With every season there are stars and flops. Every transfer is a gamble in one way or another and every team selection has the potential to prosper or backfire. With that in mind, Here are my 5 players to look out for in the coming season.
Shane Long – £6.5m arrival at West Brom
The former Reading man had a season to remember last term as he smashed in 24 league goals for Reading while falling agonisingly short of promotion. This prompted a summer-long chase from several clubs but in the end West Brom emerged the victors and they paid £6.5m to land his services. In the grand scheme of things, £6.5m is not a hugely expensive fee but still represents an outlay West Brom will wish to see a return upon.
It is up to him to prove his ability and at least 10 goals are expected of him. With his physique and style of play, it would not be too surprising to see him bullied out Premier League games at times but he started well with a goal on his debut – although he may be sending a thank you card to David De Gea for that one.
Marc Albrighton – Aston Villa Youth Academy Product
Villa fans are not in for the most exciting season but a 7th or 8th place finish is within their graps should their key players turn up. One Villa player with an unquestionable hunger to succeed is local fan Marc Albrighton – one of Villa’s wing personnel that frankly looks short on numbers.
He didn’t start the opening game against Fulham, although that may have been a McLeish ploy to say ‘you won’t waltz into my team’. He is already a fans favourite and possess a great delivery within an old fashioned winger’s game. Having seen plenty of first team action last season, he will be aiming to hit double figures in assists as well as continuing to provide a goal threat. Consistent performances could put him in Capello’s thoughts.
Sergio Aguero – est. £36m arrival at Manchester City
He’s either going to take your breathe away or leave you thoroughly disappointed. His goal scoring record is truly phenomenal, his prowess in and around the box unquestionable. Moving for such a large fee, he will certainly feel a weight of expectation on his shoulders and everyone who loves the game of football will hope he overcomes that and shows us all why he is worth so much money.
Through his career both internationally and domestically he has averaged close to a goal every two games and if he were to continue in this vein for City, he will become very popular very quickly. We only hope he doesn’t flop – and that is why he is definitely one to watch this season.
Mauro Formica – est. £3.5m arrival at Blackburn Rovers
A 2011 January arrival at Blackburn Rovers from Newell’s Old Boys, Rovers fans were left in the dark about his ability due to an injury he picked up very soon after signing. He has had the summer to recover and put in a full pre-season training shift however and now Blackburn fans know they have a quality player on their hands.
He looked very impressive in the Barclay’s Asia Tour with some incredibly neat football, particularly against Aston Villa, raising awareness of his abilities. He then bagged Rover’s first of the new campaign with a debut goal against Wolves and it is clear he has talent. Blackburn, in my opinion, are in for a very tough season and Mauro Formica will be a shining light in difficult times. It’s important for them he stays injury free and on form if the the Rovers fans are to be satisfied come next May.
John Arne Riise – £3m arrival at Fulham
It is great to see this particular Riise back in the Premier League. We all remember him well from his time with Liverpool and that ginger head isn’t forgotten easily – and neither is his left foot. It will be interesting to watch John Arne again to see how he re-adapts to life in England.
His time in Serie A with Roma will have been a good experience for him but he has come back an aging player. I have no doubts he will light up Fulham’s left side but it will be interesting to see how reliable he is over the coming season. 31 is not old for a footballer in modern days but the way he plays his body might catch up with him. He is approaching his 31st birthday fast. In the short term, however, it’s great to see him back and let’s all hope to see some crackers!
These are my 5 players to look out for – who are yours?
There are many I will watch with intrigue, and narrowly missing out were Nigel Reo-Coker, David De Gea, Phil Jones, Danny Gabbidon and Fabian Delph.
Please follow me on twitter: @stighefootball
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