With the 2012/2013 Premier League season is upon us, it’s time to have a look at who the key players will be this season and what they can bring to the team that makes them the stand out player in their side.
With the expected exit of Robin Van Persie, the Gunners will need someone to fill the boots of last year’s top goal scorer. New signings Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud will need to find their shooting boots to help Arsenal maintain their impeccable record for qualifying for the Champions League. But the main man for me this year could well be another one of Arsène Wenger’s summer recruits, Santi Cazorla. Capable of using both feet, the complete midfielder has the experience and the quality that Arsenal need. This guy could be a big hit at the Emirates.
New manager Paul Lambert will need to have his players playing better than last season if they want to avoid the drop this year. The club have brought in Ron Vlaar from Feyenoord, likely to bring a bit more stability in their shaky defence. Despite poor season’s last time round, if Charles Nzogbia and Stephen Ireland find the form that the fans know they’re capable of, they’ll keep Villa on track. The key player though, is Darren Bent. He’s proved in previous years, with previous teams that he is able to score 20 goals in a season. Goals win you games, Bent could be Villa’s saviour this year.
The European champions will be full of confidence this season off of the back of last year’s heroics. The team will be solid defensively with the depth of top quality defenders in the squad. Di Matteo has added some real quality in the Chelsea midfield with the signings of Marko Marin and Eden Hazard. There is no doubting the chances will be carved out by creative players that Chelsea possess, it will just mean that after Didier Drogba’s departure they will need a new main striker to finish off the chances. Step up, the key player, Fernando Torres, now the main man in the striking department he get his opportunity to now show why his transfer fee was so high. We saw glimpses of him last year and in the European Championship, don’t be too surprised if he causes most teams havoc this year.
In David Moyes, Everton have one of the best managers in the league, his team’s consistency has been based on how Moyes has gelled his players into a team, doing this with a very low budget. Leighton Baines and co at the back will need remain tight throughout the season in order to keep the sides remarkable high finishes in previous seasons up this year. After Jack Rodwell’s move to Man City, it may allow highly rated youngster Ross Barkley to earn himself a permanent spot in the starting line up. Nikita Jelavic has been terrific since signing last year and will be keen to carry on his great form this season. Steven Naismith will have some boots to fill after arriving at Goodison Park, as it looks like his position will be that of Tim Cahill’s after he left for the MLS. I do think however he will be a great addition to the squad and will be Everton’s key man this season.
Fulham will be near enough the same team we’ve seen in the last few seasons. They’ve signed right back Sascha Riether on a season long loan, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega. With the latter of the three, I would imagine to have the biggest influence on the team. Losing Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu may have an impact in the centre of midfield. Fulham will be looking to hang on to Moussa Dembélé amid transfer speculation as he will be key in creating chances and getting the team going this season. The key man though, you’ve guessed it, Clint Dempsey, 23 goals last year the American will be looking to emulate last year’s form in front of goal.
Brenden Rodgers will be hoping he can bring his free flowing football with him to Anfield after lighting up the Premier League last year with Swansea. Rodgers has signed Joe Allen from his former club for a hefty price, meaning the pressure will be on him to do well in front of his home fans. Fabio Borini has arrived from Roma and should slot in nicely into the team. Steven Gerrard will need to stay fit if Liverpool are to play their best football. Defenders Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, both have been linked away from the club and if they stay I’m sure that they’ll be alright defensively, especially with the consistent Pepe Reina in goal. The Key man though – Luis Suarez he will need to improve his conversion rate from last year, but he should have no problem with the new quality signings creating chances for him.
The champions of England will be full of confidence, and so they should be, with the best goal keeper in the world between the sticks, Kompany and Lescott in the centre and Richards or Zabaleta on the right and Clichy on the left of the back four, they boast the best defence in the league for me. The creative players in midfielders in Toure, Rodwell, Milner will be reliable throughout the campaign. The club have bundles of goals in Ballotelli, Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko. But the stand out man, David Silva, the creative attacking midfielder can score and make goals for fun. Brilliant with the ball at his feet, the Spaniard will come into this season in great from after a successful European Championship with his country.
