Top 6 Asian Players to have played in the Premier League since the turn of the century
When we talk about some of the great players to have played in the Premier League since the turn of the century, the names of Ryan Giggs, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and so on come to our minds.
Indeed, the fans in the Premier League have been blessed to witness some world-class players produce some mesmerizing football to take their breath away.
With all due respect to those great players who have graced the Premier League and enhanced its reputation since the turn of the century, some of the underrated stars who added to the diversity and proved their mettle at the highest level are often forgotten.
The Asian footballers are arguably the most underrated in the world and the English top-flight has played host to some of the greatest talents to have emerged from the continent.
From China’s Sun Jihai in the early 2000s to Son Heung-Min in recent times, Asian footballers have often taken the Premier League by storm and they too deserve a fair share of the limelight.
So, without further ado, let us take a look at some of the best Asian footballers to have graced the Premier League since the turn of the century.
1. Sun Jihai
A massively influential figure in Chinese football, Sun Jihai rose to prominence with Chinese outfit Dalian Shide before making his mark in the old English First Division with Crystal Palace in 1998.
Jihai only joined the Eagles on loan and was recalled by his parent club but he returned in February 2002, this time with Man City, and became the first Asian player to play for the Cityzens.
Jihai made a handful of appearances in City’s promotion-winning campaign but he established himself as a regular for the Citizens in the following season in the Premier League.
Despite being just 5ft 10in tall, his solid defending and dangerous attacking attributes made him a strong fan favourite amongst the fans on the blue half of Manchester and he became the first Chinese player to score in the Premier League when he headed home the first goal in a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City.
The centre-back would then go on to have a successful spell until the end of the 2007-08 campaign before joining Sheffield United in the Championship.
Nevertheless, the 80-cap Chinese World Cup star went on to make 148 appearances for the Citizens, also becoming the first Chinese player to score in the UEFA Cup.
2. Park Ji-Sung
Having won two Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven, Park Ji-Sung wasn’t a complete rookie when he arrived at Man United in the summer of 2005 but the Korean’s illustrious spell at Old Trafford made him the icon that he is today.
Park established himself as a regular starter under Sir Alex Ferguson and his high levels of fitness, eye-watering work rate, versatility to play anywhere in the middle of the park and uncompromised commitment made him a firm fan favourite amongst the fans at Old Trafford.
Park went on to win a whole lot of silverware with Man United, including four Premier League titles, three League Cups as well as the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup, making him the first Asian footballer to have won the Champions League.
Used as a big-game warrior in crucial encounters by Sir Alex Ferguson, the versatile midfielder repaid his manager’s faith more often than not, racking up an impressive 28 goals and 29 assists in 204 appearances for Man United in all competitions.
The South Korean international, who represented his nation at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, left Man United to join QPR in 2012, although he returned to his old club PSV Eindhoven following Queens Park Rangers’ relegation to the Championship.
Park currently works as a club ambassador for Man United, and with 19 major trophies in his cabinet, he is undoubtedly the most decorated footballer in the history of Asian football.
3. Ki Sung-yueng
Following his impressive performances for K-League heavyweights FC Seoul, Ki Sung-Yueng rose to prominence with Celtic before earning a coveted to the Premier League with Welsh outfit Swansea City.
The hardworking central midfielder quickly established himself as a mainstay in the Swans first-team under Michael Laudrup and helped his team clinch the 2012-13 Football League Cup.
Ki’s impressive range of passing, tactical intelligence, sharp reflexes, work ethics and expertise in dead-ball situations made him a firm fan favourite at the Liberty Stadium and the Korean racked up 11 goals and 12 assists in 162 appearances across all competitions for the Swans.
Following Swansea’s relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, Ki joined Newcastle United and went on to play a key role for the Magpies under Rafael Benitez.
Now 30, the 110-cap South Korean stalwart is still going strong in the Premier League and he certainly looks good for a lot more.
4. Maya Yoshida
Having shot to prominence with J-League giants Nagoya Grampus, Maya Yoshida made his move to Dutch club VVV-Venlo before earning a surprise move to the Premier League with newly-promoted Southampton in the summer of 2012.
The centre-back hasn’t looked back since then and has gone on to establish himself as a key figure at the back for the Saints.
The 95-cap Japanese World Cup star hasn’t always been a sure starter for Southampton due to the frequent managerial change at the club but he has held his own more often than not.
Noted for his sharp anticipation, quick reflexes and good game-reading abilities, Yoshida has already racked up 183 appearances for the Saints in all competitions.
Yoshida might not have the eye-catching profile as someone like Park Ji-Sung but he has carved out an identity for himself in the Premier League, nonetheless.
