EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS UNSUNG HERO OF 2020/21 - PART 1
More so than ever, the Premier League is packed with a plethora of talent from top to bottom. The run-in for the culmination of the 20/21 season is not too far away, meaning the discussion for the player of the season is gathering momentum with star players such as Bruno Fernandes, Ilkay Gundogan, Harry Kane and Jack Grealish being talked about potentially winning the award – and rightly so.
However, there are a number of players in the league that have greatly contributed to their team’s successes without really getting the appraisal they deserve. With that here is every Premier League club’s unsung hero of the campaign so far…
Arsenal – Rob Holding
There was a lot of optimism coming into the season amongst Arsenal fans following their triumphant victory of the FA Cup back in August. However, it hasn’t quite gone to plan for Mikel Arteta’s side, who sit in 10th place in the table having lost 10 games out of 24. Despite this substandard form, Arteta has undeniably shored up the Gunners’ defence – only conceding more than Manchester City, Aston Villa and Chelsea (having played a game more).
Key to this has been English stalwart, Rob Holding, who has fought for his place back into Arteta’s plans having almost being shipped out in the summer. The 25-year-old has played 21 of 24 league games for the Gunners, contributing to 8 clean sheets. Having recently signed a new deal at the Emirates keeping him at the club until at least 2024, the Englishman has solidified himself as a decent squad player for Arteta and will be knocking on the door for Gareth Southgate’s Euros plans in the summer, if he can maintain this level of consistency.
Aston Villa – Ezri Konsa
Another English centre back that isn’t getting the recognition he should is Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa. The 23-year-old has been vital to Aston Villa’s tremendous turnaround this season, who boast 12 clean sheets – only bettered by Man City. Largely thanks to this solidified defence, The Villans sit in 8th place in the table with two games in hand. This is quite remarkable considering only Norwich City had a statistically worse defence last season.
Of course, credit to new signings such as Emi Martinez and Matty Cash is well warranted, as well as consistent performances from England international, Tyrone Mings. But contrary to popular belief Konsa is probably the best defender at the club, yet for whatever reason isn’t getting a look in for the England squad. The London-born defender has yet to be dribbled past this season – a statistic boasted by Virgil van Dijk for the large part of last season.
Brighton & Hove Albion – Adam Webster
There seems to be a theme here, but Brighton’s Adam Webster is another English centre back that absolutely deserves more recognition. Nicknamed by Seagulls’ fans as ‘Webdini’, the 26-year-old has been imperative to Graham Potter’s plan and progressive style of play.
Webster is statistically one of the better ball-playing centre backs in Europe, yielding impressive numbers for progressive passes and progressive carriers.
Webster is also aerially astute and completes a solid trio alongside Lewis Dunk and Ben White. Whilst the latter two are generally highly rated amongst Premier League viewers, the former is a good defender too.
Burnley – Ashley Westwood
In what was initially looking like a dooming campaign for Sean Dyche’s men, we’re seemingly starting to see the Burnley of old. Eight points adrift of the relegation, they’re in a somewhat decent place right now and whilst the likes of Nick Pope, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee produce courageous performances at the back, it is mainstay Ashley Westwood that has been putting the shift in in midfield.
With fitness and injuries being a major headache for Clarets boss Dyche, Westwood is the only player to have played every league game for the club this season. With fellow Englishman Jack Cork fit again, Burnley have their first-choice midfield partnership available and will want them to continue to put a hard graft in the middle of the park, with the aim of making sure they spend a sixth consecutive season in the topflight.
Chelsea – Tammy Abraham
Having spent big in the summer, Frank Lampard was gifted with an array of world class players at his disposal, which unfortunately meant less game time for the likes of Tammy Abraham, who’s only started 10 games in the league. Despite this, the 23-year-old has grabbed his opportunities when he’s had them and is Chelsea’s top scorer this campaign.
New manager Thomas Tuchel will likely get the best out of fellow German Timo Werner at some point, meaning Abraham will need to continue being prolific in front of goal to keep his place in the side. With the Euros lurking in the summer, Abraham will be keen to continue to net crucial goals for the Blues, facing stiff competition from the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins amongst others.
Crystal Palace – James McArthur
To Crystal Palace fans, it comes as no surprise that the Eagles have hit a rut in form since the injury of midfielder James McArthur. The Scotland international has been Mr Consistent for Roy Hodgson’s side for quite some time now, having been at the club since 2014. Yet he doesn’t really receive the plaudits he deserves.
Hodgson will be quietly confident his team have done enough to stay in the division but will be hopeful McArthur can get fit as soon as possible to help his side get the job over the line.
Everton – Michael Keane
Much thanks to the success of Carlo Ancelotti’s first summer transfer window, Everton are a different side compared to the underwhelming one we witnessed last season. Sitting just three points outside the top 4 behind local rivals Liverpool, the Toffees are on the cusp of a top 6 finish for the first time since 2014. But as good as the likes of James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been going forward, it’s Michael Keane that has been keeping things steady at the back.
Featuring in 21 of their 22 league games, Keane’s consistent defensive performances have put him in real contention for Gareth Southgate’s Euro plans. The Stockport-born defender is also already experiencing his highest-scoring season yet, netting 3 times – proving to be an aerial threat from set pieces.
Fulham – Tosin Adarabioyo
Almost everybody wrote Fulham off as certain relegation at the start of the season, when their far from inspiring performances left many believe they weren’t cut out for the Premier League. Nevertheless, some superb late transfer business by the Cottagers combined with some smart tactical decisions by Scott Parker have spurred belief that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Whilst new incomers Ademola Lookman and Antonee Robinson have provided a threat down the left flank, 23-year-old centre back Tosin Adarabioyo has impressed in defence. The Manchester City academy graduate hasn’t missed a minute since signing on deadline day for £2million and has been massively influential in improving the back line, with the Cottagers conceding 31 goals – just one less than champions, Liverpool.
Leeds United – Raphinha
What a steal of a buy this looks to be. Since joining from Rennes for £17 million, Raphinha has hit the ground running and looks increasingly dangerous week by week. His ability to effortlessly ghost past defenders and bend a shot ferociously into the corner of the net is frightening. He’s also already had the likes of Gary Cahill chasing shadows following some outrageous footwork.
The Brazilian thrives under Marcelo Bielsa’s dynamic unique style of play and has already netted four goals for The Whites. His contribution has gone under the radar slightly due to the goalscoring output of Patrick Bamford and the consistent performaces of Kalvin Phillips. Whilst he may be somewhat underrated right now amongst general viewers, Bielsa may have a tough time keeping him at the club in the near future, with Liverpool and Manchester United already linked with the trickster.
Leicester City – Harvey Barnes
It looks to be yet another stellar campaign for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City, who sit in 3rd place in the table, six points clear of defending champions Liverpool. The Foxes have their eyes set on Champions League football for what could be their first time in the competition since 2016. This form and consistency are much thanks to the attacking trio of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes.
With Vardy having one or two minor fitness setbacks, Leicester needed somebody else to fill the void in front of goal – that being England’s Harvey Barnes. Already outperforming his previous seasons, Barnes has made 11 league goal contributions for the Foxes this campaign and has arguably been Leicester’s best player. With competition rife in his position for England, he’s another superb talent that would be unlucky to miss out on a place on the plane to the Euros.