Picking the Most Exciting Player to Watch from Each Premier League Team
As the 2014-15 Premier League season draws closer, fans around the globe are looking forward once more to seeing their team's star players trot out and strut their stuff on a weekly basis.
While pundits will regularly look to a "best" player in each team—a hugely subjective term in football matters, of course—to have a telling impact over the course of the season, on any given matchday there will be another player in the lineup who fans turn up to watch.
That player will be one of the more exciting players, who can help win a game or rescue a point with their own brand of genius, even if that is flawed, inconsistent or still in the process of being fine-tuned in a younger player.
Here is the most exciting player to watch out for from each of the 20 top-flight teams over the coming season.
Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez is almost a blueprint for an exciting player.
He is a goalscorer, has great pace, dribbles at players, works the final third and is a brand new signing.
Of course Arsenal have plenty of other talents available to them who can make an impact, but Sanchez is going to take the attack up a level if used properly, and his natural traits on the pitch make him hugely exciting to watch.
Aston Villa: Brad Guzan
Not every exciting player has to be in the final third, of course.
Aston Villa set up to defend and counter last season, and judging by their summer activity it will be much the same this time around.
Brad Guzan is an agile, athletic and consistent barrier to goal, performing heroics and making improbable saves to keep Villa in matches at times—he's the one to watch this season at Villa Park.
Burnley: Danny Ings
It can be tough for newly promoted teams to accommodate exciting players in the side at times when they are trying to become more solid defensively. In Burnley's case, the most exciting player is likely to be one who comes with a big reputation but everything to prove in the top flight.
Danny Ings has been spoken about for England recognition and transfers to bigger clubs, but at 22 years of age this will be his first season in the Premier League.
Last season's Championship Player of the Year has much to do to show he can cut it at this level, then, but his enthusiasm, optimism and opportunism as a young striker will aid his progress.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
Like Arsenal, Chelsea have a few who could be classed as the most exciting—but, if he hits top gear, Eden Hazard is a cut above the rest.
A phenomenal dribbler at high velocity, Hazard can beat several men at once and get a shot away as he moves left-to-right across the pitch, also opening up space for others.
In tight matches or against tough defences last year, it was Hazard who was looked to for inspiration and creativity. Although he has more help in that department this season, it will again be the Belgian who must come up with the goods most often. Helpfully, he's well-equipped to deal with that expectation.
Crystal Palace: Jason Puncheon
Crystal Palace quickly became functional and organised under Tony Pulis as they waltzed away from relegation last season, but a handful of players retained an individualistic licence in the side.
Wide forward Jason Puncheon was one, and he should certainly look to build on a good campaign from last year by being Palace's main man in attack, with his great pace down the right flank and ability to cut in and shoot on his left foot.
His acceleration is vital on the counter, and he can score goals too.
Everton: Ross Barkley
Young Everton midfielder Ross Barkley had a fairly spectacular time of things all told in 2013-14, with the usual ups and downs of a teenage player's form.
There is no doubt he is an enormous talent, though, and he can make another big difference to the Toffees' upcoming campaign.
His terrific acceleration and bursts through midfield make him hugely entertaining to watch, at times with a spectacular outcome at the end of those runs.
Hull City: Tom Huddlestone
Hull have a couple of options—Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass are both interesting arrivals, given their usual system of playing—but Tom Huddlestone is the player who makes the team tick.
In no way as spectacular or mobile on the ball as, say, Hazard and Alexis from earlier in our list, Huddlestone nonetheless exudes class on the ball, and in terms of excitement, he is easily capable of changing the tempo and direction of the game with his control and passing range.
He makes things happen and spots the runs of others—a visionary in what is at times an otherwise mediocre side in technical terms.
Leicester City: Marc Albrighton
Leicester have tried to add some pace and offensive threat to their side with the signing of Marc Albrighton on a free transfer, and though he hasn't quite done it up until this point, there were signs at Aston Villa that he could be a very effective winger.
Now perhaps getting regular starting time, Albrighton's dramatic pace and good crossing ability could be a massive outlet for Leicester and make them a horrible side to play against on the counter.
Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool have a handful of talented attackers who are extremely exciting to watch, but Philippe Coutinho just gets the nod over Raheem Sterling for now.
Coutinho has superb ability to change direction, burst away from players and dribble directly at the defence, but he also possesses great timing and weight on his final pass when attempting to release the forwards ahead of him.
Whether from a wider position or a central one, Coutinho makes the Liverpool team tick in possession and continues to grow as one of the league's top talents.
Manchester City: David Silva
Manchester City similarly have a number of final-third players who are exciting in the extreme, but the second half of last season saw David Silva feature at somewhere around his best level and, when he does so, few can match him for talent or impact.
If he can find that rhythm again early on this season, City's attacking play will begin with real menace.
