With the Premier League 2017-18 season finally completed, it is now crystal clear on who will be playing in the top-flight of English football for another campaign and which three unfortunate sides have been relegated to the Championship. Having only won six games throughout the term, West Brom’s drop to the Championship was official when Southampton beat Swansea City a couple of days before the final league fixture.
Both Stoke City and Swansea City ended the season in the bottom-three as their form during the season was very inconsistent and unconvincing compared to the other teams just above them. Also, the two clubs had conceded quite a large number of goals and simply could not pick up enough points in the home games.
Overall, the clubs in the top half of the table will have already analysed and recognised who are the key assets for the teams at the bottom and they will aggressively aim to take their important prizes away from them. If this was to end up happening, it could prove to be very difficult for a team like Stoke City, who have been in the Premier League for such a long time to return back into the top-flight within their first attempt.
Here are the five stars that will be wanted by many teams following the fact that the Premier League clubs from the top half of the table will now know which struggling sides will be relegated into the Championship. Even though Huddersfield and Southampton have finished above the relegation zone, there’s no reason to why their main stars will not be linked with a potential move to one of the league’s top-ten teams.
Huddersfield Town – Jonas Lossl
Considering his vital performance away at Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago, through a number of quality saves to give his side an important point to remain in the Premier League, it’s no surprise that Jonas Lossl has been Huddersfield’s go to man for when they need bailing out due to lack of awareness and concentration from both the defence and midfield. From making last-ditch saves to playing the ball out from the back, the shot-stopper has clearly proven to be one of the most consistent players for David Wagner’s side this season.
Despite the Danish international making a few monumental mistakes here and there, he has still gone on to achieve ten clean sheets in the league as well as producing a figure of 101 saves throughout the term. On top of that, his displays and unbelievable effort in goal has helped his team to become a hard side to beat as the likes of Everton, Leicester City and West Ham have conceded more away goals this term than Huddersfield.
Southampton – Mario Lemina
Many Premier League supporters will straightaway think about either Alex McCarthy or Dusan Tadic when it comes to choosing which individual from the Southampton squad has been their key player. Even though both stars have helped the club from the South coast of England to just about stay in the top-flight of English football for another season, the displays of midfielder Mario Lemina have somehow gone under the radar.
Playing in his first full season within the Premier League, Lemina has simply proved to a lot of people that the £15.4million spent by Southampton on him was worth every single penny. The defensive-midfielder has completed the third most tackles (55) and seventh most interceptions (36) when compared to the rest of the squad this campaign, which is more than incredible considering the fact that he has only made 25 appearances in his debut campaign in England. Also, he has successfully completed 55 dribbles out of the 64 he has attempted.
Swansea City – Alfie Mawson
Carlos Carvahal’s men were relegated a couple of days before the final league match of the season, however, they have clearly shown true fighting spirit and professional character since the managerial change. Despite the questionable decisions made by the Swansea City board, the 52-year-old Portuguese manager did an impressive job of keeping the fans entertained whilst sticking to his style of play no matter what came in his way.
Although the club have had many problems on and off the pitch, the rise of centre-back Alfie Mawson has been one of the only positives that the Swansea fans can actually brag about over the summer. Showing his pure commitment and ability to lead the backline alongside Federico Fernandez, it has kindly allowed the Englishman to become a regular starter for the team since joining the club in the summer of 2016. On top of that, his imposing figure and daunting build allows him to be an aerial nuisance on both areas of the pitch.
Stoke City – Xherdan Shaqiri
When the £12million move from Inter Milan to Stoke City was first official in 2015, many football fans including the Stoke supporters were absolutely stunned as they witnessed Xherdan Shaqiri leaving one of the very well-known clubs of Europe to a team that had finished in ninth place within the league just a few months ago. Since then, he has always been Stoke’s most dangerous and effective player in the final third of the pitch.
Producing eight goals and seven assists in the league for the Potters throughout the season, the Swiss international has proven to be an attacking outlet that takes the game into his own hands and someone who comes up with the goods for when his side need him the most. With his well-timed movement as well as his pleasant intelligence on and off the ball, a team from the top half of the table would certainly like to have and individual who is quite a complete winger and direct like Xherdan Shaqiri in their starting line-up.
West Brom – Jay Rodriguez
It’s hard to analyse the key players for West Brom, a team that does not really have a balanced squad and nor do they attack constantly as much as they sit deep and defend their turf. Season by season, it would seem like the Baggies would finally be relegated from the Premier League, however, the side’s stubborn defence and tough attackers would pull through in the end. Though, things ended very differently for West Brom this term.
Quite a few individuals within the squad have had a good campaign at a personal level, but the main one that stood out was none other than striker Jay Rodriguez, who looks to have his career back on track after having several injury issues in the past. If brought by a mid-table club and utilised within an attacking system, then there is definitely no doubts that the 28-year-old would go on to confidently scoring 10-15 goals a season.
This article was written by Asif Norat for Soccer Box. Shop with us for all your 2018/19 Premier League kits while supplies last.