Complete Premier League Preview
Here is the full list of all our Premier League Previews for the 2012/2013 season. If you want to jump ahead to your club then simply go to this page: Premier League Previews and then click on your team.
We hope you enjoy these previews and if you have anything to say about them then let us know on Facebook. We love a footballing argument.
Players In: Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla
Players Out: Robin Van Persie, Rhys Murphy, Manuel Almunia, Gavin Hoyte, Denilson (loan – Sao Paulo), Carlos Vela, Pedro Botelho, Benik Afobe (loan – Bolton), Ryo Miyaichi (loan – Wigan)
Van Persie has gone to Manchester United. Of all the teams he had to choose they were probably the worst (except Spurs but that was hardly realistic). For Arsenal fans though £24m for a 29 year old with injury problems is about the best negotiating they’ve done for a while. Van Persie will be vilified and the fans will have their say on April 27th when United visit the Emirates.
The fans have been buoyed by the signings of Giroud and Podolski and the eventual capture of Santi Cazorla. Whilst Wenger has said these are replacements for Van Persie, most fans will want at least two more signings. Arsenal may also be looking to sell Song to Barcelona to open up a slot for the long-tracked Yann M’Vila from Rennes (who are about to sign Jean Makoun).
Steve Bould has come in to help the defence raise their arms together and new first team coach Neil Banfield who coached the reserves for 8 years should add some spark to what was looking a rather stale coaching setup.
Arsenal will be forced to change their shape slightly to accommodate the new signings with the central striker no longer a complete number 10. Giroud will start as a target man who the others will look to play around. Expect Cazorla to drop into a hole behind and look for Podolski making runs through the inside left position. Gervinho has looked especially bright in pre-season so perhaps he could become a difference maker this season.
Wenger has spent well and when the eventual clear out of those still hanging around is complete may well have added another couple of faces. They are unlikely to be able to hold onto the might of Manchester City but should be there or thereabouts in March. Arsenal fans will be hoping that with the added strength in depth they may be able to still be competing when trophies are awarded in May.
Players In: Brett Holman, Karim El Ahmadi, Matthew Lowton, Ron Vlaar
Players Out: Carlos Cuellar, Emile Heskey, James Collins
Champions League winner Paul Lambert has risen up through the ranks from Colchester United to Aston Villa in four short years after two promotions and successfully keeping Norwich in the Premier League last year. He will face what could prove to be his biggest challenge in shifting Aston Villa out of the lower mid-table positions that have become too familiar to Villa fans ever since Martin O’Neill left in 2010. The club didn’t win any of their last ten games last season so Lambert will have a lot to do.
Luckily for him the first few fixtures are a chance to get some points on the board and a positive feeling amongst the players and more importantly the fans. After some very barren years with particularly dour football under a dour Scottish manager the Holte End will be hoping that Paul Lambert’s continental experience delivers rather more. If he can get the home fans happy and signing again then Villa Park could be a troubling trip for even the bigger teams and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that.
The transfer ins and outs are tidy if not exciting with useful Aussie winger Brett Holman arriving on a free after 10 years learning the trade in the Dutch league. Ron Vlaar and Matthew Lowton should be solid additions to the defence with James Collins and Cuellar leaving the club. The home support will be hoping for a lot from Barry Bannan, Marc Albrighton and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Other new signing Karim El Ahmadi will hopefully shore up a sometimes porous midfield.
It would be a surprise if the transfer window came and went without them signing another striker as back up to Darren Bent. If he can stay fit Villa will certainly be looking to improve on last season’s 16th place finish. With the three clubs promoted last season all facing up to possible second season syndrome, the three promoted teams and the perennial strugglers including Wigan, Villa should be looking at safety in mid table with a view to next season.
