Tag Archives: Abdoulaye Doucoure

THE PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUTANTS – WHO IMPRESSED?

The first week of Premier League fixtures has passed and we got a look in into some of the new talents that will be on offer during the season. In this article I’ll go over some of the more impressive debuts team by team.

Newcastle United – Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson

Newcastle have done some tidy business this summer, and two of their signings scored both goals in a comfortable win over West Ham United.

Hendrick was impressive all round with his work rate and passing from midfield, his efforts were rewarded with an emphatic strike to seal their win in the dying minutes. Callum Wilson caused issues with his forward runs and looked fairly decent up front with Andy Carroll.

His goal really showed off his poachers instinct and how crucial he could be for the Toon this season. Getting the first goal helped the team push on and he could be that man for them this season.

Arsenal – Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes

Wow. What a debut for these boys.Arsenal wanted some Brazilian flair and they certainly got it. Gabriel made a fairly slow start to the game, looking shaky on the ball and not full of confidence. He soon, however, grew into the game and even scored from a corner just after the break.

His defensive prowess shined through further as he made himself difficult to get past and was calm and composed in possession. He certainly looks value for money in Arteta’s system.

The catalyst to their goals against Fulham was of course Willian, who grabbed three assists in his first match as a Gunner. After making the switch from Chelsea on a free many fans questioned the decision, few probably would’ve held the same opinions after this game. The winger was unplayable and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Everton – Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Rodriguez

This midfield really could be something special for Everton this season. After all the issues they had in the middle of the park last year they could have really struck gold this time around.

Doucoure and Allan offered ways to frustrate Spurs and broke up play very well. Doucoure offered an outlet throughout the pitch with a more box to box display, whilst Allan was superb as a defensive anchor.

The team looked more solid as a unit with them playing and with their technical ability (very underrated aspects of their game) they were able to transition with greater effect.

The biggest name was of course James Rodriguez. A player Everton wouldn’t have dreamed of signing five/six years ago, but he was certainly what they’d hoped for. Technically gifted and fantastic in possession, his vision and talent was clear to see – he was even close to getting a goal on a couple of occasions.

Carlo Ancelotti looks to have built an impressive first team, whether they have the depth to compete is yet to be seen.

Leicester City – Timothy Castagne

Castagne was superb at Atalanta last season, and he made a great start in the Premier League too as he contributed heavily to their 3-0 win over West Brom.

Castagne scored the opening goal of the game and was a threat throughout the game offering a great outlet from full-back. He looks like a player that will adapt well to the league and is an exciting addition to what is a talented attacking Leicester team.

Wolves – Fernando Marcal

Fernando Marcal was part of the Lyon team that impressed so much in the Champions League last season, and his defensive rashness made it a strange choice for Nuno to start him at Left-wing-back. He played best at the left of a back three last season.

The Brazilian gave an assured and defensively solid performance and his side strolled to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. With Jonny out injured Wolves would’ve been reassured with this performance, and Marcal’s experience could prove very important in such a young side.

Chelsea – Timo Werner

The hype surrounding Timo Werner has been no secret, the striker was superb during his time at RB Leipzig and plenty of fans are excited to see him perform in the Premier League.

Whilst he didn’t score on debut, he was lively and caused Brighton all sorts of issues with his pressing and direct runs in between their centre- backs.

He even won the penalty that Jorghino scored to give them the lead, and continued to look a constant threat. He’ll be a useful player to press teams back as his pace will force opponents to take caution. Out of the debutants he was the real bright spark as Kai Havertz flattered to deceive.

He’ll come good in front of goal and this was a good start for him.

Premier League: Who will escape the drop?

With the resumption of the Premier League season on the horizon, it’s looking increasingly more likely that clubs in the lower reaches of the table will have to face up to the danger of relegation. 

Despite the caveat of having no fans, a full season of Premier League fixtures are set to be played leaving little argument against relegation for three teams. So with the danger of the drop still present, which teams are in the most trouble? 

Norwich, of course, are currently the most threatened side. They sit bottom of the table with 21 points, six points adrift of 17th. It’s a large gap, but one that is still just about bridgeable. Despite facing Chelsea and Manchester City towards the end of the campaign, the Canaries’ run-in overall makes more positive reading. 

They face Southampton, Brighton, Watford and West Ham during their first six games back. Positive results in these matches could well turn the relegation battle on its head, and a recent victory against Leicester shortly before the lockdown will give Norwich hope of conjuring some form. 

