One Player on Each Premier League Team Who Needs to Be Benched
The Premier League is a brutal world. Just one weak performance can lead to you losing your place in the starting team.
Despite that brutality, there are still players lining up at the weekend who aren't doing enough to deserve that privilege. Others on this list have done nothing wrong, but could well become the victims of tactical alterations.
So, who are these players, and who might replace them? Here is one player from each of the Premier League's 20 clubs who might just find out in the near future that their managers have lost patience with them.
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczęsny
Wojciech Szczęsny is in fact injured for this weekend's big game against Manchester City. However, Szczęsny should not return to Arsenal's starting lineup when he returns from his injury.
Vito Mannone played very well against Montpellier whilst Szczęsny made a simple mistake last time out against Southampton and his distribution was poor. Add in Mannone's clean sheets against Stoke and Liverpool and he is clearly the form goalkeeper.
Aston Villa: Andreas Weimann
Andreas Weimann is yet to score this season and summer signing Christian Benteke came off the bench to score last weekend.
Benteke was prolific for Genk last season and helped Belgium beat the Netherlands during the summer.
Aston Villa have been struggling for goals this season, especially with Darren Bent out of sorts.
Chelsea: David Luiz
Chelsea's David Luiz simply isn't good enough to be playing at centre-back for a top Premier League side.
He certainly offers plenty going forwards, but he does not have the temperament to be a reliable centre-back.
The choices are fairly simple. Drop him in favour of the far more reliable Gary Cahill, or deploy him as a defensive midfielder.
Either way, he can't continue in his current role. The Brazilian was poor against Juventus and his weaknesses will be exploited by the bigger Premier League sides.
Everton: Tony Hibbert
Everton's Tony Hibbert has been solid at right-back for Everton this season. However, Everton might be better served deploying Phil Neville at right-back and fielding an extra attacking player such as Steven Naismith.
Hibbert gets into good areas when going forwards but rarely manages to put a decent ball into the box; so moving Neville to right-back would improve defensive solidarity without sacrificing much in the way of attacking potential, whilst also making the midfield more mobile.
Fulham: Sascha Riether
Sascha Riether has struggled during his first month in the Premier League. The German was poor against West Ham and Manchester United and looks to be out of his depth.
Fulham signed Kieran Richardson over the summer, but are yet to really use the Englishman. Richardson is more accustomed to playing on the left-wing, but he has played on the right in the past and is renowned for his versatility.
Richardson has only featured once in the Premier League since moving to Fulham and will be keen to earn a regular berth in the starting XI. If nothing else, dropping Riether for a match might inspire him to up his performances.
Liverpool: Fabio Borini
Fabio Borini has not acquitted himself well since moving to Liverpool from Roma over the summer.
The Italian has missed a host of chances as Brendan Rodgers' men have got off to a slow start this season.
Liverpool are dangerously short of strikers, which makes it difficult to drop Borini, but the Anfield side might as well try out the likes of Daniel Pacheco since Borini doesn't seem to be able to find the goal at the moment.
Worryingly, Borini has now turned to the less than prolific Luis Suarez for goalscoring help.
Manchester City: Maicon
Maicon might have been signed over the summer, but that doesn't mean he should be starting at right-back.
The Brazilian showed against Real Madrid in midweek that he is not good enough to still be playing regularly at the top level.
Gareth Bale's destruction of him a couple of seasons ago showed that he is vulnerable against pace, and cracks under pressure; nothing has changed since then.
With Pablo Zabaleta fit and available, it would make sense to deploy the far more reliable Argentine and use Maicon as backup.
The former Inter Milan defender is 31 and simply not at the level of either Zabaleta or, when fit, Micah Richards.
Manchester United: David de Gea
Manchester United might have forked out £17 million for David de Gea, but that does not mean he should be starting for United.
The 21-year-old makes too many mistakes to be United's first choice goalkeeper, whilst Anders Lindegaard regularly shows himself to be reliable whenever he comes into the side.
De Gea undoubtedly has the potential to be one of Europe's top goalkeepers, but United can't afford to have him learn on the job; there is too much at stake.
It would be far better to loan out the Spaniard to a mid-table Premier League club where he would be virtually guaranteed the starter's spot and have Lindegaard as first choice 'keeper for the rest of the season.
Newcastle United: Sylvain Marveaux
This is a pretty easy decision. Drop Sylvain Marveaux. Play Demba Ba.
Ba singlehandedly got Newcastle back into their game against Everton last week, scoring twice after coming off the bench.
Alan Pardew made a fantastic decision when he signed Ba in 2011, and he should stick with the Senegalese striker.