Players In: Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, Thorgan Hazard
Players Out: Jacob Mellis, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Jose Bosingwa, Romelu Lukaku (loan – WBA), Kevin De Bruyne (loan – Werder Bremen), Patrick Van Aanholt (loan – Vitesse Arnhem),
The physical stature of the three main signings: Hazard, Oscar and Marin would probably equate to one Didier Drogba and it is a clear signal of intent to change the way the club play. These three players combined with Juan Mata and the impressive Ramires will look to up the tempo and deliver Fernando Torres’s preferred speedy football. If they can get it right and few would doubt players of their ability then Chelsea could be devastating.
With Torres almost certain to start in a focal number 9 role and Mata, Hazard, Marin, Ramires, Sturridge and Malouda fighting it out on the wings Di Matteo somehow has to find a place for the 34 year old Frank Lampard ahead of at least one of Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and Oscar. Lampard’s role behind Drogba was one of the most effective dovetailing partnerships in the Premier League for years but it is hard to imagine Lampard playing that advanced a role now that he is reaching his twilight years.
At the time of writing Cheslea still need a right back and look a little weak at the back with John Terry in the treatment room far more regularly than he used to be. No doubt a signing will be made at right back and Di Matteo will have some squad to choose from.
The makeup of the dressing room will be extremely interesting for a neutral after AVB’s attempted revolution last year. Di Matteo has been giving the financial backing that Villas-Boas wasn’t so perhaps the revolution will finally occur. Don’t expect it to be televised though, this one will play out in the papers if last year is anything to by.
Chelsea look well equipped to make a real challenge this season but if their star signings don’t click instantly then they could already be off what is sure to be a breathtaking pace by the time it all starts to work. Luckily for them their opening five games are very favourable. If they can use these games to gel as a team then they could be a contender.
Prediction: 3rd/4th followed by a relentless pursuit for Pep Guardiola
Players In: Steven Naismith, Steven Pienaar
Players Out: Joseph Yobo, Tim Cahill, Jack Rodwell, Joao Silva
Start slowly, get it together and finish strongly in 6th – 8th. That was how this preview was going to look before some editorial input ensured a few more details will be shared. Everton fans must be wondering how their side can start so badly so often when their results towards the end of the campaign are always so positive. If anybody can find an answer David Moyes will give you half of Everton’s transfer budget – about £3.50 and half a tube of Pringles.
Jack Rodwell’s move to Man City and Tim Cahill’s transfer to NY Redbulls have freed up a very tight wage bill and added to some seriously empty coffers. Although Everton fans will clearly miss their bright young hope and their pugnacious talisman the harsh truth is one was still a player of potential who hadn’t been able to play more than 17 games a season whilst the other couldn’t find the back of the net.
Moyes has spent brilliantly in the past and all the signs point to another striker coming in to work alongside Jelavic and Naismith. With Pienaar and the evergreen Leon Osman pulling some strings and the spine of Fellaini and Gibson this is looking a much stronger squad even before more signings are made. If they manage to hold onto Baines as well Everton may well even start the season strongly. Only joking.
A shot at European qualification must surely be in the manager’s thoughts with the sale of Rodwell. Having been passed over for so many jobs due to his lack of cup success and European experience perhaps Moyes has started to think a bit more short term and is cashing in to fuel a charge for a top 6 place. Injuries will be a big concern as always but with a couple more signings they could be pushing to finish in the top 6.
Players In: Hugo Rodallega, Mladen Petric, George Williams
Players Out: Danny Murphy, Andrew Johnson, Dickson Etuhu, Marcel Gecov
For Fulham fans, although their business this summer has been fairly limited they will be preying for the closing of the transfer window. If Fulham can keep hold of Dempsey and Dembele then they will have an attacking line up to match their resolute defence. With clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid hovering only the most optimistic of fans can hope for both to remain at the club with Dempsey already training on his own away from the first team squad.
The new signings Rodallega and Petric will be expected to contribute straightaway as the only two out and out forwards at the club. Bryan Ruiz will also be expected to deliver a lot more on the abundance of talent that he clearly has. With his acclimatisation period under his belt it is time for the Costa Rican to step up. The loss of Danny Murphy although sad should be offset by the myriad of options at Martin Jol’s disposal.
