English Premier League Players Poised to Have Breakout Seasons
With the beginning of the Premier League season fast approaching, every player is training their hardest to perform to the best of their abilities.
Each season, a few players emerge from the ranks to become influential stars for their respective sides. Last year the like of Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere performed admirably on the pitch and became household names off it.
So who will emerge as breakout stars this coming season?
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho and Kieran Gibbs
With the plethora of young talent that Arsene Wenger has amassed at Arsenal, there are numerous players who could use the 2011-12 season has a year to make their name.
Aaron Ramsey was a promising 19-year-old before suffering the infamous leg-breaking tackle against Stoke in 2009. The tackle set back the Welsh international almost a year and a half, before he returned to the Arsenal first team in the second half of the 2010-2011 season.
After seven strong appearances, including a Man of the Match performance in a win against Manchester United, Ramsey looks set to improve and form a young dynamic midfield partnership with Jack Wilshere.
Bought from Lille in June for £10.5 million, Gervinho was brought in by Wenger to supplement the Gunners' attack, which was largely dependent on production from Robin van Persie. Gervinho offers Arsenal another potent threat and can be a dangerous asset going forward.
After progressing through Arsenal's academy, Kieran Gibbs has emerged as one of England's top young talents. Though he made his senior England debut in August 2010, Gibbs has consistently found himself behind Gael Clichy as Arsenal's starting left-back.
Now that Clichy has moved on to Manchester City, Gibbs is the clear starter, and he has the opportunity to emerge as the heir apparent to Ashley Cole as England's future left back. Still only 21, Gibbs is a good attacking defender, and Wenger has even mentioned the possibility of Gibbs playing in the midfield.
If Gibbs takes this fantastic opportunity by the horns, he can establish himself in both club and country sides for some time.
Aston Villa: Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark
At 21 years of age, Marc Albrighton is one of the up-and-coming young English talents that many hope will have a bright future.
After the departures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, Villa lost two of their key attacking players. Darren Bent needs service to be effective up top, and Albrighton is in line to take over that duty. Albrighton is effective on both wings and can deliver scintillating crosses that may prove to be contributors to a large portion of Villa's goal tally.
Villa also possess 21-year-old Irish international Ciaran Clark. The versatile player can be deployed in both midfield and defense, and last season was mainly used as a left-back.
After Clark's injury-time stunner against Chelsea, the youngster has been tipped for excellence.
Blackburn: Steven N'Zonzi
After caputring Blackburn's Player of the Season award in 2009-10, Steven N'Zonzi had a down year in 2010-11, as did Blackburn.
The 22-year-old is extremely important to Blackburn. With Jermaine Jones' return to Schalke 04, N'Zonzi is charged with patrolling the space in front of the Rovers' shoddy defense. Now that Phil Jones has moved onto Manchester United and the possibility of Christopher Samba moving on as well, N'Zonzi's job has become all the more difficult.
Bolton: Chris Eagles
The former Manchester United youngster spent years on loan before securing a move to Burnley under then-manager Owen Coyle.
The versatile winger obviously has made an impression on Coyle, as the manager has brought him over to the Reebok Stadium.
Eagles has spent over five seasons in the championship and, still only 25 years old, is now being given the opportunity to shine in the EPL.
Chelsea: Josh McEachran and Ramires
With the injury to Michael Essien and an aging Frank Lampard, Chelsea's midfield will soon need a revamp.
Many of the Chelsea hopeful look to 18-year-old Josh McEachran as a future leader of the Chelsea midfield.
At Chelsea since he was eight, McEachran has developed into a a central midfielder whom many believe is heir apparent to Lampard's throne. With an aging and injury-plagued midfield, it may be McEachran's time to finally get sufficient games under his belt.
However, the more immediate relief for the midfield will come from Ramires. A full Brazilian international and still only 24, Ramires will be expected to raise his game and help carry the midfield. He has now had a full season in the EPL, so there is no more excuse.
Ramires' best quality is his stamina, which can allow him to play in a variety of midfield positions. Don't be surprised to see him platoon with John Obi Mikel in the holding midfield position.
Everton: Jermaine Beckford
After compiling a fantastic scoring record at Leeds United, Jermaine Beckford was brought into Goodison Park in May 2010 on a free transfer. The move looks to be a good piece of work by David Moyes.
After an injury to Louis Saha, Beckford emerged as the go-to striker for the Toffees and should remain in contention for a starting position this season.
His game-winning stunner against Chelsea helped to boost his rapport with the blue side of Liverpool.
Fulham: Pajtim Kasami
Nineteen-year-old Pajtim Kasami was brought in this summer from Palermo for an undisclosed fee after putting in strong performances for the Serie A club. The young midfielder is versatile and can play in most positions in the middle of the park.
Kasami's development strongly depends on how new manager Martin Jol would like to use him. It is possible the Under-21 Swiss international could be used at times to platoon different positions and freeing up other players such as Clint Dempsey into more advanced positions.
Liverpool: Martin Kelly
Up until his hamstring injury in March, Martin Kelly was having a noticeably strong season. He was finally able to make consistent breakthroughs into the first team and put in strong performances at right back, especially against Manchester Untied in the FA Cup and Everton in the league.
His performances helped push established England international Glen Johnson to left back, and the 21-year-old has been tipped to the senior England squad.
The imminent addition of Jose Enrique from Newcastle may force Kelly to split time with Johnson, but the youngster should still have another strong season and possibly earn a call-up to the senior squad.
Manchester City: Micah Richards and Stefan Savic
Due to the major influx of cash at Manchester City in recent years, almost every position is covered by established stars and internationals. The one position that is not is right back.
Don't feel too bad for City, as they now have two very promising defenders in Micah Richards and Stefan Savic.
