The Ex-Con Returns


As the players line up on the first day of the approaching league season, we may well know if the Premier League is to part with such legends as Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand. For now though, here are some familiar and not so familiar recently promoted players to watch out for who will be plying their trade in England’s top division next season.

Kieran Trippier

Burnley were a surprise package this season. Most expected the relegated sides of QPR, Reading and Wigan to hold one of the automatic places by the end of the season.

Even after an impressive first 10 games, many, including myself, questioned whether their paper thin squad would stand up to a long and grueling season of Championship football.

Keeping Danny Ings fit was without doubt a key factor in Burnley’s success. It is hard to ignore Ings’ goal contribution, but it was the ever-present form of another player that marks them out as one of Burnley’s most important players in the fight to stay in the top flight next season. This player is Kieran Trippier, formerly on the books of Manchester City.

Trippier provided 14 assists in Burnley’s promotion campaign. This contribution is especially impressive when you consider that he plays at right back. This very attacking full-back has been capped at U21 level and at the age of 23, the future is bright.

Trippier’s deep crossing and marauding runs will cause problems for a lot of teams this coming season. His attacking game provides Burnley with genuine width – something that seems to be receding in the Premier League.

It goes without saying that Trippier’s defensive game will tested hugely next season, especially so, in team that won’t be backed financially as Hull and Cardiff were last season. Nonetheless, based upon his recent performances, he seems to possess all the attributes to hold his own in the Premier League.

Joey Barton

Football’s Bad boy, philosopher and ex-con are just a handful of labels Joey Barton has been barton-432975given throughout his career – these three being the few repeatable examples.

Barton is probably now a reasonably well-known figure in European football for almost entirely the wrong reasons. From his dimensional observations on Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s nose, to being escorted off the pitch by Yaya Toure after a petulant kick at Sergio Aguero – Barton has not endeared himself to many in football.

The ticking time bomb of past days has denied the Barton of now the plaudits his performances this season have deserved.

If you speak to QPR fans, the people that watch the man once capped by England every week, they will tell a similar tale. They talk of a man in possession of ability on the ball dictating the game, keeping a team of pampered stars on their toes.

Unlike his Alice band, Barton’s ability hasn’t suddenly just materialized. His ice cold penalty taking, along with a rare insight into Cheik Tioté’s long range shooting capability, will be all too familiar to Arsenal fans. The former Marseille player’s raking long balls and pin point free kicks have been a feature throughout the season.

The grit and determination of this outspoken Scouser have been evident all season. Even in its dying moments, when QPR had the Premier League in their reach, Barton could be seen charging down anyone who dared to threaten his goal and a deserved chance to redeem his reputation in the top flight.

While Barton has only received one red card this season, his volatile temperament still proceeds him and will probably for some time be seen an area to exploit by opponents seeking to gain an upper-hand.

Hopefully, during this coming season, Barton will be talked about for all the right reasons, it’s about time.

Anthony Knockaert

Misery, disconsolation, heartbreak, I could go on. Missing a penalty that ultimately costAnthony-Knockaert your team promotion cannot be accurately summarized with any single word.

Over a year ago, football must have seemed like the very cruelest of all pains in the world to Anthony Knockaert.

But as football can crush, it can also liberate. This has been the journey for Knockaert since joining Leicester City in 2012. Leicester came back fighting and stormed the league coming 4 points off the all time Championship points record (106 points, held by Reading).

Knockaert has been the creative spark in this charge. The Frenchman has the ability to shift onto either foot and surprise defenses. His movement and sheer audacity have made him a real match-winner – his Zola-esque back-heeled goal in his first season for Leicester gets better every time you see it.

7 goals this season for a player of his quality will no doubt be a disappointing return for the 22 year old. He does still have plenty of time to develop and what better place to test yourself than the Premier League.


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