Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so you would…
We don’t tend to rattle on about the English Premier League around here. Some find it perfectly enjoyable, but at TheTwoPointOne we’re mostly about the Scottish Premiership and in so many ways the English top flight’s inflated opinion of itself often tends to Scots looking quite disparagingly on our own domestic leagues. We don’t think that’s fair at all and call it out whenever we can.
With that being said, it’s impossible to look at this coming Premier League season and not notice a slight, Scottish tinge to it. Among the soft English accents and gentle foreign dialects there is unquestionably the odd rough, direct dialect of our mountain hame.
Indeed, as luck would have it, there are a number of key Scottish talents either moving in to the league or going directly through transfers to join an already bubbling array of players that will play a crucial role in Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad this year and for many years to come.
Perhaps the most recent and obvious example of this is Stuart Armstrong’s move from Celtic to Southampton this week. We’ve already touched upon the Inverness-born talent’s career trajectory and why it was always going to lead to a club like Southampton, but it’s worth noting what lies ahead for the midfielder and, ultimately, Scotland.
Armstrong is joining a squad that still relies heavily upon their 33-year-old captain Steven Davis and it’s there that the former Celtic player may be able to find room to settle and then thrive in the Premier League. At his best, the 26-year old is a playmaker that loves to score goals and in many ways he could prove to be the perfect replacement for Davis as he looks to pass on the torch.
Perhaps one of the main reasons Armstrong opted to move down south this summer was because he was acutely aware of the fact that his main competitor for that no.10 Scotland shirt was also making plans to thrive in the English top flight. I’m, of course, talking about Fulham captain Tom Cairney.
After a stellar season with the Cottagers that saw them win promotion from the Championship, Cairney is the talk of the town (or, rather, nation). At the heart of Slavisa Jokanovic’s free-flowing, attacking football, the Scottish international has been the topic of numerous transfer stories and has already reportedly had a £20 million bid from West Ham rejected by his club. He’ll almost certainly remain at Fulham this summer but across the English top flight many will be watching to see if the midfielder can smoothly transition his domination of the Championship to fighting against the very best in the Premier League. And, naturally, we’ll be hoping to see him do exactly that in a Scotland top too.
Another Scot ascending from the chaos of the Championship to plant his flag firmly in the front garden of Liverpool, Manchester City & Co. will be Scotland’s own Callum Paterson. We recently dove deep in to what makes the Cardiff City midfielder so good at what he does, and in many ways the former Hearts full back looks purpose-built to run, bully and score in the English top flight.
Indeed, Paterson embodies a rare, admirable arrogance that leads to an ability to simply not let anything faze him. And ahead of this coming Premier League season it’ll be fascinating to see if the 23-year old can dominate opposing midfielders with the same swagger we saw of him in last season’s Championship. Naturally, that would of course work wonders in McLeish’s squad too.
Intriguingly, while all of the players mentioned so far are clearly on an upward trajectory path in their careers, another Scot that could be just as prevalent in next season’s Premier League is West Ham’s Robert Snodgrass. After somewhat losing his way over the past two years, the former Livingston star found his feet at Aston Villa in the Championship last season and looked like his old self with eight goals and 13 assists.
While most may remain skeptical of how he fits back in to West Ham’s plans this season, it’s worth noting that the club’s star source of goals and assists, Manuel Lanzini, has recently been ruled out injured for the season and the Hammers suddenly need an attacking midfielder with skill and flair. Don’t be surprised if you see this Scottish international once again emerge as an exciting, Premier League performer.
Of course, we couldn’t run through the English top flight without also naming the players that have already established themselves in the division. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie will be looking to build upon a constructive season under Rafa Benitez last season, Ryan Fraser will remain a key winger for Bournemouth as they look to further cement their place in the Premier League, while Scott McTominay and Andy Robertson continue their stellar rise as two of the most exciting, young players at Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.
However this coming Premier League season ends up playing out, it’ll surely involve a number of key players from the Scotland national team competing and even beating some of the best players in the world. And that’s exceptionally exciting.