Premier League Youth Report: January/February


Welcome to the BPL Youth Report, where we count down the top three under-23 players that have lit up the Premier League in the month. This time we have a double edition — January and February — which features a certain high-flying Englishman in particular…

3. Kurt Zouma

Kurt Zouma – Credit: Kody Platter (Flickr Creative Commons)

Let’s be honest now…how many of you thought Kurt Zouma would actually play for Chelsea?

As a City fan, I may have just grown accustomed to youngsters simply serving as expensive benchwarmers, but I personally didn’t see Zouma playing too much part in the coming season, other than as a Vitesse player.

But, credit to the Frenchman, he stayed at Stamford Bridge and has slowly slipped into the first team, thanks in part to some below-par Gary Cahill performances, and an ability to slot into the Chelsea midfield if needed.

Zouma has played all 90 minutes for Chelsea 7 times in the last two months, and is showing no signs of slowing down (even playing central midfield in the Capital One Cup Final). A goal against Watford in the FA Cup and an assist in the 1st March Cup Final is proof of Zouma’s ability to stand his ground in the attacking stakes, while 4 clean sheets in his seven starts in January/February is not only testament to Chelsea’s solidity, but Zouma’s defensive potential.

2. Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho – Credit: Kevin Walsh (Flickr Creative Commons)

Until recently, Coutinho seemed to be a part-time magician; an £8.5 million transfer risk who pulled off an eye-opener of a performance every once in a while, only to get thrown about like a rag doll in the next game, misplacing passes and scuffing shots well wide.

Yet if you’d only first watched the diminutive Brazilian within the last few months, you’d have thought Liverpool had signed one of Europe’s best.

Coutinho experienced something of a footballing epiphany in January, thanks in most part to some clear work on the shooting front, and a new-found appreciation for football without the frills that have proved so irritating for fans when Coutinho hasn’t been up to scratch (although that’s not to say it would be surprising to see him try scorpion kick a ball over the opposition defence).

What made Coutinho such a symbol of frustration last season was his tendency to kick the ball like a chubby non-footballer on the school playground. However, overtime on the training ground appears to have made all the difference, and Coutinho’s now getting a penchant for the spectacular (see goal vs Southampton).

1. Harry Kane

Harry Kane – Credit: Allan Slank (Flickr Creative Commons)

9 goals and 3 assists in one month. Who else could pick up the coveted We Are Hooligans Youth Report Player of the Last Two Months Award (note: name is a work in progress) than Harry Kane? For once, the relentless hype surrounding an English player has actually been warranted, and has yet to have ruined the player’s progress (note: if Harry Kane’s career goes downhill from here, I’m sorry I jinxed him).

Let’s be honest — it’s hard to put your finger on what specific skills actually make Harry Kane so great at what he does, apart from his inherent knack for being right there when he’s needed. But doing as much as he has in a team that hasn’t lately been known for scoring goals is certainly no mean feat.

When Tim Sherwood was in charge, it seemed Harry Kane simply featured in the Spurs side for fitting the bill as a ‘proper Englishman’, a grafter up front who isn’t afraid to go in hard; why else would he be there above a great new signing like Roberto Soldado?

However, Kane has cemented his place in the Spurs team sheet under a new manager in Mauricio Pochettino, and looks all set to keep up this dazzling run of form. Move over Soldado, you’re most definitely not going to make it into the first team anymore (if it was even likely before, that is).