Fans are in ecstatic mood as they anxiously await the resumption of the English Premier League on Saturday (today).
FA Cup winners Arsenal set the ball rolling after overcoming champions Liverpool on penalties in the season-opening Community Shield on August 29, thus setting the pace for another season of exciting action-packed football in the English topflight.
Chelsea have been in the forefront of recruiting players with highly-rated youngsters Timo Werner and Kai Havert arriving from Germany. Moroccan Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), highly experienced Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva (PSG) and Ben Chilwell (Leicester) are the other high-profile arrivals at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United landed Ajax exciting Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax, while Valencia striker Rodrigo made a shock switch to newly-promoted Leeds United, who return to the topflight after a 16-year exile.
Brazilian Willian joined Arsenal from Chelsea on a free transfer, but the Gunners have also acquired centre-backs Pablo Mari (Flamengo) and Gabriel Megalhaes (Lille), as manager Mikel Arteta seeks solution to his defensive problems.
Manchester City’s major recruitment has been Spain U-21 winger Ferran Torres from Valencia but champions Liverpool have been quiet in the transfer market, with no major buys yet.
Nigerian stars as usual will be hugely involved in their various clubs’ quest for glory but Watford forward Isaac Success will have to make do with second-tier football after the Hornets were relegated on the last day of the 2019/20 season.
Below are the Nigerian stars set to battle for places in the highly competitive EPL:
Odion Ighalo (Man United)
On loan from Chinese Super League side, Shanghai Shenhua, former Eagles striker, Ighalo, will begin the season with Manchester United before returning to his parent club in January, after both clubs reached an agreement on his loan deal. The Nigerian will be hoping to score his first EPL goal for the Red Devils when United begin their campaign against Crystal Palace on September 19 at Old Trafford.
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
Iwobi will be hoping to bounce back from his disappointing 2019/20 campaign where he scored just once for the Toffees in 25 matches. He was involved as the Toffees came from three goals down to draw 3-3 against Blackpool in a pre-season friendly. Everton faces Tottenham on Sunday away from home.
Semi Ajayi (West Brom)
Ajayi, 26, will be hoping to make his EPL debut when newly-promoted West Brom lock horns with former Leicester City today. The towering centre-back was a mainstay in Slaven Bilic’s promotion squad and has been fully involved in their pre-season ganes. Ajayi’s main goal will be to keep his side in the league after 38 games.
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Yet to commit his future to either England or Nigeria, Saka’s season already started on a bright note featuring in Arsenal’s Community Shield win over Liverpool. He was also involved in Arsenal’s 4-1 pre-season win over MK Dons. Saka will be hoping to continue his development with the Gunners after an impressive breakout 2019/20 season. Arsenal face Crystal Palace in their opening game attachment newly-promoted Fulham.
Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester)
After a fairly disappointing 2019/20 campaign where they missed out on a place in the UEFA Champions League on the last day of the season, Iheanacho and Ndidi will be hoping for a positive start to the new season when they pay a visit to Ajayi’s West Brom. Ndidi faced a spell on the sidelines last season but returned before the end, while Iheanacho’s campaign with the Foxes started late but the striker showed his quality in contributing to the team’s goals tally.
Victor Moses (Chelsea)
After loan spells at Fernabhace and Inter in the 2019/20 season, Victor Moses might be considered surplus to requirements by manager, Frank Lampard, but the wing-back has resumed training with the London side ahead of the new season. Chelsea are billed to open their encounter against Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Monday and the ex-Eagles winger will be hoping to fight for a place in the current Blues star-studded squad.
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)
After an impressive performance in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers, Eze, who is eligible for England and Nigeria, joined Palace £17m and will be hoping to make his debut against Southampton. The highly-rated 22-year-old midfielder recently opted out of England’s U-21 squad to focus on his club’s preseason.
Ola Aina (Fulham)
Eagles defender Aina will be hoping to jump straight into action after completing a £2.5m loan move to newly-promoted Fulham from Italian club, Torino. Aina, a former Chelsea academy player, played two seasons with the Italian side before making a loan switch to the EPL. The Cottagers welcome Arsenal in their opening tie.
Josh Onomah (Fulham)
Attacking midfielder Onomah, a member of England’s 2007 U-20 World Cup-winning squad, played a huge role in helping Fulham return to the EPL via the playoffs lottery. The former Tottenham academy player will be hoping to continue his development in his debut EPL season despite the signing of Mario Lemina and the return of Jean Michaël Seri, who was loaned to Galatasaray. Despite featuring for England at youth levels, Onomah has a Nigerian father and is eligible to feature for the Eagles.
Dennis Adeniran (Everton)
Despite the arrival of highly-rated players at Everton ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, 21-year-old Adeniran, who was born in England to a Nigerian father, will be hoping to have his breakthrough season at the club this term. The midfielder is yet to make a senior team debut for the Toffees, but after being refused a loan spell last season, he will be gearing up for the new campaign hoping to be in the plans of experienced manager Carlo Ancelotti.
James Olayinka (Arsenal)
Olayinka was on the bench as Arsenal beat Liverpool to win the season-opening Community Shield in August. The midfielder, who turns 20 October 5, was loaned to Northampton Town in January. He will be hoping to emulate Saka by breaking into the Gunners first team this season, after being decorated with the season-opening Community Shield medal.