Generation Next is our regular feature on Just Football profiling the best young talents in the world. And here’s another to keep an eye on – Atalanta’s bustling midfielder Franck Kessie… Last summer, when Genoa former coach Gian Piero Gasperini made the move to Atalanta, after seven wonderful years spent in Liguria (interjected by spells […]
The Premier League continues on and there is still plenty up for grabs. With six teams vying for the Champions League places, and a couple of sides hoping to stop Chelsea disappearing off into the distance, and a relegation battle that’s really getting interesting, there was plenty to interest and intrigue fans at both ends of the table. But which players impressed enough to make week 27s Names of the Premier League?
Fernando Llorente (Swansea City)
Llorente scored twice in an entertaining game between the two sides and gave Swansea the lead after just 12 minutes. The Spaniard got onto the end of an inch-perfect cross from Leroy Fer to head powerfully back across the goal into the net. Burnley though, who have struggled away from home this season, managed to fight their way back into the match. They found themselves in front thanks to two goals from Andre Gray. The first goal being very fortunate for the away side, as referee Anthony Taylor gave them a penalty despite Burnley’s Sam Vokes being the one handled the ball.
Swansea, however, showed great resilience. They were back level with 70 minutes to go aftewell-workedrked move found Martin Olsson. The Swedish full-back found the roof of the net with a strong finish. It looked as though the points were going to be shared, but a Tom Carroll cross found Llorente who headed beyond Paul Robinson. The winner sent the Swansea fans wild and his manager Paul Clement running down the touchline in celebration.
Swansea put in more crosses than they had in any other game this season, obviously a tactic in an attempt to utilise Llorente’s strengths and it certainly paid off. Llorente now has eleven goals this season. Only Jermain Defoe has scored more goals for a team in the bottom half of the table.
Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City)
Often regarded as one of Stoke’s most talented players, Arnautovic has at times struggled to turn his promise into performances. But against Middlesbrough he showed just what he could do.
His first goal saw him get onto the end of a long ball from Glenn Whelan and take a sublime first touch to get away from the defender. He then went around Victor Valdes and finished calmly into the back of the net. Although his second goal wasn’t quite as skilful, it showed his eye for goal. He produced a poachers finish to guide Peter Crouch’s knock-down into the goal from close range.
Arnautovic has only scored five goals this season. If he can reproduce the performance that he gave against Middlesbrough for the rest of the season then he should be able to add to that tally quite comfortably. The result saw Stoke bounce back from their thrashing against Spurs and move up to ninth place in the table. A comfortable mid-table finish again looks likely once again for Mark Hughes’ side.
Artur Boruc (AFC Bournemouth)
In a game filled with controversial moments, a battling performance from a struggling Bournemouth side held Manchester United with the game finishing 1-1.
While most of the discussion after the game has been about the apparent stamp and clear elbow involving Tyrone Mings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bournemouth deserve huge credit for their resolute defensive display – especially after going down to 10 men. Goalkeeper Artur Boruc, in particular, had a very impressive game for the visitors.
In the opening quarter of the game it looked as though the result was only going to go one way. Bournemouth were looking shaky at the back and United were constantly creating chances. Jose Mourinho will feel his side should’ve taken their chances, but Artur Boruc stood strong to deny Paul Pogba and Wayne Rooney with impressive first half saves.
The aftermath of the Mings/Ibrahimovic clash saw Andy Surman sent off for a second yellow card following his reaction to the Swede’s elbow. Bournemouth, though, were much better defensively in the second half and limited United to few clear opportunities. The one big opportunity they did have however was a penalty. But Boruc got down low to his right hand side to superbly save Ibrahimovic’s spot kick.
Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
An entertaining match at Vicarage Road saw 7 goals between Watford and Southampton. The visitors coming out 4-3 winners.
Despite Watford taking an early lead through Troy Deeney after four minutes the game never looked like ending 1-0. Both sides were looking to play open attacking football in an end-to-end game. Southampton’s front trio of Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini caused the Watford defence problems all game with their pace and movement, which eventually led to Southampton equalising. Attacking intent from Redmond was halted by the Watford defenders but the ball fell kindly for Tadic. The Serbian lashed a strike into the bottom right corner from the left side of the box.
The Saints went in front just before half-time with Redmond starting a move from inside his own half. He played the ball to James Ward-Prowse, who then found Tadic. He, in turn, set up Redmond who found the far corner with a well-placed shot. Goals from Stefano Okaka (79 minutes) and Manolo Gabbiadini (83 minutes) meant the game was poised at 3-2 to Southampton. Redmond added his second of the game a few minutes later with a powerful strike and despite a late Watford goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Southampton held on for the victory.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) March 7, 2017
Redmond is now starting to become more consistent with his performances and showing the kind of form that is expected from a player with his ability. He is now just one goal behind the tally that he managed last season at Norwich. Redmond is a player who has represented England at every age group but is yet to receive a senior cap. If his form continues like this then he has every chance of being in Gareth Southgate’s next squad.
Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Liverpool bounced back from their defeat against Leicester City with a 3-1 win at Anfield over fellow top four contenders Arsenal.
Liverpool were in control for the majority of the match. In truth, Arsenal looked poor without their star man Alexis Sanchez, who was controversially dropped to the bench for the match. Liverpool had over double the shots of the visitors (18) and had more possession (53%) over the course of the game.
Liverpool’s performance was epitomised by Adam Lallana. Unlike the game against Leicester, where the champions were constantly on the front foot, this time it was Liverpool – and Lallana in particular – who harried the Arsenal defence. The midfielder put them under constant pressure whenever they had the ball.
First half goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a deserved two goal lead at the break, Sanchez was then introduced for Arsenal. It was hoped he would spark some life into the Gunners, and he set up Danny Welbeck, who made it 2-1 with over 30 minutes to play. Liverpool sealed the win in stoppage time. Lallana showed great composure, turning with the ball before playing a terrific pass with the outside of his boot to set Divock Origi clear down the right. The Belgian crossed for Gini Wijnaldum to finish.