Baker, Ibe, Zelalem & more - the Premier League youngsters impressing in pre-season action

Plenty of young talents and new signings were on show as Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool kept up their preparations for the new season against English clubs on Saturday
Some of the Premier League's biggest and best clubs were in pre-season action on Saturday, and there were wins for Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool before they jet off for their overseas tours.

The games were an opportunity for some talented youngsters to showcase their abilities, not to mention some high-profile summer acquisitions.

So with less than a month until the Premier League returns, find out how the biggest clubs are shaping up ahead of the big kick-off...


After coolly dispatching a stuttered late penalty beyond the Boreham Wood goalkeeper, Benik Afobe may just have given Yaya Sanogo cause for concern. With Afobe providing a focal point at the point of Arsenal's attack, but showing extra sharpness on the ball, he just might threaten to become a more complete option in comparison to his French team-mate. Able to handle himself against opposition defenders and more readily mobile, Afobe may be able to stake a claim for a place in Arsene Wenger's cup plans.

Although Chuba Akpom failed to net during his loan spell at Coventry last season, the 18-year-old substitute set Meadow Park alight on Saturday. Keen to beat his man down the left-hand side with a combination of nice pieces of skill and frightening pace, the cumbersome first-half focal point of Sanogo vanished from recent memory. Forcing goalkeeper James Russell into two smart saves after cutting inside onto his preferred right foot, the young striker was unfortunate to not leave with a double, certainly leaving his manager with a performance to mull over.


Swedish teenager Kris Olsson's confident finish set Arsenal on their way to victory, lifting a Tomas Rosicky through ball over the onrushing goalkeeper with calm aplomb. The midfielder was full of running and drifted inside to allow the overlapping Hector Bellerin to have a profound effect on the game, always keen to get on the ball and act positively while in possession.

Bellerin himself put in an all-action performance down the right-hand side, and Carl Jenkinson may just have to step up his work-rate to ensure that he remains second-choice behind new signing Mathieu Debuchy. The young Spaniard provided plenty of width, as well as delivering a number of excellent crosses into the danger zone, forcing the Boreham Wood back four to defend rather desperately. The 19-year-old proved to be a willing runner and precise outlet.


Though he featured during a goalless first-half display, 17-year-old Gedion Zelalem linked up well with Aaron Ramsey in central midfield and provided a number of incisive passes from deep. Always keen to play a forward pass, looking to set Sanogo in behind the non-league outfit's defensive line, the vast majority of Arsenal's first-half openings came as a result of intelligent play from the Berlin-born midfielder. Showing invention and creativity, plenty of optimism can be taken from watching a youngster showing ability and vision beyond his tender years.


Chelsea fought back from two goals down after a miserable first-half performance, and second-half substitute Lewis Baker was instrumental in their comeback as they scored three goals in 15 minutes.  

The 19-year-old demonstrated fine technique and delivery of the ball as he picked up three assists, setting up John Terry for two goals from corners after some poor Wimbledon defending in the box.    

His in-swinging corners were effective, but it was the vision to pick out Mohamed Salah for the equaliser that was most impressive, spotting his run to play a terrific ball over the top from deep.  

Salah may have joined in January but he will have to force his way into Jose Mourinho's plans, and he was a bright spark throughout here. In a first half with little penetration for the Blues, he was one of the few players who looked capable of creating chances.

He was lively on the right-hand side and direct in his running, and he turned goalscorer with little under 10 minutes remaining when Baker picked out his run.

His control was smart as he held off the defence and, at the second time of asking, spun sharply to dispatch Chelsea's equaliser - a more than deserved goal.


Emre Can initially saw plenty of the ball on his Liverpool debut, with he and Lucas Leiva able to keep possession with relative ease at the heart of the Reds' midfield during the early stages.

His first appearance for the Anfield outfit came to premature end, though, as he began limping after just 20 minutes despite being under no pressure from any Preston players, and with Brendan Rodgers looking to take no risks, the German limped off and made a quick exit down the tunnel.

Liverpool confirmed that the 20-year-old had suffered a calf injury and Rodgers insisted he was only taken off as a precaution.

As for Rickie Lambert, on what was bound to be an emotional debut for the boyhood Liverpool fan, he struggled to get involved after returning from the World Cup and keeping on top his fitness prior to the new campaign.

His only real effort was straight at Jamie Jones in the Preston goal while he was flagged offside on more than one occasion as he failed to form any kind of understanding with strike partner Fabio Borini, who's set for Sunderland.

His afternoon came to an end after just 45 minutes after he was replaced by Suso, though he is likely to be handed more opportunities in the USA as Daniel Sturridge looks to regain match fitness following a holiday.


After impressing against Brondby on Wednesday, much was expected of talented midfielder Jordan Ibe when he replaced Can following his early injury, and he did not disappoint.

The former Birmingham City loanee really should have given the Reds a first-half lead after he latched on to Lambert's through ball, but fired over the top when well placed. That didn't detract from the fact he was Liverpool's best player before the break, with his direct running adding a different dimension to an otherwise slow-paced showing from Rodgers' charges.

After the break he found himself on the left-hand side of an attacking trio, and he continued to have plenty of influence before helping the Reds turn the game on its head.

He first set up Suso for the equaliser as he embarked on a mazy run across the width of the pitch before allowing the Spaniard to curl home before yet another turn of pace left three Preston defenders in his wake, gifting Kristoffer Peterson the chance to slide home the winner from Ibe's pullback.

The 18-year-old almost got himself on the scoresheet late on as a dangerous cross was tipped behind by Thorsten Stuckmann, but that should not detract from yet another eye-catching performance.

Suso replaced Lambert at the break and added an extra dimension to Liverpool's attacking play as he regularly cut inside from the right to trouble the Preston back four.

Despite seeing his first effort slide harmlessly wide of the post, he wasn't deterred and forced Stuckmann into a save low to his left with a left-footed drive. It proved to third time lucky for the Spaniard as he eventually got his name on the scoresheet, curling a fine effort past Stuckmann into the top corner following that excellent run by Ibe.

Though his game can be sometimes one dimensional, he showed enough in 45 minutes to suggest he has a role to play at Anfield this season.