The 2012-13 English Premier League season is about to kick off. Our staff of EPL writers, who cover the teams and do all the player notes on the site, have been asked for their top sleepers and busts. Here are their thoughts:
Nicholas Pitner, RotoWire writer
Santi Cazorla (M) Arsenal- Arriving in North London after being sold by debt-ridden Malaga, Cazorla figures to be a main stay in the Arsenal midfield this season. The Spanish midfielder is capable of playing through the middle or on either wing and is noted for his precise passing and dribbling touch, which should allow him to fit seamlessly in the Gunners' midfield alongside compatriot Mikel Arteta and Alex Song. After nine goals and five assists in La Liga last season, Cazorla fills the void left by Cesc Fabregas, who was sold to Barcelona last summer, and should have a similar impact as the focal point of Arsenal's attack.
Moussa Dembele (M/F) Fulham - Dembele enjoyed his second Premier League season last year with Fulham, helping the Cottagers finish ninth. While his numbers of two goals and two assists in the Premier League suggest little fantasy value, they do not tell the whole story. Linked with clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid this summer, Dembele is Fulham's midfield catalyst, often playing short passes and making penetrative dribbling runs. Now 25 years old, the Belgian is poised for a big statistical season, especially since Fulham has strikers Bryan Ruiz and Hugo Rodallega and midfielder Clint Dempsey to finish the chances Dembele will surely create.
Marko Marin (M) Chelsea- After spending his entire career playing in his native Germany, Marin makes a £6.5m move to Chelsea this season. Noted for his small stature, Marin is a diminutive midfielder who often uses his low center of gravity to dribble past defenders or sneak passes by them. Although Chelsea's midfield is loaded, Marin was a part of the club's new recruitment of technically sound, rather than powerful players, and the 23-year-old could be one of the Premier League's leading assist men this season, after tallying five in 16 Bundesliga appearances for Werder Bremen last season.
Pavel Pogrebnyak (F) Reading- While playing in the Premier League last season on loan at Fulham, Pogrebnyak managed to score six goals in 12 appearances. This summer, Reading won a bidding war to bring the Russian to the EPL permanently from Stuttgart. At 6'2", Pogrebnyak has the kind of stature to withstand the physicality of Premier League play and should lead the line for Reading this season, who won the English League Championship last
Emmanuel Adebayor (F) Manchester City- Sure Adebayor totaled 17 goals and 12 assists last season in the Premier League, but this is not last season. Since then, the hot-headed Adebayor has been forced to return to his parent club, Manchester City, after spending last year at Tottenham and refusing to accept a pay-cut to stay there. At City, Adebayor is just another player lost on the depth chart, with Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, and Edin Dzeko all seemingly in front of him, not to mention Carlos Tevez, whose future is also up in the air.
Danny Welbeck (F) Manchester United- After an impressive nine goals and five assists in the Premier League last season and one goal in the Euros this summer, the 21-year-old Welbeck looks to be on the rise. However, Manchester United's pursuit of Arsenal striker Robin van Persie could see Welbeck's playing time diminish, as Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov are also on United's books. Last season, Welbeck was able to hold off Hernandez and Berbatov, but if van Persie is brought in, and the younger Welbeck is forced to the bench, his consistency and moral could suffer, negatively effecting his play.
Jamie Carragher (D) Liverpool- At 34 years old, father time is beginning to take his tole on the accomplished Liverpool defender. Last season, Carragher only made 19 Premier League appearances, drastically lower than what he is accustomed to. Additionally, other centerbacks like Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have established themselves in Liverpool's defense, making Carragher more of a fill-in defender.
Kevin King, RotoWire writer
Grant Holt (F) Norwich City - The price per production is off the charts at that number. On the market, he sits behind ten guys who are not even starting strikers on their respective clubs. Holt scored 15 goals in 35 games in 2011-12. Durable, consistent and the focal point of everything the Canaries do on offense, Holt is extremely undervalued because he doesn't play for one of the big clubs.
Hatem Ben Arfa (M) Newcastle - Ben Arfa was absolutely brilliant to close out the 2011-12 campaign for Newcastle. The French midfielder has a great stable of forwards in front of him that he can supply the ball to. The Magpies are making Ben Arfa a central part of their plans for 2012-13, and like Holt, his price tag is probably a bit lower than it should be because he doesn't play for one of the big boys.
Brad Friedel (G) Tottenham - Don't let your American bias lead you to putting Friedel into your squad. Rumors have circled all summer long that Spurs are looking to upgrade at keeper. At 41, Friedel is a manageable keeper, but the great keepers are not that much more expensive, and you know those guys will still have their job come September, more than you can say for Friedel.
Papiss Cisse (F) Newcastle, - OK. It was a great story a year ago. Cisse joined the Toon from mid-table Bundesliga side SC Freiburg in January and became the most prolific scorer in the entire Premiership, scoring 13 times in 14 games. With the added burden of Newcastle qualifying for Europe and the fact that he'll be the focus of opposing defenses, Cisse is incredibly overvalued.
Robert Trayah, RotoWire writer
Fernando Torres (F) Chelsea -: Is it really possible to call a £50 million transfer a sleeper? After last seasons failure to fire, Torres should be pegged for a big season. With no Didier Drogba, only health will keep the Spaniard out of the starting 11, and with recent midfield additions, he's going to have plenty of opportunities at Stamford Bridge.
Darren Bent (F) Aston Villa - After making the transfer to Aston Villa, the striker made an immediate impact. However, his last three months were marred by injury. Now, when healthy, he has the chance to showcase his talents as a pure scorer again and will get an added boost when Gabriel Agbonlahor returns.
