By Nate Jacobson
A storyline from the first two weeks of the English Premier League season is the positive impact of summer signings. New players at title contenders and mid-table clubs have impressed in the early going. There are five players who are new to the EPL that seem to have adjusted to one of the best leagues in the world.
Belgian international Eden Hazard chose Chelsea over Manchester United and Manchester City at the beginning of the summer. The 21 year-old winger became a star for French club Lille. Chelsea scored eights goals in three games and Hazard had a hand in seven of those goals. He scored a penalty and has tallied six assists in three wins for Chelsea. Hazard has formed a dangerous partnership with Spaniards Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. Torres has struggled at his time at Chelsea, but looks comfortable and confident when playing with Hazard.
Manchester United reinforced their central midfield this transfer window with the signing of Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international spent the last two seasons at Borussia Dortmund before being sold to Old Trafford. Kagawa contributed to a Dortmund side that won two consecutive Bundesliga champions. Kagawa has started both EPL games for Manchester United and lines up in an attacking role behind the central striker. Manchester United were defeated by Everton in their first match, but Kagawa was one of the bright spots for the Red Devils. Kagawa scored in his home debut and looked very sharp on Saturday in a 3-2 victory over Fulham.
Arsenal had a busy summer with big name players arriving and departing North London. Strikers Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski were purchased at the beginning of the summer. Captain and striker Robin Van Persie and midfielder Alex Song were sold in the last two weeks. The signing that will make Arsenal fans feel better about the Van Persie and Song losses is Spanish midfielder Santi Carzola. Financially troubled club Malaga sold the 27 year-old in early August. Carzola was the best player on the pitch in Arsenal’s opener against Sunderland. He created chances, but his teammates failed to score. Carzola looks like he will be the real deal and now must focus on building chemistry with Giroud and Podolski.
Croatian striker Mladen Petric is 31 years old, but is new to the EPL. Petric has played for Hamburg in Germany the last four seasons and signed as a free agent to reunite with manager Martin Jol at Fulham. Petric scored twice and added an assist in his debut as Fulham dominated Norwich 5-0. He started against Manchester United on Saturday and turned in another strong performance. With American star Clint Dempsey’s future at Fulham in doubt, Petric will be a valuable player for the Cottagers.
The bargain purchase of the summer so far is Spaniard Michu, who was bought by Swansea City for about $3 million. Michu scored 15 La Liga goals last season to help newly promoted Rayo Vallecano stay up in the top flight of Spain. The 26 year-old attacking midfielder has scored three goals in two matches for Swansea. It has been an impressive start for the Welsh club, who lit up QPR on the road 5-0 in the opener and beat West Ham 3-0 on Saturday. When Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers left for Liverpool in the summer, many experts predicted Swansea to get relegated this year. However, it appears coach Michael Laudrup will continue Rodgers’ philosophy of positive soccer and Michu will be a key component throughout the season.
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