Last weekend’s Community Shield action between Chelsea and Manchester City merely wet the appetite of Premier League fans across the world and with the English Premier League season’s big kick off just around the corner many fans, pundits and wanna-be arm chair know-all’s like myself are getting their predictions in on who will perform best and who are the important players to watch.
For me there are four major contenders for this year’s English Premier League title with a dark horse outsider as a fifth potential contender. Each of these teams has a wealth of talent. However, of each of these teams there is one player that i feel will be vital to the title challenges of their teams.
Arsenal – Santi Cazorla – Midfield
Arsenal have been on a bit of a spending rampage in comparison to previous seasons and despite signing big names such as Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, in my opinion Santi Cazorla will be the most exciting and influential for this upcoming season. The 5ft6 midfield magician possesses sublime passing accuracy and range, which could be the key for Arsenal unlocking those tricky stubborn defences which have plagued them for years. The Spanish international is now 27 and should really be hitting his peak about now. If Cazorla brings his style of direct running, his deadly passing and his versatility to Arsenal’s midfield they have a chance at mounting a serious title challenge.
Chelsea – Fernando Torres – Attacker
Fernando Torres didn’t have the best of starts to his Chelsea career after his big money move from Liverpool but after a change of manager and a rich vein of form at the business end of last season, Torres looks as sharp as he has ever been. After picking up an FA Cup winners medal and a UEFA Champions League winners medal as well as the European Championship Golden Boot for Spain en route to winning the European Championships. Torres was quickly ailed as a bit of a super sub following his performances from the bench but I firmly believe Fernando Torres has much more to offer the premiership and Chelsea. If Fernando Torres picks up where he left off he could put Chelsea in the mix and put himself in with a shout at the Premier League Golden Boot.
Manchester City – Yaya Toure – Midfielder
Yaya Toure has been nothing short of a revelation since joining Manchester City, he influences everything on the pitch. His pace and strength make him a handful for midfield’s and defence’s around Europe. His long striding runs towards the box tend to create space for others or give him the opportunity to rifle venomous shots in at opposing goalkeepers. Toure, much like last season, will single handedly win games through the course of the season. In my opinion Yaya Toure is the most influential player in the Manchester City dressing room and if he was to suffer injury this season it would be detrimental to their title chances.
Manchester United – Shinji Kagawa – Midfielder
Last season Borussia Dortmund surprised many by doing a domestic double, Shinji Kagawa was a vital part of the team that achieved that.The 23 year old Japanese international scored 21 goals and made 10 assists last season in all competitions. Kagawa has already been wowing fans in pre-season and looks like he could be the missing link in an otherwise misfiring midfield. At just 23, Kagawa is clearly a signing for the future but Manchester United fans will be hoping he will have an instant impact. I believe his incredible passing ability and vision could be the catalyst to propel the Red Devils back to success.
Tottenham Hotspur – Rafael Van Der Vaart – Midfielder/Forward
Last season the Dutch playmaker scored 11 goals and bagged 7 assists. Now in his third season at White Hart Lane and after narrowly missing out on Champions League football for the forthcoming season you can be sure that Van der Vaart will be wanting to step back up to that quality of football. As one of the few Dutch players to give a reasonable account of himself at the European Champonships I fully expect Van der Vaart to step up and become the pivotal playmaker of Tottenham. With speculation surrounding Luka Modric rife yet again, Van der Vaart needs to step into that role and contribute more goals and more assists to push Tottenham forward and make them a more consistently potent attacking unit. If Van der Vaart can stay fit along with Gareth Bale and they can both perform at their best, then maybe, just maybe, Tottenham have an outside chance at doing something special, especially with the supposed manager boy-wonder Andre Villas Boas at the helm.
After the most exciting and explosive end to a season last time around this season looks set to be more competitive, more thrilling and full of even more nail-biting, panic attack inducing, nerve rattling twist and turns.