5. Son Heung-min
Arguably the brand ambassador of Asian football in recent times, Son Heung-min’s meteoric rise to becoming a Premier League stalwart with Spurs has been an awe-inspiring tale.
A combined scoring record of 49 goals in 165 appearances for Hamburger and Bayer Leverkusen in German football was enough to prompt Spurs to come up with an offer for the Korean in 2015 and the £22million fee made him the most expensive Asian footballer of all time.
Son hasn’t looked back since then and has progressed by leaps and bounds under the watchful eyes of Mauricio Pochettino. It is not surprising to see that his stocks have rocketed sky-high in recent years, with the South Korean’s impressive performances in North London making him a firm fan favourite on the white half of North London.
Noted for his versatility to play on either side of the attack and also lead the line as a centre-forward, Son has formed a deadly strike partnership with England icon Harry Kane at Tottenham.
The 27-year-old, who has 23 goals in 72 appearances for South Korea, is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League and the fans will be hoping that the best is yet to come from him.
Nevertheless, a tally of 67 goals and 36 assists in 188 appearances for Spurs has already sent him into the history books as one of the greatest ever talents to have graced the Premier League.
6. Ali Al-Habsi
He might be one of the least decorated inclusions in the list but as a matter of fact, Ali Al-Habsi became the first-ever Omanese footballer to feature in the Premier League when he was signed by Bolton Wanderers from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo back in January 2006.
The towering 6ft 4in shot-stopper remained under the shadow of Jussi Jaaskelainen at the Reebok Stadium and, despite producing some incredible saves against Bayern Munich in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup, he never really managed to dislodge the Finnish international from the No.1 role.
However, he made a big impact upon joining local rivals Wigan Athletic, initially on loan before making his stay permanent in 2011. Al-Habsi illustrated great proficiency in saving penalties and went on to make a total of 154 appearances for the Latics in all competitions, winning the 2012-13 FA Cup in the process.
Al-Habsi continues to be a massive source of inspiration for all the aspiring Middle Eastern footballers and his success story in English football reminds everyone that opportunities are there if you put a lot of hard work into your game.
3 Winners and 3 Losers from PL gameweek 5 including Tottenham and Arsenal
3 Winners and 3 Losers from Premier League gameweek 5
Premier League action returned with a bang after the end of the first international break of the season and Round 5 of the 2019-20 campaign produced some mesmerizing football for all sets of fans to savour and admire.
Man City’s shock 3-2 defeat away at Norwich City was arguably the hottest talking point from this weekend, while a few of the other big-six clubs, including Man United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea should also be happy with how things panned out for them in Round 5.
Arsenal blew away a two-goal lead at Vicarage Road to share the spoils in a 2-2 draw against Watford, while top-six hopefuls Everton were beaten 3-1 away at Bournemouth.
Watford and Wolves once again finished the week as the only two sides in the Premier League who are yet to register a single victory thus far.
Without further ado, let us take a look at 3 winners and 3 losers from Round 5 of the Premier League:
Jurgen Klopp’s side stretched their lead over defending champions Man City to five points at the top of the table, as a first-half brace from Sadio Mane followed by a third goal from Mo Salah in the second half guided the Reds to a comfortable 3-1 comeback victory over Newcastle United.
Jetro Willems put the Magpies in the driver’s seat early in the game with his pile driver from the edge of the box but heroics from Mane, and Roberto Firminio who came on as a substitute for Divock Origi midway through the first half ensured that Liverpool stretched their winning run in the Premier League to 14 games in a row, becoming only the fourth team to achieve such a feat.
While it was more of a regulation victory for Liverpool, the fans at Anfield have every reason to hope that Man City’s stumble at Carrow Road proves to be one of the title-defining moments later on in the season.
Nevertheless, for the time being, Liverpool have a lot of breathing space with a five-point lead at the top of the standings.
It was a treat to watch how Chelsea’s young guns completely whitewashed an underwhelming Wolves side 2-5 away from home on Saturday, with Tammy Abraham’s hat-trick making him the youngest Blues player to achieve such a feat in the Premier League.
Frank Lampard’s side had come under criticism for blowing away a two-goal lead at home against Sheffield United prior to the international break but the Blues absolutely demolished Wolves in ruthless fashion to get back to winning ways and finished the week placed 6th in the standings.
While Abraham stole much of the limelight with his hat-trick, fellow academy graduate Fikayo Tomori also got the crowd off its feet with an absolute stunner from 35 yards out, as did Mason Mount, who bagged his third goal of the league season.
