As the Premier League season nears its climax, verdicts on players and teams will emerge.

While it’s always interesting to debate the best and worst, fake performances are more intriguing. These players and teams are the ones who push us to buy into some fool’s gold.


Players and teams can be considered fake when they’re surely to come back to Earth after a good season. Think of them as Mickey Mouse performances where everything they show is fake. 

To set some criteria, teams like Chelsea and United won’t be considered since they’re both bad and mid, respectively. Picking bad teams is too easy and lacks any fun. It’s the same thing for players; so much has already been said about the likes of Havertz and Mudryk that it’s stale.

In order to qualify for this list, the candidate in question must be having a season above their expectations. You’re betting on them to collapse back to their mean next season. Think of Connor Gallagher at  Palace.

Fortunately for those wondering, there are plenty of candidates for this list. If there is one thing that the Prem never fails to bring, it’s entertainment.


Leon Bailey

Aston Villa aren’t a fake team, but they have plenty of fake players. Ollie Watkins continues to prove to be the exception to the rule, but Leon Bailey is the opposite.

Photo: Getty

At his best, Bailey plays like an average Prem winger who can chip in six to eight goals and assists. He’s not, however, one of the best creators in the league. Few wingers match his output as Villa continue their march up the table.

Looking at Bailey’s stats, is liking opening the Ark of the Covenant. The light of being among the best in assists and goal-creating actions hits like a truck. Then, the passing numbers being close to the worst at his position wake you back up.

The assists numbers boost what has been an average season. Yes, he’s passing more, and his accuracy numbers are up, but they’re so below average that they don’t mean much. Bailey is benefiting from Emery’s system kicking into high gear.

Expect a regression next season, as these numbers are just not sustainable. Bailey will be what he’s always been next season: a sometimes starting-level winger.


Guglielmo Vicario

Only Spurs could replace Hugo Lloris with his Italian clone. It was already an interesting choice to go with an older keeper with varying top-flight experience.

Out of the top-half clubs, Spurs have the most suspect defense. Most of the blame has, somewhat fairly, been placed on a defense that struggles for fitness. Less is talked about the keeper who is near the top of the clean sheets ranking.

If Lloris is one of the Prem’s most overrated keepers, Vicario follows in his footsteps. The post-shot expected goals numbers don’t jump off the page. Everything else can’t seem to motivate Spurs’ fans.

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Vicario allows close to 1.5 goals per game on average while having a poor save percentage. Nothing he showed last year in Italy showed that he was a good keeper in Italy. Combining his Serie A stats with his Prem, the Italian belongs more with Fulham than Spurs.

As bad as Tottenham’s defense has been at times, Vicario deserves some of the blame. There’s nothing about Vicario that hints towards him being anything more than an average keeper.


Arsenal

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride is Arsenal’s calling card. Somehow, Arteta fools fans into believing this team belongs on the same level as City and Liverpool.

As the season has dragged on, the gleam on Arsenal has worn off. By no means are they a bad side, but they have a clear ceiling. In a league ruled by City and Liverpool, Arteta’s side plays like the best of the rest.

When the pieces are all firing, Arsenal plays beautiful and exciting football. However, when things slow down, Arteta’s system runs out of ideas. The ball movement stops almost wholly, and they try to force their way through. 

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Honestly, the issues that will lead to Arsenal falling back to Earth fall on both the manager and the squad. Arteta is best at building a culture, but he’s not the type of coach that can push a team to the next level. Additionally, the team’s lack of a clear and consistent number nine will cap their potential.

Oddsmakers will continue to rate them for a good reason, especially with how the league profiles to look next season. Perhaps with Klopp’s departure, Arsenal can take the next step, but they seem to be closer to regressing. 

Every league delivers its fair share of incredibly fake performers. The Premier League is no different, but it draws more eyes. Mickey Mouse performances discussions rarely make the rounds in football, even if they’re fun.

 


Featured image: Getty

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