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5 Premier League Players With It All To Prove This Season, feat. Liverpool and MUFC stars




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Many have fallen under the harsh, fast paced, unforgiving nature of the Premier League with the world class Angel Di Maria leaving Manchester United due to never settling in England and Roberto Soldado heading through the exit door at Spurs after failing to hit the form he once portrayed.

Now the limelight is shone on others. TBR has picked out five players who are on their final chance to show they really can cut it in the Premier League or they could be waving goodbye. Do you agree?

Samir Nasri

While City fans are happy with the way the team has progressed under the ‘Arab Money’ reign, there have been few rave reviews about Samir Nasri.

The Frenchman signed for £25m in 2011 has never fully nailed down a place in City’s starting eleven and even with a free pass to operate as a left winger, he failed to take the chance, leading to Silva being placed ahead of him in the pecking order.

Mancini had a love-hate relationship with Nasri, openly admitting he ‘would like to punch him in the face’ after a very inconsistent vein of form and now the Frenchman finds himself as a backup under Pellegrini.

Nasri has impressed during phases of his City career, most notable a Man of the Match performance against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup, but his desire and hunger have been questioned ever since he made what Arsenal fans call a ‘money motivated’ move from the London club in 2011.

Now, Nasri has to perform. With the expensive addition of Raheem Sterling on the wing and Delph in the centre, Nasri has to prove he is the best of the bunch to ensure he isn’t warming a seat on the bench this season, the French international however has stated he is determined not to be the ‘fall guy’. Maybe the desire has kicked in, 4 seasons to late? That’s for others to answer.

Mario Balotelli

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Super Mario has had so many chances, almost he knows this is his last. Or maybe he doesn’t, his behaviour shows he isn’t to bothered about being exiled from Liverpool’s first team picture. Recent videos of him being smothered in champagne prove evidence of this.

However, the Italian has got undoubted talent along with a fair share of arrogance. He’s a player that has divided opinion wherever he’s gone, none more so than when he joined Liverpool for a reported £16m fee.

4 goals in all competitons last season show that he’s playing on borrowed time whenever he makes an appearance for The Reds as his poor focus hasn’t pleased the Anfield faithful.

This is his final chance. Liverpool was a lifeline for his career and with offers from Serie B clubs, signs show the once potential world-beater will end up collecting millions in a country like Qatar.

However, when partnered with Sturridge, like he was against Spurs last season, he looked sharp and willing to work of his English strike partners work ethic. If he focuses and gets to play with Sturridge, he may become a fruitful asset for Rodgers, signs show this won’t happen.

Erik Lamela

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The Argentinian prodigy that has a devastatingly skillful pair of feet moved for record fee to Spurs during their spending of the Gareth Bale money. Lamela has failed to replicate the Welsh international.

The record signing maintained a spot in Pocchetino’s line up last season and is looking to build, like Nasri, on inconsistency. The famous Europa League rabona goal showed fans his potential but he is yet to progress in to the player his transfer fee merits.

A third season at Spurs could be his last. The performance level has to be turned up a notch and Lamela needs to add both goals and assists to his game.

With Pritchard signing a new contract, it’s clear he’s going to be given a chance at Spurs. Lamela firstly needs to ensure it’s not him that’s removed from the starting sheet before making sure he’s not sent through the White Hart Lane exit doors next summer.

Radamel Falcao

After an atrocious showing for Manchester United last season, it was a massive surprise to see the Colombian join Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

However, the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ may have made the most psychological piece of business this summer. With many doubting that the striker has the talent and sharpness he had before his knee injury, Mourinho knows the praise he’ll get if he gets Falcao firing.

The Colombian will know he isn’t going to get another chance in the Premier League after Chelsea. Falcao will be determined to impress and show he’s over the devastating knee injury.

His eagerness is clear to see, unlike Balotelli, which works in his favour and the determination to succeed may enable him another crack of the metaphorical Premier League whip.

Phil Jones

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With Jones starting the season injured, he’ll be playing catch-up for at least half the season before he hits full fitness. United fans could have run the rule by then, meaning it’s to late to prove Sir Alex Ferguson true when he stated Jones would be an ‘Old Trafford great’.

Blind and Smalling in the meantime have kept two clean sheets from two. Blind has been praised for his impressive passing ability while Smalling is Van Gaals ‘third captain’ if there is such a thing.

The form of these two make it hard for fans and pundits alike to see how Jones fits in, especially as Darmian has already made the right back spot his own. As well as defensive midfield never being Jones’ strong point, as much as he tried.

