Kasper Dolberg

Kasper Dolberg in action for Ajax; credits Ajax.nl

What Dolberg does best 

Kasper Dolberg has made a name for himself by cementing his place in the Ajax side at the tender age of 19 and is a typical dutch number 9 in how he functions.

He plays the lone striker role very well and a lot of the build up from Ajax is to try to get the ball into his feet, from where he can be deadly in setting up his team-mates.

Where he differs from a lot of number 9’s is how he tries to avoid being directly marked until the last moment, which helps create space in front to receive.

He did this excellently in the build up to Ajax’s first goal against ADO Den Haag recently, assisting Hakim Ziyech’s goal with outstanding centre forward play.

Dolberg here comes out of the shadow of his defender brilliantly so as not to be easily marked

With Ajax occupying the ADO Den Haag defence with four attackers in the ‘hot zone’ they are able to penetrate in behind once Dolberg manipulates the ball as he does so well

With Ziyech now running off the back of his marker, the left-sided attacking midfielder is put through on goal to finish with ease

Sometimes though, he will need to be facing forwards to be a more regular goal scorer rather than a supplier, and his previous goal drought could be down to having his back to goal too often.

He is still young and will no doubt learn to mix his game up to keep defenders guessing and with Dennis Bergkamp as his mentor, you can bet he will mature into an even better centre forward.

Which begs the question, is he capable to make the step up to England like his fellow Dane Christian Eriksen?

Time will tell, although Eriksen had amassed over 160 appearances by the time he left Ajax for Spurs at 21 years old, with more than 20 of those appearances coming in The Champions League.

I feel Dolberg has the qualities, although another Dane is currently out scoring him in the Eredivisie, Nicolai Jorgensen of Feyenoord.

Penetrating runs would reap rewards

To be considered a reliable centre forward at the highest level, Dolberg needs to be a more regular scorer, and I feel some tweaking of his runs would help.

In the current Ajax system, with inverted wingers often driving inside with the ball, he should be making diagonal darting runs into the box, although too often he supports behind the ball.

 As Ajax winger Amin Younes cuts inside, Dolberg needs to make a diagonal run across the central defender

Dolberg still has the time to make the run…

Instead he supports behind the ball and another opportunity to get a strike at goal is missed

If I was coaching Dolberg I would make him aware he does a fantastic job in building play in the middle third, although in the final third he must try to be facing the opponent’s goal more often and break defensive lines with his runs.

 

Tom Lawrence

 

Tom Lawrence unleashes against QPR; credits Getty Images

Tom Lawrence is quietly making a name for himself in the Championship with Ipswich Town.

After joining on a season long loan from Premier League champions Leicester City, 22-year-old Lawrence has been in sensational form for the Tractor Boys.

The Welshman scored a fantastic solo goal against Sheffield Wednesday at the start of November, before his wonder strike against QPR, whilst also topping the assist chart for the Tractor boys.

Predominately right footed, his delivery is exceptional from open play and set pieces.

Quick, strong and with a wonderful technique, Lawrence has the tools to be a very effective attacking midfielder or winger, whilst his accuracy from distance means he could also be a threat inside off the front as a number 10.

I saw play on the left against QPR where he was such a threat they had to double up on him.

As teams work him out, he will have to mix his game up when faced with two defenders.

Either check out and find the spare player, or use a trick to deliver with his left foot when he is unable to cut inside onto his favoured right foot.

 

Harry Maguire

Maguire the main man; credits Getty Images

Harry Maguire has been in outstanding form this season for Mike Phelan’s Hull City side.

The 23-year-old central defender came through the ranks at Sheffield United before Hull took the plunge in July 2014 and signed him for £2.5m on a three-year contract.

He joined just a month after facing the Tigers in the FA Cup semi-final, no doubt impressing then Hull manager Steve Bruce.

At the Blades, Maguire was player of the year for three consecutive years and it won’t be long before his teammates at the Tigers recognise his contribution too.

I watched him against West Ham at the London Stadium and he was superb, everything you want a central defender to be.

He was aggressive, on the front foot, he read play, intercepted well, was composed on the ball, dominated Andy Carroll in the air and won his ground battles too.

At set pieces for, Maguire was an obvious threat, particularly when West Ham manager Slaven Bilic put Michail Antonio man marking him, to allow Carroll to mark the near post space.

Only two goal line clearances kept Maguire’s name off the score sheet so he is a weapon in both boxes and he has far too much jumping power for all but the strongest players in The Premier League.

Currently playing in a back three, when used to a back four, for his age Maguire is tactically aware of his new responsibilities and hasn’t publicly vocalised his concerns of the 3-5-2 system Phelan has employed.

This shows me he has a desire to keep his head down and be the best he can be.

Hull this week recognised his efforts by triggering a one year extension to his contract and is one to watch.