With Week 1 of the Premier League in the books, soccer fans across the globe are rejoicing that their favorite teams are back in action with new hopes of title glory, a European finish, or simply avoiding relegation. As always, a new EPL season brings new stars, and this year is no different as some players have already made the case for their breakout season in 2015-16.
With 37 more Premier League matches on the docket for each team this season, it will be extremely exciting to watch these players development. However, here are three players who put global soccer fans on notice this weekend.
Yaya Toure, CM, Manchester City
No midfielder over the past few years has scored more Premier League goals than Yaya Toure, so it should be no surprise he has made the initial three stars in 2015. His talent doesn’t take away from the fact that Toure was simply phenomenal in City’s opening game against West Brom.
He was a rock in the midfield, acting like he had Hoover vacuums attached to his foot every time the ball came in his vicinity, and switching those feet to rocket launchers as he launched two goals into the back of the net.
After the birthday cake fiasco of last season and a summer that saw the Ivorian’s future speculated on back pages across England, if Week 1 is any indication, Toure has renewed his passion for the game and playing for City.
Toure’s speed, strength and skill are unmatched in the Premier League, and if he can put on vintage performances this season, the rest of the league could be looking up at Man City.
Reece Oxford, CB/CDM, West Ham United
At 16 years old, most of us were worried about getting our learner’s permit. This past weekend, 16-year-old Reece Oxford was thinking about how to defend World Cup winner Mesuit Ozil and the Arsenal attack.
In West Ham’s stunning 2-0 victory at the Emirates, Reece Oxford was undoubtedly the star, as his magnificent performance as the holding midfielder for the mighty Hammers helped seal an opening victory for West Ham, their first away win at Arsenal since 2007.
Oxford’s performance has been lauded by pundits across Europe, as he was the primary cog in containing one of the best passing sides on the continent at home. Many British papers, always quick to anoint the next English superstar, have started comparing Oxford to none other than Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand. While Oxford certainly has a long way to go to reach Ferdinand’s legendary level, if he continues to put on performances like he did against the Gunners, he will earn his place in English football history.
Riyad Mahrez, RW, Leicester City
While Leicester City have been a hot pick as a relegation team this season, they showed in their 4-2 victory over Sunderland that they have no intention of going down easy. The darlings of the relegation battle last season and the best Premier League side over their past 10 games, the Foxes showed immense quality in Claudio Ranieri’s first game in the EPL in over a decade.
Central to that quality was speedy winger Riyad Mahrez, who netted two goals and provided an assist in Leicester’s four-goal effort. Mahrez scored just four goals in the Foxes’ Premier League campaign last season, so he will certainly look to improve upon that mark after getting halfway to his season total in Week 1. An Algerian international, Mahrez brought a ton of quality to the 2014 World Cup, and may reignite that talent in the 2015-16 EPL season.