2013-2014 English Premier League Preview Part Three: Players To Watch
When talking about players to watch in the English Premier League, it would be really easy to say that Robin van Persie and other big name players are important to the success of their teams. However, that kind of low hanging fruit isn't what my English Premier League preview is for.
Instead, I'm going to run down some of the players that are going to be way more important to their team's success than they were last year, or players that are going to be just as important to their teams' success but are not big names. Here we go.
Daniel Sturridge: Forward, Liverpool
I included Sturridge in this list last year when he was with Chelsea. He was useless there and was moved to Liverpool, where he was a HUGE reason for their second half success. With Luis Suarez banned for the first six games of this season for biting another grown man, Sturridge's performance early on will have a direct correlation to whether or not Liverpool will be stuck playing catch up in the EPL table early in the season.
Romelu Lukaku: Forward, Chelsea
On loan at West Bromwich Albion last year, Lukaku was lights out as one of the only real scoring options on that team. On a team replete with attacking options now that he is back at Chelsea, he will have tons of chances at goal, chances that could decide the Premier League title. Will he be able to handle that kind of pressure that just wasn't there at West Brom?
Simon Mignolet: Keeper, Liverpool
Liverpool loaned goalie Pepe Reina outside of the league, hoping that Mignolet would be the answer in his replacement. From Sunderland, Mignolet is another example of a guy that has yet to face this kind of pressure in the Prem. An improved back line from what he had at the Stadium of Light will help ease that pressure, though.
Joe Hart: Keeper, Manchester City
Joe Hart has been pegged as the best goalkeeper in England, starting for their national team and as one of the best domestically produced goalies in the Premier League. However, the dude flat out struggled to keep teams out of the net last year. While this is not only his fault, he needs to be better to avoid wasting another year of tremendous talent at City.
Roberto Soldado: Striker, Tottenham Hotspur
Soldado, brought in from Spanish side Valencia is a nasty goal scorer, one brought in specifically to keep Gareth Bale happy and bring him some help in the goals department. If Soldado performs the way he did in La Liga, Spurs have a great shot at qualifying for the Champions League. If not, say hello to another Europa League season and goodbye to Bale.
Samir Nasri: Midfielder, Manchester City
Nasri has shown flashes during his Manchester City career but, as any Arsenal fan could have pointed out prior to his City debut, he just seems to lack focus and killer instinct. This prevents him from playing well for extended periods of time, keeps him on the bench, and prevents City from reaching their potential. He'll need to be borderline great for the Citizens to upend both Manchester United and Chelsea.
Jozy Altidore: Striker, Sunderland
You should have your eyes on Altidore for two reasons. First, he is going to be one of the only scoring threats for Sunderland, a team that was nearly relegated last year. This is Altidore's first year in the Premier League, so it'll be fascinating to see how he responds to a far more talented league than he's ever been in.
The other reason to care about Altidore this year? AMERICA. If he can finish this season in good form for Sunderland, it only helps going into World Cup 2014. American soccer fans will be hoping for a big, and healthy, year from Jozy.