Cardiff promoted to Premier League as champions
With three teams being promoted to the Premier League, there will be several new players catching the eyes of supporters.
Cardiff and Hull have already booked their places in the Premier League, and next Monday sees Crystal Palace and Watford do battle in the world’s most lucrative football match for the final spot in the Championship playoff final.
With that in mind, there will be some fresh, exciting and hungry new talent entering the Premier League fray for the next season. Here are some of those names who could make an impact and help their teams to achieve the greatest of successes next campaign—maintaining Premier League status.
Keep an eye out— Ben Turner
Young Ben Turner really came of age at the heart of Cardiff’s defence last season. The champions of the Championship won the league at a canter, in truth, and Turner was one of the unsung heroes of that tremendous run.
Standing at 6’4”, the 24-year-old is a domineering figure for strikers to try and get past or around, and his positional sense makes it very difficult to catch him off guard. He played 31 games in the league last season and will be an integral part of Malky Mackay’s squad in the Premier League.
There are a few players in this Cardiff side who will have points to prove next season; Peter Whittingham, Craig Bellamy, Frazier Campbell and Mark Hudson to name but a few, so there were plenty of worthwhile candidates to choose from. But in Turner, Cardiff have a leader.
A young man who is still developing, still learning the game and, should he get a chance to further that in the Premier League, could turn into one of the country’s finest centre-backs.
One to watch—Craig Noone
As I said, there are some established names in this Cardiff side that can offer a lot of experience to some of the younger heads in their debut Premier League season.
One of those young heads is Craig Noone, whose form last season was one of the reasons why Cardiff were so imperious in their rise to the top of the league.
The diminutive midfielder scored seven goals in 32 appearances, a fairly decent return, and he made an immediate impact on his debut and continued to do so right the way through the season.
Noone is blessed with blistering pace which makes it incredibly hard to defend, especially when he marauds right through the middle of the park. His pace is augmented by some fancy tricks which he has the confidence to use in order to beat a man.
His displays have made him a favourite with the fans, and he could pick up a few more admirers if he can replicate the form shown last season in the Premier League.
Keep an eye out—Jack Hobbs
Hull City’s counter-attacking style of football is predicated upon a solid base at the back from which to build. One of the main reasons for having this solid base is Jack Hobbs. The former Liverpool youth player and England U-21 international has excelled in the past season.
Playing in his manager's former position, Hobbs has been the bedrock that has served the Tigers so well in the Championship.
His calm under pressure and assured performances stood out in the Championship and, at 24 years of age, he is only going to improve.
Hull will know it is the conceding of goals, rather than the scoring of them, that is the most difficult part of assimilation into the Premier League but with Hobbs they have a young, tenacious, physical specimen that won’t be bullied into defensive submission.
Schooled at Liverpool, he has experience in playing with big players, so I expect he shouldn’t be too daunted. In fact, quite the opposite: He will probably relish the Premier League challenge.
One to watch—Sone Aluko
Brought in from Rangers in 2012, Sone Aluko has continued to impress with his all-action, box-to-box style. With his boundless energy mixed with his considerable ability, he has been the midfield general at the heart of Hull’s promotion push to the Premier League.
Playing in 22 games this season, he scored nine goals, which represents a healthy return from the midfield. Cut from the mold of an Abou Diaby or a Mo Diame type figure, it is easy to see why he is such an imposing figure on the pitch.
For those of you who like to have a fantasy league team, this could be a player to pick up points for a cheap return. He has all the attributes, including the confidence, to achieve relative success with Hull in the Premier League next season.
Who will fair best in the Premier League next season?
Keep an eye out—Wilfred Zaha
It would be remiss not to mention this electric, dynamic prospect who, irrespective of whether Crystal Palace win their playoff final match against Watford, will be playing in the Premier League with Manchester United next season.
His transfer to the English champions was for £15 million no less—a clear indication of the talent this young man possesses.
His two goals, against rivals Brighton, were the match winning goals responsible for getting the Eagles to the playoff final, so he will leave Palace on good terms.
Zaha has lightning pace and several tricks in his armory, but probably his biggest asset is his direct approach to goals. Yes, he does like to display his tricks but only when possible. Zaha has that innate knowhow of when and where to showboat during matches.
He knows how to score and has an explosive right foot at his disposal. Though he may not start many times for United next season, he will certainly make an impact when he does play. Expect big things from this young man.
One to watch— Mile Jedinak
Mr. Captain Fantastic, Mile Jedinak, will be the one to watch should Crystal Palace make it to the Promised Land next season. He really is the epitome of the complete footballer. That’s not to say to quite the same calibre as a Yaya Toure or a Xavi, but he has every attribute in his locker.
He tackles, passes, motivates, unlocks defence and scores goals. He creates the moves from deep inside his own half, allowing the electric pace of Yannick Bolasie and Wilfred Zaha to expose space on the wings and the guile of Owen Garvan to make space in the middle of the pitch.
As captain, though, he knows the importance of defensive responsibility and marshals the defence too. Talismanic in his performances, he played 43 times in the last season for Crystal Palace, missing only three league games all season.
Jedinak is the metronome that keeps Palace ticking—he is also capable of having those barnstorming appearances so associated with all-conquering midfielders. He is a crowd favourite too, and when he is on song, you can bet the Palace faithful will be at their fervent best.
Keep an eye out—Matej Vydra
The Czech Republic striker, on loan from Italian side Udinese, was sensational in his first season in English football. He scored 22 league goals and was named with the Championship Player of the Year after propelling Watford into playoff contention.
Watford are under a transfer embargo at the moment, meaning boss Gianfranco Zola can’t sign players until after this summer’s window so Vydra might not be able to turn out for the Hornets, should they get promoted.
If they can find a loophole to keep hold of him, though, the 20-year-old will be a terrific prospect in the Premier League. His pace is electric, his finishing accomplished and he is adept at both playing off the shoulder of the last defender or coming in from a wide position and penetrating back four’s with that whippet-like pace.
He formed a formidable partnership with Troy Deeney upfront for Watford, which saw the Hertfordshire club top-score the Championship with an incredible 85-goal haul—let’s just hope there is an opportunity for the two to showcase that partnership next season.
One to watch—Troy Deeney
After a tough year away from the game because of some transgressions in his personal life, Troy Deeney came back with a bang.
Watford gave him another chance to prove his worth, and he hasn’t left them regretting the decision. Deeney is big and powerful but has pace and agility too. Crucially for his position on the park, he also has an eye for goal.
He scored 20 of them in a rip-roaring season for the Hornets, including a dramatic last gasp winner in the playoff semifinal against Leicester City to send them to Wembley and one step away from the Premier League.
Too often we hear about the peccadilloes of professional footballer’s but never about when they turn it around and prove their worth as an individual. In Deeney’s case, if he gets the chance to play in the top tier, he will have earned it, and he could cause defences a few problems with his strength and keen eye for a goal.