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One to Watch

One to watch: West Brom’s Harvey Barnes continues scoring form vs Norwich

The West Brom youngster has started the season in fine form.

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Barnes
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Harvey Barnes continued his hot start to this season, scoring his second goal in three games to help West Bromwich Albion to a 4-3 win away from home against Norwich City.

Barnes’ flexibility was again on display. Starting on the left and playing most of his 65 minutes on the field there, the 20-year-old at times found himself shifted out to the right.

He then played a portion of the second half playing through the centre, where he was able to get into positions closer to goal.

He took three shots in the second half, and with the final one, he guided a first-time curling effort past Tim Krul to put West Brom 3-1 up.

Barnes was generally tidy, completing 91% of his passes. But he also did not take any great risks.

He does, however, continue to show how dangerous he is when given space to run at teams at the edge of the box.

Not only is he able to fashion chances for himself from these positions – both his goals this season have come from outside the penalty area – but he is acutely aware of where he can use one-two passes with a team-mate to create space for himself to score.

Contrastingly, Barnes still looks like a liability defensively.

He is small, slight, and does not possess elite level endurance.

Barnes likes to float when his team is out of possession, looking to take up position in areas where he can damage in transition when his team win the ball back.

This puts pressure on the experienced Kieran Gibbs at left-back.

Nonetheless, the start to the Leicester loanee’s season has been overwhelmingly positive.

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Liverpool

One to Watch: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold oozes confidence vs West Ham

The 19-year-old picked up exactly where he left off last season.

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Arnold
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Trent Alexander-Arnold was again in fine form as Liverpool begun their Premier League season with a dominant 4-0 win at home to West Ham.

He simply picked up from where he left season, oozing confidence as he patrolled the right side – camping himself in West Ham’s territory as Liverpool dominated the match.

The Englishman’s exceptional passing ability was the main feature of his performance.

He touched the ball 99 times and completed 58 of his 69 passes, with one delightful line-breaking pass standing out.

This ball, played through to Naby Keita as Liverpool broke forward in the build-up to their first goal, highlighted how dangerous Alexander-Arnold’s passing range when he is given time to raise his eyes and play diagonal balls through midfield.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

This diagonal pass split West Ham’s entire midfield open, sending Keita on a burst that culminated in Salah putting the Reds 1-0 ahead.

It was symbolic of the mentality Klopp instils in his players, making them feel confident taking risks to set attacks in motion.

In this instance, the 19-year-old could easily have recycled the ball to a centre-back, but his team were rewarded for his courage in possession.

Defensively, he was also quite active, completing four of his five tackles and making a solitary interception.

Again, having West Ham camped in their own half suited Alexander-Arnold as he was able to press up the pitch and win the ball early in typical Liverpool fashion.

He continues to prove why he is so important to this Liverpool team, and highlights why Nathaniel Clyne cannot get close to first-team football.

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Aston Villa

One to Watch: Jack Grealish proves Aston Villa worth in victory over Wigan

The 22-year-old has shown maturity far beyond his age.

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Jack Grealish saw his name float amongst the tabloids throughout the summer’s transfer window, where he was widely linked with a Premier League switch.

The England U21 international developed into one of the finest players outside of the top-flight last season and the general consensus is that the very top of the game is calling the 22-year-old, though he’s focused on Villa’s promotion push for now.

Tottenham Hotspur were the biggest suitors for Grealish in the summer, seeing a £25m bid rejected, and the club’s valuation of the midfielder was proven to be correct as he shone during a gloomy afternoon in the Midlands on Saturday.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Here, just days after the window slammed shut to end any chance of a move to the Premier League, Grealish got his head down and worked his socks off in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Wigan – looking bright on the ball and earning an electric reception from the home faithful.

It is little surprise that Villa want at least £30m for the midfield star and the reality is that a price in that region would still be a snip in the modern window for a player of Grealish’s capability – as identified by boss Steve Bruce.

“He reproduced the form that he produced last year that made him into a £30m footballer and he looked it today, every penny a £30m footballer. For me, he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch. That’s how good he was.”

– Bruce was full of praise for Grealish after the game.

Bruce has proven to be a father figure in football for the midfielder, quickly putting his arm around Grealish after the final whistle following a game where Grealish was kicked from pillar to post by Wigan, doing well not to react.

It will be a tough test for Villa and Grealish this season, with Bruce’s side picked amongst the favourites to earn a return to the Premier League, with anything less being considered a failure, and Grealish expected to be the player that leads the charge to promotion.

In other campaigns that may have proven to be a concern but Grealish has shown an incredible amount of maturity in the recent months, choosing to focus on his football rather than get drawn into the lengthy sagas that emerge in the transfer market.

