Ghana pair Atsu and Schlupp set to square off in English Premier League opening weekend
By Akyereko Frimpong Manson
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The globe’s most popular league – the English Premier League, kicks off over the weekend and the Ghanaian interest has soared in the last few days ahead of the start of the season following Christian Atsu’s arrival at Everton.
The 22-year-old completed a season-long loan move from West London giants Chelsea and is expected to feature prominently in Roberto Martinez’s plans as the Toffees have European and domestic competitions ahead.
However, the journey begins rightly immediately for the former FC Porto whizkid who spent last season on loan with Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem and won the Fans Player of the Years Award following a glistening display.
Though the highlights are on Belgian international hit-man Romelu Lukaku, the Ghanaian could also mark his Premier League debut in the Everton shirt at the King Power Stadium.
Atsu’s move appeared a little protracted as Chelsea reportedly failed to agree with Everton over playing time assurance from Martinez but has been included in the Toffees squad for the game.
For the host – Leicester City, the general focus at the King Power Stadium is on record signing Leonardo Ulloa who could make his debut on Saturday.
Manager Nigel Pearson has already got injury concerns with winger Anthony Knockaert has overcome an ankle injury but Jamie Vardy (thigh) and Marc Albrighton (groin) are unlikely to be risked.
German-born versatile Ghana defender Jeffrey Schlupp, who was part of Ghana’s provisional squad at the 2014 World Cup, has been named in the Leicester City squad is set to start the game from the bench as he is not a first choice full-back.
Statistics from previous meetings favour Everton as Leicester have not won against them August 1998 and all their last four meetings have ended in draws.
Atsu and Schlupp are both expected to start their Premier League debuts from the bench.
Atsu has been handed the number 19 jersey at Everton and he becomes only the second Ghanaian to play for Everton in the Premier League after Alex Nyarko dazzled for the Merseysiders in the 2000 season.
Nyarko spell at Everton created bad feel among Ghanaian fans as they feel the club melted a bad treatment to the hugely talented former Asante Kotoko attacker.