Premier League

Premier League players we need to see before the season ends

 • by Mark Thompson
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The cathode-ray tube television is wheeled into the classroom, much to children and teacher’s delight. The kids watch a film, the teacher takes a nap. It is the summer holidays in two days.

The teacher is an 7th-to-16th-placed club in the Premier League. There is, by and large, nothing left to play for.

But because there’s nothing to play for, this is the time when fan favourites or up-and-coming youngsters can get some meaningful game-time.

Here are some players that we want to see in the starting line-ups for the last two games of the season.

Peter Crouch (Burnley)

Back stronger. Thirty-eight-year-old Peter Crouch still being in football is one of life’s joys, and, with Burnley safe, there’s no reason not to play him.

Crouch is within reach of a few big names in the all-time Premier League topscorer list too. He’s currently on 108, one behind Ryan Giggs and two behind Emile Heskey.

Burnley striker Peter Crouch

The former Liverpool and Tottenham man hasn’t been given a start in the league yet, and it would be a shame for this, possibly final, stint in Crouch’s career to end without being named on the teamsheet.

He’s been a nuisance when he’s been on the pitch for Sean Dyche’s time, too. He averages 4.93 shots and 14.91 touches in the opposition box per game. Sure, he’s only put together 73 minutes over five appearances, but we’ve all got to start somewhere.

Adama Traoré (Wolves)

Traoré has garnered a small cult following in his Premier League season at Middlesbrough in 2016/17. He is, as Football Whispers have written about before, a bit of a dribble king.

Wolves’ style in the top-flight seemed to be stifling him slightly, earlier in the season.

Up until the end of 2018, he averaged 6.13 take-ons per game. That was enough to put him second to Sofiane Boufal, but is far from the 7.97 per game he was averaging in 2016/17.

Wolves winger Adama Traoré

However, spring has sprung for the Dutchman. Since the start of March, Traoré has matched his 2016/17 with 7.97 take-ons per game. The nearest to him in the Premier League is Eden Hazard all the way down on an average of 5.38 per game.

Although the winger’s made 28 appearances in the league this season, 20 of them have been off the bench. If Traoré’s skillset makes him the perfect supersub, then this is the perfect time of the season for a supersub to actually start.

Samir Nasri (West Ham)

When the Hammers signed up Samir Nasri the day his doping ban ended, it felt very fitting. Not necessarily for football reasons, but the club, the player… It just felt right.

Yet the Frenchman has only played 245 minutes in the league since January. He would have played a little more than that if he’d come on at half-time against Chelsea in April. Manuel Pellegrini wanted to bring him on, but then he got injured in the warm-up.

That was nearly a month ago now, so he should have had time to recover. Nasri might be nearly 32 now, but he should still have some of his sparkle left.

Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth)

Solanke’s move to the South Coast has worked out about as well as Jordon Ibe’s so far. There’s still time. He’ll have to overcome a hamstring tweak sustained against Southampton to make the team to add to his 340 league minutes, but he’s a player in real need of some minutes on the pitch.

It’s probably worth remembering, though, that Solanke is still only 21. Very few players are the finished article at 21. But Bournemouth fans, after the club spent £19m on him, might want to have a reason to be excited about him going into the summer.

Grady Diangana (West Ham)

If it wasn’t for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Grady Diangana might have stolen the nation’s eye as the breakout youngster of the season.

The winger has made 16 appearances in the league, making the starting line-up five times, and got his maiden assist in a 4-2 win against Burnley.

On top of that, he’s created three Big Chances and averages 5.69 take-on attempts per game, causing havoc for opposing defences.

Diangana only turned 21 in April, and he could have a big future ahead of him. Pellegrini should play him now, for the player’s benefit and for the crowd’s.

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