It wouldn’t have been surprising, perhaps even understood, if Grealish handed in a transfer request to seal a move to Tottenham, where he would become another England ace under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino – potentially even have the chance to push into Gareth Southgate’s squad.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

It’s the sort of situation that has been witnessed time and time before. Player’s head is turned, a player pushes for transfer, a transfer is completed – but the old saying that the grass is not always greener elsewhere would have likely to be proven true.

At Spurs, Grealish would not have been guaranteed first-team football every week, he would not have been a star man and would simply have been a member of Pochettino’s supporting cast – a polar opposite to where he stands at Villa.

Having the maturity to shun all the transfer talk, put his head down and show a performance like he did against Wigan proves once again that Grealish has all the capabilities to go right to the top. Staying at Villa was certainly the right decision and the young talent looks focused, determined and full of flair.

As he said just hours after the transfer window closed on Thursday, it’s time to get to work – and Grealish has hit the ground running.

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One to Watch

Ones to Watch 2018/19: Featuring Celtic, Wolves and Liverpool favourites

The Boot Room

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Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…

Over the course of the summer we have handpicked 20 of the finest young players plying their trade across the England and Scotland, in the English Premier League, Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership and the Sky Bet Championship.

Join us throughout the season as we each individual’s progress in their attempts to establish themselves as a household name, both at their current club and within their respective divisions.

To view each player profile, simply click on the player button as you scroll down the page.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Now the completely undisputed first-choice right-back at Liverpool, Trent Alexander-Arnold will look to build on an outstanding debut season as a senior regular at Anfield.

Still just 19 years of age, the English defender almost seems like a veteran presence despite only becoming a regular starter after the turn of the year.

But that was before Liverpool’s incredible Champions League knockout run.

It was before he was afforded the chance to go the World Cup with England and make his senior competitive debut.


Daniel Arzani

Not many people saw Daniel Arzani menacing down the flanks of many an A-League pitch in the last 12 months.

Millions of people did, however, see the raw talent that the Australian possesses after three impressive cameos off the bench at this year’s World Cup – a tournament at which he was the youngest player.

And now he will head to Celtic on loan, playing in a league that will provide a sterner physical test while still allowing him to develop in the comfortable surroundings of a strong, attacking team.


Harvey Barnes

There are high hopes for Harvey Barnes at Leicester City.

Earlier this summer, Barnes signed a new four-year deal before being loaned out to West Bromwich Albion for the upcoming Championship season.

He already has second-tier experience, after scoring five goals and assisting four in 1,408 league minutes on loan for the first half of last season with Barnsley.


Yves Bissouma

Being a Lille player last season was not easy.

As a young team that seemed to implode under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, both Yves Bissouma and Lille felt the effects of the instability and uncertainty the Argentine brought to the club.

Only playing inconsistent minutes and routinely being played out of position, Bissouma did not truly flourish until the latter stages of the season under new manager Christophe Galtier.


Ben Brereton

Ben Brereton is one of the younger strikers regularly starting in the second-tier of English football.

At 19, he is quite experienced at senior level with over 50 senior appearances to his name. It has not always been smooth sailing, though, with only eight goals to his name for Nottingham Forest in his career thus far.

His first season as a starter was handicapped by being played out of position at times on the wing before the arrival of Aitor Karanka, who played him at striker, but in an ineffective attacking system that produced just 19 goals in 21 games after the Spanish manager took the reins at Forest.


David Brooks

David Brooks’ move to Bournemouth has slightly gone under the radar. While its magnitude was not understated, the shrewdness of the move was.

At £11.5 million the Cherries went nowhere near breaking the bank to sign the 21-year-old but, nonetheless, was a productive impact substitute in the Championship last season – a role he will likely play this season too.


Burke

From League One to the Championship to the Bundesliga to the Premier League; Oliver Burke has seen a lot for a 21-year-old.

It has not always been positive. His bright debut season in the Championship was followed by a difficult spell in Germany after RB Leipzig decided to spend over £13 million on the Scottish winger.

Back in England last season, after being bought by West Bromwich Albion for the same price, Burke was caught in another difficult situation – in a terrible team that also afforded him a lack of opportunity.


Lewis Cook

Lewis Cook is an accomplished 21-year-old. Already he has won an Under-17 European Championship, a Toulon Tournament, and has been an Under-20 World Cup winning captain.

Additionally, he has won a Football League Young Player of the Year award, and has now compiled over 120 competitive senior appearances and an England cap.

