EPL: Rating the Top 10 New Signings Based on Their Opening Match

Tony MabertContributor IAugust 21, 2012

EPL: Rating the Top 10 New Signings Based on Their Opening Match

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    The Premier League season has finally got underway after three months starved of football. Apart from Euro 2012 and the Olympics, that is.

    One of the most enjoyable things about a new campaign kicking off is finally getting to see all the new signings in competitive action for the first time. A good performance on opening day can announce a player's arrival in style, while a poor debut can see a reputation sustain damage that can take months or even years to restore, if ever.

    It was certainly a mixed bag for the 10 debutants listed here, but we must remember that this is only the opening salvo of a long, nine-month campaign.

    We must try to avoid jumping to conclusions on the basis of a maximum of 90 of playing time, no matter how tempting that is, so don't pay too much attention to the arbitrary marks out of 10 awarded here.

Eden Hazard: 9/10

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    Chelsea fans had already got a chance to run the rule over Hazard a week earlier when he played in the Community Shield, but his performance on his Premier League debut at Wigan was far more decisive.

    Within his first seven minutes playing in the competition at Wigan he had set up Branislav Ivanovic's opener and then won the penalty from which Frank Lampard made it 2-0, the final score.

    The Belgian may only be 21, but he has plenty of games, goals and assists under his belt from his time at Lille and promises to be one of the Premier League's most dangerous players in the coming years. 

Robin Van Persie: 7/10

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    RvP is the only player on this list not to have started in this round of games, but his switch from Arsenal to Manchester United cannot be ignored.

    The Dutchman, last season's top scorer and double-Player of the Year, only started on the bench at Everton as he had missed plenty of preseason action while in limbo between the Gunners and Red Devils.

    He came on at Goodison Park with 22 minutes remaining and United 1-0 down, but he was unable to inspire a comeback for his new club. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted afterwards (as quoted by Eurosport) that United "played around him too much" and "didn't use him enough."

    However, once United are able to find a way of accommodating Van Persie into their team, the goals will surely start flowing. As long as he stays fit, of course.

Shinji Kagawa: 8/10

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    There was more than one United debutant on show at Goodison Park on Monday, and Japan midfielder Kagawa played from the start.

    The former Borussia Dortmund star, who comes to England after playing a significant part in the German's club's back-to-back Bundesliga titles, showed plenty of the pace, intelligent movement and deftness of touch that led to his total of 17 goals and 10 assists last season.

    If United can work out how to deploy Kagawa, Wayne Rooney and Van Persie effectively together then there appears little danger of the Japanese being a weak link in that trio.

Lukas Podolski: 7/10

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    The post-RvP era at Arsenal began on Saturday with Germany's prolific striker Podolski leading the line for the Gunners in the goalless draw against Sunderland.

    The forward, the youngest ever European to win 100 international caps, was back to his prolific best last season at Cologne before joining Arsenal, but he was unable to hit the ground running in north London.

    "Poldi" was largely marked out of the game and, perhaps unsurprisingly considering the position he played, had the fewest touches of any Arsenal outfield player. He had just two shots against the Black Cats, both off target, before being subbed on 64 minutes.

    Podolski wears the No. 9 shirt at Arsenal, but he may have to be given time to adapt to his centre-forward role if he is not going to be deployed in his favoured position coming in from the left by Arsene Wenger. 

Santi Cazorla: 9/10

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    If Podolski's Premier League debut was a touch underwhelming, then that of Cazorla will give Arsenal fans plenty of hope for life after Robin van Persie.

    The Spanish attacking midfielder immediately made his presence felt, firing off several shots which either flashed wide or were saved by Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet.

    But, perhaps more importantly, Cazorla provided an excellent link between midfield, attack and wide areas, and his burgeoning partnership with compatriot Mikel Arteta is a truly exciting prospect.

    The former Malaga player completed 94 percent of his passes and one of them set up the gilt-edged chance which fellow new signing Olivier Giroud should have buried.

Michu: 8/10

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    After losing their manager and one of their key players in Brendan Rodgers and Joe Allen respectively this summer, there was a school of thought that Swansea would suffer from acute second-season syndrome this term.

    The resounding 5-0 thrashing dished out to Queens Park Rangers has allayed a great deal of those fears, and at Loftus Road, the star man was debutant Michu.

    New boss Michael Laudrup's £2 million signing scored twice against QPR, including one exceptional curling left-footed finish, while he also hit the post and set up another of his team's goals. For those aware of his status as the highest-scoring midfielder in La Liga last season, with 15 goals for Rayo Vallecano, his performance was not so much of a surprise.

    If the Spaniard can reach double figures in his first year in English football then that would be a successful campaign. He is already 20 percent of the way to that target.

Gylfi Sigurdsson: 7/10

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    The Iceland midfielder was the only one of Tottenham's two summer signings to make his league debut for the club at Newcastle on Saturday, as defender Jan Vertonghen was only named on the bench.

    Sigurdsson caught the attention of many last season with his goal scoring exploits for Swansea, but when he is not hitting the back of the net his contribution can often be limited.

    At Newcastle, he had three shots with only one on target, while he only completed 79 percent of just 14 passes and lost the ball four times. Without the ball, he did not make a single tackle.

    As long as Tottenham sign a genuine centre-forward to help bring Sigurdsson into play and help set him up for chances, there should be more to come from him this season.

Joe Allen: 8/10

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    Alongside Leon Britton last season, Allen made a name for himself as one half of the Swansea midfield unit which brought a little piece of Spanish tiki-taka to south Wales.

    That earned him a £15 million move to Liverpool to join up with former boss Brendan Rodgers, and Allen's debut in the 3-0 defeat at West Brom was very much what he is all about.

    No Liverpool player made more passes (68) or completed a higher percentage (96), while the Welshman also saw all 11 of his long balls find their intended targets.

    He may not be the kind of dazzling, high-impact signing Liverpool fans were hoping for to help spark the club's resurgence, but Allen will prove integral to the changes Rodgers is trying to implement at Anfield. 

Fabio Borini: 7/10

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    Liverpool's other significant summer signing is the Italian forward who also played under Rodgers at Swansea before joining Roma last season.

    Borini has already opened his account for Liverpool after scoring in their Europa League win over Belarusian side Gomel, but he was unable to make an immediate impact in the Premier League with just one shot that was off target at The Hawthorns.

    Borini appears to be struggling with the task of working in tandem with Luis Suarez, the immensely talented but unpredictable livewire star of the team, something which threatens to temper the 21-year-old's progress.

Jack Rodwell: 7/10

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    Exactly a week after his £12 million move from Everton was announced, Rodwell made his debut in the Manchester City midfield as they began their title defence against Southampton.

    He may still only be 21, but Rodwell made his senior debut more than four years ago and his experience and cool head were evident as he offered a solid base in midfield for the champions.

    The standout moment from his debut will be the misplaced pass which led to Southampton taking a 2-1 lead with a goal on the counter-attack, but fortunately City's ability to overturn that deficit and win 3-2 should avoid that hanging over his head.