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Ten Premier League Players To Watch In 2010


A new decade, a new year, and 10 players I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on for one reason or another in 2010. We all know Drogba, Rooney, Torres, Defoe and the lot will get their 20+ goals and single handily place their teammates on their shoulders and march onwards. But what about the role players that could make or break their clubs championship winning run, help their club break into the top 4, or save their club from relegation and a year in the Championship?

Lest we not forget the players on the brink of earning a ticket to South Africa. Most of, if not all of the 32 nations competing in the World Cup Finals have their starting eleven solidified, but there’s still a few valuable bench spots left open for those fringe internationals that will have a few short months to prove their worth and make the trip of a lifetime.Without further ado, I’ll attempt to explain why I’ll be watching these 10 Premier League players and what’s at stake for them in 2010.

  • Joe Hart – Birmingham City, Goalkeeper – The Good – In my opinion and on current form, I believe Hart to be England’s #1. A regular for the U21’s, Hart has been called up by Don Fabio a few times but has only seen limited action. On loan at City (Birmingham) from City (Manchester) Hart recently displayed arguably the performance of the year in goal at home in a 0-0 draw with league leaders Chelsea. A major contributing factor in Birmingham City’s current 8th place position. Strong, commanding and solid in goal. The Bad – Age and experience. Will need more top-flight matches under his belt to break into the senior England squad. Will need to prove he can sustain top form over the course of a 38 game Premier League season. Must also maintain his current run of form to be noticed by Capello. What to Watch For – A ticket to South Africa.


  • Gabriel Agbonlahor – Aston Villa, Forward – The Good – Incredible pace, strength and he’s a goal scorer (he recently scored the winner at Old Trafford). Villa have been flirting with a top four finish for a few years now with Agbonlahor contributing his pace and goal-scoring abilities to a team largely made up of English players. The Bad – Currently carrying a heavy work load for Villa – risks burn out and also like Hart, still young and in need of more experience. Also has a slight tendency to disappear from big matches from time to time. What to Watch For – Slim chance of making South Africa, so more important to Agbonlahor and Villa fans, a top four finish.
  • Eduardo da Silva – Arsenal, Striker – The Good – The Brazilian-born Croatian is a natural goal scorer. He could be the difference between Arsenal winning the title and simply finishing 3rd. At his best, Eduardo is easily a 20+ goal a season scorer. The Bad – much talked about (and I’m sure still remembered by Eduardo himself) horrific leg injury from 02/2008. Eduardo still hasn’t returned to top goal scoring form since the comeback. What to Watch For – The league title. If Eduardo can regain his predatory instincts in front of goal, the high-flying Gunners have just as good a shot at the title this year as any team. Arsenal will need a fit striker to help relieve some of the burden on Cesc Fabregas if they are to stay in the hunt before the return of Robin van Persie.
  • Dimitar Berbatov – Manchester United, Striker – The Good – Silky-smooth passer, proven goal-scorer (all time leading goal scorer for Bulgaria), creative player that when on his best can score three goals or set up three goals just as easily. The Bad – £23.40 million price tag that in all honestly hasn’t been paid off just quite yet for United. Often criticized for his lack of pace, movement and effort, the languid striker has work to do and goals to still score for United. What to Watch For – Manchester United’s fourth league title in a row. Like Arsenal, United will need another proven goal scorer if they are to finish top. Berbatov could risk losing his spot to Michael Owen if Owen starts scoring regularly for United.


  • Jozy Altidore – Hull City, Striker – The Good – the 20-year old American striker has a physique like a bull, he’s strong with the ball at his feet and has pace. He’s definitely headed to South Africa as long as he’s fit. He’s scored meaningful goals for the United States, but will want to start scoring goals for Hull City to stay playing. The Bad – Altidore is currently on loan to Hull City from Spanish side Villarreal where he didn’t impress. Villarreal loaned him to Xerez in the Spanish Segunda where he suffered a minor toenail injury never actually making an appearance for Xerez. Jozy needs to fit in at club level quickly. Although he’s only just 20, he won’t want to be continually shipped back and forth to different clubs and never settle. What to Watch For – Hull City face a tough relegation fight and Altidore could be the bit of pace and quality they’ll need to get a scrappy goal or win a penalty (like he did against Manchester United recently). Will also want to prove to United States teammate Clint Dempsey (Fulham) that he too belongs in the Premier League.
  • Alessandro Diamanti – West Ham United, Attacking Midfielder/Forward – The Good – The Italian applied his trade in the lower divisions of Italian football before impressing in 2008-09 with Livorno scoring 20 goals and assisting in their promotion to Serie A. The Bad – the 26 year old is new to English football and won’t have a comfortable settling in period as the Hammers have struggled in the first half of the 2009-10 season. What to Watch For – West Ham will need Diamanti’s experience in a gritty, grind-it-out type of match they’re sure to see as they, like Hull City, look set for a relegation dog fight.


