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8 Best players from teams battling relegation | Premier League 2019-20

  • There are some really exciting players in teams that are battling relegation this season.
  • Here we look at eight stars in the Premier League who have impressed despite their team's struggles
Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 31 Mar 2020, 18:38 IST

Not everyone
Not everyone's a washout down the table

Just because you have some teams mired in the relegation zone, doesn't mean they do not possess talented individuals in their ranks.

The Premier League this season has witnessed some of the best breakout stars who come from sides languishing in the bottom half of the table and find themselves in a relegation scrap.

Some of these stars have shown qualities that have already made top teams want them, while others can still make an impact off the bench.

Here we look at the eight best players this season from teams battling relegation this season.


#8 Todd Cantwell (Norwich)

Cantwell has emerged to be a bright young prospect
Cantwell has emerged to be a bright young prospect

Todd Cantwell's role in Norwich City's promotion last season was minimal, but he has grown into a key figure for the Canaries in the Premier League. He has caught everyone's attention with his trickery and fluid movement in the final third. The 22-year old's composure on the ball also belies his age, and he's also shown that he doesn't wilt under pressure by stepping up to the plate in encounters against the big boys of the league.

Exactly half of the six goals that he has netted so far have come against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Nimble-footed, strong, and direct, Cantwell also possesses the ability to slalom past his markers and execute defence-splitting passes. He has already impressed with England's U-21 side too and can expect suitors from the top-flight even if Norwich do get relegated.


#7 Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)

Chelsea are reportedly contemplating getting Ake back
Chelsea are reportedly contemplating getting Ake back

Nathan Ake has developed tremendously after stepping away from Chelsea. He is fast, technically gifted, and incredibly versatile. The Dutch youngster has already been deployed as a centre-back, a left-back and also a holding midfielder, as his intelligence and prolific decision-making skills allow him to slot into any position without compromising his overall output.

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He is adept at defending in tight spaces and anticipating crosses from wide areas too. Ake averages 5.4 clearances per game, while also being involved in three goals so far this season. He was deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea but has been touted to be on their radar, with Frank Lampard considering bringing Ake back to Stamford Bridge in the summer.


#6 Ismaila Sarr (Watford)

Sarr
Sarr's demolition job of Liverpool proved his true capabilities

Watford have only themselves to blame for Ismaila Sarr's struggles, as some horrendous mismanagement stifled the Senegalese star for the vast majority of the season. Nigel Pearson, the third manager the Hornets have had this year, has successfully managed to unlock Sarr's potential. The pacey winger's best was on show when he decimated Liverpool in the pulsating encounter in February.

His speed, directness, tenacity and goal-scoring ability were all at their peak that evening, even though Sarr had shown flashes of his brilliance against Southampton, Aston Villa and Manchester United before that. With adequate support and guidance, he has the capability to take apart the meanest defences and can be a vital addition to any mid-table side.


#5 Declan Rice (West Ham United)

Rice can expect Premier League suitors even if West Ham go down
Rice can expect Premier League suitors even if West Ham go down

Declan Rice has become such a hot prospect that he had England and the Republic of Ireland scrambling to secure his services. Gareth Southgate got his man and Rice made his debut for the Three Lions back in March last year.

The 21-year old has been solid in midfield at West Ham United, thanks to his physicality, aggression, and work ethic. And with the Hammers battling for survival, Rice's future is a subject of intense scrutiny yet again, but this time about his club career as several top sides are eyeing him.

He is strong in the air and possesses an eye for a pass. Rice has also maintained commendable statistics of three tackles a match, 2.1 interceptions, and an impressive 86.2% pass success rate. The midfielder often charges out of his line to push his side forward, as he has also stepped up to the plate against the big sides in the division. Rice is further touted to play the role of an anchor in Gareth Southgate's England side.


#4 Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)

The Barcelona flop is now a key member of Watford
The Barcelona flop is now a key member of Watford

Earlier on in the season, Watford appeared so toothless that the entire attacking plan hinged on what Gerard Deulofeu could muster with the ball at his feet. This is a poor reflection on the Hornets and the dire straits they were in but at the same time a testament to the Spaniard's talent. His eagerness and direct style of play meant he at least could test defences or even carve out a half-chance.

The ex-Barcelona and Everton player has hence featured more centrally in attack, even though he is equally adept from the flanks. Deulofeu is the creative chief for his side and no player at Watford has been involved in more goals than him (four goals and five assists).


#3 Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City)

Buendia has come of age for the Canaries
Buendia has come of age for the Canaries

Norwich City realised Emiliano Buendia's significance when he sat out of their February games due to an injury when they managed to pick up just a single point in his absence. Without his mobility and ability to carry the ball from deep areas into the opposition's defence, the Canaries failed to get a goal too. This isn't a coincidence, given that they also won 1-0 the day he returned to the starting XI.

The 23-year old clearly has had a huge impact on his team and is a promising young talent. He has also laid seven assists so far, which is the fourth-best tally in the Premier League. What can go against Buendia is a lack of goals as he is yet to open his account for the season, but some more time in the Premier League could see him check that box too.


#2 Teemu Pukki (Norwich City)

Pukki has lost steam, but not before showing his devastating side
Pukki has lost steam, but not before showing his devastating side

Teemu Pukki took no time to announce himself to the Premier League. With five goals in the first three games itself, the Finnish striker certainly hit the ground running. That amazing run included goals against Liverpool and Chelsea sandwiched between a talismanic hat-trick to sink Newcastle United.

Many were quick to jump the gun and touted him to be the surprise package of the year, only for Pukki to lose steam going forward.

He has managed to net only six times since then, bringing his tally to 11, which isn't bad for a debutant, but nevertheless falls below our early-season expectations. Yet, his abilities cannot be denied and has shown the devastation he can cause when he's provided service properly.

Pukki isn't a flat-track bully either, having also scored against Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur. He accounts for 44% of Norwich's goals and definitely deserves another chance in the Premier League.


#1 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Grealish is already wanted by several top shouts in the league
Grealish is already wanted by several top shouts in the league

Another English star who must've surely piqued the interest of England boss Gareth Southagate, Grealish has gone from strength to strength and is on the radar of several top clubs. So even if the Villans don't survive the drop, the 24-year old looks likely to remain in the top-flight.

Grealish is a bundle of energy and clever passes, in addition to being a brilliant leader on the pitch. Dispossessing him isn't an easy task, while he has also scored some screamers this season against Manchester United and Burnley. The Aston Villa skipper has carried out his captaincy duties with aplomb, leading his side in struggling times and setting an example for other team-mates to follow. He's the subject of interest from Manchester United, who are looking to bolster their midfield with the addition of the Villa captain to their squad.


Published 31 Mar 2020, 18:38 IST
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