Is it becoming easier to settle in the Premier League?

Eden Hazard Celebrates With Lille

Chelsea, Wigan Athletic and Swansea City stars have all settled instantly into English football, following in the footsteps of Sergio Aguero last year.

With players like Hazard, Michu and Kone all enjoying strong starts at their clubs, is the playing style of the English league still so different to those found elsewhere?

Foreign players have always faced intense scrutiny over whether they could handle the rigours of English football, but a clutch of impressive starts from new players this season belies the notion that these players struggle to adapt to the fast-paced, physical nature of the game here.

Is this is a case of managers simply choosing players to import wisely, or is it more that over the past few years, the football in the Premier League as a whole is adopting a continental flavour?

There has certainly been a noticeable shift from managers of English clubs to try and emulate technical passing styles more commonly associated with continental clubs.

Players like Modric and Oscar, who in the past may have been dismissed as too lightweight for the league, have become prized assets, with the former consistently one of the best midfielders in the division in his time at Spurs.

With this shift in style, players from abroad may find it easier to adapt quickly. Michu moving to Swansea, now playing their passing football under a manager with La Liga experience, found it easy to settle into the Premier League, scoring 4 goals in his first three games.

Eden Hazard, though coming from quite a physical league in France, was surely delighted to find himself playing alongside players like Mata, Torres and now Oscar in a 4-2-3-1 system he has plenty of experience of at Lille.

Premiership managers are setting up their sides to best utilise the skills of the creative players they are buying, and this isn’t limited to a few clubs, nearly all of them are bringing in this kind of player.

Even a newly promoted club like Southampton, who in the past may have gone trawling the league for inexpensive, experienced journeymen to try and bolster their campaign, splashed out £12 million on Gaston Ramirez, and the 21 year old has repaid some of that faith with an impressive start to his time on the South coast.

The current trend in English football borrows much from the continent. Stoke stand out ever more this season, with their direct, physical style.

With more ideas, tactics, managers and players from abroad being absorbed into the Premiership all the time, it is surely easier than ever for a foreign player to hit the ground running, and this years batch of strong starters lend credence to that notion.

image: © BruceW

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