9 players hoping to build on promising starts to the Premier League season

Quick Reads

It’s always pleasing when a player unexpectedly impresses for your team – and Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans are among those to have experienced that feeling this season.

With the first international break of the season now upon us, players will be able to reflect on how they have started the campaign.

While some names are already looking ahead to January for a potential move, we’ve taken a look at nine players who have given themselves a platform to build upon.

Mattéo Guendouzi

A player even the biggest of Football Manager enthusiasts would have struggled to name prior to the start of the season, Guendouzi has already become a favourite at Arsenal since joining in an £8million deal from Ligue 2 outfit Lorient.

The 19-year-old was the Gunners’ surprise standout performer in difficult defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea. And while Lucas Torreira is expected to eventually come into the side, Guendouzi is confident he is just going to get better in north London.

“At the game level, it’s much more intense,” he told Ouest-France. “In this English championship, there are great players from everywhere, it’s impressive.

“But I did it fast enough, that’s the most important thing. It’s up to me to stay as a regular. This is just the beginning.”

Ross Barkley

Barkley’s Chelsea, and career, prospects looked pretty bleak heading into the start of 2018-19. A January move to the Londoners had produced 131 minutes of Premier League football, and the arrivals of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, plus the return of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, only made his challenge of breaking into the Blues starting XI even tougher.

A start in the Community Shield was followed by consecutive starts against Huddersfield and Arsenal. He has since dropped to the bench for fixtures against Newcastle and Bournemouth, but he has a fan in Maurizio Sarri.

“I like him,” Sarri said in August. ‘He is a technical player. He has to improve on the defensive phase, it’s difficult to play with Jorginho, Cesc and Ross all together. But I like him. He will be a very useful player for us.”

Joe Gomez

Injury could not have struck Gomez at a worse time last term, with the defender missing the Champions League final and the chance to secure his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup.

The 21-year-old has refused to be deterred by the blow, however, starting the season in excellent form alongside Virgil van Dijk at centre-back.

Such displays have already led to an international recall and him being labelled both “adorable” and “the nearest thing I have seen to Bobby Moore for years” by Garth Crooks.

Good on ya, Joe. And god bless ya, Garth.

Danny Ings

After three Premier League goals in three years at Liverpool, the luckless Ings is finally back playing regular first-team football having joined Southampton on loan. The striker is making the most of his opportunity, scoring twice in three starts.

Goalscoring has been a major problem for the Saints over the past few seasons, and they will also take plenty of encouragement out of the fact Ings has also created seven chances for team-mates this term – only Mohamed Elyounoussi matches that figure.

Lucas Moura

Tottenham fans may have been left frustrated by their club’s failure to make any new signings in the summer, but they can at least rest assured that Mauricio Pochettino has a track record of improving the players already at his disposal.

Moura endured a slow start to life in the Premier League after moving to north London from PSG in the summer, but he is now up to speed with Pochettino’s methods, flourishing the absence of Heung-min Son, most notably with a brace in the 3-0 win at Manchester United.

“The case was that last season he struggled a lot to adapt himself,” Pochettino said. “All his career was playing on the right. He’s a winger, but this season we tried to adapt him in a position that can bring performances and help the team.

“It’s a new position to play next to Harry [Kane] like a second striker. But I don’t try to convince some players who don’t want to be here. The players that don’t want to stay can leave. I’m not going to convince people to stay who don’t want to.”

Theo Walcott

Admit it, you’d sort of forgotten about Walcott, hadn’t you?

It’s been a tough few years for the former Arsenal man, whose failure to make England’s squad for the World Cup was not even considered newsworthy. A move to Everton last January was meant to give him a fresh start, but he instead became mired in a miserable end to the season under Sam Allardyce.

However, with Marco Silva now at the helm, he has made a bright start to the campaign. Richarlison may be grabbing the headlines, but Walcott has already scored twice and provided one assist.

Silva bemoaned the loss of Walcott’s pace when the forward suffered an injury in the recent draw with Huddersfield, meaning both player and club will be hoping he can make a full recovery over the international break.

Glenn Murray

He’s a striker that just scores goals. We love strikers that just scores goals. And we love Murray.

READ: 11 surprisingly good Premier League goalscorers: Murray, Le Fondre, Bent…

Roberto Pereyra

Watford, as ever, were a mystery before the start of the season. One of the few Hornets players you could name, Richarlison, was sold to Everton, and they were tipped to struggle in 2018-19.

Watford, as ever, have looked pretty comfortable in the Premier League, although they have confounded the most optimistic expectations by winning their first four games of a top-flight campaign for the first time in their history.

A big factor in their early success has been the form of Pereyra, who has taken up the mantle of ensuring Richarlison has not been missed.

The Argentina international, a Serie A winner and Champions League runner-up with Juventus, has shown flashes of brilliance for Watford in his previous two seasons at the club, scoring three times – including a stunning volley against Brighton.

Benjamin Mendy

Much was expected of Mendy after Manchester City made the former Monaco man the most expensive full-back in history last summer, but while he lived up to his reputation off the field, his campaign was a write off due to a serious knee injury which ruled him out for the majority of the season – although he still collected Premier League and World Cup winners’ medals.

The 24-year-old is now back to full fitness and is making up for lost time with City. Heading into the first international break of the season, no player has created more than his four goals in the Premier League.


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