Grading the Africans in England: The Good
Posted: 18 May 2014 Time: 11:17
Following the conclusion of the English football season, Kick Off grades the African players in the Premier League.
This comprehensive two-part feature evaluates all of the continent’s players in the English top-flight.
This first chapter celebrates those who have had a successful campaign; those players who can look back on the 2013/14 season with pride.
Serge Gnabry (B): Serge Gnabry was enjoying a promising campaign until a knee injury disrupted his progress. I would have liked to have seen the midfielder opt to play for the Cote d’Ivoire, but instead, it seems likely that the attentions of Germany – who have been attracted to the player following his composed showings in the Arsenal first team – will prove too tempting to ignore in the long term. A Man of the Match showing in the FA Cup against Tottenham was a particular highlight.
Samuel Eto’o (B): He may have been regularly criticised by Mourinho as the manager sought to find excuses within the make-up of the squad, but few 34-year-olds could achieve quite what Eto’o has. Important goals against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Galatasaray highlight his enduring class.
Yannick Bolasie (B): An impressive debut EPL campaign for the young Congolese forward. Made the transition well and helped Palace fans forget the departed Wilfried Zaha. He is in the division’s top five for dribbles-per-game.
Marouane Chamakh (B): A goal ratio of roughly one-in-six isn’t much to write home about, but Chamakh performed the ugly work up-front and looked, at least, more motivated than in his Arsenal days.
Steven Pienaar (B-): A fading force at Goodison, but Pienaar retains a good relationship with Leighton Baines and managed a decent 83.4% pass success rate. He needs to adapt to his ageing legs.
Liam Rosenior (B): A solid season for the versatile defender who was a surprisingly offensive presence, contributing two assists, scoring once and being Man of the Match on two occasions.
Curtis Davies (A-): It has been a career of false starts, at Birmingham and Aston Villa, but finally Curtis Davies has come good. The defender, who has Sierra Leonean origins, has held the fort for Hull City all season and has demonstrated the qualities that all managers look for in their centre-back when facing a first season back in the Premier League.
Sone Aluko (B): More injuries and increased competition have led to reduced playing time for the versatile forward. A stunning winner against Newcastle back in September was his season highlight.
Ahmed Elmohamady (B): An energetic and consistent presence down the right-flank for Hull, Elmohamady scored twice and contributed two assists.
Kolo Toure (B-): Like Martin Demichelis, a series of high-profile errors have undermined a generally solid campaign. A fading force nonetheless.
Cheick Tiote (B-): Tiote has struggled to make the impression he did in his early days at Newcastle, but he remains firmly in the EPL’s top 20 for tackles-per-game.
Victor Wanyama (B-): He has been judged harshly, but his stats haven’t been that bad for a debut campaign. Admittedly, though, he has at times struggled to replicate his dominant Celtic form at St Mary’s.
Oussama Assaidi (B+): Hasn’t quite shone in the Premier League, but four goals in 12 starts is an encouraging return.
Wilfried Bony (A): He took his time to get going, but post New Year’s Eve, Wilfried Bony was almost unstoppable in the Premier League. The Ivorian scored 16 goals in 27 starts and made an outstanding first impression on Swans fans.
Emmanuel Adebayor (A-): A season of two halves, Adebayor was isolated by Spurs’ former boss Andre Villas-Boas, before being revived and revitalised by Tim Sherwood …goals followed.
Nabil Bentaleb (B+): A fine debut campaign. He may not be universally popular among Spurs fans (or among friends of Etienne Capoue), but Bentaleb showed excellent composure and poise to adapt almost immediately to the rigours of the EPL. He also made his debut for Algeria, will travel to the World Cup, and represents the future of the national side’s midfield – not bad going.
West Bromwich Albion
Victor Anichebe (B-): Having played in 24 matches this season, Big Vic has, at least, begun to overcome some of the injury problems that plagued his early career. The goals still aren’t flowing steadily for the big Nigerian though.
Youssouf Mulumbu (B): The Congolese midfielder was a rare ray of light in a disappointing season for The Albion. Only Mike Jedinak made more interceptions during the course of the campaign. Things could have been a lot worse for WBA had Mulumbu not been holding fort.
Saido Berahino (B): The Burundian refugee enjoyed a fine maiden EPL campaign, scoring five goals in 11 starts. As to be expected from one so young, his consistency wavered as the year rolled on, but this has been a strong introduction.
By Ed Dove