Premier League return: Five gems, five strugglers

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As the Premier League return took the focus of the soccer world this weekend, there were clearly some stars who got off to a flying start in the restart and others, well, they struggled.

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Plenty of rustiness was expected and the first half of most games certainly saw teams play tentatively, then things kicked into life in the second half as the Premier League return properly.

Below we select five gems and five strugglers from the Premier League return this weekend.


Five gems

Christian Pulisic: Obvious choice here. Jumped off the bench, scored within a few minutes and sparked a comeback Chelsea win at Villa. His first PL minutes since Jan. 1 went well and Lampard told us he’s delighted with Pulisic’s hunger. USA, USA!

Bruno Fernandes: Just oozes class. Scored a late penalty kick to grab Man United an important point at Tottenham, Fernandes saw plenty of the ball and Spurs did their best to keep him out of the final third. Kept plugging away. Now, can he and Pogba line up together?

Danny Ings: Scored one, set up another, hit the crossbar and set the tempo for a big Southampton win away at Norwich. He works so hard defensively too. Ings has 16 PL goals and is a sneaky bet to win the Premier League golden boot this season. He’s hit the woodwork so many times too. Saints can now start to push hard for a top 10 finish in the congested midtable.

Adama Traore: Sparked Wolves’ win at West Ham off the bench as he set up Jimenez and had a part in Neto to score. Traore’s pace is evident but the way he has improved with his final pass or cross is outstanding. The speedster will be key if Wolves qualify for the Champions League.

Jordan Ayew: Scored against Bournemouth and Palace’s leading goalscorer has a newfound calmness in the box. Works hard and compliments Benteke and Zaha well. Palace have had a very good season and both they and Ayew have snuck under the radar.

Five strugglers

Dean Henderson: He’s a young goalkeeper who will improve but he had an off day against Newcastle. Two of the three goals were efforts he should have saved and the entire Sheffield United defensive unit looked off. Henderson still hasn’t officially extended his loan at the Blades from Man United and with David de Gea struggling maybe, just maybe, he will head back to Man United for the 2020-21 season. He has the quality but sometimes his focus can be questioned.

Harry Kane: Jose Mourinho has defended Kane and he has been out for six months, let’s not forget. Against Man United he didn’t have a lot of service with Spurs sitting back and trying to hit United on the counter and Kane looked a little sluggish up top. His touch will come back and we know he will finish, but how many chances will he get each game with Mourinho as boss? Heung-min Son didn’t look great other but both have been out for a long time and their quality will kick back in. Right?

David Luiz: Oh dear. What a shocker. David Luiz may leave Arsenal in the coming days as he still hasn’t agreed a contract extension and the 24 minutes he played at Man City was awful. He came off the bench for the injured Mari, made a mistake for the first goal, gave away a penalty for the second and was sent off. He held his hands up afterwards and that could be his last actions in an Arsenal jersey.

Wilfred Ndidi: A poor display from Ndidi at Watford and that is truly a collectors item. The Nigerian midfielder is usually so calm on the ball but he gave it away in bad areas and put the Foxes under pressure. Lost the midfield battle to Capoue, Hughes and Doucoure as Leicester struggled against Watford. Surely they won’t give up their top four spot late in the season?

Callum Wilson: Kept trying but just didn’t happen for him and Bournemouth and given their fixtures late in the season, the Cherries are in serious relegation trouble. Wilson has had a tough season and he’s scored just three times in his last 22 Premier League appearances. Wilson, and Bournemouth in general, are struggling massively with confidence.