PL Matchday 1: Midfield stars eager to cast their magic spells
Highlighting the top ‘think tanks’ who can orchestrate positive gameplay for their respective teams in the opening weekend of the 2019-20 Premier League season.
Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian might have had an injury-ravaged 2018-19 season, but the 28-year-old didn’t shy away from contributing to Manchester City’s cause; with six goals and 11 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions. An integral part of Pep Guardiola’s midfield squadron, de Bruyne has averaged 53.52 passes per match in the Premier League and will surely be toying around with West Ham, against whom champions City open their title defence on Saturday.
Watford’s Argentine winger has been one of the many reasons for the Hornet’s best Premier League campaign last year, as he amassed 1,121 passes in 33 appearances and averaged 33.97 passes per game. Apart from striking a chord with winger Gerard Deulofeu to bring out some creativity in the gameplay, Pereyra’s 2018-19 campaign saw him register six goals and two assists and he is likely to kickstart the new campaign with a strong display against Brighton this weekend.
A club record £63million signing for 2018-19 Champions League finalists, the 22-year-old comes to the Premier League after strong displays in Europe’s premier club competition last term. With Spurs being plagued with defensive concerns, Ndombele provides a timely solution as he completed 2.4 tackles and 1.5 interceptions for French club Lyon in the Champions League and has shown to be a box-to-box midfielder with an attacking and creative intent. While he has a hefty price tag on him, Spurs fans are assured the Frenchman can get off the hook with a commanding act against newcomers Aston Villa.
Having initially signed on loan from Monaco, the Belgian’s successful stint called for Leicester City signing him on a permanent basis from the French club, for a club-record £40m. Despite contributing three goals and four assists in 13 league appearances, Tielemans was one of the Foxes’ prime creators in the Premier League, averaging 49.31 passes per game and having a tackle success rate of 47%. Leicester entertains a formidable Wolves at home and manager Brendan Rodgers will expect the 22-year-old to weave some magic around the backline of last season’s surprise act.
A player coveted by many Premier League over the course of the last few transfer windows, the 23-year-old has matured since his earlier stint in the English top-flight league and is poised to lead the Clarets to a successful season. Having contributed six goals and seven assists en route Villa’s return to the Premier League, Grealish has enjoyed support from his boyhood club and is, undoubtedly, the X-factor for the 2019-20 season. His first test is against Tottenham Hotspur, whose interest he rejected last summer, and his performance will not only prove what mettle he is made of now, but also his credentials to be a regular in the England national team.
Words: William Paul