This season, Bournemouth will increasingly look towards Cook as their most important midfielder after he finished off last season as an undisputed starter as the Cherries finished strongly and propelled themselves into a mid-table finish.


Tom Davies

Everton were active over the summer, but positions in midfield still seem extremely open for their academy graduate Tom Davies to continue to develop.

Heading into his third season as a first-team regular now, the 20-year-old has impressed in his ability to play multiple roles in midfield and fill gaps under previous managers.


Issa Diop

Issa Diop arrives at West Ham at just 21, yes.

But, contrary to the average 21-year-old centre-back, the Frenchman is a veteran of almost 100 senior appearances in Ligue 1.

For that reason, Diop did not come cheaply for the Hammers.

His £22 million club record fee presented a sizeable outlay, but also a commitment to the future – whether that be years of service, or resale value remains to be seen.


Edouard

Odsonne Edouard became the most expensive signing in the history of Scottish football this summer.

Celtic spent £9 million making his loan deal from Paris Saint-Germain permanent after he bagged 11 goals in just 1,259 minutes in all competitions last season.

His three goals in four Champions League qualifying matches have been crucial in the absence of the perennially injured Moussa Dembélé.

With Dembélé, there is potential for Edouard to be part of one of the most dangerous strike pairings in recent Scottish football memory.


Jack Grealish

It is amazing that Jack Grealish is still only 22.

The Aston Villa midfielder has had a tumultuous career so far, marred by off-field incidents, but capped by some incredible on-field achievements in recent times.

One of those achievements was his form in the second-half of last season.

Arguably the best player in the Championship in that period, Grealish almost single-handedly lifted Villa to promotion.


James Maddison

It still seems slightly shocking that other clubs did not put up more of a fight for James Maddison.

Now at Leicester, and ready for his first stint in the Premier League after a £20 million move from Norwich City, the Englishman seems ready to hit the ground running at his new club.


Mason Mount

Mason Mount has arrived on loan at Derby County as a well-known quantity.

The Englishman spent a number of successful years in Chelsea’s youth academy, featuring under the Rams’ new assistant coach Jody Morris.

As a Blue, his progress has also been closely monitored by Derby’s new manager Frank Lampard, who was keen to bring Mount on loan after his stunning season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse.


Ruben Neves

The signing of Rúben Neves was a stunning coup for Wolves.

A product of Porto’s academy, Neves made his league debut for the Portuguese club aged just 17. A week later, he also featured in a Champions League game and a season later became the youngest player to captain a team in the competition, aged 18.

Evidently, his credentials seemed a level above a Championship side. However, the power Jorge Mendes made the dream a reality for Wolves, and Neves went on to propel them to the top of the Championship and Premier League promotion.


Ryan Sessegnon

Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon, still only 18 years of age, is about to undergo his first season as a Premier League footballer after helping guide the Cottagers to a promotion from the Sky Bet Championship last season.

There, the Englishman started the season playing at left-back before transitioning into a left-wing role in the second-half of the season, scoring 14 times in the last 29 games of the season.


Kieran Tierney

Kieran Tierney epitomises the roots of Celtic.

At the club since he was eight, the unassuming 21-year-old has established himself as Celtic’s first-choice left-back through a mix of both stylish and rugged football.

There is something about the Scottish international that harks back to bygone generations.

While the low socks and black boots of his debut season have since been replaced with more modern attire, Tierney still retains some of the hallmarks of an old-school left-back.


Ruben Vinagre (1)

Ruben Vinagre’s move to Wolves has been one of the moves that flew under the radar this summer.

On one hand, it is understandable. He was already at the club last season and the acquisition was the activation of an option to buy clause.

Furthermore, he only played 967 minutes of senior football last season.

He has the potential to be a more integral figure this time around. However, he now faces a battle with Wolves’ loan acquisition Jonny for minutes at left wing-back.


Harry Wilson

Harry Wilson returns to the Championship on loan again this season with Derby County after a positive start to senior football career last season at Hull City.

His fruitful return of seven goals and three assists in 996 minutes for Hull was a healthy return after arriving on loan in January.

Not only that, the Welshman notched his first senior international goal with a tidy left-footed curler that looks as though it could become a trademark of his.


Woodburn

Ben Woodburn has showed clear glimpses of a bright future already.

Despite struggling for first-team minutes in a loaded Liverpool attacks, Woodburn’s few performances in the senior team have been compounded on either side by excellent UEFA Youth League form and early signs of a sterling international career with Wales.

His first international goal against Austria last season was a vital one, scored minutes after coming on for his international debut in World Cup qualifying.

Now, he truly begins his senior career in the Sky Bet Championship with Sheffield United.


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