Premier League Talent Scout: Hottest Prospects of Matchday 9 in the EPL
Coming to you a bit late this week, Premier League Talent Scout is here to recap the most impressive youngsters from last weekend's action. If you missed last week's edition, it can be found here.
As always, here's a reminder of the rules: To make it onto PLTS, you must be either under 21, or under 23 with fewer than five seasons of professional experience.
Once you make five appearances on PLTS, you graduate from being considered a "talent" and are inducted into the "PLTS Hall of Fame," moving from being a talent to being a legitimate star in the making.
Matchday 9 in the English Premier League was not a good one for young players. Manchester United's host of young players all got battered by Manchester City, while many of the "surprises" that have shown up in previous weeks had bad games this past weekend.
Still, there were enough impressive performances from youngsters to fill out PLTS' top five without much difficulty. Here are the top five youngsters from Matchday 9.
Previous PLTS Appearances: 1 (Matchday 8)
Last week, I talked about how highly I thought of Tim Krul and how I thought that he is destined to become the Netherlands' first-choice international goalkeeper one day despite all the competition he currently faces for that spot.
His performance against Wigan only confirmed my opinion of him.
The Wigan-Newcastle game had draw written all over it. Newcastle had a small edge in possession for most of the game, but Wigan had a small edge in shots and arguably had greater control of the game. The game was tied at 0-0 at halftime as well.
By the time Yohan Cabaye scored the winner in the 81st minute for Newcastle, Krul had already saved Newcastle from danger on at least a couple of occasions, the most significant of which was his amazing reaction save to a Victor Moses shot that looked to be heading straight into the top corner.
They say a good goalkeeper is worth 10 to 15 points a season, but at the rate Krul is going, he may just be worth even more than that. With all of Newcastle's close, one-goal-margin wins, Krul may have already helped Newcastle to that many points, only nine games into the season.
Previous PLTS Appearances: 1 (Matchday 5)
Joe Allen continues to be one of the most impressive midfielders for Swansea City this season, if not the most impressive.
Against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Joe Allen's passing and control of the midfield were great, and it was his goal that put Swansea City in the driver's seat with a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the team eased off and allowed Wolves to score two goals to equalize in the 85th and 86th minutes, robbing Swansea City of three points they looked sure to have secured.
Another solid performance by Kyle Walker this weekend is helping the young Englishman cement his status as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League.
It's a shame, for him at least, that Micah Richards continues to excel, although I personally would take Walker right now over Richards, Smalling, Johnson or any other English right-back the EPL has to offer (though that may be my Spurs' bias taking over).
Against Blackburn Rovers, Kyle Walker skinned Gael Givet, cutting the ball back for Rafael van der Vaart to calmly open the scoring for Spurs.
Walker's defense was also solid, as Morten-Gamst Pedersen was prevented from causing Tottenham much trouble.
Previous PLTS Appearances: 1 (Matchday 6)
The Gunners seem to be flying high again, and a big reason for their recent success is Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh midfielder finally seems to be returning to form, and fulfilling some of the huge promise he showed prior to his horrendous leg break in February 2010.
Against Stoke City, Aaron Ramsey was at his best, linking excellently with Alexander Song and Mikel Arteta and creating multiple chances for his teammates to score.
Though Theo Walcott and Marouane Chamakh continued to struggle to convert these chances, Gervinho did excellently to convert his, and when Robin van Persie came on, Arsenal were able to give Ramsey's great passing an end product with two more goals.
Here's hoping we see more of the same from Arsenal and Ramsey. More likely than not, if Ramsey plays well, so will Arsenal and vice-versa.
Why always Mario Balotelli?
Because he's always had a knack for getting himself into sticky or stupid situations. Sure, this fireworks issue turned out to not be his fault, but why on earth were your friends in your house with fireworks in the first place?
Regardless of all that, Balotelli has recently also developed a knack for getting himself into good situations...on the pitch. With five goals in four games, Balotelli is one of the hottest strikers in the world and shows no signs of slowing down.
Against Manchester United, Balotelli opened the scoring with a well-placed shot off a James Milner cutback and then started the rout by tapping in an excellent James Milner cross after Jonny Evans' sending off, which was also forced by Balotelli.
It just goes to show you, football really is a game of luck...could Balotelli have gotten this much playing time and developed this much confidence if Carlos Tevez were still at Manchester City and probably above him in the pecking order? I highly, highly doubt it.
What do you think of this week's selections? Are there any players you think should've made the top five cut that didn't? How about the players on the list—do you believe any of them should've been excluded?
Phil Jones still remains as the only player to have five or more appearances on PLTS, and Balotelli is the next closest to induction into the "PLTS Hall of Fame" with four appearances.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading your comments below!
Barry Bannan is the dishonorable mention of the week. Though he performed fine in Matchday 9, and has been a solid young player for Aston Villa this season, he has put his career in serious & unnecessary danger by getting into a car accident while (allegedly) intoxicated. He is currently suspended by Aston Villa until the club has completed an inquiry into the events surrounding the incident.