After last year’s heartbreak on the last game of the season to their arch rivals, United look to bounce straight back. The return of Nemanja Vidic will bring great stability into the United back line. The imminent arrival of Robin Van Persie from rivals Arsenal could give the red side of Manchester a big advantage in the title race, that is, if he can hit the form he had last year, staying fit throughout the season. Rooney, Welbeck, Nani, Hernandez, Young and Valencia will as always give United a cutting edge in the goal scoring department. But like City, I think a creative midfielder will be the main reason for a winner’s medal come the end of the season. Shinji Kagawa, a brilliant signing, last year he was a revelation in the Bundesliga, picking up the Player of the year award along the way. He will be crucial to the attacking aspects of the team.
Alan Pardew’s men played brilliantly last year, finishing 5th overall. Having kept the defenders from last year, they look to be solid again, with the added boost of the return of centre back, Steven Taylor. The only noticeable department is that of Danny Guthrie, has now been replaced by highly rated Vurnon Anita from Ajax. Yohan Cabaye had a great season last time round and will be key in midfield along with Hatem Ben Arfa. Up top Demba Ba will need to hit the heights that he reached in the first half of last season. But the main man this year, will be his fellow country man, Papiss Cisse. Scored for fun since his arrival and his predatory instincts could prove the difference from Europa League and the Champions League next year.
I fear that second season syndrome will kick in this year for Norwich, will the departure of manager Paul Lambert, I can see them struggling this year. New signings include Jacob Butterfield & Robert Snodgrass who shone in the Championship. Pilkington and Bennett, I’m sure will cause trouble out wide. I am concerned with Grant Holt though, after the ordeal where he looked set to leave but then didn’t, you have to question if he wants to be here and whether it was the money that he cares about, top quality striker but needs to have his head in the game to have another great season. The main player for me in this team, will need to be John Ruddy – after his recent first England cap the goal keeper will have his work cut out this year and will need to show his quality to save points for the Canaries.
Queens Park Rangers
QPR have made some brilliant signings already this year after avoiding relegation on the last day of the 2011/2012 season. The likes of Andrew Johnson, Junior Hoilett, Fabio Da Silva, Ryan Nelson and Rob Green will add a great depth of quality into this side. Mixed in with last year’s players such as Jamie Mackie, Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora and Adel Tarrabt the team will have a great attacking line up. The loss of Joey Barton could benefit the team, allowing them to finish the game with 11 men. For me, another new signing, Park Ji Sung will be the key man. A real coup for QPR, a career of experience of being successful, the Korean could prove to be a real hit down at Loftus Road.
The surprise package in the Championship last year, could well prove to be the surprise package in the Premier League this year. Brian Mcdermott’s side have one of the best abilities in football, the ability to play as a team. They’ve signed 3 defensive players in Chris Gunter, Adrian Mariappa and Nicky Shorey which will strengthen the back line. Danny Guthrie will be a great signing, bringing in experience and quality. Pavel Pogrebnyak has signed too, after having a successful loan spell at Fulham last season. The big Russian could be a hit with the Royal’s fans if he continues his goal scoring form. For me, Jason Roberts, the striker who has the ability to win a game with pure power, can be the main man for Reading this year. He showed it last year, that he has a great eye for goals.
Nigel Adkins’s side will need to add some defensive players to the squad if they hope to survive in the Premier League. Last year’s Championship runners up, will be eager to prove themselves at the highest level. Kelvin Davis’s form will be crucial, because the lack of depth the defence could create more chances for goals for opposition teams. New Signings include Nathaniel Clyne, the attack minded full back has the ability to be a top player for the future, Steven Davis, the former Rangers captain, brings a wealth of experience to the team and Jay Rodriquez, the big money signing from Burnley, will need to prove his price tag. Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork look to reach their potential. Rickie Lambert, goal machine, 78 goals in 132 games, will need to hit form early. Key Player – Adam Lallana, the midfielder will soon be a household name in the Premier League, has the ability to rip teams apart, as well as score goals.
