Five key players for this weekend’s Premier League games

Written by Daniel DeFalco

This weekend sees the return of the Premier League and a host of interesting match ups, as we head into the winter stretch.

We take a look at the five key players for the upcoming round of games, with men from Chelsea, Everton, Watford, Arsenal and West Ham all featuring.

1.     Felipe Anderson

After five successful years at Italian outfit Lazio, Anderson made the move to the London Stadium in the summer, for a deal reported to be worth £36m.

With a hefty price tag weighing on his shoulders, expectations of the Brazilian were high. But, after a slow start, Anderson finally seems to be finding his feet in the Premier League. The 25-year-old impressed on the weekend in West Ham’s 4-2 win over Burnley with a two- goal haul in a man-of-the-match performance.  

The Hammers will face struggling Huddersfield Town at The John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday. After conceding seven goals at home this season and only scoring one, The Terriers should be fearful of the in-form Anderson, possessing all attributes of a top winger, he could be key for the Irons.

2.     Alvaro Morata

A tough ask faced Morata when he arrived at Chelsea at the beginning of last season. With the departure of the talismanic Diego Costa in the same window, the 24-year-old had a big pair of boots to fill.

Tasked with scoring in a bid to retain Chelsea’s league title, the Spaniard managed a reasonable haul of 11 goals in the Premier League last season. With questions still looming over Morata’s ability to step up to the physicality of the English game, a promising recent run of form has gone some way to silencing his critics.

With three goals in his last two league games, Morata has shown signs of taking some of the pressure off star man Eden Hazard and giving Chelsea the goals needed for a realistic title push.

3.     Roberto Pereyra

After already matching his goal tally of last season (five), Watford’s creative midfielder has become the first name on Javi Gracia’s team sheet.

Looking like a snip at £13m from Juventus in 2016, Pereyra’s delicate build-up play and ability to drive through the thirds has led to speculation over the Argentine’s future, with Chelsea said to be interested. The Hornets seem to have found the perfect combination of skill, speed and technicality in attacking midfield with Pereyra alongside Will Hughes and Gerard Deulofeu.

Pereyra should be keen at the prospect of facing a Southampton defence which conceded six against Manchester City last week.  If he is in the mood at St Mary’s, Watford’s midfield maestro has the potential to exploit a vulnerable Saints defence and exhibit his quality.

4.     Bernd Leno

With Petr Cech now fit and available for selection, Arsenal’s German goalkeeper has a job on his hands to retain his place between the sticks. Leno, who signed from Bayer Leverkusen in a £22.5m deal in the summer, made his debut as a substitute against Watford in September to replace the injured Cech.

After a poor punch from a cross which led to Liverpool’s opener at the weekend, Leno has a big game ahead of him against Wolves if he hopes to keep his place in the starting XI.

Arsenal are on an exceptional run of form and haven’t lost a game since mid-August, but as Liverpool and specifically Loris Karius showed last season, a sturdy goalkeeper is pivotal if a team hopes to mount a title charge.

If Leno is to be Cech’s long-term successor, he will need to show Unai Emery over a consistent period that he has the ability to perform at the highest level.

5.     Richarlison

As Everton face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, you might think that The Toffees’ attackers have a daunting job against a team who have averaged 63.2% of possession in the Premier League this season – the second highest in the league.

Despite beating Crystal Palace last weekend, The Blues struggled to cope with the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend who exposed the Chelsea defence on the counter attack several times.

Given Chelsea’s fluid style of play under Sarri, with Marcos Alonso often ending up at right-wing and David Luiz regularly marauding forward from centre-back into midfield, gaps could be left for the likes of Richarlison to exploit. 

Not only will Everton’s defence need to be on their A game on Saturday, their forwards need to take their chances if and when they come and Richarlison leading the line will be crucial to this.

Leave a Comment