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 Manchester United to Stoke and my prediction of how they will do.
Manchester United 3rd
Can Moyes fill the big hole left by Sir Alex?
Transfers: The marquee signing has so far evaded David Moyes as he looks to get his feet under the table at Old Trafford. In fact, the tale of the summer has been the transfer request of Wayne Rooney. His likely departure would leave United short of a striker. Moyes has missed out of Barcelona pair Thiago and Cesc Fàbregas as he looks to strengthen his midfield. Wilfried Zaha has arrived at the club after being signed by Sir Alex in January.
Manager: David Moyes. Moyes has perhaps the biggish shoes to fill in the history of shoe filling, replacing Sir Alex at United. The former Preston and Everton manager is experienced in the Premier League but not at the top level. Will he be found out at United? He has already won the Community shield as Manchester United manager.
Expectations: Manchester United fans will be hoping David Moyes can retain the title in his first season at Old Trafford. Realistically that me be difficult as the Red Devils go through a transitional stage following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson after more than two and a half decades in the job. Of course the squad still poses great talent and will have no trouble finishing inside the top 4 but the title may be a step too far for Moyes’ men this time around.
Key player: Robin van Persie. With Wayne Rooney looking set to leave, United will rely on van Persie to score the goals he did in his first season at the club. There is no doubt the Dutch international has the talent to do that having netted 26 times in his first season at the club.
Will Kinnear’s appointed spell trouble for Newcastle and Alan Pardew?
Transfers: Newcastle’s search for a striker has been a very public one. Loïc Rémy has joined the club on a season long loan from QPR whilst Lyon striker Bafétimbi Gomis still evades the club. The club has managed to keep hold of starts like Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa which could be key.
Manager: Alan Pardew. It must not be forgotten that former West Ham and Southampton manager Pardew led Newcastle to a 5th place finish 2 seasons ago. Has his role as manager been undermined by the appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football though? Pardew is well backed by the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, having been given a 8 year contract in 2012.
Expectations: Newcastle will look to improve this season after struggling last time around. After an influx of signings in January, the Toon improved to steer clear of the relegation zone in the second half of the season. The arrival of Loïc Rémy should see more goals and finally replace the gap left by Demba Ba as Newcastle push back towards the top half of the league. With Joe Kinnear being appointed as Director of Football, Newcastle do have the ability to self implode, just as they did when they were relegated in 2009.
Key player: Hatem Ben Arfa. Newcastle’s inability to keep the France international fit last season contributed to their struggles. The 26 year old featured in just half on Newcastle’s Premier League games last season. On his day the wide man can cause problems to any full back in the division and with an eye for goal, Pardew will be hoping to keep his talisman fit throughout the season.
Hughton has spent big as Norwich look to improve.
Transfers: Norwich have spent big this season, signing 3 players above their previous record transfer fee. Dutch international duo Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer have joined the club from Sporting Lisbon and FC Twente respectively. The Canaries also ended the long running transfer saga of Gary Hooper, who joins the club for £5.5 million. Exciting England Under 21 international Nathan Redmond joins the club from Birmingham along with Swedish intenational Martin Olsson. Javier Garrido completed his permanent move to the club. Club legend Grant Holt has departed the club however, joining Wigan.
Manager: Chris Hughton. Hughton was thrown into the spotlight after replacing Paul Lambert at the beginning of last season but managed to steer Norwich away from relegated. A quiet and calm manager, he goes about his business in a professional manner and is much respected within the game.
Expectations: Chris Hughton’s men will look to push on from their 11th place finish last season. After a dramatic second half of the season collapse which nearly saw the Canaries dragged into the relegation battle, Norwich needed to spend big this summer, and they have. Expect another mid table season for the Norfolk club again.
Key player: Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The £8.5 million signing comes with a lot of expectation on his shoulders to deliver. His scoring record for Sporting Lisbon speaks for itself it’s just a question of can he adapt to the Premier League. If he can then Norwich have an exciting player on their books.
Second season syndrome shouldn’t be a problem for Pochettino’s men.
Transfers: The Saints have improved their squad with the impressive signings of Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren for a combined fee of about £21 million. They should provide strength to the core of the team. Southampton will hope to sign an attacking player before the transfer window shuts.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine replaced controversially replaced Nigel Adkins as Saints manager last season. However he proved his doubters wrong by climbing Southampton up the table. The former Espanyol player and manager will hope for another successful season this time around as he enhances his reputation.
Expectations: Southampton will look to build on an impressive first season in the Premier League. Pochettino has improved his squad enough to keep them away from any relegation battle. Without the signing of another striker, Southampton may struggle to break into the top half, so a mid table finish can be expected for the south coast side.
Key player: Gaston Ramirez. After a relatively quiet first season in the Premier League for his own standards, the Uruguayan international will hope to explode onto the Premier League scene this time around. Costing Southampton £12 million, the attacking midfielder already has 20 international caps at the age of 22 and will hope to be at World Cup next summer. If he plays well, expect Southampton to create many chances for the likes of Rickie Lambert.
Post Pulis’ Stoke could struggle as Hughes tries to adapt style.
Transfers: Stoke have made two transfers so far this summer as new manager Mark Hughes looks to improve his back line. Full back Eric Pieters and center half Marc Muniesa have arrived from PSV and Barcelona respectively. Stoke are still in the market for attacking players having been linked to a number of strikers.
Manager: Mark Hughes. It’s safe to say Hughes wasn’t the most popular choice amongst fans when he was names as Tony Pulis’ replacement this summer. He has a wealth of experience having managed, Blackburn, Fulham and QPR in the Premier League but didn’t last long at either of his last two jobs.
Expectations: After avoiding relegation last season, Tony Pulis decided to call it time as he left Stoke City. Mark Hughes may experience a Pulis sized hangover as he prepares to start his first season as Stoke manager. The side have been in decline over the last couple of seasons as teams begin to suss out their physical style of play and this could see them struggle this season. Relegation is a serious threat for the Potters as teams around them have improved drastically.
Key player: Ryan Shawcross. The big center half is a key player at the heart of the Stoke City side. Good in the air and strong in the tackle, he leads by example in the Stoke back four. If Mark Hughes’ men are to do well this season then Shawcross will certainly have to be on the top of his game.
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Aston Villa
- West Ham
- West Brom
- Crystal Palace