English Premier League: Five breakthrough stars so far this season

With the international break upon, and as the final stretch of the Premier League season approaches, we can begin to look back on what has been an extraordinary – albeit slightly unusual – 2020/21 season.

Here are five players who have emerged this season from relative obscurity and established themselves as some of the finest stars in the Premier League.

Tomas Soucek (West Ham United)
Tomas Soucek has been a pivotal factor behind West Ham United’s memorable season, as they have gone from finishing 16th last campaign to sitting just outside the top four.

The Czech midfielder has played every minute of the Hammers’ Premier League campaign, registering nine goals, including a vital brace in his side’s victory at Crystal Palace and a late winner at Everton.

Soucek has also cemented himself as one of the most likeable Premier League stars, having declared his love for potato salad after netting the winner at Goodison Park.

Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
After emerging during Arsenal’s trophy-winning FA Cup run at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has established himself as one of the finest shot-stoppers in the division.

The 28-year-old has been consistently exceptional for Villa, and the highlight of his season was his performance at Brighton in February, where he made nine saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0.

Martinez’s 14 Premier League clean sheets mean that he is just two off of Ederson’s total of 16, and with ten matches remaining he will be confident that he can make his breakthrough season even more memorable.

Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)
When Leicester City signed Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne last October, the most eye-catching factor of his arrival was the fee: 40 million euros for a then-19-year-old.

However, his rapid adaptation and outstanding performances have been pivotal in Leicester’s brilliant season, as they now sit comfortably in third place and have an FA Cup semi-final against Southampton on April 18.

Despite his young age, Fofana is now widely recognised as one of the best central defenders in English football.

Patrick Bamford (Leeds United)
Patrick Bamford has waited many years to have the limelight in the English top flight, and he has certainly delivered for Leeds United.

With 14 Premier League goals and seven assists, he has proven himself as one of the most prolific strikers in English football.

His goal contributions have been key for Leeds, who now sit in 11th place in the table in what is their debut season back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

Ben Godfrey (Everton)
Having joined Everton last summer from the Norwich City team that bowed out of the Premier League with a whimper in 2019/20, Ben Godfrey has shown himself to be a vital component of Carlo Ancelotti’s upwardly mobile side.

His thunderous, tough-tackling displays have earned him widespread plaudits, particularly in his man-of-the-match performance in the Toffees’ home victory over Arsenal in December.

Godfrey has been crucial in Everton’s season of huge progress, and it seems that a call-up to the England senior side is not far away.

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