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 Sunderland to West Ham and my prediction of how they will do.
Will crazy man Di Canio upset the Black Cat’s chances this season?
Transfers: Sunderland have made a number of signings in this seasons transfer window. The biggest of these being Jose Altidore from AZ Alkmaar. 7 other players have arrived at the club including Emanuele Giaccherini from Juventus, El-Hadji Ba, Vito Mannone from Arsenal, David Karlsson, Mobido Diakité, Cabral from Basel and Valentin Roberge. Will all these players be able to gel into a team? Simon Mignolet has left the club to join Liverpool, as has James McLean, who joined Wigan.
Manager: Paulo di Canio. To all extents, di Canio can be described as a bit of a loose cannon, from his eccentric playing days to his colourful managerial career, trouble has followed him around. Sunderland is his first Premier Leauge job and he did well to keep them up last season. There is no doubting his footballing talent and ability but does he have the right attributes to manage a squad of players?
Expectations: After a disappointing season last times around, Paulo Di Canio will hope his men can push on this season. They have certainly made a lot of signings but question marks will hang over whether these players can gel. There is always a lingering issue hanging over the head of manager Di Canio. His eccentric, no nonsense style could work either way for Sunderland but more than likely in a negative way and for this reason the Black Cats may find it difficult and relegation could be a real possibility for the Black Cats.
Key player: Stéphane Sessègnon. The Benin international attacking midfielder has been key to the success’ of Sunderland in recent years and that will continue this year. Proven to be a constant menace in the Premier League in his time at Sunderland he may provide the constant amongst a summer of change in the Sunderland playing ranks. His ability on the ball creates chances for others in the team.
Swansea’s metaphoric rise looks set to continue after an impressive summer.
Transfers: Swansea have been impressive in the transfer window, bringing in Wilfried Bony from Vitesse Arnhem for around £12 million. The club has also signed England international Jonjo Shelvey and center back Jordi Amat. Young Spaniard Alejandro Pozelu has joined from Real Betis alongside team mate José Alberto Cañas, who arrives on a free transfer.
Manager: Michael Laudrup. After a glittering career, Laudrup has a big reputation in football. His early managerial career is only enhancing that after successful spells at Mallorca, Getafe and now at Swansea. He lead them into Europe last season and is known for his good man management skills as well as his footballing knowledge.
Expectations: Swansea City and their style of football have been a breath of fresh air in their two seasons in the Premier League. Under the guidance of Michael Laudrup, things continue to improve. Swansea will have no problem finishing in the top half with the quality the possess throughout the pitch. Pushing for the top 6 may be tough but be sure that Swansea will be knocking on the door of the big boys this season.
Key player: Ashley Williams. Keeping hold of center half Williams could be the most important bit of business for the Welsh club this season. Williams has been a key player for the club in the Premier League and has attracted interest from big name clubs in recent times. His composure at the back is vital for the Swans who have a host of attacking talent.
The Gareth Bale transfer saga can only be bad news for AVB and Spurs
Transfers: Like other clubs, the majority of the talk over the summer has been about the departure of key players. Gareth Bale has attracted heavy interest from Real Madrid, with rumours of the Spanish club launching a world record bid for the Wales international. Spurs have made some clever signings in the window, which should not be overshadowed by the Bale sage. Roberto Soldado has joined from Valenica and the Brazilian Paulinho from Corinthians. Young Belgium winger Nacer Chadli has joined from FC Twente as Spurs bolster their options.
Manager: André Villas Boas. After a short, unsuccessful spell at Chelsea, Villas Boas was appointed as manager of Spurs in 2012. AVB, as he is known, spent time of his early career managing the British Virgin Islands before assuming a role as Mourinho’s assistant first at Porto and then Chelsea. He grabbed his first taste of management in Portugal at Academica before moving to Porto, and then like Mourinho, Chelsea.
Expectations: André Villas Boas will be hoping to land Spurs a Champions League spot this season after narrowly missing out on the last day of last season. Despite their new signings, without Gareth Bale this could be tough. The Welshman at times carried Spurs last season with performances of individual brilliance. Even if Bale stays, after the saga of the summer, he isn’t likely to be the same player which is a shame because with an on form Bale, this team could seriously challenge. Instead, they may miss out on Champions League football again as they are likely to contest the 4th place spot with North London rivals Arsenal again, who may just pip them yet again. If Bale does leave and Spurs spend the money wisely, there is no reason why they can’t challenge for the title but the situation with Bale needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.
Key player: Roberto Soldado. For a number of years Spurs have been lacking that proven striker to fire them the goals. Many have tried, including current strikers Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor but it has never quite been enough. In Soldado they have a striker who will score them the goals but will it be enough to fire them into the top 4 this season? Probably not.
West Brom 15th
Steve Clarke’s men look to have stood still as others around them move forward.
Transfers: West Brom are one of a few teams to have not spent any money this summer. Former Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea striker Nicholas Anelka has signed on a free as well as 32 year old Uruguayan interantion Diego Lugano. A big miss for West Brom will be Romelu Lukaku, who hasn’t returned to the club after his loan spell last season. Matej Vydra has joined on loan to try and fill the void left by the Belgian striker.
Manager: Steve Clarke. After years of being a number 2, Clarke was appointed as manager of West Brom in 2012. Having worked under the likes of Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish, he learnt a lot which he brought to his first season of management in which he lead West Brom to 8th place.
Expectations: West Brom will hope for another solid season in the Premier League but they may find that more difficult this time around. Other teams around them have improved their squads dramatically whereas West Brom have arguably weakened following the departure of Lukaku. The midlands team could flirt with relegation for the first time in a number of years this season but should have enough quality to keep them out of it.
Key player: Jonas Olsson. The experienced center half has been key at the heart of West Brom’s defence for a number of years. The Swedish international is solid at the back and if he performs in the same way again this season, West Brom could be a hard nut to crack.
West Ham 13th
West Ham’s style of play should see them steer well clear of the relegation zone
Transfers: West Ham completed the signing of Andy Carroll, after his loan spell last season for a fee of around £12 million. He at times last season showed glimpses of the form he had at Newcastle, encouraging signs for the Hammers. Another signing from Liverpool is England international Stewart Downing. Goalkeeper Adrian has also joined the club from Real Betis alongside Romanian defender Răzvan Raț on a free transfer.
Manager: Sam Allerdyce. Big Sam has plenty of experience in the Premier League with Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle and now West Ham. He is known for his physical style of play which has brought him success wherever he has managed.
Expectations: After a decent first year back in the top flight, Sam Allerdyce will be hoping for more of the same again this term. With limited additions, the London club may struggle to progress but with their willingness to play Allerdyce’s style have football, should have no fears about being dragged into a relegation battle. A mid table finish for them.
Key player: Andy Carroll. If West Ham can get Carroll fit and playing at his best again, he can be a handful for any defender in the land. The tall, strong England international had lost his way after his big money move to Liverpool but at West Ham last season he showed at times, what he can do. If he can do that again this season, expect him to be back amongst the goals.
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Aston Villa
- West Ham
- West Brom
- Crystal Palace