3. Tottenham Hotspur
Having lost 1-0 to Newcastle United and drawn 2-2 away at Arsenal prior to the international break, Spurs came into the game against Crystal Palace with only a solitary victory in their first four games.
However, the home fans will be relieved after the Lilywhites produced arguably their best display of the season thus far and cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Roy Hodgson’s side, who dropped down to 12th place in the standings after that defeat.
An own goal from Patrick van Aanholt, sandwiched by Heung-min Son’s brace and Erik Lamela’s strike made the score 4-0 before the interval and though Spurs moved up to 3rd place in the standings this week, they still have plenty of catch-up to do if they are to get back in the title race.
1. Man City
It was always going to be interesting to see how Man City would cope with the opposition in the Premier League following Aymeric Laporte’s injury and the defensive blunders against Norwich City are sure to have Pep Guardiola scratching his head to find a solution for the upcoming fixtures.
Some poor marking allowed Kenny McLean to head home the opener for the Canaries early in the first-half before Teemu Pukki took advantage of some ineffective coordination at the back to set up Todd Cantwell for the second.
Sergio Aguero pulled one back just at the stroke of the interval but a horrible error from Nicolas Otamendi allowed Pukki to make it 3-1 in favour of the hosts. It stayed that way until Rodrigo found a late goal. City struggled to hit great heights against a Norwich side that ran them ragged with their never-say-die mentality on the pitch.
Undoubtedly, Man City’s defeat comes as the first big twist in the title race and Guardiola will be aware that his team cannot afford such slip-ups if they are to keep themselves within striking distance of Liverpool at the top of the table.
Arsenal didn’t have the worst of results in Round 5 but Unai Emery is likely to be disappointed to have come away with just a draw from the trip to Watford, with the Gunners blowing away a two-goal lead in the second half to somehow salvage a point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the first half was cancelled out by goals from Tom Cleverly and Roberto Pereyra after the interval, the latter coming from the penalty spot after the Argentine was tripped by David Luiz inside the box.
A victory over Watford would have propelled the Gunners to 3rd place in the standings, ahead of Spurs, who currently hold that position, but some poor defending and lack of resilience at the back cost Arsenal heavily once again.
A victory over Bournemouth would have seen Everton finish the week in the top four but instead, the Toffees currently find themselves outside the top-ten, languishing at 11th place in the standings after suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Cherries away on the south coast.
Callum Wilson’s opener was cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header just at the stroke of the interval before Ryan Fraser made it 2-1 with a free-kick and Wilson put the game to bed with his second goal midway through the second half.
The Toffees failed to capitalise on their chances and this defeat definitely comes as a big blow to their hopes of challenging for a top-six place.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Man City: Preview, Team News, Prediction and more
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Man City: Preview, Team News, Predicted XI and Score Prediction
With Liverpool’s 3-1 triumph over Newcastle United stretching the gap to five points at the top of the table in the Premier League after five rounds of fixtures, Pep Guardiola’s men now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League.
The reigning English champions are all set to kick start their European campaign with a trip to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk, an opposition they should be quite familiar with after being drawn together with the Ukrainian heavyweights for the third time in a row.
As a matter of fact, this is the first time in the competition that two teams have been drawn together in the same group for three successive years since Ajax and Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Despite their dominance on the domestic front over the past decade, Man City have failed to conquer the UEFA Champions League and the Cityzens will be hoping to make a strong statement at the biggest stage of it all this time around, having crashed out of the competition in the quarter-finals against Tottenham Hotspur last year.
Drawn along with Shakhtar, Dinamo Zagreb and newcomers Atalanta in Group C, progression to the knockout stages is not expected to be a big problem for City but Pep Guardiola will be hoping for his side to return to winning ways on Matchday 1 after a shock defeat against Norwich this weekend.
To that end, the record books speak very much in favour of the English champions, with City having won three out of their last four European meetings with Shakhtar Donetsk, scoring a total of 12 goals and conceding only twice in those fixtures.
City are the outright favourites to come away with all three points on Matchday 1, although playing in front of a raucous home crowd in a hostile atmosphere in Ukraine could prove to be a challenge for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Aymeric Laporte’s injury continues to be a major headache for Pep Guardiola and it remains to be seen if the manager opts for a makeshift backline after the defensive debacle against Norwich at the weekend.
Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane are both ruled out for the clash and the travelling fans might get to see Guardiola rotating his squad and handing an opportunity to Phil Foden in place of veteran David Silva, who started in the Premier League on Saturday.
Fernandinho hasn’t had too much to do this season but the Brazilian is likely to return to the eleven to face his former club on Wednesday if the manager switches back to his preferred 4-3-3 system.
