The Kid Who Can Fire Man City To The Title And The 5 Premier League Youngsters To Watch in 2016


The outright insanity of the 2015-16 Premier League season is back in session, with Newcastle and Manchester United confounding the world by producing a watchable 90 minutes and Aston Villa actually winning a football match on Tuesday night.

Such unpredictable fare has become the norm and has us set for a wonderful culmination - one that will inevitably see cornered managers take bigger risks than usual and potentially put faith in young players. I believe the Premier League era defines such youngsters as "kids".

Here are five such kids who just might, through adversity and in their team's moment of need, come to play defining roles as the business end of the season draws in.

 

1. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Chelsea

Let's start with an obvious one. Loftus-Cheek scored his first senior goal in the FA Cup this weekend and is reportedly in contract talks for a long-term deal.

The 19-year-old was scolded by Jose Mourinho in pre-season, but a new dawn arrives under Guus Hiddink and the interim Chelsea manager likes the idea of elevating a homegrown local player in his squad. There are both football and political gains to be made here, and with the Blues in need of every inspiration they can find, Loftus-Cheek could see plenty of minutes before the end of the campaign.

Comparisons have already been made to Tottenham's Dele Alli, with Gary Cahill suggesting Loftus-Cheek has "all the attributes" to follow a similarly steep trajectory if given the chance to shine.

 

2. Andreas Pereira, Manchester United

It's no secret that Pereira is highly rated at United, but he's yet to be given a real opportunity at a run in the first team.

Perhaps there's something about the 20-year-old Brazilian midfielder that Louis van Gaal doesn't quite fancy, and you wonder how the United manager reacted to Pereira speaking about "frustrations" after missing out on an FA Cup start against Sheffield United.

Then again, perhaps that kind of transparent drive and ambition is exactly what Van Gaal craves. If that's the case, Pereira might soon enough get his chance - especially in the Europa League or FA Cup for starters. If the manager wants to turn the crowd on his side playing Pereira would be a smart move that might just pay off in a big way.

If he's not going to play Perreira then, as Rob Dawson of the MEN tweeted at the weekend, he should at least let him go out on loan.

 

3. Kelechi Iheanacho, Manchester City

Iheanacho has got himself among the goals at City and while displacing Sergio Aguero is not achievable, the Nigerian teenager has every chance of moving ahead of Wilfried Bony in the pecking order and providing Aguero with a hungry and capable deputy.

That could mean starts in the cup competitions and the chance to come from the bench regularly in the Premier League - not to mention the possibility of coming in to cover an Aguero injury.

Iheanacho and Aguero played together against Norwich at the weekend, so we can't rule out that option either. Whether City hold firm or go all-out to buy a striker this month all comes down to how much faith Manuel Pellegrini is prepared to put in the younger of the pair.

 

4. Demarai Gray, Leicester City

It was quite the leap for 19-year-old Gray to go from the Championship with Birmingham straight into a title race with midlands rivals Leicester City.

The winger has pace to burn and brings a fresh option to Claudio Raneiri as he seeks to continue his team's remarkable run. With some of his key players likely to tire after the excursions of the last few months, Raneiri may well turn to Gray as the rocket fuel to reignite the glowing embers around him.

When you're 19 you're fearless and ready for anything. That sounds like the way Leicester have played all season so it could be the perfect storm for Gray to make a quantum leap to stardom.

 

5. Reece Oxford, West Ham

We all witnessed Oxford's stunning arrival as the improbably composed 17-year-old who owned the Emirates in West Ham's early season win over Arsenal, but he's been very much on the periphery since.

As the season progresses, however, opportunities will surely present for the defender to demonstrate his continued progress and make a case for a regular starting spot come August.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is conscious of over-working Oxford, and was also wary of too much hype being placed on his player after that sublimely impressive performance to launch his career. He also knows the talent at his disposal, so it's hard to imagine Oxford won't get a run between here and the middle of May.