Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Joe Linton

It’s not often that you hear of Newcastle United splashing the cash. So, when the club managed to spend over €40m on Joelinton from TSG Hoffenhiem, fans were naturally excited. The 22-year-old has been around the German game for a couple of years now, as well as having spent time out on loan in Austria. An explosive and exciting talent, does he have the means to make the Premier League a little less challenging for the Toon?

What makes him so special?

Joelinton is a lot like another former Hoffenheim forward in Roberto Firmino in that he does not necessarily stick up top. He works hard in harrying the opposition defence, and he loves to link-up with his teammates. He gets involved in the defensive side of the game before getting his teammates involved in the play – that might explain a rather lacklustre goals return.

A good passer and a fine dribbler, too, Joelinton can take players on and make a positive impact when he’s on the ball. The fact he has no issues working back is a big boon, too, as the Premier League demands high intensity forwards.

Though Newcastle fans might expect more goals from a striker who cost so much, he offers so much in various other parts of the pitch that, if they can supply him with good teammates, he could be of great value to Newcastle.

Any concerns or doubts?

However, part of the problem with Joelinton is that he’s often in so many places, he’s not in the right one when it matters. Goals are an issue, as is fouling the opposition. He has a habit of reliving pressure by being too aggressive on defenders, which can be a problem.

Also, given that he spends so much time outside of the box, he often shoots from distance instead of getting in close to finish chances off. In a team that does not create as much as many of their competition, that barren nature that can strike Joelinton could be problematic.

If they can build the team around him without expecting him to a static striker, though, Newcastle should profit from the purchase of the Brazilian.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Max Aarons

When Norwich City managed to win hearts and minds in 2018-19, a large part of it came from their rambunctious style. They don’t hold back, and are rather cavalier to the point where they would win plenty of high-scoring games by a single goal. A big part of their exciting nature is their aggressive full-backs, and young Max Aarons is a fine example of that ambitious style.

What makes him so special?

There isn’t much that could be said about Aarons that stands out – and that is part of his magic. At just 19, he plays like a senior professional. You wouldn’t say that his passing was any better than his defensive prowess, for example. Nor would you say that his dribbling is any worse than his ability to constantly win tackles – tackles won often without going to ground.

The strongest part of his game is his dribbling, but his main specialty is his well-rounded nature. For a 19-year-old full-back, he shows immense variety in his game. For Aarons, the main thing that stands out is the fact he can do so much for one so young; his versatility in playing style makes him an excellent player to watch.

Strong and with plenty of energy but without the propensity to lose the ball, Aarons is a rare talent.

Any concerns or doubts?

The main thing he suffers from is being bullied at the posts when defending aerial passes. However, what can be done about that? At 19, he could still take a growth spurt. Given many full-backs are aerially weak, too, this should not be something that limits his career progress.

Should he become a bit more consistent with his cross selection and timing, Aarons will become a better defender by proxy of being able to better judge balls. Given the issue is more down to height and experience, though, there’s relatively little to be worried about with Aarons. The potential is easily there to go to the peak of the Premier League.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Dwight McNeil

It’s not often that we see a club often fighting in the bottom half of the Premier League producing exciting homegrown talent. In Dwight McNeil, though, Burnley have a young player who has the potential to be among the most exciting in the league.

What makes him so special?

His composure and his ability to handle the breakthrough. Thrown into a Burnley side that looked burnt out and exasperated, McNeil began to produce regularly impressive performances. He’s shown an impressive ability to get his teammates on the ball, and has a decent range of tricks in his locker.

Crossing, shooting, and dribbling are all key skills in a wide player and McNeil has them all in abundance. He’s strong on the ball, he does not mind getting stuck in, and he has a good decision making process when he is on the ball. It’s not often that a young player is so good at creating chances for his teammates, but he seems to have a strong understanding of both his role in the team and what his teammates need from him.

For Sean Dyche, this maturity allied to a natural work ethic should be very exciting.

Any concerns or doubts?

For McNeil, there aren’t too many concerns outside of a propensity to give the ball away. His passing is quite minimalistic at times, and even then the decision making can be poor. The fact that he coves so much ground and gets involved defensively means that, when he does get the ball, he can often make the wrong choice to spring an attack.

However, for McNeil, these are small issues that will be improved upon with time and more gameday experience in the Premier League. For Burnley, this must be the most exciting youth prospect they’ve produced in some time: McNeil looks like he has the tools to reach the very top.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Reiss Nelson

Having spent a year on loan with Julien Nagelsmann at TSG Hoffenheim, Arsenal youth starlet Reiss Nelson arrives back in London with a point to prove. At just 19, he has the world at his feet: the main question for Nelson is can he keep out the cadre of attacking stars that Arsenal have lining the bench for long enough to make an impact?

What makes him so special?

For us, Nelson impresses due to his coolness in front of goal. For a 19-year-old wide forward, he shows a lot of composure when the ball drops to him. Despite having less than a shot per game for the German outfit last year, Nelson managed to pick up an impressive 7 goals in just 630 minutes – not bad for a youngster who only made 5 starts in the season.

He’s composed and he has a good idea of shot selection, too, which is quite rare. Often, players of his experience and position are exciting, creative dribblers with poor decision making. Nelson shows good decision making and consistency, completing around 86% of his passes last year for Hoffenheim – that’s a solid return for a young player in a creative position.

Any concerns or doubts?

Nelson stands out due to his decision making, but one thing that he has to improve upon is how often he gets involved in a game. When he’s part of the game he is effective, but he’s suffered from an ability to drift out of games without much fanfare. As he ages, this will have to improve – he’s not yet decisive enough to get away with failure to participate in big matches.

The main concern is also going to be making the most of the gametime he gets. Despite starting the opening day of the season, chances could be somewhat limited for Nelson; he needs to take every chance he is given which, given his propensity to vanish from games, could be tough.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Player Profile - Thibaut Courtois

At just 25, Thibaut Courtois – alongside David de Gea – has claim to be the best keeper of his generation. The Bree-born Belgian is among the finest goalkeepers in the Premier League and European football in general. With over 50 caps for his country, too, he’s a stalwart at the back and has helped to play a key role in title successes at Genk, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. 
In July 2011, he left Belgium after helping his youth club Genk win the Belgian Pro League title. At Genk, he made a name for himself as an uncompromising stopper; when he signed for Chelsea for just £8m, he was immediately loaned to Atletico Madrid. In Madrid, he ensured that his future as Petr Cech’ successor was secure.

His key performances across a three-year stint seen him win the Europa League, Copa del Rey and La Liga title from 2012-2014. He also was a major part of the team which reached the UEFA Champions League final; even helping to put out parent club Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Since returning to London, he’s been a major part of their growth across a trophy-laden four-year spell. He’s won the League Cup and two Premier League titles, securing his position as a keeper who plays a key role in winning tiles.

While his passing may not be as good as other modern keepers, his outstanding reflexes more than makes up for that. Often making saves that he simply would not be expected to as well as staying concentrated for that one key moment when he is called into action, Courtois is the personification of a top-club keeper.

Never flustered from moments of pressure and rarely, if ever, caught dreaming, he’s a key part of Chelsea’ continued, lasting success.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Reading vs Arsenal -  Best Comeback in Football History

What a classic!