By Nate Jacobson
Belgium is traditionally associated with chocolate, waffles and beer, and now they should be known for their soccer players in the EPL. The Belgium players have made a major impact early in the season.
As mentioned before, Eden Hazard shined early in his Chelsea career after his summer move from Lille. Hazard will be joined one day at Stamford Bridge by fellow countryman Romelu Lakaku. Chelsea sent the 19 year-old out on loan this season to West Brom. Lakaku scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory against Reading on Saturday.
Everton has enjoyed a Belgian influence to their attack. Midfielder Marouane Fellani scored and had an assist in a 3-0 victory over Swansea on Saturday. Fellani had several other chances, and has three goals in the first five league games. Everton used part of the money they received from the Jack Rodwell to Manchester City deal to buy Kevin Mirallas from Olympiacos. The 24 year old scored his first EPL goal in the Swansea match.
Tottenham is another club that spent summer money on Belgians. Defender Jan Vertonghen was bought early in the transfer window from Ajax. Vertonghen has started and played 90 minutes in Spurs last four league matches. Near the end of the transfer window, Tottenham used part of their Luka Modric funds on Mousa Demble from Fulham. The midfielder scored in his debut at White Hart Lane. Both Vertonghen and Dembele will be key players as Tottenham focuses on the EPL and Europa League.
Central defenders that are familiar to EPL fans are Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen. Both are valuable players to their respective teams back lines.
Another Belgian who had a dream debut is 20 year-old Chrisian Benteke. The striker was sold by Genk to Aston Villa and he scored in his debut. Benteke started on Saturday and will look to build chemistry with counterpart Darren Bent.
With all the great players coming from Belgium, many have to wonder how they have not been in a major tournament since 2002. Some of the mentioned players disappointed and failed to qualify for Euro 2012. Now the pressure mounts that this “golden generation” of stars reach the 2014 World Cup. The Belgians started their qualifying campaign with an away win against Wales and a home draw to Croatia earlier this month. With a group that also includes Serbia, Macedonia and Scotland, Belgium needs to play consistently strong to reach Brazil.
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