  • Darren Bent –  Sunderland, Striker – The Good – On current form, Bent cannot stop scoring goals for Sunderland putting in 13 this season thus far and while he’s at it, seems to have formed a pretty formidable strike force with Kenwyne Jones. He’s strong, a big target and has natural finishing abilities. The Bad – Sunderland’s recent dip in form could cause England boss Fabio Capello to not take notice. In Bent’s most recent call up – an international friendly with Brazil – he failed to impress in an abysmal England attack resulting in a 1-0 loss. What to Watch For – A ticket to South Africa. If Bent stays fit and continues to bang in goals for club, Capello will have no choice but to call him up. Bent is on pace to score 25+ goals this season.
  • Maynor Figueroa – Wigan, Defender – If you haven’t seen Figueroa’s goal v. Stoke City from his own half, check it out here. The Honduran’s absence was a large contributing factor to Wigan conceding 9 goals v Tottenham at White Hart Lane recently. The Bad – No offense to them, but Wigan seem to be one of the most unglamorous clubs to play for in the Premier League. Although they’ve been in the top-flight now since 2005, Wigan look set for mid-table mediocrity as long as they stay up. What to Watch For – Figueroa will represent his country in South Africa this summer and Wigan have no shot at a top four finish, so Figueroa will look to make a big summer move to a top four club.


  • Rafael da Silva – Manchester United, Right back – The Good – A Dani Alves type Brazilian defender who loves to bomb forward in attack, Rafael is a burst of pace and a hard tackle waiting to happen. With Gary Neville facing inevitable retirement sometime in the near future, Rafael could claim the starting right back spot for United. The Bad – Rafael could also be a yellow card or red card waiting to happen. His youth is equal parts positive and negative as he can run all day, but he needs to mature as a footballer and hasn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt he can cope with the demands of United’s crowded fixture list year after year. What to Watch For – Unsure if Rafael has a shot at representing the loaded Brazil in the World Cup. More important for Rafael at this point is his contribution to a depleted United back line. With injuries continuing to pile up at Old Trafford, Rafael has a chance to be a major contributor as United look to claim their fourth straight title.
  • Nigel de Jong – Manchester City, Defensive midfielder – The Good – The Dutch international has quietly been incredibly effective for City this season as they look to become the new kid on the big 4 block. de Jong suffered a semi slow start to his career at Eastlands, he’s since claimed his midfield position with solid performance after solid performance as the holder in midfield. The Bad – Knee injury kept him out of World Cup 2006. He’s been a regular in the Dutch side ever since and baring match fitness will represent Holland this summer. What to Watch For – Possible top four finish. His spot with Holland confirmed, de Jong will prove a huge factor in helping City break the top four this year. City’s back line has barely looked stable this season in most matches. With de Jong at his best protecting City’s back line, City will have no problem banging in goals with their potent attack force.


There you have it, 10 players to definitely keep your eye on this year. Most of them won’t score 20 goals or be voted player of the year, but their small contributions week in week out for their respected clubs will go a long way in deciding the fate of their season and possibly their country at the World Cup Finals.

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  1. Cozz

    January 1, 2011 at 5:14 am

    What?!?!?! Load of crap…van de vaart….Gareth bale???????????
    Tottenham am doing AMAZIN this year and not one of there Players am On the list!!!£

    • John L

      January 1, 2011 at 7:14 am

      This was published a year ago today. Van der vaart wasnt in premier league yet and Bale was didnt really play often till a bit later in January of 2010.

  2. Cozz

    January 1, 2011 at 5:13 am

    What?!?!?! Load of crap…van de vaart….Gareth bale???????????

  3. Amos Lence

    February 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

    No Steven Pienaar? The Everton Sensationalist…? Every EPL list that lacks Pienaar at the helm doesn’t deserve any credibility…

  4. robert

    January 3, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    good list. i especially agree with agbonlahor.

    i think with all the injuries to arsenal, the one crucial cog has been song. he’s the backbone they absolutely need. it’ll be tougher times for them defensively while he’s in africa. and ramsey? man that kid’s impressing.

  5. Jeff

    January 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I have been impressed with Hugo Rodallega from Wigan. He is turning out to be a mighty fine striker and is becoming one of the best in the Premiership. He seems to pocess the same power and finess much like Drogba. I’m not a Wigan fan but I love watching them play because of some of their young up and coming players like Rodallega and Figeroa.

