The Premier League starts again on Saturday with what promises to be an intriguing season after a summer of changes throughout the league. This blog takes a look at the first 5 teams and my prediction of how they will do.
In a summer of change, things have stayed very familiar at Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal.
Transfers: As of now, Arsenal’s only new recruit has been young France striker Yaya Sanogo but much is about players they have failed to sign, such as Higuin. Arsenal are involved in an ongoing transfer saga with want away Liverpool striker Luis Suárez.
Manager: Arsène Wenger. Although he has come under much criticism in recent times, Wenger is a much experienced Premier League manager and one of only two in the division to have won the title and Arsenal are in safe hands with him at the helm. Longest serving manager in the division.
Expectations: Much will depend on whether Arsenal can bring in Luis Suárez, or other big name players. What has worked in their favour this summer is the transfer saga’s involving rival stars such as Gareth Bale, the fore mentioned Suárez and Wayne Rooney. For this reason I have predicted another solid 4th place finish but will this be enough for the fans after many trophy-less seasons?
Key player: Oliver Giroud. After a decent first season adapting to the Premier League, the France international striker will look to push on and score more goals for the North London club in his second season. With the likes of Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla, the supple should be there for the former Montpellier striker.
Aston Villa 10th
After avoiding relegation last season, Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa will look to improve with age this time around.
Transfers: Most important for Aston Villa this summer has been keeping old of star player Christian Benteke. Villa have strengthened though, will a lot of new young blood coming into the club. 20 year old Danish center back Jores Okore has joined the club along with felow countryman Nicklas Helenius. Other players to join include winger Aleksander Tonev, midfielder Leandro Bacuna and full back Antonio Luna.
Manager: Paul Lambert. Lambert is starting his second season at Villa. The young manager has received many plaudits for the way he kept his young Aston Villa side up last season and will hope to continue his, and his sides, progression up the league.
Expectations: After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Paul Lambert will hope for his young stars, strengthened after a season of Premier League football, to improve and I think with this age and experience, they will and enough to finish in the top half.
Key player: Christian Benteke. The Belgium international striker is without doubt the midlands club key player. After an impressive first season in the Premier Leauge, Benteke handed in a transfer request, which he later withdrew. Will he be the same player this year round? Villa will certainly hope so.
Malky Mackay’s Cardiff look the best place of the Premier League new boys to avoid the drop.
Transfers: Cardiff shocked many when they signed England international defender Steven Caulker from Spurs for a then club record fee. They then broke this record by signing Chilean international Gary Medel from Sevilla. The Welsh club have also spent big to bring in young Danish striker Andreas Cornelius. They have also brought in John Brayford from Derby and Simon Moore from Brentford.
Manager: Malky Mackay. As a player Mackay achieved many promotions to the Premier League, now he has done it as a manager. The former Watford manager has been linked to Premier League jobs in the past and will relish the challenge of trying to keep Cardiff in the Premier League.
Expectations: Cardiff City’s first aim will be survival, that would be a successful season. The club do have Premier League experience in attack with both Craig Bellamy and Fraizer Campbell and this might help them to survival. Much will depend on the ability of their key players in the Championship, like Peter Whittingham, David Marshall and the fore mentioned strikers, to make the step up. I think they will.
Key player: Steven Caulker. The England center half will be key to any success of Cardiff. With Premier League experience at Spurs and rivals Swansea, he will have to lead by example around less experienced colleagues.
The much anticipated return of the ‘Special One’ will boost Chelsea.
Transfers: José Mourinho is Chelsea’s biggest transfer. Returning to the club where he had so much success will boost the whole club after a turbulent few years. On the playing front, the Blues have bought in attacking duo Andre Schurrle and Marco van Ginkel. Experienced goal keeper Mark Schwarzer has also joined the club. Center half David Luiz is rumoured to be receiving interest from Barcelona but Mourinho will be keen to keep hold of the defender.
Manager: José Mourinho. it’s a case of return of the special one at Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho returning after spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Expect a more reserved character this time around from the eccentric, flamboyant young manager who was at Chelsea before. Alongside Arsene Wenger, he is the only manager to have won the Premier League currently managing in the league.
Expectations: Roman Abramovich brought José Mourinho back to the Bridge for one reason, to win the Premier League. Managerial changes and both Manchester clubs may help Chelsea regain the title won by Jose Mourinho on two occasions. Their exciting new signings as well as the Mourinho factors, may well help them back to the title.
Key player: Juan Mata. The Spanish international really came into his own last season, impressing in the Chelsea midfield. His creativity is a match for any player and if Chelsea can get the midfielder ticking again then he, and Chelsea, will be hard to stop.
Crystal Palace 20th
Holloway’s attacking football may not be enough to save Palace on their return to the top flight.
Transfers: Crystal Palace had to spend money, and they have. Dwight Gayle has joined the club for a record fee. Elliott Grandin has also linked back up with Holloway after they were together at Blackpool. Premier League experience has joined in the shape of Jerome Thomas as well as Stephen Dobbie, on loan at Palace last season and Spanish defender José Campana. Marouane Chamakh has also joined the Eagles after an somewhat disappointing spell at Arsenal.
Manager: Ian Holloway. Holloway has been here before as manager of the underdogs entering the Premier League. He so nearly kept Blackpool up in 2011 only being relegated on the last day of the season. He is known for his attacking style of play and his approach to the media.
Expectations: Ian Holloway will hope his Crystal Palace side can avoid the drop. Realistically it will be difficult for the Championship playoff winners. There is a real lack of Premier League experience and quality in the squad but Holloway will hope to create the same sort of camaraderie he did with Blackpool a few years ago as his unfancied side came within 90 minutes of avoiding the drop. It will be tough.
Key player: Dwight Gayle. New signing Dwight Gayle has completed a metaphoric rise to the Premier League. He spent the 2011/12 season on loan at Bishop’s Stortford in the Conference North. The Eagles’ hopes will be pinned on this mans shoulders and whether or not he can adapt to the Premier League.
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Aston Villa
- West Ham
- West Brom
- Crystal Palace