The January transfer window is over and the sprint towards the end of the season is underway.
With comings and goings now shelved until the summer, we can finally direct all of our focus towards events on the pitch with teams up and down the table working hard to fulfil their respective goals.
Gameweek 25 was full of the usual drama you’d expect from a round of Premier League fixtures: goals, shocks, VAR drama and another Liverpool win.
Furthermore, it presented us with a first opportunity to watch no less than seven players making their club debuts, each with varying degrees of success but all with immense pressure on their shoulders to deliver for their new employers.
How did these new signings get on? Did they show enough to suggest they can fire their team to glory, or did they show early signs of being more like expensive flops? Let’s take a look.
1. Bruno Fernandes
Although he didn’t quite set the world alight, Bruno Fernandes looked more than accomplished on his Manchester United debut, despite the Red Devils playing out a languid 0-0 draw with Wolves on Saturday evening.
The Portugal international looked eager to get on the ball right from the first minute, tried his best to create chances in a game starved of them and certainly didn’t look afraid to test compatriot Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal — Nuno Espirito Santo’s goalkeeper arguably ruined what could have been a perfect debut for Fernandes.
There’s always a worry when a player arrives from a supposed ‘lesser league’, especially so when they have signed for such a gargantuan fee, and even more so when the club buying them is Manchester United. However, Fernandes showed more than enough to suggest he could be the creative force Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been craving.
Key stat: Fernandes was responsible for three of United’s five shots on target against Wolves.
2. Steven Bergwijn
As far as dream debuts go, they don’t get much better than this: a goal against the defending Premier League champions in an unexpected 2-0 win.
Steven Bergwijn’s wonderful volley against Manchester City was fine proof of just why Spurs have invested £25m in the Netherlands international. But, in typical Jose Mourinho style, his new manager was more eager to point out his defensive maturity and discipline against one of world football’s most ruthless attacking forces.
“It was a debut goal that was the icing on the cake of a very good performance,” Mourinho told reporters after Sunday’s match. “Independent of the goal I would say his performance was very good, very solid. Very mature.
“A very solid performance against such a difficult opponent like Kyle Walker, but then he was clever enough to appear also in other zones and try to create some problems for City.
“A very, very good performance. Also defensively very aware of his position, defending zonally and covering spaces. Very, very good and then, of course, the goal is a great goal. It’s so important for us.”
With Harry Kane on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Mourinho will need some big performances from the rest of his attacking pieces. With that in mind, he couldn’t have asked for much more from Bergwijn.
Key stat: Bergwijn scored his first Tottenham goal with his first shot on target for the club on Sunday.
3. Daniel Podence
He may have only managed a 14-minute cameo but Wolves fans will be very encouraged by Daniel Podence’s debut against Manchester United.
The 24-year-old replaced the injured Adama Traore and having initially set about helping out his defenders, he soon started putting the United backline to task.
— Daniel Podence (@daniel_podence) February 1, 2020
Podence showed intelligent movement to get in behind the United defence and provided a dangerous cross for Matt Doherty, while he also drew a yellow card for left-back Luke Shaw.
A very brief glimpse for Wolves fans, but enough to suggest Podence can add to an already vibrant attack as Espirito Santo’s men mount another challenge on the European places.
Key stat: Podence completed 100 per cent of his passes during his 14-minute Old Trafford cameo.
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4. Danny Rose
With Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett both sidelined, Newcastle United desperately needed a solution at left-back, so to get their hands on someone with Danny Rose’s pedigree in the January window is a massive boost for Steve Bruce.
The England international only managed 11 minutes on his debut for the Magpies and was unable to inspire them to victory against Norwich City, but he did win an aerial duel and made two clearances as Bruce’s men held on to a 0-0 draw.
As long as he stays fit, Rose’s time on the pitch is sure to increase between now and the end of the season, so expect his influence on Newcastle’s fortunes to become more profound.
Key stat: Rose made two clearances during his 11-minute Newcastle debut against Norwich.
5. Valentino Lazaro
The 23-year-old came in at right wing-back in place of DeAndre Yedlin after 54 minutes and slotted in pretty seamlessly for the remainder of the match. He failed to really test Norwich further forward but saying that, neither did anyone else in black and white on Saturday — this is becoming a worrying hallmark of Bruce’s side despite their comfortable placing in the table.
Newcastle fans are less than impressed with the efforts of Yedlin right now, so they’ll be hoping Lazaro’s loan from Inter Milan can be a successful one with an immediate impact.
Key stat: Lazaro had 21 touches of the ball on his Newcastle debut.
6. Sander Berge
As if Sheffield United’s Premier League return hadn’t been impressive enough, the signing of Sander Berge — linked with Manchester United in the recent past — is one hell of a statement.
The £22m-man kicked off life under Chris Wilder in extremely impressive fashion, making six tackles and winning four aerial duels to help the Blades grind out a 1-0 win away at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Berge was replaced by John Lundstram on 68 minutes and will certainly be looking to influence things further up the pitch moving forward, but the Norway international was brought in to add even more solidity to Sheffield United’s midfield as they chase an unlikely European place — he’s already done that.
Key stat: Berge made more tackles than any other player during Sheffield United’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
7. Tomas Soucek
As if he didn’t know it already, Tomas Soucek will now be painfully aware of the challenge ahead of him following West Ham United’s 3-3 draw with Brighton at the weekend — a result which sees the Hammers drop into the relegation zone.
However, manager David Moyes would have been impressed with his new signing’s debut, with the Czech midfielder offering a controlling presence both offensively and defensively.
Moyes said Soucek, who had two shots on Saturday, was “unlucky” not to bag himself a debut goal, and given the inconsistent form of the likes of Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller, West Ham will need the 24-year-old to refine his aim sooner rather than later.
That said, supporters can definitely cling on to Soucek’s performance as a massive positive on another disappointing day at the London Stadium.
Key stat: Only Issa Diop (5) made more interceptions than Soucek (3) for West Ham.