With the EPL season in a lull, it is the perfect time to take a look at which players will be most valuable to their teams this season. Scattered throughout this slideshow is a list of 20 players that will be the most important to their respective clubs from now until May. It is not a list of the best players on each team, but of the figures that each team simply must rely on in the upcoming months. Enjoy!
After Nasri and Fabregas jumped ship, suddenly all Gunners fans looked to WIlshere to be this season’s savior. After being named last seasons PFA Young Player of the Year, he has obtained enormous amounts of pressure on his shoulders to finally lead this Arsenal team to glory. However, after suffering an ankle injury in preseason, the prodigious midfielder has not been able to calm the panicking nerves of fans and assert himself as the starlet many expect him to be. When he returns, he will have to live up to the optimistic fan base and stay calm. Until then, we wait.
Possibly the most underrated striker in the Premier League is going to have to take on an even bigger role this season at Villa Park. The losses of Downing and Young on the wings mean Bent will have to create more shots for himself if Villa has any chance at competing for a Europa League spot. Also at 27 years old, Bent is approaching what will be his first and final World Cup campaign. If he has any chance at playing on the biggest International stage, he must perform for Villa this season. It is a season full of potential and pressure for Darren Bent.
No surprise here. After an extremely disappointing transfer market it seems as though Blackburn is undoubtedly heading for another bottom half finish. However, things might be even more sour come next Spring if the Rovers’ star defender decides to take a big paycheck and move to a more stable club. We are just three weeks into the season and Blackburn is already looking to disappoint yet again. That being said, Rovers’ survival hopes might just rely on Samba’s loyalty to the club.
The American midfielder was truly instrumental to Bolton’s success before tearing his ACL in mid-March. He was named Bolton Wanderer’s Player of the Year last season and could very well win the award again this year once he regains top form. With Lee Chung Yong also out for the season, Bolton will need to rely on Holden’s service to produce dangerous scoring opportunities in what will likely be a rebuilding year.
Key Stat: Bolton went 2-0-7 without Holden, 10-10-9 with him last season.
Surprised it is not Torres? Why should you be? Chelsea have proven that they can win with El Nino being nothing more than an attractive coat-rack on the field, so he certainly can’t be the most important. Lampard vice-captains this team, runs the offense, and gives everything he has on Saturdays. Without Frank controlling the middle, Chelsea’s clockwork attack would be all out of whack.
Undeniably, when Howard is playing his best, Everton is one of the most solid teams in the league. Just last week Howard made an incredible seven saves, keeping the Toffees in the game all the way to the 90th minute when Mikel Arteta could slot home the winner. Howard gives the defenders confidence and allows the wing backs to slide up more to create more scoring opportunities. Take Tim away, and Everton just isn’t as tough a team.
The two strikers have equal importance to this Fulham squad. Simply put, one of these figures will have to pick up the goal-scoring load and demonstrate the same swagger in the box that Clint Dempsey had last season. Whether it is Dembele doing a little less dancing and a little more finishing, or Zamora time-traveling back to 2010, one of them must assert themselves as an offensive leader on this squad.
Liverpool’s season will rely just as much on Suarez’s play as it will his attitude. When he is playing with motivation and composure, he can be the best player on any pitch that he is on. However, once the theatrics arise and the diving and complaining begins, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize the man is a less-dangerous attacker. In a season that will test Liverpool’s nerve and firepower, the Reds can’t afford to have anything but ALL of Luis Suarez.
Hear me out on this one. With Mancini’s offense more loaded than a taco bell burrito, there really isn’t any concern that City won’t be able to score goals. If Dzeko isn’t performing, Balotelli can step up. If Milner disappoints, Nasri could inspire. Therefore the only real question is will the City defense hold up their part of the bargain. So far the team has looked solid in the back, but Kompany’s Community Shield nightmare is something that simply cannot happen if City is serious about contending for a title.
Now I am not here to report the recent blunders of the newly signed Spanish keeper, but I am here to give some people a reality check. We all know the United offense and defense can play with anyone in the world, but if De Gea doesn’t regain his confidence and prove to the fans that he can handle the spotlight, this season might not end as glamorous as last year. De Gea must start feeling comfortable some time soon or the critics will just keep eating away his confidence.
With Barton, Nolan, and Carroll all gone, someone else will have to pick up the goal scoring load. Hatem Ben Arfa has the potential to be that attacker if he can stay healthy on the pitch for the Magpies this season. Is asking Ben Arfa to be the Newcastle savior too much to ask? Maybe, but as of right now they don’t really have another option.
Although Norwich hasn’t seen too much of the ball so far this season, midfielder Wes Hoolahan has made the most of his opportunities when he has been called upon. He opened his premier league account against Wigan three weeks ago and looked somewhat dangerous in last weekends matchup against Chelsea. Could he be this years Charlie Adam? Let’s wait and see.
Rangers only hope at surviving the drop is if Taarabt’s fancy flicks and turns can translate to this level. So far Taarabt has looked more interested in entertaining the crowd than scoring goals, which is part of the reason why QPR finds itself with just three points after three winnable games. Last week, QPR was shut out by Wigan, and if Taarabt can’t be the creator and scorer that we all expected, there is going to be a lot more where that came from.
The same team that was the fifth worst in GF last season only added hopelessly lanky Peter Crouch to their attack at the end of the transfer window. Crouch surely doesn't have the capabilities to transform Stoke's offense into a respected one by himself, but if Stoke can find another attacker to help complement his size in January, City's poor attacking form might just change for the better.
Also predicted by many to be this years EPL newcomer of the year, Sessegnon could be the missing piece of Sunderland’s lackluster attack. His chemistry with Asamoah Gyan has already created multiple scoring chances and his speed could cause problems for even the best defenses in the league. I’m sure you’ll be hearing much more of his name as the season goes on.
Sinclair might be the fan favorite, but Michel Vorm is going to be the one who can single handedly pick up points for Swansea. Vorm really raised eyebrows against City in week two and showed why he is one of the highest paid players on Swansea’s limited salary roster. He won’t be scoring any goals, but he could salvage multiple points with his saves this season.
With Keane gone, Defoe aging fast, and Pavlyuchenko inconsistent as always, Adebayor will have to be THE poacher on the offensive end for Spurs. Of course the Van der Vaart and Bale duo will net a few goals before the season is done, but when you look at the rest of the roster, no other attacker is capable of scoring the necessary double digit goals that a top six team like Tottenham must have. Adebayor has the talent and helping cast, now he just needs to impress.
Although he doesn’t always get the appreciation, Chris Brunt is the double A batteries to this team. He silently runs the offense and feeds the forwards appetizing crosses and through balls. Although Shane Long might get most of the attention, without Chris Brunt, this team is nothing more than a championship team.
Being linked to some of the top clubs in the world must certainly be distracting for a young player like Rodallega. For the same reason as Samba-Blackburn, if Rodallega does depart, the move could be detrimental to the club and cost Wigan their premier league spot. His transfer situation makes his commitment very important and him the most important player on the squad.
Hunt is another player that does not get enough credit for everything he does for his team. Though some may not be fond of him, his energy and aggressiveness make him so useful for a young squad like Wolves who could use a little bite in their game. Hunt’s competitiveness and hustle make him so very important to this surprisingly decent team.