The England international has to come back fighting, being fitter and stronger than ever to prove that Van Gaal has the 3 centrebacks he needs to challenge for the title.

Otherwise Jones could replicate Johnny Evans who is tipped to leave United. United fans wouldn’t want that, for Sir Alex’s sake.

Featured image: All rights reserved by chao1989

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Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?

The Spanish international has been inconsistent since his £60 million move.



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When Antonio Conte sealed the signing of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in the summer, many Chelsea fans lauded him as one of the signings of the window.

He was an instant hit at Stamford Bridge following his £60 million arrival, scoring on his debut off the bench in a 3-2 loss against Burnley on the opening day.

Morata has been most commonly used as an impact sub especially at Madrid, but at Chelsea, he was quickly given the responsibility of spearheading the Blues’ attack.

He repaid the faith Conte showed in him early, notching a hat trick away at Stoke in mid-September.

There was early talk of him being involved in a four-way battle for the golden boot alongside Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Gabriel Jesus.

Since then, it hasn’t worked out as well for Morata at Chelsea.

He went on a scoring drought soon after, although he did score a crucial winner against title rivals Manchester United in November.

He still received criticism, however, culminating in a poor performance against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, where he missed several guilt edge chances to give Chelsea the advantage.

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He then played 40 minutes in the FA Cup against Norwich, managing to receive two yellow cards in a matter of seconds, first for diving, and then for dissent.

The cold weather has been blamed for his lack of form, as well as a back injury which at one point Conte suggested could force him to miss the rest of the season.

The English climate is different to what Morata will have previously experienced in Spain and in Italy with Juventus, although whether that can be used as a real argument is debatable.

He proved that theory wrong today, finishing off a fine Chelsea move in one of the coldest games of the season.

The Spaniard has looked bereft of confidence in recent weeks and months, and it appeared that Olivier Giroud had overtaken him as Chelsea’s leading marksman until today.

Morata proved his class against a Leicester side that, had it not been for a late mistake, would have taken the current Premier League champions to penalties.

His well placed shot after an excellent Willian through ball opening the scoring before an audacious flick hit the crossbar.

Although not at the heights of the likes of Kane (24 goals) and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (28 goals), Morata has notched 10 goals of his own – a decent return considering he has missed a fair amount of games with injury in a team that is equally reliant on goals from wingers Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian.

With the cold weather subsiding, if that can be used as an excuse for some of Morata’s poor performances, and Chelsea’s chances of silverware increasing with an FA Cup semi-final, now is surely the time for Morata to produce some of his best form and lead Chelsea’s charge going into the back end of the season.

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Tieumoue Bakayoko disappoints again for Chelsea against Leicester City

The Frenchman looked to struggle against his FA Cup opponents.

Jake Jackman



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Tieumoue Bakayoko was one of the big-name signings for Chelsea during the summer as the club tried to push on under Antonio Conte after their Premier League triumph.

The Frenchman had been a standout player for AS Monaco during their surprise Ligue 1 winning campaign and cost the Blues a reported £40 million.

Although they are one of the richest clubs in the world, that remains a big spend and they would have been expecting a first-team ready player.

That hasn’t been the case as Bakayoko has struggled to adapt to English football and has found himself sidelined for Danny Drinkwater on several occasions.

The England international is an experienced Premier League player, but he was brought in to provide cover. It is a worry that he has been performing better than the player brought in to partner N’Golo Kante.

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Chelsea managed to qualify for the semi-final of the FA Cup with an extra-time victory over Leicester City. However, Bakayoko was underwhelming once again after being brought back into the starting eleven.

He lasted until half-time before being replaced by Cesc Fabregas. During the first half, the Blues were too predictable in central midfield as neither player offered creativity from deep.

Wilfred Ndidi was arguably the best player in that area of the pitch as he dominated Bakayoko and Kante for the first-half.

The summer signing from Monaco was booked just before the break and didn’t re-emerge for the second-half. It was another disappointing performance from him as he failed to take the opportunity provided by Antonio Conte.

During the match, Bakayoko had a tackle success rate of 33% and he failed to make a single key pass to influence proceedings in the attacking half.

It was obvious that he was lacking in confidence as he often chose the simple pass and wasn’t as aggressive as the Leicester midfield players that he was competing with.

As the season has progressed, central midfield has emerged as an area of weakness for Chelsea. They often play with two defensive-minded midfielders and that makes them predictable to play against.