Norwich City: Grant Holt
Grant Holt might be a Norwich legend, but he would probably do a better job for his side coming off the bench.
Norwich are playing a less direct style of football this season, which doesn't suit Grant Holt's power game. Bearing that in mind, using Holt as a substitute when the usual formula isn't working would be more sensible.
Steve Morison has played well whenever he has come off the bench this season, is good at getting into goalscoring positions and is a better fit for the more ground based game Norwich has adopted.
QPR: Armand Traore
Armand Traore will start against Tottenham due to injuries, but once others are back to fitness, the former Arsenal wing-back should be benched.
Fabio da Silva offers as much as Traore does going forwards whilst being more reliable in defence. With Fabio and Bosingwa on the wings QPR have a lot of options going forwards.
Mark Hughes should not have too difficult a job choosing whether or not to select the Brazilian wing-back once he returns from injury.
Reading: Ian Harte
Former Leeds United left-back Ian Harte has, defensively, not looked up to the job since his return to the Premier League.
His delivery into the box is still threatening, but he does not seem to be able to handle the pace of Premier League football. Bale and Lennon ran rings round him last week and, at 35, there is little he can do to prevent it happening again.
Reading re-signed Nicky Shorey over the summer, and the 31-year-old will be pushing for inclusion ahead of his Irish teammate.
Southampton: José Fonte
Southampton have conceded 14 goals in their first four Premier League matches this season. Granted, they have had to face the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, but it has become very clear that, defensively, Saints are not up to the job.
That makes it quite hard to single out one defender for special criticism.
That said, José Fonte needs to be benched for Southampton's game against Aston Villa this weekend. With Maya Yoshida in the squad, it makes sense to give the Japanese international a chance to try and improve the club's defensive record.
Fonte has looked out of his depth in the Premier League so far. Yoshida, on the other hand, has experience of relegation battles in the Bundesliga. That experience, and grit, will be vital if Southampton are to survive this season.
Stoke City: Andy Wilkinson
Andy Wilkinson is currently serving a three game ban, but should not necessarily be brought back into the side once his suspension has been served.
Wilkinson has been less than stellar so far this season and Ryan Shotton, assuming he plays well in the next three matches, has plenty of potential.
Alternatively, Geoff Cameron could be fielded at right-back. The American can also play in midfield, so he will already be used to doing more than just defending.
Sunderland: Craig Gardner
Sunderland's Craig Gardner could be forced out of the side once Adam Johnson has returned to fitness. The Englishman could well get lost in the shuffle as Sebastian Larsson moves into central midfield to accommodate Johnson.
Gardner is capable of playing in several positions, including right-back, but he may well find his game time to be sporadic once Johnson is back to fitness as Marin O'Neil starts to use him as a utility man.
Swansea City: Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams' form has taken a turn for the worse this season. The Welsh centre-back gifted Sunderland a goal before the international break, lost 6-1 with the Welsh squad and then made a mistake to give Aston Villa last weekend.
Williams has been an important player for Swansea since joining the club in 2008, but it looks like some time out of the side might refocus the 28-year-old.
Add in that he is struggling with an ankle injury and it makes sense to leave the Welshman out of the Swansea side for a week or two.
Tottenham Hotspur: Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel is still a fantastic goalkeeper. He is in great form and has done nothing to deserve being dropped.
However, Tottenham's summer addition, Hugo Lloris, is already one of the world's best goalkeepers and deserves a chance to prove himself in the Premier League.
As unfair as it is on Friedel, he should be benched for at least a game. If he isn't, then Andre Villas-Boas will have no idea who his first choice goalkeeper is as the season progresses.
West Bromich Albion: Marc-Antoine Fortune
Marc-Antoine Fortune has struggled for form this season. With plenty of attacking options on the bench, including Romelu Lukaku, Fortune's time in the starting lineup should be brought to an end in the very near future.
West Brom have got off their season to a good start and bringing Lukaku into the starting XI could help propel them further up the table; he has looked threatening when on the ball this season.
West Ham: Joey O'Brien
Joey O'Brien looks out of place at left-back. He's started the last two Premier League games in the position, but with George McCartney back to fitness, he will probably lose his place.
O'Brien will be forced to compete with Guy Demel for the right-back position and, unfortunately for the Irishman, the Ivorian has been playing well this season.
Wigan: Iván Ramis
Wigan's summer signing from Mallorca, Iván Ramis, has been patchy this season. With Antolín Alcaraz set to return to the squad after an injury, the Spaniard could find himself back on the bench in favour of the Argentine.
Alcaraz has partnered Gary Caldwell in the centre of defence plenty of times in the past, a real advantage as Wigan face up against Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov this weekend.
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