Youngsters Kerim Frei and Pajtim Kasami both showed moments of Premier League poise last season and Jol will be hoping these two can step into the aging Damien Duff and Simon Davies boots. The defence remains unchanged and can be expected to be as tight and organised as ever. Jol has now had two pre-seasons with the club and will be hoping this year he can showcase the attacking game his sides favour.
If Fulham can hang onto Dembele and perhaps use the funds from the sale of Dempsey to sign a sitting or defensive central midfielder of real quality then they could be looking at another shot at European qualification. Failure to hang on to Dembele should not be seen as a catastrophe as with £20m+ Jol should be able to find replacements.
Players In: Fabio Borini, Joe Allen,
Players Out: Dirk Kuyt, Fabio Aurelio, Maxi Rodriguez, Alberto Aquilani, Craig Bellamy
Liverpool’s summer can be summed up so far with new manager, new central midfielder, new striker, no wingers. Brendan Rodgers has taken a huge gamble to accept this job and all that goes with it. Overhaul a squad that is littered with players from the last three managers with a minimal level of investment all whilst being King Kenny’s replacement. Oh, and do it all in a pleasing to the eye tika-taka way.
Joe Allen will be central in several ways to Brendan Rodgers’ plans as he will be asked to fill the same pass and move position in the Liverpool midfield. He will also help the incumbent players cope with the change in system and be something of a voice for Rodgers on the pitch. So no pressure on a player who only turned 22 in March. His performances for Swansea last season and TeamGB showed he has the ability but a lot will depend on his character and we’re backing him to be more of a success than Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool’s major weakness last season was putting the ball in the back of the net. Whilst Luis Suarez hit the woodwork the most times last season in the Premier League he only managed 11 goals in 31 games which ultimately wasn’t good enough. Suarez is more likely to play out wide with Borini through the middle and with the Italian’s poacher’s instinct and Suarez’s quick feet they should be a lively combination. Liverpool’s pursuit of Borini was relentless on the backing of Rodgers and a lot will depend on him.
If Liverpool don’t sign another winger before the transfer window shuts it would be a massive surprise and Theo Walcott should really be the player they are focusing on. His pace can stretch any defence and pace is a commodity in short supply at Anfield at the moment. He is also a lot further on in his development that Scott Sinclair.
If Rodgers can get everything ticking early on then Liverpool could be an outside contender for a Champions League place, which although hard to hear for Liverpool fans is a stark reflection of the loss of momentum suffered in recent years. If Gerrard can stay fit and regain his form they will cause every team problems. Will be a struggle to displace anyone from the top four.
Player In: Jack Rodwell
Player Out: Vladimir Weiss
A very quiet summer for Mancini in terms of transfers made and in the last ten days a few disparaging comments have come out from the Italian about the lack of business. His frustration is easy to understand but when you have a strike force of Balotelli, Aguero and the apparently forgiven Tevez it is easy to see why they fell out of the race for Van Persie relatively early.
A strong midfield complimented by Jack Rodwell once again looks a match for any out there with strength and depth in almost every position. Once again if Yaya Toure suffers an injury they will struggle as the Ivorian has been a key player for them. David Silva is likely to be even better than last season which is a terrifying prospect for most defences.
Defensively they again look slightly under-stocked in the centre with Stefan Savic still the fourth choice centre-back. Though when your biggest concern is who is your fourth choice centre-back things are probably looking fairly rosy.
Mancini will want to bring in a couple of new faces to prevent the almost inevitable complacency that could settle into this side. Competing in two fronts and with the Champions crown on their head they will be a target for all small clubs. Even just one signing could mean the difference in what is set to be another tight title race.
A monstrously strong squad with creative outlets and holding midfielders galore. Without Yaya Toure though they look a very different team and his fitness could be crucial in deciding where the title ends up. The pressures of defending the title and making a determined challenge for the Champions League could prove too much.
