The Athletic Daily

A look at Nigerian players as Premier League restarts today

Nigerian players in the Premier League
photo credit: the athletic/nsidibe akpan

Hello, everyone. I have been very lazy in the last seven days just because I am lazy, but I am back today, the English Premier League is back with a bang at the Etihad Stadium and chance for us to watch proper football again. Concerns will still remain as to the level of fitness and competitiveness of the players in an empty stadium.

In today’s blog, I will take a look at Nigerian players in the Premier League, those who are eligible to represent Nigeria, I won’t have time to check what is happening with those twats who rejected our dear country. I mean, it is a free world out there, you can choose to play for any country, but shame on you for ditching your fatherland. Sometimes I can understand their reasons, but you have to be patriotic for once.

Those teams without a Nigerian in their squad are simply not good enough, the last and only time a team played a whole season without tasting defeat had a Nigerian (Arsenal – Nwankwo Kanu), they went a whole season without losing a single game, that should inform every other team that Nigerians are the missing piece in the jigsaw. Liverpool attempted to go all the way without a defeat and ironically were beaten by Watford, a team with a Nigerian (Isaac Success) hahahahahaha.

So, the teams in EPL without a Nigerian won’t have a mention in this blog, they should go f*ck themselves for all I care. (Na play I dey play ooo)

Let’s get into it, shall we?

Wilfried Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)

Wilfred Ndidi has been one of the outstanding players for an exciting Leicester City side this season, he joined the team in 2016 as a replacement for N’Golo Kante and has done a fantastic job, if Ndidi is absent, Brendan Rodgers men will suffer. Since moving to the King Power Stadium from Genk, he has made 111 appearances in the Premier League, scoring 6 times with just 5 assists. This season, he has played 23 times and is considered the best defensive midfielder in the division.

In a poll in the Premier League’s website, Ndidi is voted the best defensive midfielder in the division with 40% of the total votes cast, beating Liverpool’s Fabinho (19%), Manchester United’s Fred (18%), Chelsea’s Jorginho (9%), Manchester City’s Rodri (6%) and Watford’s Etienne Capoue (2%).

Another Nigerian in the Foxes squad is Kelechi Iheanacho, the former Man City striker has not had the best of time in Leicester having joined in August 2017. He scored 21 times in 64 appearances for Manchester City, he has scored 7 times for Leicester in 53 appearances, albeit 40 of those coming as a substitute.

Leicester City are looking likely to secure a Uefa Champions League spot, sitting 3rd on the log on 53 points, just 4 points separating them with second-placed Manchester City and 5 points ahead of 4th placed Chelsea. They will travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday to face Watford.

Odion Ighalo (Manchester United)

Odion Ighalo is living the dream of playing for boyhood club, Manchester United. He initially joined the Red Devils in the January transfer deadline day and has seen his loan deal extended till January 2021. In 8 appearances for the former Premier League Champions, Ighalo has scored 4 times, two in the Europa League, and two in the FA Cup. He is yet to register a goal in the league and has not started any game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Manchester United are currently occupying the Europa League spot (5th), the former Watford striker will face competition for a place in the squad with Marcus Rashford having returned to full fitness. They face a daunting trip to North London against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday, who is managed by former United coach Jose Mourinho.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka is a star in the making and has been one of the bright spots in a rather poor season by Arsenal. Naturally a left-winger, he has been converted into a left-fullback to cover for Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac when the duo suffered injuries. He didn’t look at of place in the position, notching 3 assists in 18 appearances. Saka has played 30 times in all competitions for the Gunners, scoring twice and grabbing 9 assists, the most by any Arsenal player this season.

I know some will say the young man may end up playing for the Three Lions of England, but he is a Nigerian, until such time he decides not to play for the three times African champions, then we will know how to treat him.

Arsenal are traveling to face defending champions Manchester City tonight at the Etihad Stadium and the odds understandably stands against them getting anything out of the game. The Gunners have lost the last 6 meetings against City, scoring just two goals and conceding 17.

Arsenal also have young Nigerian players in their ranks, like striker Folarin Bolagun who has terrorised defenders in the under 23 and defender Tolaji Bola, both of Nigerian descent.

Alex Iwobi (Everton)

Alex Iwobi made a surprise deadline day move from Arsenal to Everton and has made 18 appearances, scoring twice, 1 goal apiece in the Premier League and the EFL Cup. The Toffees are currently sitting in 12th position on the log, with new manager Carlo Ancelotti looking to turn the table for the Toffees and move them up the ladder, away from the relegation zone.

Their first game after the coronavirus is the Merseyside derby on Sunday against title chasing neighbours Liverpool. It is a bad time to play Jurgen Klopp’s men, who may be crowned champions tonight if Arsenal managed to achieve the impossible by beating Man City at the Etihad. If Liverpool are crowned champions tonight, Everton might suffer less on Sunday. Take nothing away from a derby match, always full of surprises.

Another Nigerian who is at Everton is Dennis Adeniran (full name: Dennis Emmanuel Abiodun Bamidele Chijoke Adeniran). Thank me later for that one. Hahaha.

Leon Balogun (Brighton and Hove Albion)

Leon Balogun has endured a torrid time in the Premier League since joining from German side Mainz 05 two seasons ago, he has made 8 appearances in the Premier League, 3 coming as a substitute, scoring just a goal in the process. It became more apparent that he is not in the plans Graham Potter and joined Championship side Wigan Athletic in January.

The Seagulls will host Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon. They are not yet safe from relegation but are 15th on the table with 29 points, 2 points ahead of AFC Bournemouth who are 18.

Isaac Success (Watford)

Five substitute appearances for Isaac Success for a struggling Watford side is not good enough and that simply describes his season so far. The Hornets will face Leicester City in the early kickoff on Saturday at the Vicarage Road, hoping to salvage a season which may see them play in the Championship next season. The good news is that they sit one place above the relegation places, having the same number of points with Bournemouth.

They also have Jamal Balogun and Tom Dele-Bashiru, both are Nigerians in their team.

Out of the 20 Premier League teams, its only 6 that have Nigerian players. That is very low by the standard of Nigeria. But there you have it.

I’ll leave it here for today, hopefully, I will return tomorrow to look at other things. Let me leave you with the latest edition of The Athletic NG Football Podcast, links are below.

Download and listen to our latest NPFL football podcast.



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