2012-2013 English Premier League Preview Part Three: Players to Watch
Now we know where all of the league's major players stand. What do you say we run through the most important players in the Prem this season. And don't worry, I'm not going to pick all of the low hanging fruit and just pick guys like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero. I am talking about guys who were not nearly as important to the team as they are going to have to be this year for their squad's success. Let's do this.
Daniel Sturridge: Forward, Chelsea
Sturridge had 11 Premier League goals for the Blues last season, tied for first on the team. However, with Didier Drogba gone to China, Fernando Torres a loser of his own mental games, and nobody knowing just how good Eden Hazard is going to be, Sturridge has to provide a consistent scoring touch to help Chelsea improve on a sixth place finish last year and to help them defend their Champions League title. If he is unable to do so, expect a lot of attention to be put on Hazard, which will make things even tougher on the reigning European champions.
David De Gea: Goalkeeper, Manchester United
He looks so great at times, yet patently awful at others. De Gea was in goal for Spain's three winless games in the Olympics this year, letting one of three shots on goal get in against Honduras, which was one of his worst moments. He needs to be better to avoid another seven goal in two match outburst from Manchester City against his Red Devils.
Joleon Lescott: Defender, Manchester City
Lescott is far and away my least favorite Citizen. He is such a weak link, yet City remain stuck with him as their second best central defender in their eyes (even though Kolo Toure is a thousand times better). His misguided header in the season's final game against Queens Park Rangers nearly cost City the title, and he needs to be better if they want to successfully defend their crown.
Clint Dempsey: Striker, Fulham
Clint Dempsey banged home an impressive 17 Premier League goals for Fulham last year. The next highest scoring player for them? Pavel Pogrebnyak with six, and he is now with Reading. Translation: Dempsey needs to score a lot for Fulham to have a good year. Even with the addition of slightly above average striker Hugo Rodallega, this is Clint's team and he needs to score accordingly.
Chris Brunt: Midfielder, West Bromwich Albion
West Brom has performed above expectations in two straight years in the Premier League thanks, in large part, to the efforts of striker Peter Odemwingie. Well, Odemwingie needs someone to feed him the ball. Who better than last year's leading assist man, Chris Brunt? Brunt must seize opportunities in the middle of the field to find Odemwingie in positions to get shots off. If not for our next player, West Brom would be the most dependent on one striker in the league.
Peter Crouch: Striker, Stoke City
Crouch scored 10 of Stoke's 36 goals on the season. That's less than one goal per game for those of you scoring at home, and Crouch had nearly a third of those. Stoke's offensive strategy is basically "let's lob the ball into the box and hope that Crouch can use his height to head it in." He needs to continue to do so to keep Stoke away from a relegation scare.
Carlos Tevez: Indecisive, Manchester City
When he just shuts his mouth and plays, he is a truly special talent. Here's the issue: he almost never does that. He claims to be happy in Manchester once again, but not one Man City fan on this planet is naive enough to believe him. Everyone will sleep with one eye open when it comes to Carlos Tevez. We shall see if he can keep his head on straight long enough for a shot at a second straight Premier League title.
Joey Barton: Crazy Person, Queens Park Rangers
He may not even get on the field this year, but the Metta World Peace of the EPL is always worth keeping an eye on.
Do you have other players to watch in the EPL this year? Post them in the comments section below.