Some teams have so few players these days they can’t even play football matches. And yet at every club – almost, anyway – there are still players knocking about you thought had left 18 months ago.
Arsenal – Pablo Mari
Selling Sead Kolasinac in the time it took us to write the other 19 entries was pretty poor form from perennial alphabet-exploiting nuisances, clothing brand and former football club Arsenal, who hopefully won’t also manage to ship out Pablo Mari before we manage to publish the damn thing. We don’t want to take the nuclear option and have to use Calum Chambers, but if you continue to provoke us, you will leave us with no choice.
Aston Villa – Trezeguet
Finally returned from a long-term knee injury to come off the bench for the last 10 minutes at Brentford, who promptly scored a late winner, and then off he went to AFCON. Thanks, mate.
Brentford – Joel Valencia
On loan at Legia Warsaw – not particularly successfully – for the promotion season and yet to feature for a single minute of Brentford’s first Premier League season. According to reports, the Ecuadorean’s quest for some first-team football could now take him to Hibs.
Brighton – Moises Caicedo
Forgotten Men staple Jurgen Locadia has finally left, alas, so it’s the young Ecuadorean who rather unfairly takes the spot having been recalled from an underwhelming loan spell with Beerschot in Belgium to sit on Brighton’s bench. A year into his Brighton career, a Carabao win over Cardiff remains his only first-team action.
Burnley – Dale Stephens
Somehow fitting that his only Premier League appearance of the season – half an hour off the bench in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United – came during the week between Christmas and New Year when nobody is aware of what’s going on or what day it is. Does it even really count as a Premier League appearance? We’re told that, officially, yes, yes it does. Turns out Stephens is something of a lost week specialist; two of his seven Premier League appearances last season came on December 27 and 29. Maybe he just hates Christmas.
Chelsea – Kenedy
Hello, look who’s back from the fifth loan spell in his Chelsea career! It’s only blooming homogeneous-digraph-hating Brazilian midfielder Kenedy! He could in theory make his first Premier League appearance since May 2019! Probably won’t, though! Probably go on another loan! He still has 18 months left on his Chelsea contract! Could be two more loans!
Crystal Palace – Jaroslaw Jach
You know how there are players you are convinced aren’t actually real and exist solely in the transfer rumour metaverse? In the same way nobody will ever convince me Dusan Vlahovic is a real footballer and not some kind of yassified Darren Anderton NFT, then surely Jaroslaw Jach isn’t actually real and exists only twice a year when we do these features. Anyway, he’s a centre-back apparently, with two actual caps for Poland. Lies, imo.
Everton – Cenk Tosun
Has actually made a Premier League appearance this season, coming on for the final six minutes of the Merseyside derby and shamefully failing to do a single thing to overturn a 4-1 deficit in that time. Unsurprisingly, he hasn’t started yet for the high-flying in-form Toffees.
Leeds – N/A
They’ve used everyone in the squad and beyond, bless them. There are no forgotten players down the back of the Thorp Arch sofas. Believe me, Marcelo has looked. Unless you’ve forgotten about Patrick Bamford, there is no surprise person still hanging inexplicably around the Leeds squad. Have you forgotten about Patrick Bamford? No, of course not. Exactly.
Leicester – Nampalys Mendy
The Foxes’ record signing when he joined for £13m in 2016, but not named in either the Premier or Europa League squads for this season. A move to Galatasaray broke down in the summer, and he was pretty clear about his plans when asked in November. “I would really love to leave Leicester. It is normal, and logical.” Thanks, Mr Spock.
Liverpool – Loris Karius
His last appearance for Liverpool is still the 2018 Champions League final, poor sod. Only five more months and then he will be free of it all forever. Then there’s just the minor, trifling matter of finding himself a new club.
Manchester City – Scott Carson
Every time we see a Manchester City teamsheet with Scott Carson right there among the substitutes we are reminded again that Scott Carson is a Manchester City player and it makes us smile. Twenty-one times this has happened already this season. And people complain City aren’t entertaining. To goldfish-brained easily-pleased simpletons like us they are a source of constant joy.
Manchester United – Juan Mata
Has sat dutifully on the bench 11 times in the Premier League this season without ever getting his chance on the pitch. He’ll probably blog about it later and it will probably be charming and endearing. But it’s not getting him on a Premier League pitch any time soon.
Newcastle – Dwight Gayle
Has made four appearances for Newcastle this season, which isn’t so bad is it? Alas, those four appearances have amounted to 27 minutes in total. Newcastle have actually drawn three of the four games in which he has made late appearances, so compared to their season as a whole it’s actually… quite good? Still has two-and-a-half years on his Newcastle contract. They’ll have won the league by then.
Norwich – Christoph Zimmermann
It probably says more about us and the shameful lack of attention that we pay Norwich, but we had completely forgotten about the big German’s existence until the Canaries posted a training-ground video that showed him apparently back and ready for action. He’s yet to feature in what has been a largely fraught Premier League season for Norwich after a long-term ankle problem eventually forced him under the knife in October.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) January 18, 2022
Southampton – Shane Long
Started the 1-1 draw against Tottenham after Che Adams’ positive Covid test and lasted 71 minutes, which makes up two-thirds of his Premier League football this season. Hasn’t scored a top-flight goal in almost two years now. You instinctively feel like surely an upwardly mobile Championship team would be keen on the 34-year-old, but even at that level he managed only two goals on loan with Bournemouth. So maybe not.
Tottenham – Jack Clarke
Spurs have played 32 first-team games this season and the £10m signing from Leeds has made it even as far as the bench only once. Did play one whole half of football, but that was in a 1-0 defeat to Pacos in the first leg of the Europa League Conference qualifier. Tottenham couldn’t even be bothered to finish the group stage of that competition.
Watford – Dan Gosling
Wait, really? Hands up, which of you honestly knew – never mind remembered – that Gosling was even at Watford? Liars. Did actually get 20 minutes off the bench against Villa in the first game of the season. So far, that’s his lot in Premier League football for the Hornets.
West Ham – Darren Randolph
The Hammers have a pretty lean squad where everyone plays a part, and they’re getting plenty of attention this season as well with their top-four-bothering antics. The only truly forgettable player still knocking about is third-choice keeper Randolph, yet to play a single minute this season but dutifully sitting on the bench on Thursday nights.
Wolves – Willy Boly
One of Nuno Espirito Santo’s most trusted lieutenants hasn’t played a minute of Premier League football under Bruno Lage, his persistent muscle injuries having occasionally relented enough for him to make the bench if not the pitch, and not even that for several weeks now. Wolves are coping just fine without him.