The Premier League season will reach its conclusion this weekend with a hugely anticipated final day of fixtures, and whilst its been a memorable campaign for many, there are several leading names who have endured season’s to forget.
It’s not always easy to keep an upwards trajectory in the ever-changing world of modern football, but these stars will undoubtedly have been disappointed with their 2019/20 campaigns.
Here are six Premier League players who have regressed badly this season:
Carlo Ancelotti will now be fully aware of the task facing him at Everton following his opening months on Merseyside and there are likely to be question marks surrounding the long-term futures of several of the Toffees’ first-team squad.
It’s been a disappointing season for Everton following an ambitious window of recruitment last summer, with the form of Icelandic international Sigurdsson having been a major concern.
The 30-year-old scored 13 league goals and provided a further six assists last season, but his numbers have dropped drastically during the current campaign with the midfielder losing his status as Everton’s chief creative threat.
Sigurdsson has managed just one league goal from open play this term and registered just three assists, struggling to replicate his best form after being deployed somewhat out-of-position on the left of a midfield four under Ancelotti.
The club-record signing does much of his best work centrally and Ancelotti must decide whether he intends to stick with the 4-4-2 formation he has largely favoured since arriving at Goodison Park, a system which fails to get the best from Sigurdsson and has been a contributing factor to the playmaker’s form falling off the proverbial cliff.
Ryan Fraser’s stock could hardly have been higher just a year ago, the Scotland international having enjoyed a career-best season with Bournemouth that saw the winger finish behind only Chelsea’s Eden Hazard for Premier League assists.
Fraser comfortably created more big chances than any other player in the division and the Premier League’s biggest sides had taken note of his performances, their interest growing further given the star was entering the final year of his contract at the Vitality Stadium.
That final year has proven to be one of struggle for both player and club, the uncertainty surrounding Fraser’s future failing to aid Bournemouth’s battle to beat the drop – one which requires a final day miracle for the side to avoid dropping into the second tier.
Fraser’s contribution to the cause has been minimal at best, scoring just one and providing four assists. His decision to walk away from the club at the expiry of his contract last month – rather than help the Cherries’ survival hopes following the rescheduling of the season – has also proven an unpopular move.
The winger is unlikely to be short of suitors given his status as a free agent in the current climate, but clubs may be more cautious given his drop in performances this term.
David De Gea
David De Gea could hardly have commanded greater status at Manchester United throughout the years, the goalkeeper often the one world-class talent during a transitional period for the Red Devils in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years.
The aura surrounding the Spaniard has disappeared of late, however, a series of high-profile mistakes leading to questions surrounding the long-term future of De Gea as the club’s number one.
Two costly errors in the club’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea last weekend has seen the pressure mount further on the under-fire shot-stopper, whilst the performances of Dean Henderson – excelling on-loan at Sheffield United – have done little to dampen the calls for change.
No player has ever won United’s Player of the Season accolade more times than De Gea’s four, his indifferent showings both surprising and in complete contrast to the remarkable consistency he showed earlier in his career.
Another Spanish shot-stopper enduring a difficult period, Kepa Arrizabalaga has failed to establish himself as the commanding presence Chelsea sought when spending a world-record fee to sign the goalkeeper two years ago.
A solid if unspectacular season has been followed by a campaign in which the 25-year-old has notably regressed, possessing the worst save percentage of any regular goalkeeper in the Premier League.
Kepa’s poor performances have contributed to Chelsea conceding a huge 54 goals so far this season – the most of any side in the division’s top half – and widespread reports are that Frank Lampard will look to replace the Spaniard after losing faith in his capabilities.
Lampard dropped the goalkeeper earlier in the season for the ageing and hardly convincing Willy Caballero, a clear indication that a new goalkeeper may be high on his list of priorities as he continues his rebuild at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal have a long history of finding unheralded talents from France and turning them into stars, and the arrival of Matteo Guendouzi looked like another fine capture following the midfielder’s impressive debut season in English football.
Guendouzi’s performances saw him move to the fringes of a French national side who remain arguably the world’s best international team, but the player’s temperament and conduct this season have now left him exiled from Mikel Arteta’s first-team plans.
The 21-year-old perhaps benefitted from minimal expectations last season but his development has certainly stalled in what has been a hugely disappointing campaign for the Gunners, whilst his antics in the 2-1 defeat at Brighton irked both Arteta and the Arsenal staff.
Guendouzi clashed with Seagulls’ forward Neil Maupay and reportedly taunted the Brighton players regarding their salaries, an act described as a lack of ‘humility’ by Maupay and one that left Arteta unimpressed.
This came after his behaviour raised concern during a warm weather training trip to Dubai in the winter break, and has seen the midfielder exiled from first-team training. Guendouzi remains talented and has huge potential, but his behavioural problems could lead to his departure from the Emirates as Arteta bids to raise funds and fill his squad with the correct characters.
Felipe Anderson became West Ham’s record signing last summer and enjoyed an impressive debut season with the east London outfit, scoring nine league goals and providing four assists to establish himself as a key figure in a new-look Hammers side.
Early season predictions of a push for Europe have proven ambitious in the extreme for West Ham, however, the club struggling near the foot of the division for much of the campaign to flirt with a potentially disastrous relegation.
Whilst many of his teammates have struggled for form it is perhaps Anderson’s drop which has been the most stark, scoring a paltry one goal in 20 league starts and falling out-of-favour during the Hammers’ battle to beat the drop.
He has started just one fixture since the Premier League’s restart and has not made an appearance in any of the club’s past six league games, an indication his stay at the London Stadium may be nearing its conclusion.
David Moyes is keen to recruit young, hungry players with potential to improve and Anderson must soon cater to his new manager’s demands if he is to salvage his faltering West Ham career.