In 19th, four points above Norwich, sit fellow promoted side Aston Villa. Since reaching the League Cup final, the Villains have lost all four of their Premier League matches – most recently 4-0 against Leicester.

Villa have a game in hand against Sheffield United, which is scheduled to be the first fixture back for the Premier League. A win would see Villa move up to 16th, but this will be a tough task against an excellent Sheffield United side who dispatched the Villains 2-0 earlier in the season. 

The run-in for Villa doesn’t gave any easier after that either, with matches against Chelsea, Wolves, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal to follow. Their season then finishes with what could well end up being a final day relegation decider against West Ham. 

Bournemouth lie in 18th with 27 points, joint with Watford and West Ham above them. The Cherries arguably face the toughest run of fixtures, with Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City all on the horizon. 

In fact, Bournemouth will not be facing any teams below them in the table. The lowest placed sides they face are Southampton and Newcastle – seven and eight points respectively ahead of the Cherries and both look to be clear of any real relegation trouble. 

The Cherries not only face difficult opposition, but have no opportunity to directly gain any ground on their relegation rivals. 

Watford and West Ham – the two other teams on 27 points – face each other in a relegation crunch match scheduled for mid July. The Hammers also have another key match scheduled a few days earlier against Norwich, as well as their final day showdown with Aston Villa.

Results in games against their relegation rivals could well see the Hammers safe. Add to this the fact that David Moyes seems to have struck upon a cohesive and powerful combination up front with Sebastian Haller, Michael Antonio and Jarrod Bowen (they were very unfortunate not to get a result against Arsenal before the lockdown), and things are looking relatively positive for West Ham.

Watford, meanwhile, face some tricky fixtures against Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City before Arsenal on the final day of the season. Their run in, however, doesn’t quite match the desolate landscape of Bournemouth’s with opportunities to gain points against their relegation rivals still available to the Hornets. 

Brighton sit in 15th with 29 points and despite a two point cushion above the relegation zone, they are by no means out of the woods. Like Bournemouth, they lack matches against sides in the relegation battle. The only team below them Albion face is Norwich who are already eight points adrift of Brighton, so it’s possible the match could be of little direct consequence. 

With six draws and only four defeats since the start of 2020, Brighton are proving tough to beat but are also massively struggling to carve out wins. They are winless since the 28th December 2019 and will need to be picking up all three points when they can to avoid slipping further into the relegation battle. 

One thing that should also be considered is the lack of fans, and how this might affect results. It was previously a topic open to debate but the fact that home advantage seems to have gone out the window in the Bundesliga seems to indicate it does have a large influence. 

Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter even commented the other week saying:

“teams with a high level of technical quality in particular are less dependent on support”, while also noting how a lack of fans can adversely affects sides lower in the division. 

At a glance, Aston Villa look to benefit the most from having a crowd behind them with a swing of 0.78 points per game (PPG) more at home than away. This would make sense given the raucous reputation of Villa Park and the Holt End. Villa’s home PPG swing is the third highest in the division behind Manchester United (0.79) and Everton (0.99). 

While Villa’s is the most stark, all the teams in the midst of the relegation fight have a swing of at least 0.5 PPG more at home barring West Ham with 0.27. This also makes sense given their questionable choice of new stadium. 

This would indicate that West Ham are less reliant on home support, so are less likely to be as affected by the lack of fans. Given this along with their bolstered frontline, the Hammers stand a good chance of staying up. 

Things don’t look so good for the Villains though, with a lack of fans looking like it could possibly be more of an issue for them. This coupled with their tough run of games could spell trouble for Villa.

Bournemouth also face a tricky run of fixtures but more importantly, do not face any teams around them so have little chance to make up ground on their rivals. They could also be set to slip further into the relegation quagmire. 

Watford will hope to draw upon Nigel Pearson’s experience from his great escape with Leicester in 2015, as well as looking to talented players such as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr. Gerard Deulofeu, however, is still likely to be out for the remaining fixtures. 

Brighton and Norwich are both tricky to predict. Brighton have had a long and slow slide down the table, and it’s difficult to see where it might stop or how far down it will take them. 

Norwich look like they might be dead and buried, but a good run of results in the games they have against their rivals could seriously shake things up for the Canaries.

What is certain is that there is still much to play for at the bottom of the Premier League.