9 Premier League players with big points to prove in 2017/18
1. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
If the former Borussia Monchengladbach man can improve his temperament and disciplinary record, he could shine this season
Xhaka’s debut season at the Emirates was a little underwhelming, but it’s far too early to write the 24-year-old off. His midfield partnership with Aaron Ramsey towards the end of 2016/17 showed signs of promise, and the former Borussia Monchengladbach man could shine this season if he improves his temperament and disciplinary record.
Still, Xhaka is undoubtedly under pressure to deliver. A transfer fee of £30m isn’t exorbitant in the current climate, but a failure to kick on could be costly to his chances of becoming a mainstay at Arsenal.
2. Solomon Rondon (West Brom)
Jay Rodriguez has since been added to the Baggies' forward ranks, so there will be even less margin for error in 2017/18
Strong, powerful and willing to run the channels, Rondon is the archetypal Tony Pulis centre-forward. Despite that, he was dropped by the West Brom manager for a period last term, with Hal Robson-Kanu preferred up front on a handful of occasions. For all his other qualities, finding the net in just six Premier League games – including a barren stretch from December 17 to May 6 – did the Venezuelan no favours whatsoever.
Jay Rodriguez has since been added to the Baggies' forward ranks, so there will be even less margin for error in 2017/18. Rondon needs to up his scoring rate as quickly as possible.
3. Erik Lamela (Tottenham)
After missing the majority of 2016/17 with a hip problem, the Argentina international currently finds himself on the outside looking in
Tottenham are still yet to make a signing this summer, but that’s not necessarily a problem – especially when you consider how last year's acquisitions worked out (Victor Wanyama aside). In fact, a settled squad looks like being the best thing possible for Spurs as they head into a potentially tumultuous season which will be spent at Wembley following the demolition of White Hart Lane.
What's more, they've got Lamela on the way back - and he'll be like a new signing. Yet after missing the majority of 2016/17 with a hip problem, the Argentina international currently finds himself on the outside looking in. Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen thrived as Tottenham's front three last time out, so Lamela will have to work hard to force his way back into contention even after he's regained full fitness.