Dribbling, passing, movement off the ball—Silva has it all and can open up any defence in the world with the ball at his feet.
Manchester United: Juan Mata
Manchester United look set to play the 3-5-2 variation during the start of the season, which Louis van Gaal favoured at the World Cup with the Netherlands, meaning Juan Mata should get the nod as the starting No. 10.
In that role he becomes vital to the flow of the attack, required to find space, turn and either play in a striker team-mate or drive toward goal himself.
Luckily for United, those are all the things Mata excels at, and he should be looking to find his very best form extremely quickly this season in that position.
Newcastle United: Remy Cabella
Newcastle were badly lacking in creativity and attacking inspiration last season, so Remy Cabella will be looked to to provide plenty of both.
Capable of playing from the flanks or more centrally, Cabella will excite the fans with his willingness to run with the ball at his feet, take on defenders and split opposition defences with through passes whenever possible.
Combined with the intelligent movement of Siem de Jong alongside him, this could be a double signing that makes Newcastle's season.
Queens Park Rangers: Joey Barton
Excitement comes in many forms, and Joey Barton brings several different variations.
He's a player who has long believed himself to be ranked in the upper echelons of the league's stars, but he hasn't been in the Premier League for two years now. Barton will turn 32 shortly into the new season, so he is running out of time to display his talents.
Barton certainly brings QPR a level of ability between the middle and final thirds that make him bear watching, while he naturally attracts other kinds of attention for past misdemeanours. How he readjusts to the top flight could be key in Rangers extending their stay beyond a single season.
Southampton: Dusan Tadic
In among all the emergency evacuations from Southampton has been the largely ignored signing of Dusan Tadic—but it's a great one for Saints.
Tadic is an extremely capable attacker from the left side, drifting infield to attack the far post and looking to create chances for others too.
He'll get goals and trouble defences and, without knowing who else they might sign to replace the departures yet, could turn out to be Southampton's most important player as well as their most exciting.
Stoke City: Marko Arnautovic
A few years ago we might have made Bojan Krkic the most exciting Stoke City player—but then, a few years ago, we'd have also laughed at the notion of Bojan signing for Stoke.
Marko Arnautovic remains their maverick attacker, and even though the side clearly plays better, more offensive, fluid football now, he is the one player who can really open a game up through a moment of magic in possession.
The Austrian should be looking to add a few more goals to his game, but his running with and without the ball remain key for Stoke regardless.
Sunderland: Adam Johnson
It's not really happening for Sunderland in the transfer market yet this summer, and the squad is looking thin as a result.
Rather by default at present, their most exciting player is Adam Johnson, with his pace and dribbling remaining the biggest feature of his game, along with his ability and reliability to crack off four or five shots per game.
The problem he—and Sunderland—have is that after a month of great form, Johnson will go missing entirely for the same period of time.
Swansea City: Jonjo Shelvey
Swansea City have great pace in the wide areas, but their most exciting player is Jonjo Shelvey for his dynamism, propensity to pull off ridiculous feats with shots and passes...and habit of committing errors that give other teams chances.
He really is a match-winner for the Swans, but his inconsistencies also mean he has the potential of losing games, or at least points, for them at times too.
Still maturing and growing as a player, Shelvey will naturally evolve and improve, and watching the ride is guaranteed excitement along the way.
Tottenham Hotspur: Erik Lamela
Now, clearly, this is a huge leap of faith. Aaron Lennon, Christian Eriksen, one or two others...Spurs have players with ingenuity and acceleration who are certainly exciting in the right system.
But the system is key here. If there's one manager who focuses on shape, movement, possession and offensive game plans, it's Mauricio Pochettino.
And if there is one forward who thrives on making use of space, being able to attack centrally and directly from a flank starting position and not being asked to play as a wide midfielder, and who can have a great impact if used properly, it's Erik Lamela.
The Argentinian duo could be a perfect match for Spurs.
West Bromwich Albion: Brown Ideye
West Brom haven't added enough to their squad yet to be considered a definitely safe side for the upcoming campaign, but their use of record signing Brown Ideye will be fascinating to watch.
He's extremely quick, can play through the middle or wide and works hard to win back the ball before heading directly for goal. Ideye is explosive, confident and now playing in England for the first time.
He's also horribly wasteful with his shooting at times, but he will be the Baggies most exciting player if regularly started.
West Ham United: Mauro Zarate
"Exciting" and "Sam Allardyce" go together about as well as "FIFA" and "credibility" usually, but Big Sam has had his orders and offensive football is the buzzphrase of the season at Upton Park.
Mauro Zarate is a quality player who finds himself in strange surroundings, all things considered, but he has the individual ability to make a real difference to both the Hammers' style of play and their effectiveness in the final third.
Get him on the ball—to feet—and West Ham could suddenly find themselves with a gem of a creative, goalscoring forward in their midst.