Arsenal – An opposite season for the Gooners last year with a great end to the season for a change (back to back FA Cups were secured) but hampered by a poor start. Pre-season has seen them show their quality they have already done the treble (Premier League Asia Trophy, Emirates Cup and Charity Shield) – however it is what happens come their opening fixture against West Ham on August 9th that really matters and manager Arsene Wenger knows this. If they get off to a good start they will have a fantastic opportunity of winning their first title since the invincible year of 2003-2004 (especially with the recruitment of Petr Cech from arch rivals Chelsea) after their successful pre-season I’m sure all Arsenal fans are daring to dream.
Aston Villa – Awful summer with Benteke and so called Fabian ‘Mr Loyal’ Delph jumping ship. Good money has been brought in and if it is spent wisely (they have already recruited a number of players – names such as Adebayor and Berbatov have also been mooted) they can fill the gaps with more quality. Their start is going to be very important as they could easily be dragged into another relegation fight.
Bournemouth – Eddie Howe knows his teams limitations (when compared to other sides in the top flight) and is working on bringing players in (the already done deal of promising youngster Tyrone Mings from Ipswich is encouraging) – however like Blackpool in the 2010-11 season they will not have a season wandering what if. Last seasons Championship winners will be a breath of fresh air and I personally hope they stay up – it will be tough mind.
Chelsea – Worthy champions last year and despite a quiet summer, so far – I still fancy if you finish above them you will be lifting the Premier League trophy come May. Jose has already started the mind games bleating on about rivals ahem ‘buying’ titles but to me this is just a bit of misdirection, deflecting the fact that he has not had the greatest summer in regards of recruiting players to bolster his squad. They lost the charity Shield to Arsenal, but that will mean nothing come kick against Swansea in their first Premier League match of the season. The holders AND the team to beat.
Crystal Palace – Cabaye in, promising keeper Alex McCarthy in, Bamford on loan, Wickham on the brink of joining – the securing of Scott Dann on a new contract and that’s not even mentioning Bolasie and Zaha. Alan Pardew did a fantastic job when he came in last season and there is no resting on their laurels. He thinks they can challenge teams on the periphery of the top four – last seasons promise will need to blossom for this to happen.
Everton – After a disappointing second season, Roberto Martinez knows Everton will have to step up to the plate or his very successful first season will just be seen as a flash in the pan. With quality such as Barkley, Lukaku, Coleman (and hopefully Stones and McCarthy) – allied with new signings Cleverley and Deulofeu I can see improvement but whether they can break into the top echelons remains to be seen.
Leicester City – The great escape achieved but was soured by events on a post-season tour in Thailand and then the subsequent sacking of Nigel Pearson. Claudio Ranieri has a big job on his hands (there is a lot of scepticism in regards to his appointment – from fans and pundits) not helped by the fact their on field talisman from last season, Esteban Cambiasso, has decided to leave the club. A good start is needed to ward off the wolves at the door.
Liverpool – My first team that has NO EXCUSES – this season. After nearly winning the title in 2013-14 they suffered a poor 2014-15 season even after a 100 million + summer spend. This close season, after Brendan Rodgers survived a season review with the owners (two of his coaches didn’t mind), they have spent around 70 million to bolster the squad after losing Raheem Sterling to Manchester City. A good start and a major top four challenge is the minimum requirement or a certain Mr Klopp may end the season in charge at Anfield.
Manchester City – My second NO EXCUSES team. Whilst sacking your manager the season after he won the title and the League Cup seems knee jerk, Manuel Pellegrini is lucky he is still in a job, mainly because the hierarchy at the Etihad could not find anyone better. Sterling and Delph being brought in will improve their squad (and the home grown quota) and with FFP restrictions lifted the Chilean has everything in his favour and must back this up with at least one trophy, a sustained title challenge and a deep run in the Champions League – to be fair he is fully aware of this.
Manchester United – My third NO EXCUSES team. LVG was given everything he asked for last season and to be fair to him he secured his minimum requirement of a top 4 place. However the football was average on numerous occasions and he seemed to not be able to get the best out of some of his players (though does not help when you play them out of position!!!!!!!). The Dutchman has now spent upwards of 230m on players (and there is more to come – and they are needed too) – he is fully aware a sustained title challenge is a minimum requirement as well as getting to the group phase (at least) of the Champions League.