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Last season, Nemanja Matic was more dynamic in central areas and he wasn’t afraid to step into the attacking half to contribute to attacks. The decision to sell him to a rival club now looks a huge mistake as the Blues are less effective in the middle of the park.

It was hoped that Ross Barkley would provide more energy to that position, but he has struggled with injuries since moving to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have a difficult task to save their season, as they must finish in the top four and lift the FA Cup to restore pride.

Bakayoko needs to have a strong end to his season if he is to prove himself worthy of another chance next season. There is likely to be a new manager at Stamford Bridge with Antonio Conte’s position looking more untenable by the day.

A managerial change will lead to a squad overhaul and the 23-year-old will be one of the first to go. He doesn’t offer anything different to Kante and his compatriot is far superior in every area.

His most ardent supporters will allude to his inexperience and suggest that he needs to be given more time. However, when watching him against the 21-year-old Ndidi, it became clear that he isn’t good enough for a club like Chelsea. He was outclassed and outbattled by his younger opponent.

Since Roman Abramovich bought the club, there have been several mistakes made in the transfer market. The decision to sell Matic and sign Bakayoko was another.

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Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from the Etihad

Jake Jackman



Manchester City
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Manchester City managed to beat Chelsea for the second time this season as they continue their march to the Premier League title. The contest was far from entertaining, as the visitors showed no interest in playing football and instead to soak in pressure.

Pep Guardiola’s team didn’t have to get out of second gear and it was a more comfortable victory than they would have been expecting. The Citizens are now 18 points clear at the top of the table and remain on target for 100 points, which would be a superb achievement.

Meanwhile, Chelsea sit outside of the Champions League places and are now five points behind Tottenham in fourth position. They will need a near perfect end to the season if they are to avoid missing out on qualification for next season’s competition. Here are three talking points from the Etihad Stadium…

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

David Silva showed his class

The 32-year-old has been at Manchester City for the majority of their journey from Premier League also-rans to elite super club and he remains a crucial player for them under Pep Guardiola.

If he had been in the team for the entire campaign, he would be running Kevin de Bruyne close for the PFA Player of the Year award. He is a classy operator who seems to get better with age.

He got the important assist for the winning goal with a superb piece of play and that is becoming par for the course for the Spanish international. Silva completed 95% of his passes and made three key passes during the contest. Meanwhile, he was very good out of possession as he made three ball recoveries.

It has been incredible to watch Pep Guardiola get all of his attacking talent on the pitch at one time, but the improvement of both Silva and De Bruyne off the ball has helped achieve that.

They are now complete midfielders and capable of thriving in both halves of the pitch. The midfielder is a club legend and supporters will be hoping that he has a few years left in him.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte continues to make puzzling decisions

Last season, the Italian was lauded every week as his side won the league title comfortably, but he has failed to follow it up with a good second campaign. There have been a lot of problems for Chelsea this season including recruitment, tactics and player performance.

They have been reliant on Eden Hazard and as the campaign has progressed, the team have lost their intensity, which suggests they no longer believe in Conte.


Their 3-4-2-1 formation was revolutionary, but they have moved away from it frequently this season and haven’t been able to settle on a first eleven. That was one of Chelsea’s strengths last season. Gary Cahill and David Luiz have been sidelined, while Alvaro Morata has failed to replace Diego Costa sufficiently.

On Sunday, Conte chose to field Hazard as a lone frontman, but he struggled to impact the game in that role. He is best when having space in front of him to run into and he didn’t have that against Manchester City.

The Belgian international was isolated and touched the ball only 31 times. It was a tactical error and one that blunted Chelsea’s attack before a ball was kicked.

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Ilkay Gundogan is flourishing in the middle of the park for Manchester City

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has had his problems since arriving in the Premier League.

He has suffered a few injuries and that has seen him struggle to secure a regular starting berth, but he has featured prominently in recent weeks and is perfect for the system. Gundogen recycles possession effectively and that is required, especially when the opposition team sits deep.


Gundogen touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch with 181 touches and was very good at distributing the ball quickly. He finished the match with a 96% pass success rate, which shows his role.

He wasn’t taking any risks and he didn’t have to. City have a lot of attacking talent and the German international isn’t required to try risky passes to influence the game.

Although Chelsea didn’t get on the ball much, Gundogen broke up the play when required with four ball recoveries. Fernandinho’s absence could allow the 27-year-old to secure the place on a permanent basis and he does offer more in the role, especially in possession. It was a strong performance and one of the standouts in a dull affair.

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