Five biggest surprise players in PL

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Heading into the new Premier League season, we all thought we knew which players would have breakout campaigns and impress.

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But it hasn’t exactly worked out like that in the opening weeks of the season, has it?

Below we take a look at five players who have surprised us all, so far, and have set the tone for fine campaigns.


Dani Ceballos (Arsenal, on loan from Real Madrid)
Man of the Match display on his first PL start against Burnley, the Spanish international looks the part. Able to create chances galore, he set up both of Arsenal’s goals in the 2-1 win over Burnley. But more impressive than that was his ability to work hard defensively to win the ball back. He did that for the game-winning goal and if Ceballos continues to play like this, it will be tough for Arsenal to buy him permanently from Real next summer.


Erik Lamela (Tottenham)
The Argentine is finally fully fit and has impressed in the opening weeks of the season. A goal and an assist to his name already, Lamela scored a clever goal against Man City and worked his tail off. He’s started both games and with confusion over Christian Eriksen‘s future, plus Dele Alli‘s injury, Spurs are glad to have Lamela back in the frame. Son, Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso will challenge him for minutes, but right now Lamela is a guaranteed starter for Spurs.


Teemu Pukki (Norwich City)
Four goals in his first two PL games, it’s safe to say Pukki has taken to life in the top-flight like a duck to water. The Finnish striker is making up for lost time, with the 29-year-old scoring a hat trick in the 3-1 win against Newcastle and he grabbed a consolation goal at Anfield on the opening day. After scoring 29 goals in the second tier last season, Pukki showed his quality. After spells with Sevilla, Schalke and Celtic which didn’t really work out, Pukkimania is set to take over the PL. Norwich could have bagged one of the best free transfers in recent memory.


Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City)
Who needs Harry Maguire, right? Leicester didn’t spend any of the $100 million they received from Man United for their star center back and now it is easy to see why. They have Jonny Evans, Wes Morgan and now Turkish center back Caglar Soyuncu, who has become a cult hero in the opening weeks of the season. Soyuncu was brought in last summer and made just six PL appearances last season as he learned the ropes. The 23-year-old is a Turkish international and has shown incredible composure on the ball, like Maguire, and is forming a great partnership with Evans.


Ashley Barnes (Burnley)
We shouldn’t be too surprised by Ashley Barnes play on the pitch. What you see is what you get. He bullies opposition defenders and is a battering ram of a center forward. But we should be surprised by his output. He scored twice against Southampton and once against Arsenal, and he could have scored even more. Barnes is getting himself into the right positions and Burnley are creating more chances with dangerous crosses into the box. The Clarets look back to their best and that’s because Barnes is leading the line with plenty of confidence.

PFA explains position as players urged to take pay cuts

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The Professional Footballers Association is explaining why it has not yet accepted deferred pay cuts during the coronavirus suspension, and the English government is not withholding its opinion.

As non-playing staff accept furloughs or worse across the tiers of English football and players in other European nations accept pay cuts, the PFA has not found an arrangement to its liking.

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Health secretary Matthew Hancock addressed the situation in his daily public briefing.

From Sky Sports:

“Given the sacrifices people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone into work and caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution; take a pay cut and play their part.”

That’s a heavy statement, one that surely resonates with all.

The PFA issued a post on its site that runs up nearly 1000 words on its position, stating that a big part of its concern is representing League One and League Two players. Those members do not receive the massive pay packets of PL stars.

Basically, what the PFA is requesting is time to make an educated decision considering the books and futures of every club are different. They’d like to see those books to make sure that if players are making a sacrifice that shareholders are as well.

From ThePFA.com:

We fully accept that players will have to be flexible and share the financial burden of the COVID-19 outbreak in order to secure the long-term future of their own club and indeed the wider game. Our advice going out to players at this point reflects that expectation.

In addition, the PFA is also expecting to contribute financially to any solutions agreed upon.

Like everyone else in the country, we are trying to deal with a situation that has never been faced. Our spirits have been lifted seeing communities come together to support each other. We have been proud to see many of our own members and clubs step up to support the NHS, to help children who would usually benefit from free school meals, donating to food banks and other charitable donations to those affected by this crisis. Much of this has been done privately and without publicity.

Obviously there will be a resolution to this soon, but it’s a complex and layered situation. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first PL boss to take a voluntary pay cut on Wednesday, with Brighton’s Graham Potter following suit.

Burning question: Who is your guilty pleasure team?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game and the next one focuses on something we all have: a team we like that we don’t want to admit.

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Each day we will release a burning question, as now seems like a good time to take stock of where the game is at and take a look at what we love and what we’d like to change as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next question: Who is your guilty pleasure team?


Think about it. You don’t have to admit it out loud if you don’t want to. We all have one. Admit it.

There’s a team out there you have dismissed to your friends, family and maybe random strangers on social media but secretly, when nobody else is with you, you watch them play and admire them.

That said team are your guilty pleasure.

It’s okay to admit it. Honest. There will be no judgement here because we are all in the same boat.

It can be a team from the same league as your team, or a club from another league in another country, or just, you know, a team that people aside from you despise.

A lot of the big boys bring up polarizing views as many neutrals loath mega clubs who win trophies season after season and scoff at their huge wage bill, well-manicured stadiums and incredible commercial success. ‘This isn’t proper football’ you often cry. Deep down, you admire some of those teams, don’t you?

