Premier League stars face make-or-break season

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Manchester United midfielder Anderson is facing a make-or-break season at Old Trafford this year, as the Brazilian looks to prolong his stay in England and prove he can succeed in the Premier League.

The 24-year-old signed for the Red Devils in a £17million deal from Porto in 2007, but has seen his progress over the past five campaigns hampered by a succession of injuries, resulting in a failure to hold down a regular place in Sir Alex Ferguson's first-team.

Now, with the arrival of midfield duo Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell, from Borussia Dortmund and Crewe Alexandra, competition for places is as fierce as ever, as United look to mount a challenge to regain the domestic title from local rivals Manchester City in 2012-13.

"This is my most important campaign at United. I need to prove what I can do [and] know I have to be very focused on my football," confirmed Anderson. "I'll still have a laugh and a joke with my team-mates but I know I must really concentrate on my job. I really want to show what I can do this season, produce my best and help the team.

"I know the boss and my team-mates believe in me, I've just had bad luck [with injuries]. I want to improve as much as I can. I've been training for a few days now and I feel good. I just want to stay fit. Hopefully I can get a run of playing, enjoy my football and help the team."

Restricted to just 10 Premier League appearances last term, Anderson's detractors have begun to question whether the South American can withstand the rigours of English football, and hinted that he may be better moving back to warmer climes in Portugal, having recently been linked with Benfica.

But, Anderson is determined to prove his doubters wrong, and show he has the physical, mental and creative ability to warrant his place in United's star-studded squad, that will embark on a trophy challenge both domestically and in Europe, in the Champions League.

"I feel good. I had a nice holiday and I've had no problem with my leg," he added. "This season it's very important that I don't have any more injuries. I'm still young and I can't let myself get down because I've had two bad injuries.

"It's important to stay happy because I'm at the best club in the world. I really want to show what I can do this season, produce my best and help the team."

Of course, Anderson is not the only player drinking in the 'last chance saloon', with high-profile players from a number of the Premier League's top clubs facing similar situations.


Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole has returned from a season-long loan spell in France with Ligue 1 outfit Lille, and under the stewardship of recently appointed Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers, will be looking to prove his worth to the club.

The 30-year-old scored four goals and made numerous assists in 27 appearances as Les Dogues secured a Champions League berth, and will hope that form can be carried into the new campaign in England.

"It's great to be back," enthused Cole in a recent interview at the club's Melwood training ground. "It's a clean slate for everyone, so I'm delighted to be back. Training has been good - and it's nice to be back in England and nice to be back in Liverpool.

"I'd like to be given the opportunity to play, learn and improve, and join this great team. It's a great group and I would like to be involved in this team and really push on."

Whilst Cole has spent 12 months in the Premier League wilderness, Chelsea striker Fernando Torres faces an entirely different dilemma. After picking up the European Championships Golden Boot Award in Poland and Ukraine this summer, the Spaniard is expected to hit the ground running when he returns to action at Stamford Bridge this season.


The 28-year-old finished the 2011-12 campaign strongly, with impressive performances in the build-up to the Blues' FA Cup and Champions League successes. And, following the departure of Didier Drogba, the £50million man must now step up to the mantra as Chelsea's go-to man for goals this year.

Roberto Di Matteo has warned Torres he is by no means guaranteed a place in his starting line-up, though, and the fact that the club continues to be linked with big-money moves for a number of different strikers, is an indication that failure to deliver the sort of form that the former Liverpool marksman's price-tag warrants, will surely result in his sale next summer.

Across the capital at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger is facing an entirely different scenario to Di Matteo, as the Frenchman looks to keep hold of a growing number of the Gunners' top talents. Robin van Persie looks destined to leave the Emirates Stadium after revealing his intentions not to extend his stay in north London, as he enters the final year of his contract.

Theo Walcott is another player in the same situation as Van Persie, but the England winger is understood to be willing to commit his future, providing the club meets his reported £100,000-a-week wage demands. Arsenal are not prepared to match those terms, and with Walcott's list of potential suitors considerably shorter than their captain's, are not in a rush to conclude negotiations.

The 23-year-old winger is a common target for criticism from Arsenal's growing contingent of frustrated fans, and in many respects this season will prove a make-or-break campaign for the former Southampton academy graduate as well. Walcott must either prove he is worth such financial investment, or at the very least attempt to showcase his skills to alert the attention of club's that may consider signing him.

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