A lot of teams are known to give young players the opportunity to shine in the Premier League.
Some convert the chance to a permanent spot in the team, some do not. We look at some of the young defenders – in no particular order – breaking into the Premier League in the 2016/2017 season, yet hoping to contend with some of the best players in the world.
First is Rob Holding playing at Arsenal FC. The 20-year old player has the opportunity due to the injury crisis that hit the defence. The centre half already had his debut when he featured in the pre season friendly game against the MLS All Stars in the United States. Coach Arsene Wenger said he was impressed with how he marked two-time former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba. Wenger said: “He reads the game well and understands what’s going on, anticipates well and that’s a quality at such a young age that you do not find a lot.” Holding was signed from Bolton for £2 million and is set to get Premier League matches as the injuries persist.
Ben Gibson of Middlesbrough is another defender set to take on EPL stars this term. The 23-year old player is a key player in the promotion-winning team from the English Championship. His left footedness for a centre half adds to his uniqueness.
West Ham United Reece Oxford was stunning when he played against Arsenal in the opening game of last season despite being just 16 years. There are a lot of queries if he would have more responsibilities under Slaven Bilic this season.
Everton recalled Matthew Pennington from laon on Walsall early in the last campaign as the defenders picked up injuries. He got a lot of first team plays, and has continued his decent campaign in the pre season. As John stones moves to Manchester City, Pennington is set to get more chances for The Toffees this term.
Former Chelsea talisman Didier Drogba still haunts Arsenal FC despite leaving the Premier League where he dominated for years.
The Ivory Coast international tormented Arsene Wenger and his side when everyone thought it was over. Drogba played against Wenger’s side for twelve years when he was at Chelsea FC – twice, and when he featured for Turkish side Galatasaray.
His career at Montreal Impact in the Major League Soccer might be coming to an end as the player ages, but his calm finish when the MLS All stars played against Arsenal would not be forgotten in a hurry.
Drogba’s tally is now 16 goals in 16 games against the Emirates side. Arsenal won the game at the end courtesy of a goal from Chuba Akpom and Joel Campbell 2-1. The exhibition game was a much better effort from Arsenal compared to their effort against Lens which ended 1-1. The 38-year old was impressive for the team at San Jose but couldn’t bully the inexperienced defenders Rob Holding and Krystian Bielik as he would have when he was much younger.
After the game, Wenger said: “Drogba is a poacher. He can do that in the box. When I see him in the box, fighting with young defenders, I always think there is danger because you know that he can get the upper hand and score a goal. That’s what he did.”
With Per Mertesacker sidelined till 2017, the Gunners would need to find experienced defenders as the current crop seem too inexperienced for the forthcoming season which would be very competitive. Arsenal are set to play Mexican side Chivas in Los Angeles on Sunday. Wenger says he is focused on bringing the best out of the team. He added that the cheques clubs are signing to remain in the league is scary as they are all ambitious.
At the age of 38, Didier Drogba is an extremely experienced player who still manages to score goals and consistently perform at a high level which is something very surprising for a player in such an elevated age.
Drogba is currently performing for the MLS side Montreal Impact and the Ivorian attacker had the chance to be one of the players selected to perform in the MLS All-Star as they faced off with Arsenal on July 28 of the ongoing year.
The Ivorian forward was excited to perform in this game as he had previously talked in an interview and Drogba praised Arsenal’s Petr Cech as the veteran attacker voiced his excitement in being able to face off against his former Chelsea teammate as he said:
‘’He is a legend and a really good friend. We have been talking about this match and Petr Cech told me that he was going to come. We have a chat group which includes a few Chelsea players and we have all been talking about this match. I am excited and hope to score a goal or two’’
The match was played as scheduled on July 28th at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.
Drogba did indeed manage to score a goal as he blasted a shot past his former teammate Petr Cech but it was Arsenal which came out on top with the victory as the final scoreboard displayed 2-1 in favor of the Premier League club.
This game was a memorable one for Didier Drogba as he scored a goal against Arsenal as he continues to prove his worth even at the age of 38 but there was something else that occurred which shows that even the most experienced of players can make mistakes as Drogba performed for Montreal Impact in a MLS match and he kicked a player with the referee standing only a few inches away.
For someone who has had a playing career which spans for over 15 years, it was a fairly novice mistake to make as the referee was right in front of him and Drogba decided to kick a player of D.C United who was already down on the ground and this lead to having the Ivorian player being removed from the field as he received a red card.