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Five Premier League Players Under Immense Pressure to Perform This Season

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Football can be a high pressure game both on the field and off it, as the departure of Huddersfield Town manager Mark Robins after just the first game of the season perfectly demonstrates. When everything's going right on the pitch it can be a wonderful time to be a player or manager, when it's not, however, it can be stressful to say the least.

Every player in the Premier League is under pressure to be at their best all the time, but each club always has those one or two players whom the fans expect that little bit extra from. Whether an expensive signing, replacement for a departed fan favourite or a player who failed to impress the first time round, this season's Premier League has a few players who will need to be firing on all cylinders from the off to win over the fans and help their team succeed.

5. Mesut Özil

Arsenal's most expensive signing got off to a good start last season and boosted plenty of Gunners' fans hopes and beliefs. A string of fine displays including numerous assists and a few goals had many wondering whether the German had been the missing piece to Wenger's puzzle and that a league title could be on the horizon.

Come the New Year and those dreams were thrown out the window. Özil and Arsenal's performances faded and the title soon became well out of reach. Some lacklustre displays had a few questioning his effort (especially after the 5-1 demolition by Liverpool) and though he did brighten up near the end of the season it was too late for many fans.

There would be pressure on Özil to maintain a consistent level of high performance and truly win over the Arsenal fans this season anyway, but the arrival of Alexis Sanchez really ups the stakes as both vie for the fan favourite position.

4. Romelu Lukaku

Having almost doubled their transfer record in securing Romelu Lukaku's permanent signature for a cool £28 million, Bill Kenwright and the Everton board have finally resorted to spending big to mount a genuine challenge for a Champions League place. And with that big money spending comes a lot of pressure.

While on loan last season, Lukaku's 15 league goals nearly helped the Toffees reach that aim without them having to spend a penny. Performing so well last time means he will be expected to at least match that, but considering they've broken their transfer record, most fans' expectations will be even higher, especially at a club unused to splashing out.

Though less impressive for Belgium at the World Cup and some may question the amount spent on him, Lukaku has already proven he can more than deal with Premier League life. But can he deal with this new added pressure?

3. Daniel Sturridge

Liverpool defied all expectation last season as they took the title race down to the wire thanks mainly to their attacking prowess. With one half of their strike force now gone, a lot rests on Daniel Sturridge's shoulders.

Even though they have brought in some fresh players, Rickie Lambert is in no way a direct replacement for Suarez, Lazar Markovic is as yet unproven in the Premier League and Divock Origi will be spending the season in France. That leaves Sturridge to truly bear Liverpool's striking cross and, to be fair, he did magnificently when in the same position at the start of last season.

At that point Liverpool hadn't just earned their best league finish in five years and taken the title to the final day. That added expectation on the club and Sturridge's shoulders could well weigh them down this time or spur them on to another dramatic season. Either way, Sturridge will be expected to always be on top form.

2. Luke Shaw

When £30 million are spent on any footballer, there's going to be the equivalent amount of expectation for them to live up to such a huge fee. When that footballer is a teenager and the player he's replacing left for around £29 million less, that expectation rockets through the roof.

That's the position Luke Shaw finds himself in. Patrice Evra only cost Manchester United about £5.5 million back in 2006 and gave them eight years of service as a solid choice at left back before leaving for £1.2 million this summer. While there's little to doubt about Shaw's quality and potential to develop into a World Class defender who may well become a Manchester United stalwart, his price tag does seem a tad excessive.

Every Manchester United player will be under immense pressure this season, not to mention the manager, but Shaw will probably be the most closely watched.

1. Roberto Soldado

Tottenham's most expensive player for a few weeks last summer before fellow disappointment Erik Lamela arrived, Soldado struggled during his first season at White Hart Lane. Receiving as many yellow cards as scoring league goals would be an impressive statistic if he was Cheick Tiote, but he's not. Six goals in 28 appearances was poor and considering that most of those were from the penalty spot it was no surprise Tim Sherwood had to bring Adebayor back into the picture.

Unlike Lamela, who spent the majority of the season on the physio's bench, Soldado was given plenty of game time. Having reached double figures in La Liga for the past five seasons a lot was expected of him and seeing as Spurs haven't brought in a new striker yet, Soldado should get plenty of minutes on the pitch again this season.He'll need to at least double last season's tally or else Daniel Levy may well ask Valencia for a refund.

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