We may only be 12 games into the 2015/16 Premier League season, but it has already been a campaign with lots of action and goals aplenty.
However, there are a few stars who are yet to reach the performances and highs we have become accustomed to in recent years, and those individuals will be hoping they can kickstart their season following the two-week international break.
Here is Shoot’s squad of players with a point to prove this weekend, and beyond.
Tim Howard: After being dropped for a couple of games and replaced by Joel Robles, Everton fans are starting to get on the back of the normally reliable American. Mistakes made against big opposition, including allowing Danny Ings to head the ball in from close range in the Merseyside derby, has led to frustration from Toffees supporters. Roberto Martinez is expected to stick with Howard for now, but for how long exactly remains to be seen.
Right-Back – Branislav Ivanovic: Normally Chelsea’s most consistent defender over the past few years, Ivanovic has had a very poor start to the campaign this term. Starting from the opening day, where Swansea’s Jefferson Montero had the beating of him at every opportunity, he seems to have lost a yard of pace and even some desire. His defensive displays have played a part in the Blues’ worst start to a Premier League season, and unless he improves, a replacement could be on his way in January.
Centre-Back – Angelo Ogbonna: High expectations came with Ogbonna when he arrived from Juventus in the summer, but he has yet to live up to his former club’s name. A fee of £11 million means he came with a fairly high price tag for his ability, and the Italian got off to the worst possible start. On his debut in the Europa League third qualifying round, he scored an own goal to level the scores at 2-2 against Astra Giurgiu. They exited the competition, and Ogbonna has only made six appearances since.
Centre-Back – Dejan Lovren: A poor first season matched with a £20 million price tag has already got Liverpool fans wanting to show Lovren the door. He started the season alongside Martin Skrtel in fine form, but a few blunders have brought back memories of last term, and he was subsequently dropped for Mamadou Sakho. However, after Sakho’s injury, ruling him out for up to eight weeks, the Croatian will be given another chance. New manager Jurgen Klopp will offer support, but whether he is technically good enough is another question.
Left-Back – Patrick van Aanholt: Known last season for getting forward and supporting attacks, Van Aanholt was liked amongst Sunderland fans. But needless decisions to get forward and costing his side goals has led to the Dutchman being dropped, not only from the first-team, but also into the reserves. Youngster DeAndre Yedlin has come in and performed well, shining in the derby, and so Van Aanholt has a lot of work to do to get back into the side.
Right-Winger – Eden Hazard: Since Jose Mourinho compared Hazard to Cristiano Ronaldo; the former hasn’t managed a single goal in the Premier League or Champions League. His season was summed up against Liverpool, where he was substituted after 58 minutes, haven’t not mustered up a single shot or dribble throughout the game. Hazard got Chelsea ticking last season, winning the PFA Player of the Year award, but without him at his best the London club are struggling.
Central Midfield – Xherdan Shaqiri: Many were surprised when Shaqiri made the move to Stoke, having just won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. And since his arrival, the attacking midfielder’s performances have been a bit flat. No goals in nine appearances and just the one assist mean that the Switzerland international has been a passenger so far. He could be forgiven for wanting time to adapt to a new league, but now he has got nine games under his belt, Potters fans will be wanting to see more from their star man.
Central Midfield – Cesc Fabregas: Another Chelsea man, and probably the most controversial so far. Fabregas was ushered out of Barcelona once things started to go wrong, and now that results aren’t going the Blues’ way, the same might happen here. He looks a fraction of the player who lit up the league last season, and recent reports that he is leading a revolt against Jose Mourinho haven’t helped his cause. At 28, he is just getting over the peak of a midfielder’s career, so a quick turnaround in form is needed for him to remain at the top.
Left-Winger – Memphis Depay: Manchester United were delighted when they got their man in the summer, paying £30m for an immense talent. Still only 21, Memphis has many years to fulfil his potential. However, his career at United hasn’t really taken off, with the Dutchman scoring just one goal in eight league appearances, and only one in the Champions League too. The Netherlands international has been dropped for new signing Anthony Martial, and will have to work hard to get back into the team. His talent is undoubtedly high, but whether he matches it with hard work remains to be seen.
Diego Costa: The Spaniard has been nowhere near his best, and looks a completely different player compared to last season. Known for his aggressive style of play, Costa seems to be focusing more on winding up his opponents than scoring goals this term, which has reportedly led to Chelsea targeting Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. With only two league goals so far, he has a long way to go to beat the 20 he reached last campaign, and Blues fans will be hoping he turns his form around quickly to push his side up the table.
Wayne Rooney: Some would argue that Rooney has been due a season like this, as his form has seemed to dip over the past few years. Only managing two goals in 11 Premier League appearances so far this term has seen United fans favour new signing Anthony Martial upfront instead, becoming restless when Louis van Gaal puts him on the wing. A natural-born finisher, England’s record goalscorer will always have the ability to find the back of the net, but he will be hoping that this is purely a dip in form, and not the start of a decline in his career.
Goalkeeper – Costel Pantilimon: The Romanian was a large part of Sunderland’s battle against relegation last season, but needless mistakes have cost his side early on.
Right-Back – Daryl Janmaat: Despite scoring two goals, Janmaat’s defensive displays have been shaky, with some Newcastle fans questioning his ability to play in defence, and he certainly hasn’t been as impressive as he was at points last season.
Centre-Back – Jonny Evans: After a move from Manchester United, West Brom fans would’ve hoped for a better defensive record this season. Evans hasn’t been at his best, and has been the cause of some of the goals they have conceded.
Midfielder – Adam Lallana: Seemingly trusted by Jurgen Klopp, but the England international needs to provide more than a few tricks and turns for Liverpool. His goal tally needs to be higher for a number 10.
Midfielder – Gylfi Sigurdsson: One of the stand out players last season, Sigurdsson hasn’t reached the same heights again for a Swansea team who are struggling for form. The Iceland international certainly seems to be playing with less confidence and less freedom.
Striker – Saido Berahino: Despite the negative attention over the summer seeming to have died down, the West Brom front man has struggled for goals this season, and will need to get back amongst them to boost his chances of the move he seems to desire.
Striker – Rudy Gestede: Gestede hasn’t provided the physical edge that Aston Villa fans would’ve wanted so far this term. He may not have had the best support, but he needs to play in a similar manner to Christian Benteke if he is to get any joy.