Over the course of the weekend, eight Italians made an impact on matches across the Premier League and Championship, including three representatives in the North London Derby and a particularly impressive display from Nicolo Zaniolo. Here is a look at how they all got on during the sixth matchday of the 2023-24 season.
Tottenham are fast becoming the Premier League team to watch for fans of the Italy national team. So far, Spurs look to be the only side in the division who regularly include more than one Italian in their starting line-up, and Sunday’s derby against bitter rivals Arsenal was no different.
Guglielmo Vicario is now firmly Tottenham’s no.1, having replaced Hugo Lloris, who had captained both his club and country until this summer. The 26-year-old has impressed since moving from Empoli and, though some fans had feared a situation similar to Pierluigi Gollini’s loan spell in 2021-22, Vicario’s start to life in North London could not be any different.
Tottenham recorded a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, although one of Arsenal’s goals came from the penalty spot. Vicario again gained praise for his performance, producing a particularly impressive stop to deny Gabriel Jesus within the opening 15 minutes.
Destiny Udogie also gained praise from the press in England for his performance against Arsenal. The former Udinese youngster was booked after 14 minutes for a foul on Bukayo Saka, which could have been the start of a long afternoon for the left-back, but he recovered well, eventually putting in an impressive display.
The Athletic thought that Udogie’s display was so impressive that they ran a feature article breaking down his performance. Though there were some struggles early on, Udogie teamed up well with winger Brennan Johnson to keep Saka quiet and importantly, prevented Arsenal defender Ben White from overlapping on numerous occasions.
Often involved in the press deep inside the opposition’s half, Udogie’s work rate has been credited as tireless, and his contribution to creative passages of play is also something to get excited about.
Later on in the North London Derby, Italy international Jorginho was summoned from the bench to help solidify Arsenal’s midfield for the final 20 minutes of the game. With the arrival of Declan Rice for a club-record fee this summer, Jorginho looks set to be used as a rotation option in the league under Mikel Arteta this season.
Nicolo Zaniolo was handed his second start for Aston Villa since joining from Galatasaray this summer. The former Roma man started from the left wing, although often found himself in central positions, interchanging with John McGinn and Moussa Diaby.
Zaniolo completed four successful dribbles against 10-man Chelsea, more than any other player on the pitch, which was later pointed out by Aston Villa’s social media team. Following Sunday’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge, Zaniolo and his teammates are up to sixth in the Premier League with four wins and two losses from their opening six matches.
Sandro Tonali was utilised from the bench for Newcastle during their headline-making 8-0 win over Sheffield United, having suffered a minor injury set-back in the run-up to last week’s Champions League clash against Milan. He was deemed fit enough to start in San Siro, but was not called upon to start at the weekend.
Left-back Emerson was also a starter for West Ham over the weekend. He has now played in every minute of the East Londoners’ Premier League fixtures so far in 2023-24, but was unable to prevent a 3-1 loss against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Angelo Ogbonna was not involved, although did wear the captain’s armband in the Europa League on Thursday.
Italy U20 international Luca Koleosho is quietly making a solid impression for Burnley, despite the team’s poor start to the season in terms of results. The teenager was electric again for Vincent Kompany’s side on the left-wing against Manchester United.
His performances have also been subject of recent high praise in the British press, and heading into the weekend, only one other player in the Premier League has attempted more take-ons so far this season. Eligible to represent Italy, Canada, Nigeria and the United States at senior international level, Italy could have their work cut out in keeping him on their books.
In the Championship, highly-rated Cesare Casadei came off the bench again for table-topping Leicester City during their 1-0 win over Bristol City. Elsewhere in the division, Wilfried Gnonto missed out on Leeds’ 3-0 win over Watford and is now set for a spell on the sidelines.