6 players that must step up and save their team’s season
With nine fixtures to go and only three points separating five teams, the relegation battle will be one to savour for every Premier League fan.
Although some of those bruised teams are relying on group force in their attempt to survive in the top division, I have identified one player in every squad that can pick up the slack and help their club secure a Premier League spot for the next season.
1. Aaron Mooy – Brighton
The only team in the competition that has yet to win a game in 2020, Brighton have been given the time to adjust their play and prepare to come back stronger.
Graham Potter’s side is in control of most of their games, but they often stumble in the final third of the pitch. Neal Maupay scored a quarter of Brighton’s goals in the league (8 in 32), but I think his numbers could be improved with the help of the Australian midfielder.
Inconsistent at times so far, Mooy can help by linking the team in the attacking areas. His set pieces often spark danger inside the box and he also ranks second for most attempted shots for Brighton (30), behind Maupay (79).
I think the link-up play between Mooy and Maupay is the best resource Potter can use to avoid finishing in the bottom-three. The French striker has been doing a pretty decent job before the break too, it’s now up to the 29-year old Australian to boost this team and win the relegation battle.
2. Lukasz Fabianski – West Ham United
Unlike Brighton, West Ham United’s problems appear more often in their own half. The Hammers scored 35 times so far, more than any other team in the second half of the table.
However, they have conceded 50 goals in 29 games, which kind of speaks for itself in terms of sloppy defensive play. Defenders Diop and Cresswell have had a greater input in the opposition box rather than in their own.
This is why I think David Moyes will hope for Lukasz Fabianski to be at his best once the games are flowing again. With Haller, Bowen, Antonio and Anderson up front, the Londoners can score against any team, but in the end it will all come down to their defence.
West Ham faces Newcastle, Burnley, Norwich, Watford or Villa in these last 9 fixtures. If the Polish Goalkeeper can keep some clean sheets in these games, The Hammers are very likely to win them.
3. Ismaila Sarr – Watford
Gerard Deulofeu is out for the rest of the season with an injury. Roberto Pereyra is not even close to the form he was in a year ago. Troy Deeney’s fitness will be extremely challenged in this period, and I don’t think he will be able play at his best in this short run of time.
Who is going to score the goals then? Watford is one of the four teams in the Premier League to have a goals per game ratio below 1.00. To answer the question, my money is on Ismaila Sarr. After all, he is the man that slayed Liverpool this season.
Sarr’s impact on Watford has been significant on his debut season and given that he had to face three injuries across the season. He scored 5 goals (second goalscorer behind Deeney’s 6) and delivered 3 assists (beaten only by Deulofeu, with 5).
Nigel Pearson can only hope the form of the 22-year old Senegalese won’t have been altered by the break. As I see it, Sarr’s contribution to Watford attack could prove to be essential in their survival race.
4. Callum Wilson – Bournemouth
The Cherries are one of the teams counting on the force of the group. But if I had to choose a single man that is going to save the season for Eddie Howe’s side, that would be Callum Wilson.
Of course, he must improve his stats generously, as his name got written in the referee’s notebook more often for bookings than for goals scored this season.
Likely without one of his best partners up front, Ryan Fraser – who refused to sign a short term contract extension – Wilson has to link up now with King or Brooks, recently recovered after his injury.
This trident’s performance could propel Wilson higher into the scoring charts, and Bournemouth out of the bottom-three.
5. Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
The obvious and the easiest pick. I can’t see anyone else driving Dean Smith’s troops as Grealish does. He tops his team’s charts in terms of goals, assists and shots, also being second to Mings in passes.
He is always creating big chances for himself or his colleagues. I think it is safe to say that any team in the Premier League would want to have him.
While there is only one point between The Villans and the 16nd place, the fixtures look terrible for Smith’s lads. They play four of the Big Six clubs in a month’s interval, plus a trip to Goodison and a game against Wolves.
I think Grealish is the only one in this side to possess that audacity against top clubs, as he knows he is not Championship, but Premier League material. If anybody can be the hero of the season at Villa Park, that has to be Grealish.
6. Teemu Pukki – Norwich City
It’s true, Norwich’s situation is a bit more delicate, but as we said in one of our previous articles, they have enough reasons to believe they can win the relegation battle.
While The Canaries have a couple of exciting players playing just behind the striker – Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell – their main hopes rely on the Finnish goalscorer Teemu Pukki.
He contributed to 14 goals so far – 11 goals and 3 assists – which is more than half of the team’s total of 25. The bad thing is he closes now to 500 minutes of play without scoring and Daniel Farke doesn’t have a sub of similar quality for the striker role.
Pukki needs to step up and bounce back to the form he had in the start of the season. It could be the only way for us to have Premier League matches at Carrow Road next year.
There are 27 points out there for every team to win and avoid relegation. The question to be asked is: which of this six players will salvage the season for their teams?