Players In: Robin Van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell, Sean Goss
Players Out: Park Ji-Sung, Paul Pogba, Tomasz Kuszczak, Matthew James, Oliver Norwood, Ritchie De Laet
Sir Alex has finally taken the plunge and bought a midfielder although perhaps not the midfielder everyone was expecting. Kagawa has looked bright in pre-season and was part of a wonderful Dortmund team that passed the ball about electrically in the final third. His ability to beat a man could be crucial to what is at times a slightly pedestrian United team.
Even in a season when United failed to live up to their billing as champions elect and played some turgid football they still only lost out on goal difference to the last goal of the season to a club that has spent £500m in four seasons. The unbendable will or Ferguson means United will always be competing for the title and this year is likely to be no exception.
The capture of Van Persie is a signal of intent from Ferguson. Only with Berbatov has he paid that sort of money for a player over 25. Does this hint at some short termism from Sir Alex? Will he be leaving when Van Persie is passed his prime? These questions are immaterial for this season and if glass ankles can stay fit his goals should be enough. With City resting on their laurels (as it stands) then the creative hub that is Kagawa and the finishing of Van Persie could prove to be the difference. If Cleverly can return to the levels he showed at the start of the season United’s midfield will be a lot more mobile this season.
Vidic returns to the defence and will be bring an enormous amount of confidence to that unit. With the youngsters another year on in their development competition for places will be intense and Ferguson will have some tough decisions to made to keep them all happy.
Vidic’s timely return and the signings of Van Persie and Kagawa should turn what was a frail United team last season into the favourites for this season. Ferguson’s drive and passion for the game still astounds and petrifies in equal measure and it is hard to see anyone, especially City beating him two years in a row. With the Premier League title tough to defend, United are our champions elect.
Players In: Vurnon Anita, Romain Amalfitano, Gael Bigirimana
Players Out: Leon Best, Alan Smith, Peter Lovenkrands, Fraser Forster, Daniel Taylor, Danny Guthrie
After last season’s success it is hard to predict what will be in store for Newcastle this season. The personnel are largely the same and the manager has had another pre-season to instil his ideas further. Whether they can produce the same success with the same players is open to doubt and the loss of form of Demba Ba after January was tidily covered up by the emergence of Papiss Cisse.
A lot will depend on these two strikers to score the goals as there is relatively little support behind. Towards the end of last season Hatem Ben Arfa was showing the promise that led to rumours of a move to Manchester United a few years ago and he will need to keep that form for a lot longer this season. Cabaye and Tiote are rocks at the heart of their midfield and Anita should prove an able replacement for the departed and dependable Danny Guthrie.
Newcastle United may look no weaker than they did last season but is unlikely they will scale the same heights again. In 2011/2012 they managed to come fifth with a goal difference of only +5 which was worse than the three teams below them. Nearly half of their wins were by a single goal and with lady luck shining the other way the season could have panned out very differently.
Chelsea and Liverpool both look stronger and more focused than last year whilst Everton have also strengthened in the right areas so it is hard to see them finishing any higher than 8th. It would be fantastic to be proved wrong by Alan Pardew and his men but it’s more than likely the added pressure and exertion of playing in Europe will see them drop out for next year.
Prediction: 8th (with a good cup run)
Players In: Robert Snodgrass, Michael Turner, Jacob Butterfield, Steven Whittaker
Players Out: Adam Drury, Aaron Wilbraham, Zak Whitbread
Paul Lambert has left Norwich with some Shaquille O’Neal sized shoes to fill for Chris Hughton and if there was a manager anywhere that more people wanted to succeed I’d be surprised. Hughton’s treatment by Newcastle was shocking and he deserves this crack at the Premier League even after what proved to be a disappointing season in charge of Birmingham last season.
Norwich now have three former Leeds midfielders having signed the half-paced Robert Snodgrass. A man blessed with an absolute wand of a left foot but the turn of pace of Jon Parkin after a bellyful of Guinness. If Snodgrass can find the time and space to create for Grant Holt then the big man will be bagging plenty more this season. Jonny Howson only joined in January but looks set to be a very key player for the Canaries – the 2012/13 Joe Allen if you will.
