There are only two weeks to go until the start of the new Premier League season and fans of every club involved will be looking forward to seeing their new signings in action. Chelsea fans will hope that Diego Costa can make a similar impact at the club to the one he made at Atletico Madrid last season, while Arsenal fans will undoubtedly be excited for the debut of Alexis Sanchez after his fantastic performances at the World Cup. Meanwhile in Liverpool, the loss of Luis Suarez will worry many fans of the Reds. However, what about the players that may have been forgotten about last year, and who will now try to kick off their Premier League careers in earnest?
Erik Lamela is one such player. After lighting up Serie A with his goals and stellar performances for Roma, Lamela made the move to Tottenham last summer and was just one of several signings made possible by the transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. However, the Argentinian did not play at the level expected of him and found himself increasingly out of the picture under Andre Villas Boas. He did make some appearances under Tim Sherwood but suffered a back injury that ultimately ended his season.
Manchester City made another Serie A based signing in the form of Steven Jovetic. The striker scored 15 goals for Fiorentina in the 2012-13 season and Manuel Pellegrini was sufficiently impressed to sign the Montenegrin in his first transfer window as City manager. Similar to Lamela however, Jovetic struggled last season and made just 13 appearances in the league, most of which came as a substitute. He has managed to play well in pre-season games over the last few weeks and will surely be hoping to carry on in this manner when the season starts.
Finally, Joel Campbell has yet to make an appearance for Arsenal despite signing for them in 2011. Due to work permit issues, he has had to go out on loan to Real Betis and Olympiacos in recent seasons but has managed to perform well, most noticeably at the World Cup for Costa Rica. Arsene Wenger has promised that Campbell will finally make his Arsenal debut this season, news that has pleased fans that have been waiting to see him in action at the Emirates.
Going back to the original question, which one of these players could make the biggest impact this season and put themselves firmly in the minds of their fans?
As all three players most often play in attacking positions, I think it is only fair that we compare how effective they were in possession of the ball last season and how well they contributed to their teams going forward. In the case of Campbell, I will primarily look at his stats in the Champions League as he played a similar amount of time to Jovetic and Lamela in the Premier League (as well playing against better opposition).
I used Squawka.com‘s comparison matrix to obtain the following statistics.
Jovetic has the best pass completion rate of the three with 85%. Lamela was successful with 80% of his passes while Campbell managed 79%. This is also the order in which the players stand when you look at how many passes they attempted overall; Jovetic attempted 225 while Lamela and Campbell attempted 178 and 123 passes respectively.
Campbell did manage to create nine chances for his team-mates in this time compared to just seven for Jovetic and six for Lamela. This did not result in any assists for the Arsenal player however, while his Tottenham and City counterparts managed one assist each.
Looking at their duels, all three players were fairly effective. Jovetic had the most success when taking on players, winning 15 (68.18%) of his attempts. Campbell had the next best success rate, winning 12 (57.14%) of his attempts, while Lamela managed to take on players successfully on nine occasions. When you take all the different kinds of duels into account, Jovetic once again has the best success rate with 56.67%, followed by Campbell on 50% and Lamela on just 37.29%.
It is worth remembering at this point that all three players played a similar amount of time in their respective competitions and that there was only 37 minutes between Jovetic, who played the most with 367 minutes, and Lamela who played the least with just 330 minutes.
All three players have the potential to have good seasons for their respective clubs and show the fans why they shouldn’t have become forgotten men in the first place. In terms of who could make the biggest impact of the three, I would have to agree with the statistics. For me, Jovetic could play a big part in the defence of City’s league title, provided he is given the playing time to do this. Campbell is young and inexperienced in terms of the Premier League. Whether he will be given a consistent run in the first 11 remains to be seen but is certainly one of the league’s promising young players. Unfortunately for Lamela, I think it may be more of the same for him this season unless he improves his performances both on the pitch and in training massively.