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Five Premier League players who really need to up their game

Four games into the new Premier League season and things are beginning to take shape. Liverpool and Manchester City have raced into the top two positions, (yes, we’re shocked too) whilst newly-promoted Norwich and Aston Villa already ominously occupy two of the relegation places.

Several stars have begun the new campaign in fine form, though others are struggling to find their groove. We’ve decided to look at some poorly performing Premier League players, with five fellas who really need to up their game…

Kurt Zouma

Once regarded as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders, Zouma looked like finally fulfilling his potential during a loan spell at Everton last season. Zouma’s season on Merseyside was his third temporary spell away from Stamford Bridge since signing for Chelsea in 2014, with the Frenchman putting in a series of commanding performances for Marco Silva’s side.

Everton were believed to be desperate to sign the 24-year-old on a permanent basis during the summer, but after his performances over the first few weeks of the new season they may be thinking they’ve dodged a bullet.

Brought back into the fold by Frank Lampard with Chelsea currently serving a transfer-ban, Zouma has looked shaky in a Blues side which has conceded nine goals in their opening four fixtures. A four-goal thrashing at Manchester United on the opening day was a sign of things to come, and whilst Chelsea are unbeaten since then, they’ve looked vulnerable at the back.

Zouma’s late own goal saw newly-promoted Sheffield United claim a point at Stamford Bridge last time out, and the centre-back will need to rediscover his form from last season sooner rather than later.

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Jesse Lingard

A player who has long divided opinion of Manchester United and England fans alike, the midfielder’s critics are fiercer than ever after a torrid run of form.

The 26-year-old has failed to register a single goal or assist in the Premier League for nine months, his last goal contributions coming during a fine run of form way back in December 2018.

Many feel Lingard’s performances are often overlooked due to his tireless work-rate and United roots, but his level of performances and productivity must improve if he maintains his place as a first-team regular.

For a fully fledged international in what should arguably be the peak of his career, the statistics are damning for a player often utilised in a central attacking role.

James Ward-Prowse

Southampton’s talisman as they moved away from relegation worries last season, Ward-Prowse was called into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the March Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Whilst the 24-year-old failed to add to the one cap he earned in 2017, it was reward for a series of impressive performances for the Saints and the midfielder shone last season for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s revitalised side.

Ward-Prowse has failed to build on his strong showing in the second half of last season, as Southampton have won just once in their first four fixtures. He has failed to register a single goal or assist so far, whilst his pass completion has dropped from 76.5% to 66.9%.

Southampton will need arguably their most creative talent to rediscover his best form and quickly, if they are to avoid another season of struggle.

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Dele Alli

The England international burst onto the scene after signing for Tottenham from MK Dons four years ago, winning back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards in his first two seasons and developing a reputation as a fine goalscoring midfielder.

Injuries have hampered his progress last season, though his statistics and performances have notably dropped. Having scored 18 Premier League goals during a prolific campaign two seasons ago, Alli managed just five last term.

Injury has again stalled his start to the new campaign, though he made his first appearance of the season as a substitute during the North London derby draw with Arsenal last time out. Still just 23, his record of 42 Premier League goals from midfield is impressive and Spurs will be hoping he can return to his fearless and influential best.

Facing competition for his England place from emerging talent such as James Maddison and Mason Mount, it is time for Alli to prove why he was regarded as a special talent.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin

The young forward impressed after being restored to the Everton side in the second half of last season, proving a tireless and physically imposing focal point for Marco Silva’s side. However, a goal drought towards the end of the campaign would be a sign of things to come, and four games into the new season Calvert-Lewin is no closer to a first league goal since March.

Having started the first three games he was dropped in favour of summer signing Moise Kean for the win over Wolves, and time is running out for the 23-year-old to prove he is capable of leading the line for a side with ambitions of gatecrashing the top six.

The forward has taken the number nine shirt this season but six goals in 35 Premier League appearances last term is hardly prolific, and Calvert-Lewin must now show he can increase his performances and goal record to command a starting place.

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