Vincent Kompany (D) Manchester City- Coming off the form of his life in which he was named captain, Kompany is due for a regression year. He was named last season's EPL Player of the Year, but must now face the challenge of trying help Man City repeat as Title holders. For the cost, you can find other defenders to fill your roster.
Nathaniel Peters-Kroll, RotoWire writer
Pavel Pogrebnyak (F) Reading - Pogrebnyak's first action in English soccer was a loan spell with Fulham in the second half of the 2011-2012 season. He banged in six goals in 12 appearances for the West London club while competing with the likes of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele for goals. In Reading, he will likely be the target man for a side that finished 6th in the Championship in goals scored last season, despite winning automatic promotion. If Reading are to threaten staying up in the Premiership, Pogrebnyak will have to pour in 15 goals for the Royals, ala Grant Holt for Norwich City last term. The Russian international will be out to prove that he will not be the failure that Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Yuri Zhirkov were when they were brought to the EPL.
Jack Wilshere (M) Arsenal - Although he is out until October with nagging ankle and knee injuries, if the English youngster can prove he is over those injuries, he can turn in a big campaign. Even if RvP is sold, Wilshere will still have a spot in the midfield and will link up with Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and new additions Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, and Lukas Podolski. With all of that firepower, it's hard not to imagine Wilshere's technical and creative ability being an asset for the Gunners. It is a gamble, with the 20-year-old coming off an injury, and never being a big goalscorer, but he will be hungry to put an injury-riddled season behind him and help Arsenal challenge for
Javier Hernandez (F) Manchester United
Danny Welbeck (F) Manchester United
With the Red Devils emerging as the frontrunners for Robin van Persie's services, there will be a considerable glut of strikers on the red side of Manchester. In Sir Alex Ferguson's 4-4-2, Rooney and RvP will claim spots in the starting XI most of the time, Chicharito and Welbeck will be left to pick up the scraps. Both of these young, talented strikers will have to make the most of the opportunities as substitutes and in other competitions, because it will be very unlikely they will see many appearances with van Persie onboard. Obviously, this is speculation, but with Manchester United getting closer to the Dutchman's signature, Hernandez and Welbeck both have to be questioning their place in the club.
Isaac Elyacharshuster, RotoWire writer
Scott Sinclair (M) Swansea City - Sinclair burst onto the scene this summer when as a sub he gave Great Britain the lead over the United Arab Emirates late in a group stage game of the London Olympics. Professionally Sinclair had bounced around to a handful of English clubs as a Chelsea loanee, but finally found a permanent home in Wales starting in 2010 when he scored 19 Championship goals in Swansea City's promotion campaign to the EPL. Last year Sinclair scored eight goals in his first full EPL season, and he should be able to score more as Swansea will look to him as an offensive spark plug because of the summer departures of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Joe Allen.
Micah Richards (D) Manchester City - If Richards is able to establish himself in the Manchester City starting XI he should figure to be a strong fantasy presence. Richards is great in the air, so with regular service on set plays he will be able to score a decent amount of goals. Whether Richards is able to get into Roberto Mancini's side is yet to be determined, but the 2012 Olympian showed his versatility by being a strong presence in the center of the Great Britain defense, which may give him extra opportunities to play if a series of injuries happen to the likes of Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, and/or Kolo Toure.
Ashley Cole(D) Chelsea - Even though Cole is still one of the better defenders in the Premier League, he can't be consider one of the better fantasy defenders anymore. Cole has not scored a goal in the past two Premier League campaigns, and while he had six EPL assists last year it was a career high which means he may not be able to repeat that performance in 2012-13. Cole also did not get a full summer's rest as he started in all four of England's Euro 2012 games, and he may be a bit distracted with a contract dispute that may end his time with Chelsea if both sides can't agree on a salary.
C.J. Radune, RotoWire writer
Tom Cleverley (M) Manchester United - Cleverley looked poised to have a break-out season in 2011/2012, but was cut short due to injury. He missed most of the season, but has returned this summer. He is playing full matches again, and looks just as sharp as he did prior to the injury last season. He will be called to action more often this season after Park Ji Sung's departure, and could score many goals, and should provide plenty of assists.
Fabio da Silva (D) QPR - This is a young Brazilian defender who has talent, but needs playing time to earn more experience. His skill was good enough to get him a starting position in some of Manchester United's biggest matches last season. Being on loan at QPR, a club with less depth and competition in defense will allow him to add minutes to his resume while facing the league's best. If he can add experience to his talent, he could be a starter at any club in the league.
John Terry (D) Chelsea - Too many scandals off field in the past few seasons are bound to take their toll on the aging defender. He is due to answer charges of racial abuse by the FA, and could be suspended a number of matches. Life off the field has been filled with controversy, and that will take its toll. His cost is nearly £1 million higher than other defenders who will see just as much time and production.
Dante Willerton, RotoWire writer
Fraser Fyvie (M) Wigan - He has a ton of range as well as the potential to be a tremendous all-around player. If Victor Moses is out then there will be a ton of ground they will need to cover in the midfield and his range will net him an opportunity to cover it.
Jim Riggio, RotoWire writer
Fabio Borini (F) Liverpool - I'm not convinced he is ready to be a starting center forward for a top club. He had a good season last year with AS Roma, but wasn't spectacular. He was the last man on Italy's Euro 2012 team and didn't play a single minute in the tournament. He is young and could turn out to be a solid player, but I'm not sold on him yet. Roma cashed in on him and reinvested with Mattia Destro, who has a much higher ceiling.