Dalglish bought them, Fergie is now dependent on them, Wenger loves them. They command high transfer fees, and in some cases – really insane amounts, especially if they are English. In this segment, I intend to analyse the performances of the youngsters in EPL.
1. Ross Barkley (Everton)
The 17 year old midfielder impressed many in the pre-season with some eye catching performances and David Moyes saw it fit to hand a debut in the left of midfield against newly promoted Q.P.R. While the game ended in a disappointing defeat, Barkley managed to impress again. Passing intelligently and accurately as his passes found their target 80% of the time, Barkley provided the only positives to a frustrated Moyes. As seen from the chalkboard, Barkley’s long, cross field passes were a thing of beauty. If he is able to deliver such raking passes on a consistent basis, Everton might have a big headache in hanging on to him.
Ross Barkley: Sashaying passes at will
2. Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal)
A year back, Carl Jenkinson was plying his trade in League 1 with Charlton. Prior to his Premier League debut against Liverpool, he had played a grand total of 8 games for Charlton and the single Champions League appearance for Arsenal. Due to the spate of injuries in the Arsenal squad, the 19 year old started on Saturday. It was a forgettable night for Arsenal as Liverpool won for the first time at Arsenal, since 2000. Against the Reds, Jenkinson played well in the first two thirds of the pitch, linking well with his midfield teammates, but was ineffective in the final third. Though his passing success rate was a good 76%, it was his crossing which was poor. Of the 4 attempted crosses, none found their mark. Jenkinson will have to improve on that most important aspect if he wants an extended run in the first team.
3. Adel Taarabt (Q.P.R)
Brilliant on his day, pathetic on the others – Taarabt, with his brilliance and temper tantrums, could be likened to the Anelka of old. Against Everton, he started just behind Patrick Agyemang in the managers’ current favorite 4-2-3-1 and set on giving a good game for his manager. The Q.P.R captain was accurate with his passing – a great 87.5 success rate, and he linked well with his defensive midfielders Alejandro Faurlin and Shaun Derry. But too many of his passes were defensive, usually back to Faurlin or Derry.
4. Ignasi Miguel (Arsenal)
This 18 year old was given a baptism by fire as he made his debut on Saturday after Laurent Koscielny had to pull out injured after just 16 minutes. The tall Spaniard tried his best but couldn’t keep Liverpool from scoring. Miguel was poor in the air, losing 4 out of his 6 attempts. Though two of those was against Andy Carroll, the 6’4″ Miguel losing out aerially to the 5’10” Lucas on no less than two occasions shows his lack of experience in the highest level. May be a cup run will instill confidence in him.
Miguel: Needs to improve on his aerial ability
5. Martin Kelly (Liverpool)
Kelly had a decent game at Right Back against Arsenal and almost scored with a 15 yarder that hit the post. His passing was good at around 73% but that was only because of his quite few unsuccessful attempts to play a long open pass. But like his opposite number, Kelly was poor with his crosses nailing none of the three he attempted. He tackled admirably winning 5 of the 8 he attempted. Overall a commendable performance.
6. Pajtim Kasami (Fulham)
The Swiss youngster, a £3.5 m import from Palermo, was handed his first start in the Premier League against the Wolves after impressing in the Europa League tie against Dnipro. He lined up in the right side of a 5 man midfield but had a forgettable game as he was substituted out at half time. His passing was off with most of his long passes not finding their intended targets and he was generally stifled in the first two thirds of the pitch. The youngster would have found that there is a gulf in class between the teams in the Europa League qualification stages and the Premier League team. But he has undoubted potential and lets hope that this was just a blip.
Part 2 to follow.