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EPL: FIVE FOOTBALLERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

What wonders lie ahead for Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raphinha and Heung Min son in the 2021 EPL season?

The English Premier League (EPL) season is almost upon us. From August 13, world-class football players will take the pitch for what is the 29th Premier League season. As with each year, there are always stars out there ready to prove themselves and have breakout seasons.

Here are five players for you to watch out for in the upcoming EPL.

Mason Mount

At the age of 22, many can only aspire to achieve what Mason Mount has. Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season. A Champions League Winner. And runner-up in Euro 2020.

Mount has been deemed the next Frank Lampard, who was a talented midfielder with a wicked eye for goal. The reason being that Mount possesses a similar skill set to Lampard. Though very pleasing on the eye and gifted with sublime ball distribution, Mount’s main condemnation is in front of goal; he provided an underwhelming six goals and five assists in the 2020-21 season.

Many may argue that ordinary goal contributions are not his style of play, but under the management of Thomas Tuchel, Mount plays a role further up the pitch and this has vastly proliferated his goal-scoring output. He contributed crucial goals against Porto and Real Madrid in the Champions League and a brilliant solo goal against Liverpool in the Premier League. Therefore, under Tuchel’s management and an advanced role on the pitch, this could be the year Mount becomes the heir of Lampard’s throne.

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Kai Havertz

This will be Kai Havertz’s second EPL season and he would aspire it to be much better than his first. In his first season at Chelsea, Kai had a lot of ups and downs this season after being purchased for 72 million pounds. After a promising start, having scored a hat-trick against Barnsley in the Carabao Cup, the bar was raised. However, it has been downhill since then.

By the end of the season, Havertz managed a mere eight goals and eight assists in all competitions. These stats by no means compensate his hefty transfer fee. He was also labeled lazy and lethargic by pundits when on the pitch.

Nevertheless, similar to Mount, Havertz started to find form under Tuchel and put in applaudable performances against Fulham and Crystal Palace in the EPL, as he scored three goals in two games. Furthermore, he also put in one of his best performances against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, where he dominated against a mid-field consisting of world-class players like Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. However, his golden moment came when he scored the winning goal for Chelsea in the Champions League Final and was deemed ‘King Ka’ by Chelsea fans. With a successful Euros campaign and a much improved deft first touch, Havertz is one to watch for next season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

“I’m just a normal lad from Liverpool,” is how Trent Alexander-Arnold referred to himself as after winning the Champions League in 2019 and soon after the Premier League in 2020. However, last season, with Liverpool struggling in the EPL, various pundits claimed that Alexander-Arnold was an offensive weapon but that his flaws, defensively, were causing Liverpool harm.

He was then dropped from the England set-up despite being involved for three years. However, similar to Havertz, Alexander-Arnold started picking up form late in the season by racking up all the assists that he is primarily known for, and his crosses from the right flank seemed to be back to their finest. Subsequently, he ended the season with the second most assists for a defender.

This prompted Gareth Southgate to recall Alexander-Arnold to the England set-up and he was set to start as their premier wing-back. Unfortunately, Alexander-Arnold he suffered a thigh injury which ruled him out of Euro 2020 and dashed his aspirations of playing for England. But, with a full pre-season to recover and promising late-season form, Alexander-Arnold and his wicked crosses should be on full display for the upcoming EPL eason as Jurgen Klopp and his army strive for greatness.

Raphinha

Raphinha joined Leeds United on October 5, 2020, usually considered a last-minute move in the transfer market. Though it took a few matches for the Brazillian to settle, ever since week eight Leeds United fans have loved every bit of Raphinha’s magic. He managed to rack up six goals and nine assists throughout the season.

Though these may not be colossal numbers, Raphinha has fit brilliantly into the Marcelo Bielsa system, which is a high intensity and possession-based style of football, something completely opposite to his time in Ligue 1 with Stade Rennais. Raphinha has also formed a dangerous duo with his strike partner in Leeds, Patrick Bamford, who claims the duo have combined well off the pitch despite only communicating in some broken French. This is evident with their performance on the pitch with Raphinha assisting Bamford on numerous occasions and vice versa.

With Raphinha a season richer with Premier League experience, a fresh pre-season with no international tournaments, and simply more time to adapt to the high demanding Bielsa system, he and his partnership with Bamford should be one to watch for by the fans and the defenders.

Heung Min Son

“Nice one sonny, nice one son, nice one sonny we’ll have another one.” A famous chant that has been rattling White Hart Lane for six years now, just demonstrates the popularity of Heung Min Son among the Spurs fan base. The 2020-21 season was Son’s best season as he managed to score a remarkable 17 goals and provide 10 assists as well. In the same season, Son and Harry Kane formed an outstanding duo where they would consistently assist each other and have now become the second most successful duo in Premier League history.

Though Kane might leave Spurs this season, it only increases the chances of Son being the talisman and contributing even more than he already has. Furthermore, a noticeable difference in Son’s game is he scores a lot of his goals on the counter-attack, while using his blistering pace and precise finishing, and the new Tottenham manager Nuno Santos might be a blessing for Son.

Nuno is a calm figure on the pitch, but his tactics consist of compact defending with free-flowing and face-paced counterattacks, something that should bring the best out of Son. It is also rumoured that Son will sign a new contract before the season starts and this could only be additional motivation for him to reach new levels in his game. Hence, do not be surprised if you see White Hart Lane erupting in more Sonny chants this season.

Written by Adit Joshi

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