It would be remiss of me to ask you to reveal your guilty pleasure team in the comments below our via our social media post on Twitter without revealing my own so here it goes.

Atletico Madrid.

For years I’ve been an admirer of Atletico, way back when Diego Simeone was a player for them in midfield and they won the 1995-96 La Liga title with a huge ‘MARBELLA’ sponsor logo on their baggy shirts, as they also won the Copa del Rey that season to bring utter delight to the Vicente Calderon stadium after a 19-year wait for the league title.

A lot has changed since then and Atleti have become a polarizing team for becoming the ultimate masters of the dark arts with a squad of players who are perfectly happy with putting all of their personal talent to one side to play as a destructive, defensive, winning team.

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Simeone’s antics may not be the prettiest (the vision of one of his crotch-pulsing celebrations are now etched into your head forever) and he may tell his players to stretch the rules as far as they possibly can on the field, but I respect the hustle. Simeone has always been this way, from his reaction to David Beckham’s kick in the 1998 World Cup in his playing days to his cojones celebration, he has pushed the boundaries. After being forced to rebuild his team almost on a yearly basis since he took charge in 2011 as he’s lost star after star (Aguero, Costa, Falcao and Griezmann to name a few), he forces his players into punishing hill runs each summer and expects nothing but 100 percent effort each and every time they step on the pitch.

It was recently revealed El Cholo was the highest-paid manager in the world and you can’t argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

I respect that somehow Atletico have now become competitive amid the utter dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spanish soccer for pretty much the last six decades. Since he took charge they have won three Europa League titles, the La Liga title in 2014 and reached two UEFA Champions League finals (losing both to Real in 2014 and 2016) as well as ousting defending champs Liverpool in the UCL in dramatic fashion to reach the last eight this season. Cue more Simeone celebrations.

The next time you watch Atletico Madrid play, imagine me sat alone somewhere in a dark room with a bowl of peanuts and a beer, nodding my head like that famous Jack Nicholson gif from Anger Management.

Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid are the masters of shithousery.

‘That’s right, Diego Costa, you flick his ear off the ball’ and ‘look at Simeone screaming at the home fans in disgust when they boo an Atletico player for getting a tactical yellow. Give it to them!’ will be likely comments from myself.

I’ve aired my dirty laundry in public. Now, feel free to do the same and tell us which team is your guilty pleasure.

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Transfer news: James to Everton; Meunier to Man United

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

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First up, Everton are said to be interested in signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. The Colombian star previously played for Carlo Ancelotti at Real and Bayern Munich, as he helped the former win the UEFA Champions League in 2015-16 and 2016-17 after arriving from Monaco following a sensational 2014 World Cup.

According to Marca, James is keen on a move to England and Real want to sell him this summer as he has just one year left on his contract. Per the report Ancelotti tried to sign James last summer when he was in charge at Napoli and although Arsenal and Wolves are also interested, Everton are the frontrunners.

James spent two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich before returning to Real for 2019-20 where he has been a bit-part player for Zinedine Zidane.

His quality on the ball is undoubted and at the age of 28 he is hitting his prime and Ancelotti certainly knows how to get the best out of James, who put up his best numbers at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2014-15 (17 goals in 46 games in all competitions) under the Italian coach.

Where would he slot in at Everton? Probably as the second striker or No. 10 which would mean stiff competition for Gylfi Sigurdsson who has become the chief creator for Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has not been shy in splashing the cash and Ancelotti has had a huge impact during his first few months in charge of the Toffees, strengthening his case to be given money to spend in the next transfer window to improve his young, raw squad.

Time to add the duo of Ancelotti-James to Mourinho-Matic, Redknapp-Defoe and Moyes-Fellaini manager-player partnerships.


Switching the focus from Merseyside to Manchester, another piece of transfer news has been reported that Man United are keen on signing Belgium international Thomas Meunier.

Meunier, 28, has yet to sign a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain and according to French outlet Le Foot, the Red Devils have joined AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund in ‘keeping a lookout’ on the right-sided player who becomes a free agent this summer.

An attacking right back, Meunier is just as comfortable playing as an out-and-out winger and his arrival would not only give them cover at right back for Aaron Wan-Bissaka but also give them an option at right wing. His experience with Belgium and PSG is undoubted and his quality passing and crossing from wide areas will surely provide Man United’s star attackers plenty of service. Meunier previously said his main aim is to stay at PSG, where he’s been since arriving from Club Brugge in 2016 as he’s won eight domestic trophies with the reigning French champions.

Meunier has also previously stated in the Belgian media that he is a fan of Man United, so perhaps that gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side the edge. He would fill a need and a free transfer would certainly be welcome after splashing out over $280 million to sign Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Wan-Bissaka over the last 12 months.

VIDEO: Arlo White’s best Premier League calls

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Arlo White’s voice has been missed by Premier League fans across the USA in recent weeks, so this video of his best calls will keep you going for a while.

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Click play on the video above as some of the craziest goals and moments in the Premier League have been beautifully described by NBC’s lead soccer commentator.

His magical command of the English language is on full show across 15 minutes of Arlo commentating on plenty of wild Liverpool goals, Leicester City’s incredible title win and plenty of upset victories from the last seven seasons of the Premier League.

Enjoy a trip down memory lane with Arlo and in the comments below let us know your favorite calls from his time behind the mic with NBC Sports over the last few years.