The Ones To Watch: Unknowns Who'll Take the Premier League by Storm.
By John Fernandez
The new Premier League season is fast approaching and with clubs gearing up for the big kick off, we look at the lesser known talents who will be taking the top flight by storm.
Laurent Koscielny - Arsenal
Koscielny arrived in Britain two years ago from Arsenal feeder club FC Lorient after moving swiftly up the leagues in France.
Wenger made him a top priority signing in the summer of 2009-2010, however Arsenal fans were somehow disappointed by his first season’s form. Forgetting the fact that he had a storming game against Barcelona when they picked up their first-leg win!
Last season though, Koscielny came into his own. While often at Arsenal, the defensive plaudits fall upon Thomas Vermaelen, the 2011-2012 season saw Koscielny develop into, undoubtedly, one of the top centre backs in the league.
Despite his slender frame he never shirks from an aerial duel and possesses phenomenal timing in the tackle. As with any Arsenal player though he plays the ball well and will be an integral cog if Arsenal are to continue to qualify for the Champions League.
Jack Rodwell - Manchester City
Touted for greatness since he first made his debut for The Toffees, Rodwell is fit again and ready to fight for a place in Roberto Mancini's Premier League title defence.
His role screening the back four alongside Belgian powerhouse Marouane Fellaini was integral to the style of football which David Moyes liked to play, but at his new club City, Rodwell will have to pull out all the stops to dislodge either Gareth Barry or YaYa Toure from the centre of City's midfield.
As a traditional box-to-box midfielder his forays forward are also a huge attribute to his game, while his powerhouse of a shot will see him threaten Premier League keepers throughout the season.
While his ball distribution was relatively poor last season before his injury, Rodwell is young and still learning his trade. Training alongside David Silva and co will undoubtedly improve this aspect of his game..
Rodwell has always been one for the future but now he's at one of the Premier League's top dogs, he'll have to show that he has the ability to rise to a very difficult challenge.
Mladen Petrić - Fulham
Linking up with ex Hamburg gaffer Martin Jol, Petrić is the man tasked with removing the goalscoring burden from sharp shooting Texan Clint Dempsey.
He brings with him bags of experience, from the Bundesliga and Swiss leagues.
Playing as either a central striker or a deeper lying playmaker behind the strikers, he has the footballing brain to link up play and score goals from any opportunity.
His ability at dead ball situations will have also caught Fulham fans eyes, with him scoring a free-kick against The Cottagers in their Europa League tie.
While Pavel Pogrebnyak played as more of a target man last season, looking to bring midfielders into play, Petrić’s sharp movement will be key to the interchanging frontline of Bryan Ruiz, Moussa Dembélé and Clint Dempsey.
Jimmy Kébé - Reading
Malian winger Kébé may not be a household name, but if his form of 2011-2012 carries on, he could well be by the end of this coming season.
Kébé plays as a no nonsense out and out winger, using his phenomenal pace and dribbling skills to terrify opposition full backs. His goals tally of just three last season doesn’t paint the full picture though, as he provided 10 assists from the flanks.
He was an ever present on the wing for Brian McDermott’s men and will be a key man next season if he finds form. One thing is for sure, facing Jimmy Kébé will be the last thing opposing left backs will want to do after this season.
Adam Lallana - Southampton
Lallana is a product of the same academy which produced the likes of Bale, Walcott and The Ox. Now while they left to ply their trade at a higher level Lallana waited with Southampton, cementing a first team place since he broke onto the scene.
His development has been superb over the past four years and while Rickie Lambert may gain many of the plaudits, Lallana is the man pulling the strings.
His goal and assist tally over the past seasons has been phenomenal for a midfielder.
If he can make the step up, which all Saints fans think he will comfortably, he could be pushing for an England call by Christmas.