Oussama Assaidi is slowly starting to catch headlines once again. After a successful stint in Holland followed by a disappointing Liverpool spell, 25 year old Assaidi was loaned out to Stoke City this past summer, After a slow start to life that saw Assaidi struggle to break into the first team, the Moroccan international is starting to show why he was signed in the first place.
Despite only starting eight matches, and coming on as a sub in three so far in the premier league, Assaidi has managed to score 3 goals from a wide position. And two of those goals were extremely crucial to Stoke. The first goal came in the massive 3-2 victory over visitors Chelsea at the Brittania. After the match looked like it was going to end as a draw, Assaidi picked up the ball, nonchalantly dribbled around Chelsea’s defense, and unleashed a wicked strike that curved into the top corner, leaving Cech no chance. He earned Stoke their 4th win of the season.
His second goal came in Stoke’s 5-1 drubbing by Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
His third goal for Stoke was also a very important one. This past weekend, Stoke hosted Mersyside club Everton. Assaidi, probably fueled by the fact that he was an on loan Liverpool player playing against the Reds’ rivals, buried a great strike from the top of the box in the 49th minute to take Stoke 1-0 up. And it very well could have stayed that way, had a needless penalty not been conceded just moments from full time. Even so, Assaidi has brought Stoke 4 points, a haul which has made the difference between Stoke sitting in 12th as oppose to 16th in the premier league. And, had the penalty not been conceded, Stoke could have been all the way up at 10th. It also meant that Assaidi has scored 3 goals in his past 6 appearances.
Per WhoScored, Assaidi is the 8th best player for Stoke, despite making at least 4 less starts than any of the players ranked above him. He is the most accurate passer with a 89% success rate, and contributes an average of 1.2 key passes per game. He also shows defensive qualities, averaging two tackles per game. He is Stoke’s joint second scorer on three goals, and the 3rd best offensive player.
He is continuing his revival, and if he continues with these types of performances, he should be able to make an impact on Liverpool when he comes back. But he may not remain in the red part of Merseyside at all. Multiple reports suggest his future isn’t clear, and a transfer could materialize. Assaidi has said that he is very happy at Stoke, and that could mean that the loan could be made permanent. However, Brendan Rodgers is taking notice of the player’s performances recently with Assaidi saying, “He texts me sometimes if I score, saying ‘well done’, ‘keep going’ and ‘I am hearing good things about you’.”
In any case, Assaidi is trying his hardest to both become a consistent starter for Stoke, as well as prove to Rodgers that he deserves a starting spot in the squad. And if he continues with similar performances week in and week out, there is no reason why he won’t be able to start in Rodgers squad next term.
What do you think? Should Assaidi stay? Comment, or tweet me @daniel_gutman
All stats courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka
Quote courtesy of BBC Sport