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A handful of players have truly set the Premier League alight this season. One is currently running the show at Arsenal, with another pulling the strings at Crystal Palace.
The likes of Mohamed Salah and Jamie Vardy have been doing their usual damage in the final third. Edouard Mendy and Ederson meanwhile lead the way for goalkeepers with six clean sheets.
And full-backs Joao Cancelo, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold have proven themselves to be among the very best in world football.
But in midfield, the usual suspects are being outdone by a dynamic young duo. Both have been driving their clubs forward this season. And both are just 21 years old.
Conor Gallagher – Crystal Palace
Put simply, Gallagher has been one of the best players in English football this season. It’s easily forgotten, but he is still a Chelsea player. That is despite loans at Charlton, Swansea, West Brom and now Crystal Palace.
Are you not entertained? pic.twitter.com/0iUjWqOAnc
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) November 6, 2021
And it is with the Eagles that the youngster is truly flourishing. He did, of course, show signs of promise during last season’s spell with West Brom. He managed two goals and two assists in 32 matches for the Baggies last time out. But the lack of talent and ambition around him came to the fore as West Brom were relegated to the Championship.
Now, Palace boss Patrick Vieira is definitely helping to get the best out of the young midfielder. That can be put down to man-management, but also the Frenchman’s consistency with team selection and formation.
Vieira has settled on a 4-3-3, with a 4-2-3-1 used once, against his former club Arsenal. The on-loan Chelsea man played in right midfield for that one. But it is in central midfield where Gallagher has come to life. The 21-year-old has four goals and two assists from 11 matches.
Two of those goals came in a 2-2 draw with West Ham, but his best display so far was perhaps witnessed in the recent win at Manchester City. A trademark burst forward and accurate through ball played Wilfried Zaha in for Palace’s first goal of the afternoon, before Gallagher himself got on the scoresheet with a terrific finish past Ederson.
Emile Smith Rowe – Arsenal
The Arsenal man is another to have benefitted from the loan system. Smith Rowe has previously lined out for RB Leipzig and Huddersfield. Now he is back in the Premier League with Arsenal, and is thriving more than any other Gunner this season.
Like Gallagher, Smith Rowe has been used in a handful of positions across the midfield this campaign. And like Gallagher, he has shone brightest in one of those positions.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is in left midfield that the Arsenal man has produced his best displays. He boasts four goals and two assists from six games in the role. That is compared to one goal and zero assists in seven games in either attacking midfield or central midfield.
And all of the youngster’s hard work has now been rewarded. The 21-year-old has just received his first call up to the senior England squad. It’s been a phenomenal rise for the midfielder, who now has the chance to prove to Gareth Southgate that he should be a mainstay in the national setup.
Welcome to camp, @emilesmithrowe! 😀 pic.twitter.com/lvJxKzF0xM
— England (@England) November 8, 2021