It is hard to discuss a promoted side without mentioning second season syndrome (it will be repeated so SSS from now on). Norwich are eerily reminiscent of the Reading side that secured survival so spectacularly in 2006/7. Hughton will be determined not to follow their footsteps and you can be sure he will have his team well drilled and well organised from day one.
Last season they picked up five wins away from home which is more than eight other sides in the Premier League and it will be their away form that could prove the difference again. Pilkington and Steve Morison will again need to back up Holt if they are to survive again. They may just fall short
Players In: Jose Bosingwa, Rob Green, Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Samba Diakite, Park Ji-Sung, Junior Hoilett, Fabio (on loan)
Players Out: Paddy Kenny, Heidar Helguson
The QPR side that will start this season will bear no resemblance to the one that started last season which will be good news for R’s fans as they were thumped 4-0 in that opening game by soon to be relegated Bolton.
QPR now have an established Premier League strike force in Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson and Djibril Cisse, width in Junior Hoilett, Shaun Wright Phillips and the enigmatic Adel Taarabt. Park Ji-Sung and Samba Diakite should prove to be good replacements for Joey Barton whilst their defence should be bolstered by the signings of Jose Bosingwa, Nedium Onouha, Anton Ferdinand, Taye Taiwo, Luke Young and the warrior Ryan Nelsen.
2011/12 was a pivotal season for QPR as relegation could have led to a complete implosion of this historic football club but securing Premier League survival has led to further investment and what should be some positive feelings for the fans. The quality is there but as many relegated sides will tell you quality means nothing without hard work and a team ethic.
Hughes took Blackburn to 7th in 2008 using the simple formula of a big man little man combination up front. Wide players with great crossing ability, two high energy midfielders and an experienced and BIG back four. This QPR team now has very similar characteristics to that side.
Mark Hughes has always taken time to get his teams working the way he wants but was incredibly successful with Blackburn Rovers before his ill-timed move to Man City. If QPR buy into his ideas and play the way he wants they could well surprise a few big teams and finish above some former powerhouses.
Prediction: 11th (watch out for them in the cups too)
Players In: Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie, Gareth McCleary, Nicky Shorey, Adrian Mariappa, Chris Gunter, Pierce Sweeney
Players Out: Michael Antonio, Mathieu Manset
Reading return to the Premier League chastened by their struggle to escape from the Championship. Again they return as champions but this time in a much less comprehensive manner pipping Southampton by only 1 point. With a new Russian owner and a manager steeped in the recent history of the club having served as Chief Scout, under 19s and reserve team manager since 2000.
McDermott has further strengthened a strong Championship side with the signings of Pavel Pogrebnyak on a free (but with big wages), experienced midfield battler Danny Guthrie on a free, former full back Nicky Shorey on a free and winger Gareth McCleary also on a free. Add in Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa to what was already a fairly good squad. Young Pierce Sweeney could be one for the future having followed a well-trodden route from Ireland.
Last season Reading shared the goals around with Adam Le Fondre top scoring with just 12. It will be interesting to see how the likes of super-sub Le Fondre, Jem Karacan, Jimmy Kebe, Mikele Leigertwood step up to the demands of the midfield battle in the Premier League. New signing Mariappa will bolster a central defence of Alex Pearce and Kasper Gorkss whilst the two new full backs will challenge the aging Ian Harte and former Chelsea reserve Shaun Cummings.
The signing of Pogrebnyak is significant with goals from your striker one of the key ingredients to escaping the dreaded drop. With experience of the Premier League, a knack for scoring ugly goals and a physique to scare Anthony Joshua the big Russian will be vital if Reading are to stay up.
They should have just enough Premier League quality to stay in the division and then we will see what the Russian owner has in mind for this club. If Pogrebnyak doesn’t fire goals could be an issue for Reading and their defence will need to get to know each other very quickly or it could be a turbulent start to the season for Royals fans.
