5 Players to Exceed Expectations in the 2018/19 English Premier League Season
What Qualifies a Player as Having Exceeded Expectations?
During every Premier League season, there is always a set of players that perform well above what was expected of them before the season began, Mohammed Salah is a great example of this. Coming from the Italian league and never really being a top-level goalscorer, Liverpool fans were excited but not overwhelmed by their new signing. He exceeded every fans expectations and ended up being one of the best players in the league last season. In my opinion, in order for a player to exceed expectations, they need to perform significantly above the level that is expected of them. This is done through goals, assists, and general statistics, or by simply showing their quality on the field. It is a difficult thing to predict, but here are five players that I believe will have great seasons for their clubs even though it might not be what is expected of them.
Bernardo Silva had, overall, a disappointing first season at Manchester City. He didn’t necessarily perform badly, however, he wasn’t a stand out performer by any means. He only registered seven goals and four assists in the league and created an underwhelming three big chances. He started 15 times and played 35 games total throughout the 2017/18 Premier League campaign. During a season in which Manchester City broke records and performed at one of the highest levels that the Premier League has ever seen, City fans would have been hoping for a better season from one of their mostly hotly anticipated transfers of the summer. This season, however, looks different for Bernardo Silva.
Even though Silva is an attacking midfielder by trade, Guardiola has decided to move him back into a center midfield type of role. The first game of the season, a hotly anticipated game against Arsenal, Silva performed remarkably well in a three-man midfield alongside Fernandinho and Gundogan. Gundogan and Fernandinho sat back and covered the defensive line while Bernardo ventured forward and created chances for his teammates. He also bagged himself a great goal. Now while Silva has never been a 10+ goal or assist every season type of player, he contributes to the team in other ways. Through his mazy dribbles and attacking runs he creates chances for his teammates; this may not always result in an assist, however, he may create the pass that leads to an assist or start an attacking move. Silva’s best ever season was for Monaco during the 2016/17 campaign; this was the season that earned him his move to Man City. During this remarkable campaign, Silva registered eight goals and nine assists in the league. These numbers aren’t anything ridiculous. He earned his move to the Premier League not through statistics but through his ability to effectively pass and dribble around opposing midfields and defenses. In his new central midfield role for Manchester City, Silva can push through the midfield and distribute the ball to the more advanced front three, resulting in more attacks, more goals, and good results for his team. Don’t expect Bernardo Silva to be at the top of the scoring or assist charts this season, however, expect to see some phenomenal performances from the little Portuguese wizard.
During the 2017/18 season, Roberto Pereyra started 18 of 38 possible games for Watford, resulting in five goals and two assists. Moments of brilliance followed by little end product is how I would describe the Argentine’s performances last season. Pereyra would often nutmeg or bamboozle a defender, only to run himself into a hole or make the wrong decision when it really counted. Overall, during the last campaign, Pereyra showed that he could be capable of great things. With training and dedication, he could become a great player. Considering the fact that Watford have only played one game this season, take this prediction with a grain of salt. Based on what I have seen from Pereyra in previous years and from his incredible game at the weekend against Brighton, it’s fair to expect the Argentine left midfielder to learn from his previous mistakes and have a decent campaign. It might only be one result, but Pereyra has to build on arguably his best performance in the Watford shirt.
Richarlison started last season on fire for Watford, putting in man of the match performances left and right under his coach at the time, Marco Silva. After the first 10 or so gameweeks, his form drooped, as can be expected of a young player during their first season in the notoriously tough English Premier League. However, after Marco Silva was relieved of his job at the hornets, Richarlison really took a turn for the worse. His starting spot became less and less consistent, as did his performances. So, when given the chance to rejoin the coach that Richarlison once described as a “father figure”, he snapped up the opportunity and moved to Everton.
Richarlison genuinely looks as though he has what it takes to succeed in England. He has pace, power, dribbling skill, as well as an eye for goal. And, similarly to his start with Watford, Richarlison has started superbly this season for Everton by bagging two goals in a strong performance against Wolves. Marco Silva will be looking to really prove himself this time around and will look to propel Everton to a European spot, Richarlison could well be an important player in this conquest. Most players tend to have a better second season than their first in the Premier League, especially when they arrive from a smaller, less physical league; they need time to adapt. Expect Richarlison to find consistency this season and be Everton’s main man going forward.
The Swedish center back had an outstanding World Cup as his team made it to the Quarter Finals of the competition. He looked composed on the ball and willing to make crucial tackles and interceptions when his team truly needed it. This is the type of courage and drive that Lindelof has to show at Manchester United this season. Lindelof had a very underwhelming 2017/18 campaign with the red devils as he struggled for playing time, his most notable performance of the season being against Huddersfield where he made two errors leading to goals as a substitute. Hopefully he will be given the opportunity to form a partnership with his hard-tackling team mate Eric Bailly this season and really show what he can do. One of Lindelof’s best traits during his time at Benfica was his ability to distribute the ball and build plays from deep; given that Manchester United have struggled to get the ball forward and attack in recent seasons, it would be refreshing to see them building attacks starting from the defensive line. Manchester United have always relied on strong defensive partnerships through their years of success, if Lindelof is given the opportunity to consistently play alongside Bailly they could form a similar type of partnership.
West Ham have spent big during the summer window, the likes of Issa Diop, Yarmolenko, Lucas Perez, and Felipe Anderson are just a few of the big names they have introduced to their squad in an effort to reach European competition. Even though he is not a new edition to the squad, Michail Antonio could have a big season for the hammers. Antonio has been deployed at right mid, right back, striker, and now as a right sided winger and has showed he is capable of filling in wherever his team needs him. However, after having decent seasons in previous years, the now 28-year-old had a disappointing 2017/18 campaign littered with injuries and poor performances. He needs to be played consistently in one position so that he can develop and prove that he really can help the team, Pellegrini should give Antonio a chance to claim the right wing spot, the Englishman clearly has talent. During West Ham’s first game of the season, against Liverpool, Antonio looked solid in his defensive effort as well as one of the hammers’ only attacking sparks. If Antonio can lock down the right wing position for West Ham and be given consistent playing time by his new manager, Pellegrini, expect big things from the player this season.