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 FA Cup matches meant postponements for games in the Premier League and nightmares for Fantasy Premier League managers trying to somehow put a team of eleven players out.
Nevertheless, the four matches that did take place didn’t disappoint. There were 14 goals and crucial points picked up at both ends of the table. Let’s have a look at which four players stood out enough to make Names of the Premier League in the matches that did go ahead this weekend.
Joshua King (Bournemouth)
In an end to end game it was Bournemouth who eventually triumphed over West Ham. The Cherries grabbed a 3-2 victory despite missing not one but two penalties in the game.
Norwegian striker Joshua King proved the difference for Bournemouth, netting a hat trick. But the game didn’t start too well for King, with the forward putting a penalty well wide after just ten minutes. West Ham took advantage by going straight up the other end to score through Michail Antonio. King though brought the scores level just after the half-hour mark with a great piece of skill. He lifted the ball over Jose Fonte and then finished with his left foot.
A missed Benik Afobe penalty before half time meant the scores went in level. But they were not level for long. King put Bournemouth in front early in the second as deep free kick eventually found its way to King who finished from close range. Andre Ayew looked to have grabbed West Ham a point when he netted in the 83rd minute but King grabbed the three points and the match ball in stoppage time when he lashed home after Jack Wilshere saw his effort saved.
King showed great character to come back from that penalty miss. Instead of hiding, he got himself in goal scoring positions and he was duly rewarded with some simple finishes for two of the three goals. Often looked at as an attacking midfielder, Eddie Howe has mainly used King in a striking position this season due to injuries to Callum Wilson. King has more than repaid his manager’s faith. In fact, he has now scored 11 goals this season – the same amount as Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard and Swansea hitman Fernando Llorente.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Everton continued to close the gap on the top six with a convincing 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park. The win means that Everton have now won six of their last nine games. The Toffees have closed the gap to sixth to two points, though Everton have played two matches more than sixth-placed Manchester United.
The man in form for Everton produced once again as Romelu Lukaku caused constant problems for the West Brom defence. He assisted the second goal and scored the third. Everton took the lead after 39 minutes when Lukaku’s deflected ball found Ross Barkley who forced Ben Foster into a decent save. The ball fell to Kevin Mirallas who made no mistake from just outside the six yard box.
Everton’s second goal showed just what Lukaku can bring to Everton even when he doesn’t score. His strength and power meant he could turn and hold off the challenge of the West Brom defenders before sliding a ball through for Morgan Schneiderlin, who poked beyond Foster. That goal meant Everton finished the half two goals ahead and virtually secured the points for the dominant hosts. Lukaku managed to get himself a deserved goal in the final 10 minutes, planting a header into the left corner after a cross from the left by Barkley.
Lukaku’s goal means the Belgian has now scored in his last three games for the Toffees and is now joint leading scorer alongside Harry Kane in the league. The Belgian will no doubt be linked with a host of Europe’s leading clubs in the summer but with the exciting squad that Koeman is building at Everton, Lukaku could well be tempted to stay. The club will have to try and pull out all the stops though, as he has recently announced he won’t be signing the new contract that Everton have put on the table.
Oumar Niasse (Hull City)
Hull City picked up what could prove to be a crucial three points with a 2-1 victory over fellow relegation battlers Swansea City. The win moves Hull to within two points of safety – and only three behind both Swansea and Leicester City.
The game looked as though it was heading for a stalemate, with both sides struggling to create many clear chances despite having attempts on goal. That was until Hull manager Marco Silva chose to bring on Oumar Niasse to partner Abel Hernandez upfront in the 63rd minute. The decision quickly paid off. The striking duo quickly played a one-two. It set Niasse in on goal and the Senegalese made no mistake, finishing coolly under pressure.
Niasse grabbed his – and Hull’s – second ten minutes later. He finished from close range after Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross found him in the centre of the penalty area. Despite a late Alfie Mawson header, Hull held on for the win.
Niasse had a difficult time after joining Everton for £13.5 million. He only made a handful of appearances for the Toffees but now looks like he is enjoying his football at Hull City. The formerly unwanted striker is proving that he can score goals in the Premier League if given the opportunity.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 13, 2017
Liverpool came from behind to defeat a battling Burnley at Anfield on Sunday. The win put them 4th, five points clear of 5th placed Arsenal (having played two more games) and one point behind Spurs and Manchester City (having played one match more).
Due to Liverpool’s inconsistency this season, this game was more about Liverpool overcoming their own demons than anything else. Fans were confident when they played Arsenal last week but nervous against a “lesser light” like Burnley.
Liverpool didn’t do much to ease their fans’ concerns when they went behind after just seven minutes. Ashley Barnes found the net from a Matthew Lowton ball and made it 1-0. Against the run of play, Liverpool managed to grab an equaliser on the stroke of half time. When the ball fell for Gini Wijnaldum, he was able to find a finish from just outside the six-yard box. An Emre Can long-range strike midway through the second half was enough to give Liverpool the win despite a number of their attacking players struggling.
The performance of Wijnaldum showed just what he can bring to Liverpool. Despite a poor first half the Dutchman still grabbed a vital goal. He has done the same against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal this season, too. In the second half, Wijnaldum looked like a far more confident player. In a game where several Liverpool players panicked when on the ball, Wijnaldum was calm in possession and helped things tick over. He used his nous by helping to run the clock down when Liverpool were in the lead.