Story by Steve Berry
GK – David De Gea- Man United
The Man United number one had a shaky first season in the Premier League. At times he looked like the kid at school forced to wear the goalies jersey and at others a genuine replacement to Van Der Sar. The less the press talked about him as the season progressed seemed to show that he had started to settle and this campaign could be the making of him.
RB- Matt Lowton – Aston Villa
A solid right back for Sheffield United, the 23 year old has bags of potential and plenty to prove, exciting fans after his move to Villa. He already has over 90 caps to his name in the lower leagues and whether he is up to the challenge of the top tier is yet to be seen, but his new manager Paul Lambert has an eye for finding hidden gems from divisions below.
CB – Steven Caulker – Spurs
Following a fine season on loan at Swansea in 2011/13, Caulker will be keen to impress his parent club. Selected in the Team GB squad, he’s expected to play a key role this summer with Stuart Pearce holding him in high regard. While he may not start every game for Tottenham he’ll certainly be knocking on AVB’s door.
CB- Jan Vertonghen – Spurs
Tottenham have been desperate to snap up the Belgian Centre Back, and have finally concluded a deal believed to be around £12 million. With Ledley King’s future in doubt at the club, Vertonghen looks like a very good replacement. Highly regarded for Belgium, the 25 year old won the 2011-12 Dutch Player of the year after winning the Eredvise for Ajax.
LB- Ryan Bertrand –Chelsea
Chelsea fans have thought for years that Bertrand would be the man to succeed to Ashley Cole and after his shock inclusion in the Champions League Final, this season could be a big year for the 22 year old. Another to be included in the Team GB squad if he impresses this summer he could be pushing for a left back or left wing spot at Stamford Bridge.
RM- Adam Johnson – Man City
After the disappointment of again not featuring in an England squad this summer, Johnson will really have to show his worth this season if he wants to remain at the top. After a fairly quiet campaign in 2011/12, he’ll have to impress in pre season to get anywhere near Man City’s first XI but if he can reproduce some of the form he is capable of he can be a real handful for the champions and England.
CM – Ross Barkley – Everton
The Everton youngster has been on several top clubs’ radar for a few years now following the comparisons to another certain scouse superstar who rose through the ranks at the Toffees. Now 18, Barkley has made nine club appearances in total and signed a four year contract in December. Expect to see plenty more of him in the season ahead.
CM – Oriol Romeu –Chelsea
The former Barcelona youngster looked impressive when he burst on the scene last season with several solid performances for the blues. With Michael Essien looking like his best days are behind him, Romeu will want to build on his 22 caps and show his former club what they are missing.
LM – Stewart Downing – Liverpool
The highly ridiculed left winger really has to prove his £20 million price tag after a dismal zero goals and zero assists in the league for Liverpool last year. While he didn’t make any appearances in Poland and Ukraine this summer his inclusion in the squad still left many people baffled. This year he must try and recreate some of the form he showed at Aston Villa or face being labelled one of the most expensive flops in history.
ST – Grant Holt – Norwich
It’s been a busy summer for the Norwich captain. After missing out on an unlikely spot in England’s Euro 2012 team, Holt threw his toys out the pram and demanded to leave the club that’d made him what he was, following contract disputes. The club buckled and gave the 31 year old a new three year deal, but the pressure will be on the former tyre fitter to reproduce his form and not suffer second season syndrome.
ST – Olivier Giroud – Arsenal
Arsenal fans had their worst fears confirmed when Robin Van Persie announced he wanted to leave the club a few weeks ago. However it’s not all doom and gloom at the Emirates following the arrival of strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman was the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 last season and the Gunners faithful will be hoping he can produce more than their last acquisition from the French leagues, Maroune Chamakh.