Players In: Jay Rodriguez, Nathaniel Clyne, Paulo Gazzaniga, Steve Davis, Lee Holmes, Ross Flitney
Players Out: Harlee Dean, Bartosz Bialkows, Ryan Doble, Daniel Harding
Southampton have returned to the Premier League. The club that brought us the pure unadulterated joy of watching Matthew Le Tissier are back and have a new folk hero in Rickie Lambert. The club acted very quickly to bring in Jay Rodriguez to give him as much time to get used to the first team squad as possible. With a full pre-season together his partnership with the free-scoring Lambert will be the difference between the survival or relegation.
Goals weren’t a problem for Southampton last season finishing as top scorers in the Championship and with Rodriguez on board they have enough options. The conceded on average a goal a game and with little investment in the defence it will be interesting to see how they cope. Danny Fox and Nathaniel Clyne are both talented full backs but it will be the partnership of Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld that will come under some pressure.
Southampton played attractive football last year, looking to pass it out from the back and create their own style. Whether Nigel Adkins will stick to this plan in the Premier League is open to debate but the likes of Swansea, West Brom and Wigan have proved you can survive and play good football.
This is an exciting time for Southampton after a few years of struggles and the side has been built around the success of their Academy which has produced in recent years Bale, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. With ongoing investment into training facilities and rumours of further additions to St Mary’s survival this year could lead to the full revival of one of the Premier League’s historic clubs.
Southampton have the fire power to survive their first season back but will they be frugal enough at the back? Effective strikers often make the difference as last year we saw Grant Holt and Danny Graham keep their respective sides up. There is a soft spot for Southampton from most neutral fans and with so much good work being done at the club it would be just reward if they were to stay up. Will they? Just.
Players In: Michael Kightly, Jamie Ness
Players Out: Andrew Davies, Jonathan Woodgate, Danny Collins
Stoke under Tony Pulis have been consistently tough to beat and tough to play against. Strong physical players with great discipline playing in a very simple tactical gameplan will always test any team. Their run in Europe showed they can compete but it is doubtful if they can get to those heights again. With signs that even their own fans are disappointed with the lack of evolution in the last three years it could be an interesting season for Pulis to contend with.
There has been little action this summer for Pulis and this may be on account of his relatively meagre returns from what has been a substantial outlay in the last three years. Surely he will be looking to make some adjustments and get his team playing some passing football at times. The signing of Kightly just provides them with another winger to feed crosses to Peter Crouch and the other giants. None of the top tier clubs like to loan their players to Stoke as they feel the playing philosophy is far too different. Without this ability to strengthen their squad on the cheap they will be forced to make permanent signings and all the indications are that Pulis has little or no money to use.
It is hard to see how Stoke can change whilst they keep their current personnel. Two passing midfielders would be a dream for the neutral but that hardly seems on the horizon. Even one who could work alongside Palacios would be an improvement. Missing out on Jonny Howson could cost them as he is likely to shine for Norwich this season.
With no further additions this could be a tough season for Stoke in what promises to be an extremely close season. Once again it is highly likely that the top five or six teams will be separated by just a few points with a handful of games to go. Will their experience give them an advantage or will their tired tactics finally come unstuck?
Players In: Carlos Cuellar
Players Out: George McCartney, Asamoah Gyan, Michael Turner, Jordan Cook, Trevor Carson, Marcos Angeleri, Michael Liddle
Martin O’Neill came in last season with a bloated squad struggling under Steve Bruce. In ten games Martin O’Neill’s side picked up 22 points and subsequently reached an FA Cup Quarter Final beating Arsenal on the way. They then had a torrid end to the season not winning any of their last eight games. Which side will appear this season?
In James McClean the Fans have a new hero who plays with passion and the directness that had been missed at the Stadium of Light for quite a while. The problem for McClean will be who to find in the box after the departures of Bendtner back to Arsenal and Gyan permanently to Al Ain. Connor Wickham is young whilst Louis Saha will remain an if only player.
If Frazier Campbell can find enough belief and avoid any further serious injuries then he may fulfil the potential that saw him earn an England cap towards the end of last season. A lot will rest on his young shoulders and damaged knee and Martin O’Neill will hope he will be able to complete something like 30 games if there are to be no more additions to this squad.