    Another player to watch out for is Antonio Valencia. He keeps getting better and better with each passing game. He has finally added goal scoring to his many other great attributes. By the end of the season he could be a big reason United win their 4th in a row. And he is an ex Wigan player. While at Wigan Steve Bruce sure knew how to find great young talent and great young unknown South American talent.

  6. Scott

    January 2, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Lee Cattermole?, James Milner?,

  7. Peter

    January 2, 2010 at 7:22 am

    The only bad you could find for Nigel De Jong was that he’s had a bad knee injury. That’s hardly his fault is it. De Jong is better and more important to Man City then anybody else, yes more then Barry, Bellamy and Tevez. Him and Given are the only players capable of defending in the City team.

  8. Gordon

    January 2, 2010 at 1:32 am

    We, “the Gunners”, are expecting a trophy this seaon which lies in the hands of two players and Edwardo is one of them. But Edwardo still lucks that confidence may be he thinks they gonna do it to him again.

  9. john

    January 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    aston villa should seriously sign guti from RM. they really need some classical creativity in the squad that isnt provided by anyone apart from Young and he’s still inexperienced

  10. patrick

    January 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Berbatov ? really?

    Have you seen his play of late. lazy. disinterested. are kind words. He just looks bored in Manchester.

  11. Reynaldo

    January 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Figueroa is going to be an outstanding player. Speed, Stamina, Physique, Motivation and he is just an incredibly humble guy that always seeks to impress. Hendry Thomas is another potential star to keep your eye on. He has the most successful rate of tackles in all of the Premier League. Wigan has some real stars. Shame that they play for Wigan.

  12. EPLCenterCircle

    January 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I strongly have to disagree on Eduardo. He seems to lack the mental toughness to play for a big four squad. He’s been having a horrendous time finishing once he gets through, he just seems to get scared at the big moment. Yes he has scored in the last two matches, but one was all Diaby’s work and the other was an extremely lucky deflection.

    When I watch Eduardo during matches it seems like he is playing scared, like he doesn’t want the ball and doesn’t want to go hard to win it. I don’t know how much his injury has affected his mentality, but he is lacking the mental strength to be on a top for team. If he continues to play scared he’s going to have a hard time finishing, not to mention he’s putting himself at a higher risk for another injury by going into challenges soft.

    • Gunner JD

      January 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

      I think you’re right on the mark with regards to Eduardo, EPLCenterCircle. As has been discussed above, it’s the lads like Diaby, Ramsey, Walcot, Wilshire or what have you that should be Arsenal’s representative on a list such as this (not to say Arsenal automatically deserve to be on the list, but if the author makes space for Eduardo and not one of these other players, well, then…).

  13. letranger0

    January 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Rafael has no chance at making the WC squad with Maicon and Dani Alves ahead of him. Fabio has more of a chance since Brazil have no good left backs except Bastos who would be better playing higher up the pitch. Of course Fabio will only get regular playing time if Evra gets injured.

    Berbatov is only at risk of losing his starting position if United buy a new striker in January or if the new kid Diouf turns out to be some kind of superstar. Owen hasn’t taken Berbatov’s place yet and he won’t, Sir Alex made it clear when signing Owen that he would be used sparingly and as clear third choice.

  14. sucka99

    January 1, 2010 at 11:32 am

    no Jack Wilshire?

    • Gunner JD

      January 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      And for that matter, no Aaron Ramsey?

      • ovalball

        January 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

        !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • jef

      January 2, 2010 at 1:30 am

      i’m actually tipping diaby to really make an impact down the stretch. he’s showing much more confidence on the ball and his finishing is lethal at times. not to mention him trying to prove his worth for france this summer. i can’t believe his isn’t getting more press for what he’s been doing this past month.

      • Gunner JD

        January 2, 2010 at 11:42 am

        jef I think you’re right about that. With Cesc not always there he is being asked to step up to a level he has not been at thus far, and he was given a major shot of confidence from the Professor’s declaration towards the beginning of the season that he envisioned Diaby having an impactful year for them. You can see his confidence recovering from the own goal against Man Utd (which had to be an incredible disaster in his mind).

        Now, while I think Diaby’s contribution will play a more major role in THIS season, I will concede to believing that the whole of the 2010 calendar year will be a significant one for Aaron Ramsey, and thus why I mentioned him and not Diaby. I guess when it comes down to it, the success of the Gunners in the very near future will require both players to have an impact, but the true star in the making here is Ramsey, in my humble opinion.

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