Summer recruit Joao Cancelo has only played a single minute in the Premier League but he might get a chance to impress Guardiola in the Champions League.
Ederson Moraes, Joao Cancelo, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Man City
Despite this being an away game for the Cityzens, their immense quality and depth must help them get through this fixture without much trouble.
Premier League gameweek 4: Winners and Losers from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s rise
2019-20 Premier League: Winners and Losers from Round 4
There was plenty to savour and admire for all sets of fans, as Round 4 of the 2019-20 Premier League season lived up to the expectations, with none of the games failing to produce a goal.
Man United kicked off the action on Saturday away from home at Southampton, with the Red Devils looking to bounce back from a shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace the week before.
Daniel James continued his fine run of form early in the campaign and put United in the lead just 10 minutes into the game before Jannik Vestergaard’s headed equaliser in the second half ensured that both the teams shared the spoils.
United, though, will be bitterly disappointed for failing to break down a 10-man Southampton unit after Kevin Danso was sent off for a second bookable offence on Scott McTominay.
Elsewhere, Chelsea failed to capitalise on Tammy Abraham’s second brace of the season, as the Blues squandered a two-goal lead at home against Sheffield United to earn a 2-2 draw.
Callum Robinson’s strike followed by Kurt Zouma’s unfortunate own goal towards the dying stages of the game meant that Frank Lampard’s side went into the international break with only a solitary win in their first four games in the Premier League.
However, there weren’t any hiccups for defending champions Man City after Pep Guardiola’s side put in yet another dominant performance to claim all three points with a resounding 4-0 victory over Brighton, thanks to a brace from Sergio Aguero and goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
Similarly, Liverpool continued their merry way with a rather straightforward 3-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, as an own goal from Chris Wood followed by goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino meant that Jurgen Klopp’s side went into the international break with a perfect record.
Shifting the focus to the North London Derby, there was nothing to separate the two teams, as Arsenal and Spurs played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates.
Christian Eriksen opened the scoring for the visitors and Harry Kane’s spot-kick doubled the advantage for Mauricio Pochettino’s side after Son was brought down inside the box by a reckless lunge from Granit Xhaka.
However, Lacazette handed the Gunners a lifeline just at the stroke of the interval before a lively second-half performance saw Aubameyang bag the equaliser with an intuitive finish from Guendouzi’s perfectly-weighted lobbed pass.
Meanwhile, Leicester City continued their unbeaten run in the Premier League with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at home, thus registering their second victory in a row after a 2-1 result against Sheffield United last week.
Jamie Vardy’s early opener was cancelled out by Callum Wilson but Youri Tielemans restored the lead for the hosts towards the end of the first-half before Vardy bagged his third goal of the season later in the game to cap off a dominant display from Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Tielemans, though, was lucky to have escaped a red card for a horrible studs-up challenge on Callum Wilson, with the VAR surprisingly not spotting a clear and obvious error in the on-field referee’s decision.
Elsewhere, Watford opened their account in the Premier League this term with a 1-1 draw away at Newcastle, registering their first points of the season after three consecutive defeats.
Will Hughes’ opener handed the Hornets an early advantage before Fabian Schar drew Newcastle level just before the interval.
The West Ham fans will be happy with what they saw from their team in the 2-0 victory over Norwich City at home, as goals from Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko on either side of the interval handed Manuel Pellegrini’s side their second victory of the campaign.
The Hammers created plenty of opportunities and it could have been four or five in favour of them, whilst Todd Cantwell was left to rue his missed chance from just a yard out.
There weren’t any heroics from Aston Villa this weekend as Crystal Palace followed up their surprise victory over Man United with another tidy 1-0 triumph over the Lions at home, thanks to a solitary goal from Jordan Ayew midway through the second half.
Meanwhile, Wolves’ unbeaten streak came to an end at Goodison Park on Sunday as Everton bounced back from a defeat away at Aston Villa last week to register a well-deserved 3-2 win at home.
A moment of miscommunication between Rui Patricio and Conor Coady allowed Richarlison to fire home the opener before Romain Saiss equalised moments later, tapping it in off Adama Traore’s cross from the right.
Alex Iwobi then restored the lead for the Toffees before the interval, only for Raul Jimenez to make it 2-2 in the 75th minute.
It was Richarlison, though, who headed home the winner with ten minutes to go and Wolves weren’t able to muster any meaningful reply after that, as Marco Silva’s side went into the international break on a positive note. Not to mention, Wily Boly’s red card that worsened things for Nuno Santo.
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