As the 29th Premiership enjoys its second international break, we thought it apt to shine the spotlight on some of the newest names in the League. Those who feel, in their debut Premiership season, are most likely to emerge as its hottest stars and dominate headlines in the days and months to come.
This of course from what has been on show thus far and who knows what new surprises the January 2021 transfer window throws up or even how, some of the talent, yet to take the field of play, evolve.
Remember we are just eight rounds out, of the 38 to be played, and we have a full six months of exciting football coming up.
Three midfielders make the cut, not surprising given that’s where the game of Football is controlled. One Forward, a Centre-Back and a Goalkeeper complete the group. Which also shows how important each position is to the game.
So lets get straight to the six Hot New Stars of the Premiership to watch out for this season:
Timo Werner (Striker/Forward, Chelsea)
It is no surprise that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have half our picks in the first lot of the 29th Premiership’s New Hot Stars series.
They have assembled a cauldron of exciting footballing talent, none more, than their new 24-year old German recruit, Timo Werner.
‘Turbo Timo’ as he is called, has settled down the best among all new signings this season and has adapted to the Chelsea way like he’s always been there.
Besides his four goals and one assist, it’s his increasing influence on every Chelsea game, which has caught the eye.
Timo is the kind of player who is very difficult to keep out of a football game. He is ever game for a scrap and finds a way to get into the mix.
His steely determination was in ample display during Chelsea’s fifth round clash against an in-form Southampton, when, after having been denied a quality strike by VAR, he scored moments later in a solo effort which combined skill, grit and vision.
The way he stayed the course with that goal- created the chance, closed it out and the reaction thereafter, said a lot about the striker. His second in the game was even better- lobbing the keeper with a taller defender on his shoulder and then following through with a brave header home.
If Chelsea gets Silverware this season, you can be rest assured that Timo Werner will play a more than pivotal role in that endeavor.
Hakim Ziyech (Midfielder, Chelsea)
If Timo is the true-blue all-round professional in the Chelsea squad, the Moroccan Hakim Ziyech, seems to be the magician, whose wand has been replaced by a left-foot.
In two full starts, he has scored once with three assists, but more than the stats, it is the dimension that he has added to the Chelsea game, which has been exciting fans and pundits alike.
Instinctive trickery and skill has never been part of the English game and that makes players like Hakim, following the huge success of Egyptian Mo Salah, evoke a kind of romance, so important to keep the beautiful game alive.
When scoring his first League goal against Burnely, Hakim was up against Nick Pope, the current England number one keeper. On the face of it, it was a left-footed grounder from the top of the box, going in from near-about the centre of the goal. Pope, appeared to have been just that bit wrong-footed, it also appeared at first-glance.
Commentators were probably rightly critical of Pope, arguing that he moved too early, but there was more to it than met the eye, one felt.
If one has been following top flight football all over the world, including the Premiership, one would observe that almost all left-footed ball strikers including the likes of Lionel Messi, in the position where Ziyech had received the ball, if attempting a shot at goal, would aim for a curler to the far corner, nine out of 10 times.
In this case too, Ziyech had positioned himself and wound up for a similar curler and Pope, probably from memory of having home-worked to thwart such strikes, moved early to anticipate the ‘normal’. It might have been a brilliant save if Ziyech had actually gone that way.
But Ziyech is no ordinary player. He went for the near side, one dare say, having seen Pope move from the corner of one eye, displaying amazing skill and poise to change-tack at the very last moment.
Against Sheffield United in the next game he literally glided through the midfield to toy with his opponents- Chelsea pumping four in that game, with two assists from him. Make no mistake. Hakim Ziyech is a rare footballing talent.
James Rodriguez (Midfielder, Everton)
For someone as established a star as mercurial Colombian James Rodriguez, it is a bit strange that he is playing in the Premiership for the very first time. James’ move to Everton on a two-year deal, no doubt, has been inspired by Carlo Ancelloti being at the helm at Goodison Park these days.
The wily Italian has successfully coached the Colombian at Real Madrid first and then at Bayern Munich and James’ best performances have often come under him.
He has made an immediate impact with The Toffees, scoring three to go with three assists, and the class he has brought to the Everton midfield in terms of creativity and penetration was evident from the very first Spurs game.
James is a born star and if he stays fit throughout this league season, and if Ancelloti can get him to link up with the likes of Dacoure and Richarlison effectively, Everton will finish very high up the table.
Thiago Alcantara (Midfielder, Liverpool)
It is highly unfortunate that Thiago Alcantara, Liverpool’s star signing this season, has had to miss out on the initial few games due to injury, but on evidence available already, the former Bayern Munich man is set to light up the League, once he gets going again.
He’s already set a League record for maximum completed passes in 45-minutes, clocking a mind-boggling 75, against Chelsea on his League debut. The pass to Mane, which setup the classy but eventually VAR-denied Jordan Henderson goal, was one for the ages as well.
Thiago might just be the surprise x-factor with his unassuming but often times telling influence from centre of midfield, for Jeurgen Klopp, if he harbours hopes of repeating his performances from yesteryears.
Ruben Dias (Centre-back, Manchester City)
The Benefica Youth system lad Ruben Dias is in his first BIG League and is the only centre-back to make it to the list. Not for nothing.
The 23-year old, Portuguese international, made his League debut against Leeds United in a game that ended 1-1. In the four games since, City has let in just two more, playing against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, after having previously let in six in two games.
Attack was never a problem for the Cityzens, and it was their defensive frailty, which had led to some major reverses in very recent years and the inclusion of Dias seems to be just the tonic the talented group needed.
In all competitions since coming on, Dias has led the City defense to three clean sheets in seven games.
The organization and solidity he has brought to Pep Guuardiloa’s side since coming on, is clear, and this time if it has to be for City, it will have to be for this defensive star turn.
Edouardo Mendy (Goalkeeper, Chelsea)
With that amount of talent, you are not surprised that the only Keeper to make it to the list is also from Chelsea. The Senegalese international made the move from French Club Rennes this season and Kepa’s woes under the bar, now seem like a bad dream.
What makes it even more exciting is the fact that Chelsea’s all-time great Keeper Petr Czech also made his move to the South London club from Rennes.
Mendy has recorded three clean sheets in four League appearances till date, having conceded just one, and more importantly, with no errors yet. In all competitions, he has recorded five clean sheets and has already broken a few longstanding Chelsea records.
Mendy has a presence under the bar, in the box and in the air, akin to Allison, the Liverpool keeper, and that itself should say a lot about how Mendy has completed the full circle for Lampard’s 2020/21 squad.
There are others of course, who have shown remarkable promise- the likes of Patrick Bamford of Leeds United, Sergio Reguilón Rodríguez at left-wing-back for the Spurs, but a lot of their continued success would depend on the overall depth and success of their sides in a long league.
They are certainly ones to follow however, and make huge impact on games.