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It's a big season for...

Ahead of the new Premier League season, ESPNsoccernet puts together a selection of ten players who need to deliver.

Joe Cole

What happens to a wunderkind when he reaches the age of 30? We'll find out this season as Joe Cole is back from a lovely season on loan with Lille where, by all accounts, he played quite well, enjoying his football and the quiet life of rural France. Liverpool were in dire need of some creative thinking in the final third last season but, while there will be plenty of column inches written about the future of £35 million striker Andy Carroll, his fellow Englishman Cole has the most to prove at Anfield. Did anybody else notice how Cole's career hit the skids after Steven Gerrard said: "Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better"? If he can provide anything close to the form of the world's best player this season, Liverpool will be very pleased indeed.

Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere

"Hopefully, we will get Wilshere back playing for October. With Abou Diaby returning, it will be like signing two new players," Arsene Wenger said, without a hint of irony, ahead of the new season. Revealing his reasons for not getting out the chequebook, Wenger said he was pinning his hopes on two players with questionable injury records over the last few seasons.

Wilshere, the great hope of English football, perhaps warrants a bit of faith given his obvious talent, but Diaby - the first name on the French teamsheet, according to AW - is not someone Arsenal fans look to with confidence. He has made just over 100 appearances for the club in six years. If the Gunners' hopes of competing alongside the big spenders of the Premier League are being built on two shaky foundations, there is cause for concern.

John Terry

Mr Chelsea, the leader of the old guard at Stamford Bridge and the man who has made headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past few years, has got to keep his nose clean this season as he leads Chelsea Mark II in their quest for the Premier League title. With Didier Drogba gone, Terry's role as team captain will be under even more scrutiny, both on the pitch and in the dressing room. Alongside Frank Lampard, the defender is also likely to be the subject of a sub-plot over their futures with the England national team.

Carlos Tevez

The 2011-12 season was rather a nice one for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez. Last seen refusing to warm up in Munich in October, he arrived back at Eastlands towards the end of the campaign to pick up a Premier League winners' medal and enjoy the plaudits with the rest of his hard-working side. Now Tevez is 'happy' (as happy as a man can be on £250,000 a week) and doesn't seem to be pushing for a move anywhere: he will be keen to prove that he is worthy of a first-team place. With Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Eden Dzeko all of the mindset that they should be striker numero uno as well, Tevez might find himself marginalised. And that could be interesting.

Nemanja Vidic

Vidic damaged his cruciate ligaments during his side's exit from the Champions League group stage against FC Basel in December 2011. Not having played in 2012, it will take time for the Serbian defender to gain his full fitness but Manchester United will hope that he quickly recovers his form when he does return. One of the best in world when fit, his organisation was missed in the United backline last season and his experience will also come into play with the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones looking for guidance. Of course there is also the little matter of regaining the Premier League title from rivals City: as the captain of the deposed champions, this will mean more than anything.

Papiss Demba Cisse

The most expensive signing of January 2011 also proved to be one of the best in Premier League history as the Senegal star hit 13 goals in 14 games to lift Newcastle to the brink of the Champions League. But if he thinks the English top flight is easy, he'll be in for a shock - teams will be far more aware of his threat this time around. With an eye for the spectacular and plenty of power and pace, he linked up brilliantly with fellow countryman Demba Ba and will be expected to do so again. How he deals with the spotlight will be key.

Joey Barton

Given that his last act in the Premier League was getting sent off for kicking Sergio Aguero, attempting to headbutt Vincent Kompany and almost getting into a fight with Mario Balotelli in one of the greatest games the Premier League has seen, we'll have to wait to see Joey this season: 12 matches, to be precise.

It is questionable whether, when he does return, it will be in the colours of QPR - the club may well decide that he is more trouble than he is worth. Loan moves have been mooted, but surely this season can't go past without another incident involving this headline-making machine. At the very least, his Twitter feed will make even more interesting reading.

Michael Dawson

Torn ankle ligaments ruined his season last time around, but Dawson will be eager to prove he is no crock as he targets a regular first-team place under new White Hart Lane coach Andre Villas-Boas. At one point in his career, the centre-back was being talked about as the next John Terry (at least on the pitch), with plenty of praise heading his way. However, with Ledley King hanging up his boots and 28-year-old Dawson no longer able to rely on 'potential', the time has come for Tottenham to see the best of him. Avoiding injury will be vital to his hopes, and a place in the national set-up could be in the offing if he can maintain his form.

Michel Vorm

Watching the man who made your team great - Brendan Rodgers - walk out of the door must have been hard to take when you knew you had turned down offers from bigger clubs yourself. The Swansea goalkeeper excelled to such an extent last season that matching his achievements in this campaign seems nigh on impossible, but he will be under considerably more pressure in a new system under a new coach: Michael Laudrup. As the last line of defence, Vorm will find himself either hero or villain on more than one occasion.

Grant Holt

It's not often that Arsenal and Norwich have much in common but when Holt made it clear he wanted to leave the Canaries this summer, they could empathise with the Gunners' plight with regards to Robin van Persie. Norwich, however, got a better result as they persuaded their striker to sign a new deal, with new boss Chris Hughton succeeding in his first aim at Carrow Road. How the crowd in East Anglia react to Holt will be interesting but, given that he bagged 17 goals in 37 appearances last season, one feels he may be forgiven as soon as he finds the back of the net for the first time.


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