The 2021-22 Premier League season is underway and matchday one produced its fair share of drama, with newcomers Brentford producing the standout result of the opening weekend with their stunning 2-0 victory against Arsenal.
The usual suspects like Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes unsurprisingly produced matchwinning performances for their respective sides, as they continue to cement their status as some of the most reliable players in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, a handful of players have gone off the boil in recent seasons after showing initial signs of promise. Before I go ahead and name five Premier League players who can revive their careers this season, I'd like to get the honorable mentions out of the way.
Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be set for an interesting season after delivering a string of eye-catching displays in pre-season. He started against Norwich City and seems like a midfield powerhouse again, so hopefully, he can put his injury woes behind him and enjoy a strong season with the Reds.
I went through all the teams in the Premier League and even thought about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but I don't believe he has dropped off so much that he deserves a mention here. Granted, the Gabonese striker endured a lackluster season by his lofty standards last time around, but it has happened to the best of players in the past! I'm sure plenty of people will come back with other names, but here are the five I've chosen after giving it a lot of thought.
#5 Raul Jimenez | Wolverhampton Wanderers
Raul Jimenez fractured his skull in a horrible injury last season, so it's a success story that he's managed to get himself back on the pitch playing Premier League football. After his injury, it's no coincidence that Wolves suffered a drop-off, because they didn't have a central presence in attack.
When you look at the way he operates, he's not super dynamic, but he knows how to play that position. Jimenez is very solid in what he brings to his team, with his instinctive runs and movement allowing him to form brilliant partnerships with Diogo Jota first and later, Adama Traore.
This guy is a really good goalscorer and I'm sure some of the other Premier League clubs had a look at him at some point and thought they'd love to have him. Wolves' attempt to plug his gap last season - with the likes of Fabio Silva and others - didn't work. I've spoken about this in the past, but Jimenez is the kind of player his teammates would look at and think everything is going to be ok, like Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur and Sergio Aguero during his illustrious career with Manchester City.
Bruno Lage needs Jimenez and his goals to knock the spark back into Wolves. If he bangs in a goal or two in the first few games of the new Premier League season, that could set the tone for what's to come later this year. I'd like to speak on behalf of the vast majority of his well-wishers in saying that I hope he returns to his best this season, because I know what it's like to come back from a long-term injury.
Mentally, you've got to get over it to regain your confidence. In my case, I suffered a double compound leg break while playing for Leeds United. I was caught bang on the spot where my leg broke earlier and it has to be said that I wasn't the same player after that. Jimenez's injury is far more serious because he suffered a skull fracture, but I hope he can overcome all of that to achieve great success in the Premier League this season.
#4 Takumi Minamino | Liverpool
I've mentioned Takumi Minamino because this is a player I really liked when I watched him play for Red Bull Salzburg in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League campaign. He scored a good goal at Anfield and Jurgen Klopp's reaction was telling - he had a wry smile on his face and seemed to have enjoyed the finish! Liverpool were cruising on the night, but Minamino was thriving as a #10 in a 4-4-2 diamond, with Hwang Hee-Chan and Erling Haaland playing ahead of him.
I was working for Irish TV and when I went to Salzburg to cover the reverse fixture, he absolutely ran the show against the reigning European champions at the time. After the game, it was reported that several Liverpool players urged Klopp to snap him up, which is exactly what they did a month later.
In my opinion, Minamino has struggled at Liverpool because he hasn't been able to play in his preferred position, which is as a #10. There is no space for him in Klopp's 4-3-3 set-up, with Bobby Firmino usually stationed as the central figure in attack. Minamino ran into his fair share of problems at Liverpool, but the formation was a huge part of that.
I know Austrian football isn't on the same level as the Premier League, but this is a player who was running games there. In the Premier League, though, he hasn't been able to showcase his potential despite showing flashes of brilliance and currently finds himself as a bit-part player in FA Cup and EFL Cup games.
The likes of Bobby Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota are ahead of him in the pecking order in Liverpool's attack, while Minamino doesn't have the robustness to play as a midfielder for Klopp. I want to see him have a run of games, but I don't think it'll happen in the Premier League this season.
In terms of players who need revivals this season, he fits the bill, although I'm not sure if he'll get it in the Premier League. Nonetheless, he's a tidy player who can make an impact if he's given an extended run out in the team, so good luck to Takumi Minamino!