After a long, hot summer filled with plenty of football, we now stand between what’s left of the work week before the Premier League returns with guns blazing, before Arsenal look like world beaters for four months on all those pristine green pitches before the weather turns, and before your least favorite post, Premier League Footballer of the Week returns with an unabashed arrival.
If you’re an Arsenal fan or don’t understand self-deprecating humor, then you’ve probably already stopped reading. If you have a sense of humor and a halfway open mind, here are four top four players I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on (and why) this season for one reason or another. Liverpool fans, maybe next time.
Daniel Sturridge – Chelsea: Having joined Chelsea from Manchester City in 2009, Sturridge looks set to have a break through season at Stamford Bridge after impressing last season for Chelsea in the FA Cup and more recently in the FA Community Shield v Manchester United last Sunday. Upon his arrival in the Community Shield, Sturridge injected pace into Chelsea’s attack with his probing runs, movement and positioning in front of goal, a welcome arrival to a stuttering Chelsea attack.
Although he’s still struggling with a niggling ankle injury that kept him from appearing for the Blues on their recent pre season trip to Germany, the England U21 insists he’s constantly improving. The talented Sturridge still has work to do to break into the first team at Chelsea. At only 20, Sturridge has Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in front of him in the Chelsea pecking order. But if he can take his early chances and impress Carlo Ancelotti, Sturridge could have the break out season his potential says he can have. If he fails to impress right off the bat, he’ll likely be relegated to Cup duty but could still be one for the future.
David Bentley – Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs look set to build upon their fantastic season last year as they’re favored to advance to the Champions League group stages for the first time in the club’s history. As Gareth Bale last season made more than good on his potential, another young Spur hopes to do the same. Arguably yet to really break through into regular first team action at Tottenham, Bentley had shown flashes of brilliant play for the past two seasons, but has equally showed some dull moments in attack.
As Spurs approach a season where they’ll potentially have an extra load of Champions League fixtures, Harry Redknapp will have to use the majority of his squad to assure Spurs don’t burn out or neglect other competitions. Used to playing second fiddle to Aaron Lennon on the right wing, Bentley will get his chance to re-gain a starting spot and to impress for Spurs in the upcoming and most important of seasons.
Marouane Chamakh – Arsenal: The silky smooth French striker (but playing internationally for Morocco) acquired from Bordeaux will be a welcome addition to Arsene Wenger’s squad as Arsenal look to capture some silverware this season. Upon hearing about Chamakh’s move to Arsenal some months ago, I immediately realized the 26 year old could potentially be that piece up front that Arsenal have lacked in seasons past. Whether through injury to Robin van Persie, the inconsistency of Niklas Bendtner, or the massive hole left upon the departure of Thierry Henry, Arsenal have lacked a consistent goal scorer not named Fabregas over the past few seasons.
Equally as good with his right foot or with his head, Chamakh will score goals for Arsenal this season. He’s just come off a sub-par campaign in Ligue 1 finishing sixth with Bordeaux but also helped Les Girondins finish first in their group and reach the quarter finals of the Champions League. Chamakh has recently stated he ‘already plays the Arsenal way’ and that his move to the Gunners was a ‘dream’. Also dreaming: Arsenal fans hoping Chamakh will come good and help bring trophies to the Emirates. Chamakh, sure to impress.
Paul Scholes/Ryan Giggs – Manchester United: As young players and new additions to the Premier League such as Daniel Sturridge and Marouane Chamakh (respectively) interest me, so too do the old guard, the experienced, and the living legends of the Premier League tractor beam my peering eyes to their performance.
Not much really needs to be written about the brilliance and timelessness of Scholes and Giggs that hasn’t been written before. As fans loose track of and attempt to count just how many seasons the dynamic duo has represented United at the senior level, the talented midfielders quietly go about their business. Training, acquiring match fitness, already a sharp knife, Giggs and Scholes will ready themselves for yet another campaign and look set to methodically use their skills on the pitch: spreading the ball with accurate passes, linking with forward players, scoring important goals and leading the team by example.
Just how much longer can the two effictively push on is yet to be known. What is known is that until the two hang up their boots, they’ll impress United fans by keeping them on their toes wondering what they’ll come up with next.