The Martin O’Neill factor is well-documented but can he take this squad and turn them from also-rans into European contenders? This season looks unlikely as there are still a number of players that are probably a little away from what is required but with so much Premier League experience they should be able to secure mid table fairly early on in the season and look to the cups for excitement.
Players In: Chico, Michu, Jonathan De Guzman (loan)
Players Out: Joe Allen
After surprising almost everyone last year with possession based football to finish 11th to win over a lot of fans the South Wales club have lost their manager and their passing metronome Joe Allen. Goal scoring midfielder Gylfi Sygurdsson has found a better offer elsewhere and only £4m has been spent on two players with no Premier League experience and Jonathan De Guzman on loan.
Whilst that might all sound negative, those two players include Michu who scored at almost a goal every other game from midfield for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. Chico (or Jose Manual Flores) played 33 games under Laudrup for Mallorca last season and is expected to bolster what was a very well organised defence last season.
For those that never watched Michael Laudrup play or Mallorca last season: we can expect a continuation of the current system with emphasis on possession and fast changes from defence into attack. De Guzman and Michu will be expected to contribute goals from midfield to help out what still looks a weak Premier League strike force.
If they can keep hold of Scott Sinclair they have pace in the wings assured keepers of possession and a resolute defence. Fans will be hoping Laudrup will turn into a safe pair of hands and not start any revolution to disrupt what looks again a very strong lower table side.
The loss of Joe Allen is a shame for the fans but £15m is a lot of money and if it is reinvested Swansea should come back stronger. Laudrup’s impact will be interesting to monitor as the season goes on as his ideas slowly take over from Brendan Rodgers’. They may not reach the same heights as last season but should have enough to protect themselves from second season syndrome.
Players In: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Vertonghen,
Players Out: Steven Pienaar, Vedran Corluka, Niko Kranjcar, Ryan Nelsen, Lee Angol, Ben Alnwick
Spurs will be looking to buy at least one striker before the window closes or they will be left with one fit senior striker in Jermaine Defoe and the young Harry Kane. For Kane this season comes one too soon and he could do with some experience in the Championship first. For Defoe this is absolutely make or break for his second spell at the club and he will be looking to cement that striking role as his own.
With Modric off to Real Madrid with so little time left before the window shuts, Levy and Villas-Boas will have a lot of work to do to strengthen what was proved to be a lightweight squad last season. Strikers aside they may lack for creativity if injuries occur to Bale or van der Vaart.
Vertonghen will add some poise to the central of defence and has a bullet of a free kick on him as well. Ledley King was not offered a new contract but the club are still well-stocked for centre backs so the signing of Vertonghen is a little strange when investment is required elsewhere. In Walker and Assou-Ekotto they have two excellent attacking and pacey full backs.
From comments made by Villas-Boas this summer it is clear that he will have one eye on what Chelsea are doing and will want to prove his dismissal was a mistake. Success in Portugal does not necessarily transfer to England but AVB will be desperate to create a legacy at Tottenham.
If Spurs can remain injury free their first team is a match for anyone but with no replacements for Bale, van der Vaart or Defoe every time one of these players clutches a muscle an audible gasp will fill White hart Lane. European qualification is almost expected now at the Lane but Champions League looks a step too far this time around given the investment by both of their London rivals.
West Bromwich Albion
Players In: Ben Foster, Markus Rosenberg, Claudio Yacob, Romelu Lukaku (loan)
Players Out: Simon Cox, Paul Downing, Nicky Shorey, Joe Mattock, Keith Andrews, Lateef Elford-Aliyu
This will be Steve Clarke’s managerial debut having supported some big managers at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. He inherits a strong well-built squad that is filled with experienced players and could almost manage itself. Clarke’s organisational skills and training ground finesse could turn West Brom into contenders for Europe.
Romelu Lukaku has been brought in to bolster a forward line that at times needed a bigger presence around whom Long and Odemwingie can buzz whilst the arrival of Markus Rosenberg will add further options. Foster comes in on a permanent deal whilst Under-20 world cup winner Claudio Yacob will improve a midfield that at times has lacked invention.
