Monday, August 6, 2007

EPL Players to Watch

Most major European soccer leagues either began their domestic competition this past weekend or are kicking if off this coming weekend. The biggest of them all, the English Premier League (Barclay's is insistent on calling it the BPL, but they're not paying me) kicks off this Saturday and Sunday.

There was a flurry of action this off-season and plenty of transfers to speak of. With that in mind I thought I'd offer up a look at some players to keep an eye on. Even a couple of the EPL doormats (so to speak) have made some moves in an effort to be more competitive and perhaps become this year's Portsmouth (P'mouth was around the top of the table for about half the season), if not pull a surprise and make a run similar to Sevilla's in Spain last year.

Obafemi Martins

Martins is one of my favorite players. Whenever he takes the field you can pretty much bank on him being the fastest player out there. Even though injured a good part of last season he still managed to score double digits in goals, and none more spectacular than his strike at about the 2:30 mark in the video above, which was perfectly placed at a blistering
86mph. If Michael Owen can successfully return from his own bout with injury, Newcastle is going to have a hell of a front line for defenders to contend with. Signing Onyewu and getting rid of Bramble in the back line should help out their miserable defense...look for Martins to be running by opponents all year long.

Martin Petrov

Petrov is a speedy winger coming to Manchester City from Spanish club Atletico Madrid. Petrov also had a spell with Barcelona as well as time in Germany. The reason I think he's someone to watch is mostly because new City manager Sven is adding some real pieces to a City side that was pretty lackluster this past season. If Petrov's fellow Bulgarian, striker Bojinov, manages to land at City look for some pretty interesting Manchester derbies this season. Manchester United won't just be able to walk over the improved City side.

Florent Malouda

Possibly Chelsea's biggest acquisition this off-season was French international and striker/winger Florent Malouda. He starred at French juggernaut Lyon this past season and also looked very much on form at the World Cup in Germany this past summer. He's already proven his stuff for the Blues in pre-season matches and should work well with Drogba and Shevchenko up front.

Fernando Torres

Here's the rundown:

1) He's Spanish
2) He's apparently good looking (though he does look a bit like one of the guys in those Cal Ripken insurance commercials)
3) He's really good at scoring goals
4) He has "Torres" tattooed on his Tolkien Elvish?

I'll let #4 pass because the appropriately nicknamed "El Nino" is a beast up front and is a MASSIVE upgrade over the (thankfully) departed Craig Bellamy for Liverpool.

Eduardo da Silva

Let's face it, nobody can replace Thierry Henry at Arsenal. Wenger went out and signed this Croatian/Brazilian striker da Silva. He looks like a quality finisher but it's yet to be seen if he'll be able to help the young Gunners stick to the top of the table or if they'll just be a "work in progress" yet again.

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