue 1 football. Pepe had just completed a brilliant season with Lille, who had finished 2nd in the French league to inevitable champions PSG. To further that Pepe had scored 22 goals in the league and was a major reason that Lille qualified for this seasons Champions League. Despite qualification Pepe chose to join Arsenal in a deal that cost the Premier League club £72m.

This past weekend Pepe showed the best side of his game, something that Arsenal fans had been waiting for since August. Arsenal beat Newcastle 4-0, a rare result for the Gunners this season given that they have drawn 13 games and have only won 7 games so far. But this was more than a result, it seemed like a statement, even if the club had only really started playing in the 2nd half, given that the match was all square at 0-0 in the first.

Pepe was given the man of the match after a dazzling spectacle that all kicked off in the 54th minute when he set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s first goal. Two minutes later Pepe himself was making it 2-0, and it was crucial not just to get the second goal but the fact it came so close after the first, Arsenal were going to triumph here and Newcastle had just been shocked into submission.

Pepe then assisted Alexandre Lacazette when the game was at 3-0 to the home side and Lacazette duly obliged by making it 4-0 in the fifth minute of injury time. It was a great result for Arsenal but a fantastic display by Pepe.

The Ivory Coast international earned 8 points at the weekend, the most of any player in the Premier League, even with reduced fixtures given that there was a winter break on.

So far Pepe has a total of 21 points and is valued at 8m, if he starts his form now that could be a great price as Arsenal try to recover their season from 10th place. The attacking winger has scored 4 goals so far and assisted in a further four and has received 3 yellow cards.

Maybe Pepe’s career with Arsenal has started slow, one remembers though the same applied to both Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry and they ended up being club legends. Also in the fantasy rankings Pepe is the 3rd best Arsenal player of the season so far but is more than double the points behind Aubameyang.

Something says that Pepe is going to get better and better this season,and the Gunners next game will be at home to Everton at the weekend who lie just in front of them in 9th position.

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Has the 4-0 victory over Newcastle green lit Arsenal’s season?

There are always turning points good and bad in football and one senses that Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Newcastle United at the weekend could just be the turning point that Arsenal have been looking for all season.

Arsenal don’t win games 4-0 anymore, in fact they don’t win many games at all. Currently they have 13 draws and this game against the Magpies looked like it would be number 14- and that was if they were lucky.

In truth it was a first half mostly dominated by the away team, who created very good chances and the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton looked very lively. Arsenal looked confused at home and woeful. The first half ended 0-0 and never felt not for one moment that Arsenal would score 4 goals in the second half. But they did.

A lot of that is down to manager Mikel Arteta’s half time talk, and it was interesting how he was able to identify the clubs positives and Newcastle’s weaknesses. Arsenal came out firing on all cylinders and it was the chasing down of the ball and the intensity that they showed right off the bat that won the game for them. Indeed they had started the match this way, and then were huffing and puffing with no ideas after five minutes. But the club in the second half looked a completely different side.

The Gunners are so very lucky to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a striker- how many times has he got the club out of trouble when the chips have been down? And they have been down for so long. But Aubameyang keeps scoring and keeps hoping and he opened the scoring 9 minutes after the re start. When Nicolas Pepe scored the 2nd goal, three minutes later the game was over, Newcastle’s hearts had left the stadium.

It’s true that goals number 3 and 4 put a shine over a game that felt like a 2-0 victory but at the end of the day goals and wins bring confidence to a team. That was only Arteta’s 2nd win in 8 games, although he has only lost one so far.

The question now being posed is is this the beginning of a strong run for Arsenal now, who could still claim a good position. After Manchester City were banned by UEFA in participating in the Champions League, 5th place would now be up for grabs, pending their appeal. If so Arsenal are only six points from that target. With clubs ranked 4th-9th not being consistent enough, Arsenal really could make a charge and a statement and what a comeback it would for the club who have remained around 10th place for much of the season.

What is interesting is taking a look at the clubs upcoming fixtures. Their next game will be tough but they will be at home to Everton. They then have another home match against West Ham. There are trips to both Brighton and Southampton followed by a home match against Norwich and a trip to Wolves before returning home to face Leicester. All of those games look like Arsenal could get points in. Their biggest problem is projecting their home form over to their away form, where they have really struggled not just this season but for the past 3 at least.

