By Craig Pearson on August 5, 2014
As the Premier League teams all put the final touches to their squads ahead of the new season, it's clear to see the varying situations and pressures that different players find themselves in at both the top and the bottom of the standings. The new season promises many failures, successes, ups and downs, and here are 10 players who must deliver for their team to go up rather than down in 2014-15.
Olivier Giroud had a good season in the Premier League last year with 16 goals, but it was Arsenal's inability to defend against the better teams in the league which ultimately let them down. With no decisive step forward on defense or with a defensive midfielder this summer, the pressure will once again be on the attackers to balance the team out. Giroud could also come under pressure for his position from new signing Alexis Sanchez.
Tottenham Hotspur signed Erik Lamela for £30m when Gareth Bale departed for Real Madrid last summer. Lamela had a terrible first season due to both injuries and form, and the Argentine will now be looking towards the new season to fulfill his true potential. Lamela is undoubtedly talented, but he just needs to show it consistently. If Spurs are to challenge for a Champions League place this year, then Lamela must do exactly that.
As Liverpool made a bid for Premier League glory last season, they did so on the back of the 101 goals they scored. The problem for Liverpool was the defense, and with Luis Suarez now gone also, a solid Liverpool back line is even more important this season. Dejan Lovren has been signed to help that exact area of the team, and Liverpool will need Lovren at his best to improve the defense and take some of the pressure off the Suarez-less attack.
West Ham United have endured a poor preseason and have particularly struggled to score goals. That is a trend which continues from last season, and with Andy Carroll continuing to pick up injuries, it will be a concern for the upcoming season too. Enner Valencia has arrived, however, after his performances at the World Cup, but Valencia will now inherit the pressure of scoring the necessary goals for the team to try and avoid relegation trouble.
Roberto Martinez was so happy with Romelu Lukaku's loan spell at Everton last season that he decided to splash £28m this summer to sign him permanently. It's a wonderful signing for Everton, but with that, the club will be looking for the Belgian to repay that fee by helping the club gatecrash the Champions League places. To do that this season, though, Lukaku will have to perform like never before.
Joe Hart had a shaky season overall last year for Manchester City, although he finished extremely well in the end. But City boss Manuel Pellegrini still decided to bring in Willy Caballero this summer, a signing which puts huge pressure on Hart to perform. With City being so offensive, it does leave the defense exposed, and City will need a reliable goalkeeper for them to have success with their style -- whether that's Hart or Caballero.
Most of the teams hovering around the relegation zone all struggle to score goals consistently, and that is why a player like Christian Benteke is so priceless for a club like Aston Villa. Paul Lambert's men look like a team that will once again be fighting for survival next season, and for them to repeat their feat of avoiding the drop again, Benteke will have to be the one to score the goals that keeps the club afloat.
Juan Mata didn't have a great season at Manchester United last year, but not many did. This season, though, there is renewed optimism, and with Mata seemingly set to play his preferred central attacking role, there will be no excuses for the Spaniard not to perform. With Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney as the two strikers, they will just need the service to fire United to success, and it will be Mata's job to be the chief supplier.
Chelsea easily had the best defense in the Premier League last season, but the lack of goals in attack meant they only finished third in the final standings. Diego Costa has now been signed to put that right, and for Chelsea to win the league, Costa is going to have to deliver those goals in his first season in England.
How do Liverpool replace the 31 goals that Luis Suarez scored last season? With all due respect, Rickie Lambert is not the answer. Liverpool need to tighten the defense so they don't need all of those 31 goals, but what they also need is for Daniel Sturridge to be even better than he was last season. Whether Sturridge can actually better his 21 goals of last season is questionable, but for Liverpool to challenge for the title, he'll have to.
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