A new Premier League season is upon us, and that, of course, means a host of new signings.
Some are yet to make their debuts, given the staggered fixture list in this delayed campaign, but the opening weekend brought with it plenty of new faces.
Among them were the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and James Rodriguez, who all arrived at their respective clubs with big expectations.
Debuts don’t always go as planned and it’s always sensible to reserve judgement until at least a couple of months into the season.
But first impressions are important. With that in mind we’ve ranked and graded the best and worst of the Premier League’s debutants over the weekend.
13. Robin Koch (Leeds): D
About as difficult as debuts come, Koch was given a baptism of fire at Anfield on Saturday. The Leeds defender, brought in from Freiburg in the summer, made a handful of high-profile mistakes in the first half of a chaotic opening-day fixture against Liverpool.
Just a few minutes in, the ball struck his outstretched arm in the box. The result was a penalty, which Mo Salah lashed home. Not long after, Koch lost Virgil van Dijk in the box and allowed the Dutchman to score an easy header.
There was some improvement from the Germany international after the break, but he will certainly have better days in a Leeds shirt.
12. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Spurs): C-
There was a noticeable lack of creativity in midfield from Tottenham in their 1-0 defeat by Everton on Sunday. Hojbjerg, brought in from Southampton, struggled to stamp his authority on the game, and came out second best in his battle with the Toffees’ midfielders.
Alongside Harry Winks, there was no real physicality to Hojbjerg’s performance, and he was often bullied out of the game. He’ll need to improve significantly in the coming weeks.
11. Matt Doherty (Spurs): C
Another Spurs debutant who struggled to get going. Doherty was adjusting to a new role and a new system, having played as a wing-back in Wolves ’ back three.
He showed glimpses of his ability to surge forward and cause problems in the final third, almost converting from close range after a delicate pass from Harry Kane.
But he was too often caught out defensively and not helped by the lacklustre performances of many of his team-mates.
10. Kai Havertz (Chelsea): C+
The youngster will no doubt become more and more influential as he grows accustomed to the new team, and Frank Lampard won’t be concerned by what he saw at the Amex.
Havertz looks like a class act but expectations are so high that Chelsea fans will want to see something special in the next few weeks.
9. Jamal Lewis (Norwich): B
Lewis spent last season in a Norwich side that desperately struggled to keep clean sheets, so he’ll have been pleased to get one on his first Newcastle appearance.
The young left-back was a threat going forward, too, sending in several dangerous crosses and making a strong impression on an excellent opening night for the Magpies.
8. Timo Werner (Chelsea): B
How many goals will Werner score this season? Have your say here.
Werner was a menace for Brighton’s defence, causing constant problems with his pace and intelligent movement.
He was clearly determined to score a debut goal, but couldn’t quite manage it, having to settle instead for a (semi) assist when he was brought down by Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan in the box.
The German striker looks more than capable of a prolific goalscoring season on the basis of this display.
7. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton): B+
A typically energetic and assertive midfield performance from Doucoure, who already looked to be forming a promising partnership with fellow debutant Allan.
The Frenchman, who was always a standout player at Watford, looks to be a shrewd addition for Everton.
6. Timothy Castagne (Leicester): B+
Full-backs generally don’t score debut goals, but Castagne is different. Signed from Atalanta, it’s clear from his first game against West Brom that he brings a real dynamism on Leicester ’s right flank.
The Belgian headed home the Foxes’ opening goal and – aside from a couple of questionable moments defensively – slotted in nicely to Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI.
5. Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal): B+
Gabriel was given the responsibility of playing at the very centre of the Gunners’ back three, with Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney on either side.
And it was a debut of real maturity, one that bodes well for the rest of the season.
4. Callum Wilson (Newcastle): A-
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Newcastle have lacked a true goal scorer for some time, but they might have found one now. Wilson, proven at this level with Bournemouth, got off to the perfect start, prodding home from close range in the second half to set his side off on the way to a 2-0 victory.
He was lively all night, constantly hunting down chances and providing the kind of threat Newcastle have desperately needed for years.
3. Allan (Everton): A-
Playing as the pivot in Everton’s midfield, Allan dictated the tempo of the game against Spurs and looked a player perfectly suited to the Premier League.
The former Napoli man is one of the best in Europe in his position, and that was obvious to anyone who watched Sunday’s game closely.
Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, partly out of begrudging respect for the Brazilian’s performance, brought off Dele Alli at half-time, because the attacking midfielder could hardly get a look in.
2. Willian (Arsenal): A
Willian is a proven Premier League player and his three assists (if you count the saved shot that was tapped in by Alexandre Lacazette on the rebound) against Fulham simply reinforced that.
He might have scored, too, hitting the post with a powerful free kick and looking a persistent threat on the right of a formidable Arsenal front three.
Willian may be 32 and past his peak, but he looks a clever bit of business for the Gunners.
1. James Rodriguez (Everton): A
Everton fans must have been pinching themselves at times during Sunday’s win over Tottenham.
Their summer signings have been hugely exciting – not least the addition of Rodriguez, a player who has won Champions Leagues, La Liga and Bundesliga titles.
The quality expected of a former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich player was on full display as he effectively passed Spurs to death, weaving inside from the right and linking up smartly with his new team-mates throughout.
Rodriguez is the figurehead of what appears to be a new era at Everton. And his debut was the best of the bunch on a dramatic Premier League opening weekend.
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