There were some players last season that didn't live up to their billing, and here are five that need to step up in order to prove themselves and aid their team in their individual quests this season, whether that may be for the title or to avoid relegation.
Ron Vlaar – Aston Villa’s captain has to lead from the front this season if they are to progress as a football club. They’re a relatively young squad, with either a young or inexperienced back four, which is why Vlaar has to step up. He needs to pass on his experience to players like Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker if they are to become a formidable defensive outfit. Then the two full backs Antonio Luna and Matt Lowton, both young and with not much Premier League experience, have to learn from Vlaar because he does have the experience. It may only be his second season in the Premier League, but he has 19 caps for Holland and was Feyenoord captain for two seasons before he joined Villa.
Sergio Aguero – This one may be a little harsh, but for me, he’s the only City striker that is guaranteed to start. A massive void has been left with the departure of Carlos Tevez, who was a tireless and tenacious worker for Manchester City, which means Aguero has to be much the same. He’s made a good start to the season, and has already shown that he is a clinical finisher in the big games as well as the less important ones. The ethos is upon him to score the team’s goals from up front, Alvaro Negredo has made a decent start to his City career, Stevan Jovetic hasn’t really set the world alight yet and Edin Dzeko is, if nothing, consistent when he plays. But Aguero has to work harder than last season if City want to regain their Premier League crown.
Adam Johnson – Such a promising talent at Middlesbrough, and has shown what he can do at Manchester City and on the international stage with England, but lack of first team football meant a move to hometown club Sunderland materialised. But, he hasn’t really replicated his form there, and Sunderland find themselves in turmoil, without a win so far this season in a run that meant they said ciao to Paolo Di Canio and hola to Gus Poyet. A whole host of players joined over the summer and haven’t got going yet, especially players such as Jozy Altidore and Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini, who has only shown glimpses of what he can do. But for Johnson, we know he’s got the talent to cut it in the Premier League, he needs to show it if Sunderland are to stay up this season.
Kenwyne Jones – Stoke need goals, and they don’t have many strikers. Jon Walters, Peter Crouch, new boy Marko Arnautovic (who has been playing on the wing this season) and Kenwyne Jones are Stoke’s attacking options, and to suit the new style of football that Mark Hughes is trying to implement, the strikers have to be able to utilise themselves more and not just be a target man, and I believe that Jones is the most capable of those four, and Mark Hughes seems to agree with me, starting him for the majority of his games in charge. Jones can hold the ball up, take it into feet, distribute it well, and take on a player and beat him. He has to prove it this season, and show the ability that Mark Hughes clearly has confidence that he can produce.
Bryan Ruiz – To be honest, there is a lot of players that I could have picked from Fulham; Brede Hangeland, John Arne Riise and Damien Duff to name a few, but the one I have chosen is Bryan Ruiz. He is a playmaker, and at times can do incredible things with a football, scoring some spectacular goals. The problem is, that’s all he seems to do. He’ll occasionally pop up with a world class strike, but not come to the forefront for a couple of months or so. What he needs is consistency, to be able to dictate the play and take some pressure off Berbatov. After all, that’s what a playmaker has to do – make the play. I hope for Fulham’s sake that we see a more consistent Bryan Ruiz this season.
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