Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Premier League: Big-money strikers and Rooney´s Everton return – five to watch in 2017-18

SoccerNews in English Premier League 10 Aug 2017

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Chelsea and Manchester United have both put their faith in big-money strikers as they bid to win the Premier League title this season.

After Diego Costa fell out of Antonio Conte’s plans, the champions paid Real Madrid a reported £70million to sign Alvaro Morata, while United parted with £75million to buy Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

With Lukaku having seemingly been Chelsea’s first choice, how the two strikers adapt to leading the line for title contenders is one of the Premier League’s most enticing subplots, while Wayne Rooney’s return to Goodison Park is one for the romantics.

Adding Vincent Kompany and Nathan Ake to those three attackers, here we examine five players to watch out for in the Premier League this season.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU

Jose Mourinho always wins the title in his second season, with Lukaku the man he has entrusted to boost United’s feeble 2016-17 goal tally of 54.

United put all their eggs in a Europa League-shaped basket last season and it paid off as Mourinho led the club back into the Champions League with a 2-0 final win over Ajax.

But a Premier League title challenge is required this time around, with Lukaku providing a powerful presence in attack to replace the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lukaku hit 25 league goals for Everton last season and, with supply coming from the likes of Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the Belgian should record a similar tally.

 

ALVARO MORATA

Morata has four league titles and two Champions League medals at the age of 24, but the Spain international was not first choice for either Madrid or Juventus.

That should change this season with Morata poised to replace Costa as Chelsea’s figurehead, but how he will cope with the pressure of being his side’s primary source of goals remains to be seen.

Morata contributed 15 LaLiga goals despite starting only 14 league games for Madrid last season and Chelsea need him to make an immediate impact, with star man Eden Hazard out for the opening weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury.

The striker looks to have the physicality and keen eye for goal to thrive in the Premier League, but does he have the right mentality?

 

VINCENT KOMPANY

Manchester City have lavished untold riches on full-backs in the transfer window, but arguably their most important player this season will be captain Kompany.

Pep Guardiola’s attacking style put huge pressure on his defence in his trophyless first campaign at the Etihad Stadium, with Kompany’s regular absences making it hard for John Stones to settle in after his move from Everton.

But the Belgium international is fit again and, with City yet to sign central defensive reinforcements, he needs to be available as much as possible.

If Kompany stays fit, City’s status as Premier League favourites looks understandable but if he gets injured again, it might not matter how many goals they score at the other end.

 

WAYNE ROONEY

Rooney’s return to Everton should be one of the feel-good stories of the Premier League season, with the former Manchester United captain looking to recapture the glory days.

Rooney lost his place in both the United and England XIs last season despite being the all-time record goalscorer for both and he will be determined to fight his way back into Gareth Southgate’s plans for the 2018 World Cup.

But in Rooney’s early Everton outings he has appeared leaden and again unsure of his best position, failing to score in either leg of their Europa League qualifier win against Ruzomberok.

Ronald Koeman might find having Rooney back is an unwanted headache this season as he tries to replace the guaranteed goals of Lukaku.

 

NATHAN AKE

Having failed to make the breakthrough at Chelsea, Ake has to justify a whopping £20million price tag after moving to ambitious Bournemouth.

Ake excelled in a loan spell for Eddie Howe’s side last season and the Netherlands international could prove Antonio Conte wrong in allowing him to leave.

Bournemouth conceded 67 goals last season, but the arrivals of Ake and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Stamford Bridge should improve their solidity as Howe looks to build on last season’s impressive ninth-place finish.

Should Ake thrive, more Chelsea youngsters could opt to pursue their future elsewhere, with talented striker Dominic Solanke having already left to join Liverpool.

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SoccerNews

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