Having already counted down the 10 European Starlets that are putting Premier League clubs on alert, it makes sense to turn our collective attention inwards towards the Premier League itself. It’s not even Christmas yet and there are already a number of youngsters catching the eye in the Premier League. Even better for the fans, a number of these players are English and could be future England internationals. Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown of the Top 10 youngsters making waves in the Premier League so far this season.
10. Kieran Gibbs
It’s been a mixed season for young Gibbs who just sneaks in at the top of the list after having shown glimpses of the kind of player he could be this season were he to get a good run in the squad. Unfortunately for Gibbs, getting a good run of games has been challenging in a season that has so far seen him plagued by injury. Before the season began Arsenal boss Arséne Wenger announced that he expected Gibbs would start a number of games over the course of the year. Indeed, a number of good performances in the first few games of the season saw Gibbs begin to claw away the first-choice left back position away from the increasingly error-prone Gael Clichy. Unfortunately, injuries have seen him slip back down the roster and meant limited game time for the Young Brit. Fingers crossed that he can recover his fitness and be given a chance to prove himself.
9. Andy Carroll A hard-working, old fashioned target man, Carroll has continued to develop this season. Impressive performances in the League have led Jamie Redknapp to suggest that he “could be England’s centre forward for the next 10 years”. This season has seen Carroll score his first ever hat-trick (against Villa in a 6-0 Newcastle win), seen him captain Newcastle and score 5 goals in 11 appearances. On his day Carroll is absolutely unplayable and is a nightmare for defenders to deal with. If he continues in this vein it will not be long until England beckons.
8. Phil Jones Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has probably said it best about this 18-year-old defender: “Jones can have a very good future in English football”. He even went on to insist that Jones could later rise to the “same level as John Terry.” I only hope that Jones won’t be distracted or unsettled by Ancelotti’s public announcement regarding his interest. Thankfully he’s just signed a new contract at Blackburn Rovers, who will not give up the youngster without a fight. Despite his young age he’s an incredible talent who is likely make it into the England fold one day.
7. Adam Johnson 23 is considered young, right? Manchester City snapped up British winger Johnson for an undisclosed fee back in February 2010. A series of good performances this season has seen Johnson catch the eye of England boss Fabio Capello who called him up for selection. Unfortunately he was one of the City players caught up in the student-drinking nonsense and his reputation will suffer as a result. Yet this doesn’t change the fact that Johnson is a good player with the potential to get better and better.
6. Jordan Henderson Just 20 years old, young Henderson is currently making waves at the club he supported as a boy – Sunderland. Considering he only had his first league game in November 2008 (and that he fractured a metatarsal in 2009) the progress Henderson has made is remarkable. He first started out on the right-wing, but Lee Cattermole’s absence saw him take up a more central role. It wasn’t long before pundits were praising the youngster’s versatility. As a result of a number of eye-catching performances, Henderson picked up the 2009/10 Young Player of the Year Award. This season has seen Henderson improve further. His performances for the Black Cats saw Sunderland go unbeaten against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United and earn himself a reported £20 million price tag.
5. Séamus Coleman Ian Holloway, a man who never needs an excuse to speak his mind, has labelled last season’s loan capture of Everton’s Coleman as one of the best managerial decisions of his career. “Seamus helped us achieve something we probably didn’t dream of and I just love the way he plays,” Holloway recently told the Press. “He runs with the ball and has a great touch”. Hollyway loved Coleman’s style so much that he attempted to get his services once more this season. Unfortunately for him, Everton boss David Moyes had Coleman in his first team plans. Indeed, through his performances young Seamus has worked his way into the first team and has proved himself to be one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League. He is impressive in attack and is improving defensively game-by-game. Certainly one to watch out for.
4. Theo Walcott Because he’s been around for a while, it’s often easy to forget that Walcott’s only 21-years-old. His start to the 2010/11 season has been his best yet in an Arsenal shirt. On 21 August he scored his first ever hat-trick against Blackpool in Arsenal’s 6-0 home win. A number of other impressive performances saw Walcott scoop the EA Sports Player of the Month for August. Unfortunately for Theo and Arsenal an injury plucked the young winger away from action for over a month. When he returned recently it was as though he never left. Walcott’s goal-scoring record speaks for itself – 7 goals in 8 games. But it’s the pace that he displayed in his goal against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday evening that’s his most frightening quality.
3. Javier Hernández Like the second-coming of the baby faced assassin, 22-year-old Hernández has impressed in all competitions this season. Hernández signed for Manchester United for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be around £6-7 million) in July 20. He scored his first League goal in United’s 2-2 draw with West Brom back in October and hasn’t stopped scoring since. Just over a week later Hernández scored a brace of away goals against Stoke City. He’s quick and smart with tricky feet but what’s most impressive about young Jay Hernández is his natural goal-scoring ability. United will be hoping that Javier can continue to fill the Rooney-shaped-void in their squad.
2. Jack Wilshere
There’s a reason that Arsenal have recently tied down young British talent Jack Wilshere with a long-term contract: he has been sensational this season. In a season where Cesc Fabregas has suffered with a number of injuries and complications, the competition in the centre of the Arsenal midfield has been more open than ever. The player that has really impressed is not the experienced Denilson or the sturdy Diaby, but young Wilshere. He was named the Arsenal Player of the Month for September and barring a red card against Birmingham City a couple of weeks ago has been almost flawless. Despite his lack of height he can take and give knocks and he is in possession of a Fabregas-esque sense of vision and passing ability. England awaits.
1. Gareth Bale
Indisputably the most coveted player currently plying his trade in the Premier League at the moment. Bale has caught the eye of many through his outlandish performances outside of the League, against Inter Milan. Despite a difficult start to his Premier League career (upon first joining Spurs in May 2007 Bale played 24 games for Tottenham before recording his first victory) Bale has asserted himself as one of the best young players in the world this season. As Spurs seek the consistency necessary to maintain a title challenge, Bale’s importance to the team becomes more and more clear. The best news for Spurs fans is that despite interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bale intends to stay at Tottenham for the remainder of his recently signed four year contract.
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