After playing in the Europa League last year, Stoke will be hungry for this privilege again. A very strong team and known for the ability of playing the long ball game so well, strikers had playing against them and so do defenders. Rory Delap’s long throw will look to be utilised as much as possible. New signings Jamie Ness and Michael Kightly will bring quality in the midfield. Whilst Geoff Cameron looks to be a replacement for the departed Danny Collins. Peter Crouch and Jonathon Walters will look to continue their strike partnership. Whilst at the back Robert Huth will be as reliable as ever in the centre of defence. Huth’s Partner, Ryan Shawcross is the key man for Stoke this year, the powerful defender has the ability to win games on his defensive performances.
Martin O’Neil will be hoping he can have a better start to the season than he’s team did without him last year. Bringing in defender Carlos Cuellar from Aston Villa & Louis Saha on a free, two good quality players who add depth to the squad. Strikers Frazier Campbell and Connor Wickham can cause trouble to defences this year if they can hit the form the fans know they’re capable of. Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean had great seasons last year and will be wanting to repeat that this year. Former United players, Wes Brown and John O’Shea give the back line experience where needed in order to stay focused. Seb Larsson, the Swedish international is the key man for the Black Cats this year, his quality on the ball and his passing skills could win games for them this year.
New Manager Michael Laudrup played at the highest level as a player, and will to bring that quality of football to the Liberty Stadium. Swansea last year were known as a brilliant passing team, their love for playing attractive football won them appreciation from opposition fans. The loss of manager Brenden Rodgers and centre midfielder Joe Allen to Liverpool could disrupt the morale in the team. Bringing in attacker Michu and midfielder Jonathan De Guzman can help the team progress. Leon Britton, Danny Graham, Ashley Williams, Nathan Dyer and Michel Vorm will be looking to continue their bright starts in the Premier League. Key man this year, Scott Sinclair, on top clubs radar but if he stays this year he’ll have yet again another successful season. His pace and ball control could help The Swans survive ‘second season syndrome.
I was shocked at Harry Redknapp’s departure at the end of last season, and Andre Villas-Boas will need to prove he can manage in England after failure with Chelsea. Losing Luka Modric to Madrid, Spurs will need to buy in order to succeed this year, Rafael van der Vaart could benefit most from this departure. With Adebayor yet to sign after his loan spell, the main striker at the moment is Jermain Defoe, a top striker who could be about to prove why he’s still being picked i the National side, providing he gets his chance. New signings Jan Vertonghen & Gylfi Sigurðsson look to be good additions to the squad whilst Scott Parker and Kyle Walker come back after good performances for England in the summer. Main man is Gareth Bale, has the ability to destroy teams, as well the ability to play at the back. Top quality player who could play in any team.
West Bromwich Albion
Losing Roy Hodgson to the England team could prove critical this year. They’ve appointed Steve Clarke as manager, giving him his first managerial role in football. They must work hard to stay up this year, Ben Foster is a top goal keeper and could help his team out a lot this year. Jonas Olsson will need to stay solid and control his back line. Mulumbu and co in midfield will need to battle their way through all the games. Up top Shane Long and loanee Romelu Lukaku could form a formidable strike force. The key player for me, Chris Brunt, the club captain has been very consistent since joining The Baggies in 2007. His leadership and footballing ability could help West Brom survive.
West Ham United
Winners in the play offs last time round, Allardyce has brought in some quality this year, Jussi Jaaskelainen, James Collins, Alou Diarra, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga. Big Sam looks set to play long ball football yet again as the signings suggest. Players from last year, such as Jack Collison, Ricardo Vas Te, James Tomkins, Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole were main players in the successful bid for promotion. This year, just like last, I feel that West Ham will benefit from the best player in the squad getting the ball down and playing football, that player, Mark Noble, having come through the youth with the Hammers he’s developed into a brilliant footballer.
Roberto Martinez steered his club to safety last year brilliantly in the end, he’ll be hoping he won’t have to need to do it again. Losing Diame and Rodallega already and the possible departure of Victor Moses, the squad’s main structure is falling apart. There is a few new faces at the club, the two more noticeable are those of Ryo Miyachi on loan from Arsenal and the signing of striker Arouna Kone. The key ‘player’ for me is the whole squad, with no real stars to carry the team forward. They will need to gel together in order to survive this year, however I feel it is a big ask for the club.