Richards has been at City since age 14. Now 23, the English right back is in strong contention for the starting spot with Pablo Zabaleta. With his tenacious defending, strong frame and willingness to go forward, Richards could become a regular in City's and England's defense for years to come.
Savic was purchased this summer from FK Partizan of the Serbian SuperLiga for £6 million. Primarily a central defender but with the ability to play on the right, the 20-year-old Montenegro international offers superb cover at both positions.
Savic could come especially handy since Kolo Toure will sit at least part of the season due to suspension.
Manchester United: Tom Cleverley
The retirement of Paul Scholes has left a gap in the United midfield. Rumors still swirl around possible big-money replacements, but Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have a lot of confidence in his youngsters as well.
One of the names at the top of the list is now Tom Cleverley. The 21-year-old is coming off a strong loan spell at Wigan and followed it up with a strong preseason, including notable performances against Barcelona and in the Community Shield.
Sir Alex looks keen to incorporate the young United talent into the first team this year, and Cleverley is one prospect many of the United faithful hope to see more of.
Newcastle: Yohan Cabaye
Yohan Cabaye moved to Newcastle this summer following a championship-winning season with Lille in Ligue 1. That winning attitude is much needed at St. James Park, as the club seems to be selling off most of their top talent.
The 25-year-old French international is a box-to-box midfielder and is a much-needed acquisition after the departure of Kevin Nolan. Cabaye has good vision and passing ability, and could create a significant amount of chances for the Magpies.
Norwich City: Simeon Jackson
Simeon Jackson joined Norwich City from Gillingham in July 2010. Finding it hard to break into the starting XI due to Grant Holt and Chris Martin's striking partnership, Jackson has mainly been used as a super-sub of sorts for the Canaries.
The 24-year-old Canadian international has demonstrated a scoring touch, including a goal against Portsmouth that sealed Norwich's promotion to the EPL.
Don't be surprised to see Jackson continue to be used in a similar manner and still manage to put the ball in the back of the net.
QPR: Alejandro Faurlín
Due to third-party ownership issues, Alejandro Faurlín almost cost QPR their promotion to the Premier League. Despite this mishap, Faurlín is one of QPR's strongest players and is extremely important in their fight to remain in the top flight.
The 25-year-old Argentine is a deep-lying midfielder and, with Shaun Derry, formed a formidable defensive partnership in the middle of the park.
Along with Adel Taarabt, Faurlín is also one of the more creative player in the London side and could be a main supplier to Jay Bothroyd and D.J. Campbell this season.
Stoke City: Marc Wilson
Marc Wilson is a talented utility player who joined Stoke on the last day of the summer 2010 transfer window. The 23-year-old has been described by manger Tony Pulis as "one for the future, without a doubt."
With the backing of his manager, Wilson is sure to get significant minutes this season, especially as he can play as both wing backs as well as central midfield.
Although the Irishman will most likely start on the bench, don't be surprised to see him establish himself as a regular halfway through the season.
Sunderland: Connor Wickham
The much-hyped youngster was subject of interest for many top-flight clubs before signing for Sunderland in June. Wickham is seen as an out-and-out goalscorer, and manager Steve Bruce seems hopeful the boy might be able to form a partnership with star striker Asamoah Gyan.
Still only 18 years old, Wickham has already been called up to the England Under-21 side and seems to have a bright future ahead.
Swansea City: Nathan Dyer
Nathan Dyer joined Swansea from Southampton in January 2009 and has made a significant impact for the Welsh side. Though he has had disciplinary problems in the past, the 23-year-old Englishman is certainly one to watch for the Swans.
Dyer is a winger with significant pace and a small stature, much like Aaron Lennon. Dyer can use his speed to race by defenders and help supply his forwards with service.
Tottenham: Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker returns to White Hart Lane after two successful loan spells at QPR and Aston Villa, respectively.
The Under-21 English right back has impressed with his defensive ability, which has earned his a contract extension at Tottenham until 2016.
Due to rumors linking Alan Hutton with a move away from the North London club and manager Harry Redknapp's unwillingness to sell the youngster, Walker looks tipped to compete for the starting right back spot as Tottenham look to push their way back into the top four.
West Bromwich Albion: Shane Long
Shane Long provides manager Roy Hodgson with a strong attacking option besides one of last season's breakout stars, Peter Odemwingie.
After compiling a noteworthy tally at Reading, the 24-year-old joined the Baggies this summer for an undisclosed fee rumored to be between £4.5 million and £6.5 million, a hefty fee for the Hawthorns side.
The Irish international is coming off a phenomenal season where he bagged 28 goals for both Reading and Ireland, and the West Midlands side is hopeful that the form will carry over into the 2011-12 season.
Wigan: Maynor Figueroa
Honduran international Maynor Figueroa was arguably Wigan's third-best player last season behind Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia.
The 28-year-old is a regular in Roberto Martinez's side who mostly plays left back, although he can also play in the middle.
A strong defender, Figueroa can also provide support going forward, as evident in his assist to Rodallega's promotion-saving goal on the last day of the 2010-11 season.
Now that N'Zogbia has moved onto Aston Villa, Figueroa must have another exceptionally strong season to insure Wigan remain in the top flight.
Wolverhampton: Kevin Doyle
The Wolves barely managed to avoid relegation last season, and if they want any chance of staying up this year, they must increase their goal tally.
That task will be largely charged to Irish international Kevin Doyle. The hard-working 27-year-old is consistently one of Mick McCarthy's top performers, but due to lack of form and injury, he did not have a high goal tally for the 2010-11 season.
As McCarthy often uses a 4-5-1 formation with Doyle as the lone striker, it is imperative for the club that Doyle remain healthy and in good form if the club are to have any chance of survival.
Thanks for reading, and leave a comment below noting other players you expect to have breakout seasons!
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