We are only 3 games into the 2012/13 Premier League season and we’ve already hit an international break. Chelsea are the only side to have won all their opening games whilst Southampton are the only side to lose all three. Although we haven’t given them much time to be judged, here are 10 new players who have already made a positive impact since joining their respective clubs over the summer:
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – 3 games, 1 goal, 4 assists, 2 penalties won
The Premier League’s most-expensive summer signing, Eden Hazard made an instant impact for Chelsea when he setup the European Champions’ opening goal and won a penalty both in the opening 6 minutes of their season opener.
The back-to-back Ligue 1 Player of the Year and 2010/11 Ligue 1 winner with Lille has shown his playmaking abilities in victories over Wigan Athletic, Reading and Newcastle United to start the season. The young Belgian international with have tougher tasks ahead, but his talent has yet to be denied with 4 assists and a goal from the penalty spot helping Chelsea to victory in each of their Premier League games to date.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) – 3 games, 1 goal, 1 assist
Arsenal took until game three before they recorded their first goal of the season. Despite taking so long, new playmaker Santi Cazorla who arrived after just one season at Malaga has looked like a summer bargain for the Gunners.
The former Villarreal star recorded both his first goal and assist in a 2-0 victory over Liverpool last weekend, but in his prior two matches had created chances for his team mates. Only Leighton Baines has created more chances than Cazorla’s 12 through three games. An eye and the technique for a pass, Arsenal’s new number 19 is set for a successful time in London.
Michu (Swansea City) – 3 games, 4 goals, 1 assist
Another Spaniard who arrived for La Liga over the summer, Michu has made a very impressive start to his Premier League career by scoring 4 goals in 3 games, helping Swansea City to 7 points. The Swans’ £2 million replacement for Gylfi Sigurdsson is filling in where the Icelandic playmaker left off by finding the net playing behind Danny Graham.
Michael Laudrup has got the best out of Michu in victories over Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United and in a 2-2 draw with Sunderland. The Welsh side will be anticipating how the Spaniard copes through a full season of the physical Premier League and over Christmas, where the football goes on, unlike the Spanish league.
Steven Pienaar (Everton) – 3 games, 1 goal
Despite paying 50% more than what they sold him for, 30-year old Steven Pienaar has made a positive impact following his £4.5 million summer resigning from Tottenham. The South African midfielder played in victories over Manchester United and Aston Villa to start the season, scoring in the latter.
Everton have made a positive start to the season, winning 2 of their first 3 games and Pienaar has been a big part of that. Marouane Fellaini is taking a lot of the plaudits, but the left midfielder has teamed well with Leighton Baines, looking good in possession of the ball.
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) – 3 games, 1 goal
Sir Alex Ferguson took a chance in purchasing one of Borussia Dortmund’s playmaker over the summer. The 12-time Premier League winning manager hasn’t had many players occupying Shinji Kagawa’s position over the seasons, but the Japanese star has already lit up Old Trafford with his quick, accurate passing and eagerness to receive the ball at his feet.
Shinji Kagawa’s only goal came when he tapped home from close range in a 3-2 victory over Fulham, but the former Dortmund player has come close with other strikes in his first 3 matches. He has setup 5 chances for team mates as well as completing over 90% of his passes.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United) 3 games, 4 goals
Many were talking about Manchester United having more problems defensively than they did in attack last season, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to choose from. Arsenal turned their backs on their former star and many raised questions over the price tag of a 29-year old injury-prone striker.
Robin van Persie has already recouped a small part of that fee as it was his two late goals that overturned Manchester United’s 1-2 deficit at Southampton to win 3-2 late on. A missed penalty in that game could have been a low point, but a hat trick in only his second start for the English record champions was a perfect way to introduce himself to his new fans.
Mladen Petric (Fulham) – 3 games, 2 goals, 1 assist
Martin Jol’s free pick up from Germany, Mladen Petric made an instant impact scoring two goals and setting up another in an emphatic 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City to start the season. It hasn’t been so great for Fulham since, losing 3-2 at Manchester United and then 3-0 at West Ham, following the departures of both Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey.
Mladen Petric has had two quiet games since his debut, but his form in pre-season, his eye for goal and ambitious and acrobatic shooting should win him over the fans over the course of the season. Competing with Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodallega to partner Bryan Ruiz up front this season, the Croatian will have his work cut out.
Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic) – 3 games, 1 goal, 1 assist
Following the sale of Victor Moses at the end of the summer transfer window it would be easy to fear for Wigan’s survival chances. I’m one of the few who believe Roberto Martinez will keep Wigan up again this season. New signing Arouna Kone is one to help them avoid dropping down to the Championship.
The Ivorian opened his account in a 2-0 victory over Southampton and in game three provided a confident assist for Franco Di Santo in a 2-2 draw with Stoke City. He showed last season whilst on loan at Levante in La Liga that he can score goals (as he previously did with Roda JC and PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie before an unsuccessful time at Sevilla). I believe Kone and Di Santo have goals between them this season.
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) – 1 game, 2 goals
There were lots of questions raised when Martin O’Neill splashed out £12 million on Wolves striker Steven Fletcher from the second tier of English football this summer. However, Sunderland did not have a proven goalscorer in their ranks and lost Asamoah Gyan. Fletcher performed well in two seasons at struggling Wolves, scoring double figures both times out and leading the league in headed goals during that time.
Steven Fletcher made an instant impact for Sunderland, scoring 2 goals during a 65-minute debut in a 2-2 draw at Swansea last weekend. The first was a well-placed finish, capitalising on an error from Ashley Williams. With Sebastian Larsson, James McClean, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan to put the ball in the box for Fletcher, O’Neill’s made a solid signing to score goals for the Black Cats this season.
Claudio Yacob (West Bromwich Albion) – 3 games, 7 points
The Argentinian international put in a man of the match performance on his debut in a 3-0 thrashing of Liverpool. West Brom have since gone on to pick up a further 4 points in their next two games and only Arsenal have kept more clean sheets than the 2 the Baggies have kept in their first three games.
Claudio Yacob has already made 11 tackles and 5 interceptions in the holding midfield role alongside Youssouf Mulumbu, who together have offered great defensive protection to Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley in West Brom’s defence.
Written by Barrie.