Take out the Leicester game though and Arsenal won’t face a top 6 side until the end of April when they play Tottenham away. In May they will play Liverpool, but again all of their opponents now will not be classed as the biggest teams in the league. Still Arsenal have struggled against them anyway this season.

But surely scoring 4 goals in one game has given the club a lift and taken away that dark cloud that has hung over the Emirates since August. Is this the moment that Arteta makes a name for himself and the talented Arsenal players step up to the plate, or was it just a convenient speed bump on the road to a mediocre season?

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Joelinton’s lack of goals are stopping Newcastle from claiming a European spot

As long as Newcastle keep doing what they are doing they won’t go down and would have had a decent enough season if unspectacular under manager and life long fan Steve Bruce.

However one cannot get away from the fact that the Magpies should be doing so much better, a top 7 team at least and trying to qualify for the Europa League. Of course you win, lose and draw as a team and no one wants to directly point the finger at one individual. But having said that surely there was more expected of Brazilian striker Joelinton?

Joelinton came in a flurry of media frenzy up in Newcastle, he’s South American and that brought back memories of the very entertaining if not volatile Faustino Asprillia, revered up here. It’s strange to think that Joelinton actually started the season well. He showed good speed, some technical skills and just when the fans were thinking ‘where are the goals’, he goes and gets the winner away to Tottenham of all teams- the same club that made the 2019 Champions League final. Not too bad.

But six months into the season he can be judged as a failure. That doesn’t mean his time in England is doomed, maybe he just needs readjustment to a different country and culture. Maybe his 2nd season will be HIS one. For now scoring just 1 goal this season is an utterly poor return on a player who cost Newcastle £40m last summer.

Maybe the problem lies though not so much with the player but with Newcastle and his former club Hoffenheim, after all it was the two parties who came to the agreement of £40m. That in itself isn’t a problem until you see the players stats.

For example he has never scored more than 8 league goals in a season and when he did it was for Austrian side Rapid Wien when he was on loan. One can imagine with all respect that football in the Austrian league is not of the highest standard. Even for Hoffenheim he managed just 7 goals in 29 league games. Plus why did no one at Newcastle see the alarm bells ringing given that Hoffenheim who had rated the striker so highly felt the need to loan him out to an Austrian league side?

So far he has 26 league goals in 7 seasons and that just won’t cut it. One doubts that he will suddenly become a star striker at 24 next season, and Newcastle fans can genuinely wonder why their manager did not look at buying another striker in the January transfer window. Had Joelinton scored for example another 10 goals, Newcastle would be in a great position now, instead this season as well as the player looks like a write off.

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A resurgent Paul Pogba can fire Manchester United into the top 4, if he wants too

How will Paul Pogba be remembered at Manchester United and on the bigger picture how will he be remembered in world football, if for example, he was to stop playing this second?

Obviously Pogba is a world class player, you don’t win the World Cup and play for Juventus and Manchester United. But at the same time it does feel as if Pogba at times has not given everything to the cause. Was he ever 100% committed when he played for Juventus? His time at Manchester United in reality will be remembered for magical moments, bursts of inspiration and some great goals, but it will also be remembered for confrontations with managers especially Jose Mourinho and niggling injuries.

Pogba can still change that attitude and end the season on a high and it was telling how good Pogba looked when he made his return against Watford a week ago. True United in United fashion this decade lost the game, and against the bottom side but Pogba came on from the bench and in the 30 minutes he had changed the way United were playing. He was fearless in his attacks from midfield and his pace and vision were also superb. We were seeing the very best of Pogba, the same version of Pogba we saw at the 2018 World Cup where his performances especially in the knock out rounds were superb. There is no doubt that when Pogba wants it, Pogba is a wonderful player to witness.

It should have come to no surprise then that in United’s next game against Newcastle they would win 4-1 with an outstanding performance and another confident game for the Frenchman. So now one wonders if United has a chance to finish in the top 4?

At this moment Chelsea are making it rather easier for them than it should be. The gap to 4th should be and could have been 15 points at least instead it is just 4 points and United do have a genuine chance to make a top 4 challenge. Of course other teams have bunched up in the league because of Chelsea’s bad form and United are in 8th place.

