Amongst football fans around the world, the Premier League is widely considered to be the best and most competitive league in professional football.
Not only because of the quality of teams and the recent success they’ve had in European competitions, but also due to the excitement and unpredictability of the matches.
A major reason for the supreme entertainment is due to the explosive talents the Premier League teams possess.
There is no question that Adama Traore is the most explosive player in the league, and often leaving fans on the edge of their seats once the ball is at his feet.
However, due to the pandemic it has meant that the 2020/2021 Premier League fixtures have been congested, giving less rest time between games for players. But how much of an impact has the tightening of matches had on the Premier League speed demon?
A young 19-year-old Adama Traore joined the Premier League in the summer of 2015, after Aston Villa signed him for £7million from Barcelona following his promotion from the famed La Masia academy.
During his first season with The Claret and Blue, spectators saw glimpses of the explosive and dangerous player he would become despite only making ten first team appearances.
The Spaniard would go on to have a spell with Middlesbrough but it would be his £18million move to Wolverhampton Wanderers where fans would really see how unstoppable Traore is once in possession of the ball.
After a quiet first season at Wolves which only saw him score one goal in 887 minutes of league football, It was the second season where he really excelled.
In the 19/20 season Traore’s playing time would triple as he was on the field for 2,604 minutes. It was also in this season that the winger had the record for the most successful dribbles in the league (183).
Alongside this, Traore also won 338 duels during the course of the season, which was more than any other player.
The Spaniard finished the season with four goals and was in the top ten in the league for assists where he created nine goals.
This successful season led to Premier League winning manager Jurgen Klopp praising Traore by saying “He is really dangerous. In a big space (Leicester striker) Jamie Vardy is difficult to defend, but I would say Traore is even more difficult to defend because his speed is exceptional.”
With the growth that Traore showed during 19/20, it finally seemed that the winger had cemented his spot as being one of the most dangerous players to defend against in the league, which would only help him thrive during the next season.
However, this would not be the case.
Due to the pandemic it had meant that the Premier League fixtures became extremely congested, giving players little rest. The usual winter break in February was abandoned, in what would be the shortest ever Premier League season.
It was also this season where Adama Traore’s physical stats saw a decline compared to the previous year. Despite playing 2,616 minutes which is 12 more than the last, Traore saw a drop in the amount of successful dribbles (150), which is a big difference in comparison to the last season (183).
A big reason for this drop off in the number of successful dribbles is because the total dribbles (221) that Traore attempted were significantly less than the 19/20 season where he attempted 246.
The stats didn’t just decline in the dribbling aspects but also through the amount of big chances he created (6) and the amount of crosses he attempted (139).
The decline of these certain stats show how much of an impact the congested fixture list had. It seems that the Spaniard lacked the usual energy he has to successfully dribble past defenders and create chances for his teammates, which was frequently seen during the 19/20 season.
The Premier League fixture list isn’t the only reason for the dip in Adama Traore’s form however, as contract issues with Wolves certainly played a factor which is common grounds for a player to lose focus.
On top of this, Raul Jiminez having a season-ending injury in November meant that Adama didn’t have a top striker on his team to supply the ball, as during the 20i9/20 season Traore and Jiminez combined to create 10 goals which was more than any other duo in the league. Wolves’ current strikers Fabio Silva and Willian Jose lack the chemistry with the 25-yea-old winger.
Finishing the 2020/21 season with two goals and two assists, the Premier League’s most explosive player will certainly hope for better next season with a more suitable fixture list.
*2020/21 statistics recorded until Premier League game week 37.
Feature image credit: Bex Walton, Wiki Creative Commons