West Brom could do with reinforcements in defence as it is the one area they look a little short. Despite only conceding one more goal than Chelsea last season they were lucky with injuries and a further centre back could allow the club to change their emphasis and attack teams away from home a bit more.
With no real managerial experience Steve Clarke has come into the perfect club which has been nurtured by Jeremy peace and his well chosen managers over the last five years. An experienced squad with real quality in certain areas and a cutting edge that has been added to should be safe this year and by the end of the season we should see what effect Clarke will have.
West Ham United
Players In: Modibo Maiga, Alou Diarra, James Collins, Jussi Jaaskelainen, George McCartney, Mohamed Diame, Stephen Henderson, Raphael Spiegel
Players Out: Pablo Barrera, Fred Sears, Marek Stech, Abdoulaye Faye, Oliver Lee, Rob Green, Frank Nouble, Sam Cowler, Jordan Brown
Big Sam is back in the Premier League backed by the Davids Gold and Sullivan and West Ham will need to start the season brightly. Allardyce came under a lot of pressure last season from the fans for playing the Allardyce way rather than passing the ball about like the West Ham teams of old. If the fans aren’t placated early on in the season Allardyce could be facing the chop.
Allardyce has signed his former keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen whilst George McCartney returns for the second time from Sunderland. Modibo Maiga will be crucial for this team as goals could be something of a problem for the Hammers. Experienced Alou Diarra and former Wigan player Momo Diame will add steel to the midfield.
In Matt Taylor and Kevin Nolan they have goals from midfield and these could prove the difference for West Ham if they are to survive. Don’t expect West Ham to play open attacking football, they will defend deep and look to play on the counter using the strength and pace of Maiga to hold up play and bring the midfielders into. Maiga’s scoring record is hardly prolific so the likes of Nolan and Taylor will need to contribute.
With two tough tackling purchases, Allardyce’s plans for his midfield are fairly clear with one of these likely to start with Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan and it will be these players that make the difference. Noble’s neat passing and Nolan’s drive from midfield will need to pull this side through to the final game.
On the surface everything looks fine for another Allardyce survival season but with the fans visibly disappointed with the style of football a bad start could prove disastrous. Their opening fixtures are fairly friendly which becomes a double edged sword if they don’t pick up points and then face the tougher fixtures low on confidence. It could be a struggle this season with Allardyce’s position in doubt.
Players In: Arouna Kone, Ivan Ramis, Fraser Fyvie, Ryo Miyaichi
Players Out: Chris Kirkland, Mohamed DIame, Hugo Rodallega
With nine games to go last season Wigan looked doomed with fixtures left included Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle and yet Wigan would win seven of those nine games playing a modified 3-4-3 formation that finally delivered goals for all the attacking promise that had gone on before.
Wigan fans will be delighted to have been able to hang on to Martinez but will be hoping it doesn’t take 29 games this season to get the team to click into gear. Martinez is likely to stick to the 3-4-3 that worked so effectively and has spent big on Ivan Ramis (£5m) to bolster what was a very shaky defence.
Wigan will be hopeful that new signing Arouna Kone can spearhead an attack that had only scored 25 goals in the first 29 games last season. Mauro Boselli returns as well after a year and a half out on loan looking to finally repay the £6m fee Wigan paid three pre-seasons ago. Kone is a real handful and will be a real dangerman and a fantastic cheap fantasy football pick.
Without wanting to jinx Martinez, the signing of Ramis looks a good one, robust in the challenge, good in the air and with the ability to distribute from the back he is a perfect fit for this Wigan side. Rodallega has gone and with it the spurning of hundreds of chances. If Kone and Boselli can find the back of the net they should do just fine – last season’s top scorer was Franco Di Santo with just 7 goals.
If Wigan could start seasons the way they finish them they would be challenging for European places. Their fans may not require anything that fanciful but they would love a bright start for once. A lot will depend on their strikers to find the goals they lacked last season and if their defence can find harmony then they should have more than enough to be safe.