Newcastle United – Doom and gloom at the end of last season actually brought an interview out of Mike Ashley. A couple of months later a new manager, Steve McClaren is in place and a couple of signings of real potential and quality in Mitrovic and Wijnaldum has lifted some of the dark clouds over St James’. However the fans still don’t trust their owner and I feel a hard season is ahead.
Norwich City – Promoted via the playoffs, but may well have won the Championship with a better start. New manager Alex Neil has done wonders and made Norwich into arguably the strongest side in that league during the second half of the season. Their goal will be to avoid relegation and if they produce some of the football they did in the latter stages of the last campaign they will give themselves every opportunity.
Southampton – An amazing performance from the Saints after losing so many of their top players at the start of last season. Similar has happen again this summer with Clyne and Schneiderlin heading for pastures new. Ronald Koeman had a fantastic debut season in England and replaced well with some great transfer dealings. However they seemed to run out of steam towards the end and it will surprise me if they perform as well during this one, though they proved a lot wrong last season and they can easily do so again.
Stoke City – Mark Hughes has done a great job in the Potteries – he has overseen a change in style and achieved Stoke’s highest ever Premier league finish last season, now he wants MORE. His transfer dealings show this – he had already acquired Bojan from Barcelona for the last campaign and had been in for Shaqiri and Konoplyanka for this one. However he has acquired Dutch international Ibrahim Afellay on a free from the Catalan Club, along with Premier League battle hardened performers Shay Given and Glen Johnson. I’d expect as always a tough game against Hughes battlers when need be, but they can be very silky and easy on the eye too.
Sunderland – BIG DICK STAYS (thanks to his wife apparently) was the joyous message sang and shouted out by the Sunderland massive after he lead them to safety last season. One proviso though was that the Black Cats spent big to make sure they were not involved in such a relegation fight as they seem to be every season nowadays. I’m not sure the acquisition of two loan players already at the club along with Adam Matthews from Celtic, Younes Kaboul from Spurs and Jeremain Lens from Dynamo Kiev are what he had in mind. To me they still look like a team that may struggle this season, though to be fair to Mr Advocaat he instilled grit and determination into the team which will take you a long way in this division. More signings are needed up at the Stadium of Light for me or it will be another campaign of struggle.
Swansea City – Garry Monk was arguably manager of the season. From their shock win over Manchester United on the first day they always looked a solid adaptable team who always performed admirably. Even when Wilfried Bony left for Manchester City they held their own and ended up with their highest even Premier League finish AND in Monks first full season. The pressure is now on to repeat.
Tottenham Hotspur – Finishing 5th in his first season as Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino actually did a very good job, however he knows himself that improvements are needed for this coming comapaign. Without the stand out (and let’s be honest surprising) performances from Harry Kane along with Christian Eriksen consistently stepping up, they would have languished potentially in mid-table. The Argentine has been dismantling the squad he inherited, though a list of ‘wow’ signings may well mean another season in and around 5th and 6th place.
Watford – A fantastic end to the season saw Watford sneak in and take the second automatic promotion slot, but as has been the case at this club in recent years there is always a lack of stability. Promotion winning manager Slavisa Jokanovic has already been dispensed with for seemingly the more colourfully named Quique Sanchez Flores. I expect them to struggle this season especially as their recent history of a lack of continuity with managers is not going to be helpful if they start badly and Flores is given the boot.
West Bromwich Albion – They seemed doomed under Alan Irvine last season which forced Owner / Chairman Jeremy Peace’s hand to bring in Tony Pulis – a proven manager with form for keeping teams, on a low budget, in the Premier League – ask Stoke and Crystal Palace fans they cannot have too many complaints about the job he did at their clubs. Yes the football may not be the easiest on the eye though at times they played some nice football – you just need to ask Chelsea who were smashed 3-0 at The Hawthorns last season. I would expect another solid season from West Brom, and with a better start their aim will be a top half finish.
West Ham United – Big Sam has gone – the fans did not like him and the board decided not to renew his contract. In his place a cult hero Slaven Bilic who has two remits one with positive ramifications and one with negative ramifications. The first and most important, as they are moving into the Olympic Stadium from the 2016-17 season is to keep them in the division (or be sacked) the second is to get them in the top eight (where he will get a bonus). Pre-season has been a mix and match because of their early Europa League involvement, which is a sideshow in relation to their Premier League fortunes in what will be an emotional last season at the Boleyn.
There we go just a little ditty on each team striving for success in England’s top flight – its going to be one hell of a season in my opinion. Roll on Saturday 8th August 12:45pm where Man Utd host Spurs as the 24th Premier League Season begins 🙂
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