Naby Keita and Jorginho among five best Premier League debutants

Chris Bailey 13/08/2018
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With a fresh season comes fresh faces looking to prove their worth in the so-called best domestic league in the world.

Some, ultimately, fare better than others. Below we sift the sand from the Premier League gold and pick out five top debutants – either for new clubs or as complete newcomers – from the opening weekend’s action.

NABY KEITA

NabyKeitaLiverpoolWestHam (1)

Liverpool did their homework on Naby Keita long before he stepped foot on to the Anfield turf and, given his display against an admittedly poor West Ham, the backroom staff get provisional top marks.

Perhaps typecast as a box-to-box midfielder to the uninitiated, the Guinean used his destructive qualities high up the pitch – suggesting he is a player ready-made for Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpressing.

Most promising of all was at the finish of every dribble there was a delicately weighted pass, such as the ball which led to Andrew Robertson’s assist for Mohamed Salah’s opener. Far better opposition lie in wait but it was a fine start.

JORGINHO

FBL-ENG-PR-HUDDERSFIELD-CHELSEA

Jorginho went walkabouts at Wembley against a dizzying Manchester City side in the Community Shield but it was clearly unfair to judge him on one display against the Premier League champions, who have reduced many a midfield to rubble.

The Jorginho that Maurizio Sarri knows from his time at Napoli appeared in Huddersfield, nestled deep into Chelsea’s midfield and helping to grind down the relatively stubborn Terriers.

Indeed, the Blues did not wholly dominate – Jorginho as the central hub would have been made more than 66 passes if so – but his pass success rate of 94 per cent, allied to his strength defensively, bodes well for the future. And clearly he’s a handy back-up penalty taker to Eden Hazard

RICHARLISON

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League

For all the talk of how preposterous it was for Everton to spend potentially spend £50 million on Richarlison, what largely went noticed was his obvious talent.

If he keeps playing like this then certainly the Brazilian, at 21 years of age, is a sound investment. His goals, one opportunistic and the other measured, prove he has a goalscoring eye despite not previously hitting the net in 2018.

It wasn’t just his goals, either.

His voracious work ethic in that 2-2 draw with Wolves – churning out 13 sprints and even three tackles – make him the perfect Premier League winner even when putting aside that Brazilian flair. Finally, a bit of excitement is making its way to Goodison Park.

RAUL GIMENEZ

FBL-ENG-PR-WOLVES-EVERTON

It was a fine day for debutants all round at Molineux and Raul Gimenez was no exception. Gimenez, unsurprisingly another Wolves player with a Portuguese connection on loan from Benfica, showed he too has the work ethic for the English top flight.

The 6ft2 striker gives oomph to an attack that was a little short on physicality. He held the ball up intelligently against Everton to bring the nimble Helder Costa and Diogo Jota in play, and his headed goal screamed classic No9.

JANNIK VESTERGAARD

Southampton FC v Burnley FC - Premier League

Southampton versus Burnley wasn’t exactly the banner match of the opening weekend. Still, as the Clarets pounded on the Saints’ door, Jannik Vestergaard ensured the bolt remained shut.

Standing at two metres tall, it’s hard to miss him. And Burnley know all about him now as the Dane made 12 clearances and two blocks in his first competitive appearance since moving from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise – Southampton have always had a knack for finding centre-backs. He’ll be important in what could otherwise be a difficult season.

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Willian reveals the reason why he could have left Chelsea this summer

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Stamford Bridge stay: Willian.

Willian insists there is “no chance” he would still be at Chelsea if Antonio Conte had remained in charge.

The Brazil international was linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge for much of the summer with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona reportedly interested.

It has been widely reported that Willian was one of a number of key chelsea players whose relationship with Conte deteriorated last season – with the 30-year-old winger quoted earlier this month claiming that the former Blues boss was “very difficult to work with”.

Rumours of Conte’s sacking hung over the club all summer and, despite returning to take the start of pre-season training, the man who delivered the Premier League title to chelsea in 2017 was soon replaced by Maurizio Sarri.

Willian has since revealed he turned down Barcelona to remain at chelsea and, having played 76 minutes of their opening-day victory at Huddersfield, said he is still at the club because Conte has gone.

When asked if he would be at chelsea with Conte still at the helm, he told the London Evening Standard: “No chance. No. I’m here because I want to play for chelsea. I will only leave if chelsea want me to go.”

After starting their Premier League life under Sarri with a comfortable 3-0 win at the John Smith’s Stadium, chelsea welcome Unai Emery’s Arsenal to west London on Saturday.

Despite a good recent record against the Gunners, chelsea struggled against their rivals during Conte’s reign.

Willian believes the fresh tactical approach can help Sarri secure a win over fellow new Premier League boss Emery.

“I think we have a good chance to turn the results around against them because now we have a different way to play football,” he said.

“The manager tells us to play, to enjoy ourselves on the pitch, with responsibility. Now we have a different style, that’s why we can create problems for Arsenal.”

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Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko avoids FA charge over Kenedy stamp

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Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko will face no retrospective action from the football Association for an apparent stamp on Newcastle winger Kenedy.

The French midfielder, playing against his former club, tangled with the Brazilian after fouling him and appeared to stand on the back of his leg.

The incident happened just before half-time of Spurs’ 2-1 Premier League win on Saturday.

Sissoko evaded any punishment from referee Martin Atkinson at the time and as the match officials spotted it there will be no further action from the FA.

The 28-year-old, who has been much maligned since his £30million move to Spurs two years ago, played the full game on his return to St James’ Park as his side got off their Premier League campaign off to a winning start.

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