Premier League: 10 EPL Players Who Must Improve in Week 12
The long road back to form for these 10 players needs to be taken sooner rather than later.
With the January transfer window looming, Premier League teams will already be looking ahead at possible improvements that can be made to shore up their biggest weaknesses.
While those on this list may not be their respective side's worst player at present, they are not meeting expectations—no matter how high those expectations may be.
This weekend's action shouldn't be a defining moment for those trying to find form, but it could be a great place to start.
Next Fixture: Sunderland (Home)
Fulham have been shocking at times at the back this season, and Norwegian behemoth Brede Hangeland must accept his fair share of the blame.
One of the Premier League's most reliable defenders has become an exploitable target as the Cottagers have shipped a total of eight goals in their last three games.
Tipped for a big move to Arsenal not so long ago, Hangeland must now fight for a place in his own team (via The Telegraph).
Club: Queens Park Rangers
Next Fixture: Southampton (Home)
Though hardly aided by a particularly creative midfield behind him, Djibril Cisse has not lived up to his prolific, if suspension-riddled, spell at QPR last season.
He has only scored one goal in nine appearances this season in the Premier League, compared with six in eight last term.
If the mercurial Frenchman can't help the Hoops beat Southampton at home this weekend, boss Mark Hughes may be on his bike faster than he can say "Harry Redknapp."
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Next Fixture: Arsenal (Away)
Despite the Dempster having scored a couple of important goals this season for Spurs, he has not lived up to expectations by any stretch of the imagination.
With Gylfi Sigurdsson breathing down his neck on the sidelines, the American attacking midfielder desperately needs to discover a creative streak for a Tottenham side that has lost their past three league games.
Resident tinkerman Andre Villas-Boas' meddling hasn't helped, and to be fair, nor has the introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor onto the scene—a striker vastly different in style to Jermain Defoe, but Dempsey must find a home in the second-striker role quickly before being left outside in the cold.
Club: Newcastle United
Next Fixture: Swansea City (Home)
Cisse No. 2—Papiss this time—also needs to rediscover his goal-scoring touch before Mike Ashley likely attempts to cash in on him in January.
His move to Tyneside last season left fellow Senegalese hitman Demba Ba in the shadows, but it's been the complete opposite this term.
Ba has already struck seven goals, while Cisse has only scored one in 10 league games.
Next Fixture: Tottenham Hotspur (Home)
German defender Per Mertesacker has perfected his impression of a statue this season as opposing teams have run riot around him.
The unusually clumsy Thomas Vermaelen could just as easily be included here, but once Kieran Gibbs returns to the Arsenal lineup, it is currently looking like Mertesacker will be the defender sacrificed.
Although it may be a little too late in his career to find a burst of pace, better positioning and marking must be asked of the big man.
Club: Manchester United
Next Fixture: Norwich City (Away)
With Paul Scholes likely to be the central midfielder ousted from Manchester United's midfield in the upcoming fixture against Norwich City, Michael Carrick must do his best to prove that it was the Ginger Wizard and not he who was to blame for the appalling protection offered to the defence in the 3-2 win at Aston Villa.
Carrick is no longer picked by Sir Alex Ferguson for his creativity; he is picked for his ability to sit snugly in front of the back line for 90 minutes.
If he can't even track back and help out defensively during games, his inclusion in the team becomes instantly worthless.
Next Fixture: Fulham (Away)
Whether or not you agree with his decision not to wear a poppy on his shirt last weekend, James McClean's form is one subject that is beyond debate.
It is no coincidence that Sunderland have scored the fewest Premier League goals this season as well as having taken the fewest shots (via WhoScored).
McClean, Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Johnson must provide striker Steven Fletcher with far better service for the team to flourish.
Gaston Ramirez and Jay Rodriguez
Next Fixture: Queens Park Rangers (Away)
Newly-promoted side Southampton spent a total of £21 million acquiring the services of forwards Gaston Ramirez and Jay Rodriguez in the summer (via Transfermarkt).
So far, the Saints duo have re-payed their team with only two Premier League goals.
Though Ramirez has been unlucky with injuries since arriving in England, both he and Rodriguez need to start taking responsibility for their team's fortunes rather than hiding behind the dominant Ricky Lambert.
Next Fixture: West Bromwich Albion (Away)
Radamel Falcao is coming, so watch out, Fernando Torres.
But in the unlikely event that Chelsea miss out on their No. 1 transfer target in January, Roman Abramovich will no doubt look elsewhere for another striker to boost his ranks (via Goal.com).
Since storming back to form in September/early October, the Spaniard has scored only once in the Blues' last six games as midfielder Juan Mata has had to pick up the goal-scoring slack.
Time is running out for Torres to prove his quality for an owner not typically known for his patience.
Which Premier League players do you think need to improve this weekend? Are any of the inclusions here unfair?