Wolves, Tottenham and Sheffield United stand between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team and 4th. But United do have fire in their belly and before the Watford loss there is no doubt that the club had found their form again and we were seeing a United side who looked the business when Solskjaer first took over from a sacked Jose Mourinho a year ago.

United though need Pogba to be on his game if they are going to challenge for a top 4 spot. Sure form came to the club when Pogba was ironically injured and on the sidelines for a few weeks. But now he is fit he will play and if he doesn’t find consistency then that will be an extra ‘ghost’ player on the field for the club which will help no one.

Does Pogba want to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the United greats? He could be and still has the time to be. Now much like he did with France in that glorious World Cup win he needs to drag his team across that line, or he may just forever be known as a player that could have instead of something that did.

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Three U-23 players to keep an eye on throughout the Premier League season

As gameweek one has come to an end, a large number of Premier League supporters will have already predicted which teams will have a successful season and which specific individuals will go on to being the game changers compared to the rest of the players in the top flight of English football.

Meanwhile, a small group of young talents are aiming to have a bright season at a personal level and are looking to make a name for themselves. A lot of these youngsters will be looking up to the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Maddison and Matteo Guendouzi, players who had their breakout moment over the last 12 months and are now seen as a hot property by their club and manager.

With no further ado, it’s time to look at the three U-23 players to keep an eye on this campaign.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Although he has had a decent amount of first-team experience under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, Callum Hudson-Odoi will be hoping that the managerial arrival of Frank Lampard will allow him to play on a regular basis. Also, the fact that Eden Hazard left a month ago and the club are not able to bring in any players for another transfer window, it may grant him a couple of chances to prove himself.

Currently on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon at the end of last season, the 19-year-old is expected to return to full training over the next couple of weeks before he begins to feature on the pitch once again. Once he gets going and is back on the pitch, there is no doubt at all that he goes straight into the Chelsea team, as they are currently lack pure quality in the final third of the pitch.

With the side missing a player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck or create something out of nothing, the return of Hudson-Odoi would help the team’s creativity and movement on and off the ball massively whilst the likes of Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham will benefit from his presence. For the sure, the departure of Hazard may hurt the Blues mentally in the long run, but they have a player in Hudson-Odoi that can confidently open up a defensive side and come up with the vital contributions. 

Max Aarons

Reviewing Norwich City’s last year in the Championship, they could have easily fallen down into the play-off area rather than winning the league, if it wasn’t for the crucial shift that Max Aarons had completed on both sides of the pitch. From being a speedy outlet on the flanks as a full-back to completing the required defensive duties, the youngster has it all to be a top player in his specific position.

If he goes on to replicating the same types of performances in the top tier of English football, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur gain interest in the player once again. However, the standards between both leagues are massively high, as Aarons’ discipline and positional awareness will have to be top notch in what could be his breakout year of his professional career.

Given that the attacking-minded players in Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell are expected to be constantly marked by the opposition, Norwich have a full-back to rely on to make those striding runs down the wings and to put in the inch-perfect crosses into someone like Teemu Pukki. Also, a consistent campaign for the rising talent could see him become one of the best players in his department within the league.

Sean Longstaff

Newcastle United are going through a serious transition period, as they attempt to put the Rafa Benitez era behind themselves as well as produce new memories under manager Steve Bruce. Though, one of the positives that the Toons will have become aware of throughout this year, has been the incredible rise of central-midfielder Sean Longstaff, someone who spent a crucial loan at League one side Blackpool during the 2017-18 season and is now being a regular starter in top flight football.

At the age of 21, the youngster is living the dream that all young English football supporters have of playing in the Premier League and for their local club. And not only that, he received a new four-year deal back in November 2018, and is already expected to receive another huge increase over the next couple of weeks, as Manchester United were regularly interested in the Newcastle-born midfielder in recent months.

If Longstaff can go on to reaching his potential and the expectation of the Newcastle supporters, then the team will surely have stabilised midfield that allows them to push for success in the domestic competition and also aim for a higher finish in the league. If and once that eventually happens, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club requesting for £50million and over for the player, purely to ward off any interest from other clubs.