After what seems a very long time the new Premier League season is upon us. Fans up and down the country and gearing up for what maybe 'their year'. But what has the league got in store for us this year? Who will be the success story? Who is facing the trapdoor of relegation? And who will take the top honour?
I've had a look at what I think might
happen. As any who read my Tour de France blog will know, sometimes I'm
bang on the money. On other occasions, well let's not mention them too
Club by club guide:
It has been a frustrating summer for
Arsenal fans. The likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez have all been the subject
of bids but have chosen to head to Napoli and stay at Liverpool respectively.
On the plus side Oliver Giroud has shown flashes of form in preseason and
Jack Wilshire will start this year but the locals will still be hoping
Arsene Wenger can pull off at least one big name before the window closes.
If not it may be another long, hard, and trophyless season for the Gunners.
Keyman: Oliver Giroud
Paul Lambert has again relied on young,
fairly unknown players to bolster his squad. Villa will be hoping that
the experience gained last year, couple with this influx of enthusiasm,
will be enough to get them comfortably into mid table. And keeping Christian
Benteke may prove to be one of the signings of the summer.
Keyman: Christian Benteke
The name of the game is survival for
last years Championship winners. In Steven Caulker they have signed a very
good centre half who they can build their defence around. In Craig Bellamy
they have somebody with Premier League experience and who can create chances.
And the crowd in Wales will be raucous and intimidating. Whether that is
enough for them to stay up remains to be seen.
Keyman: Craig Bellamy
There are a lot of big personalities
at Chelsea but none are bigger than the new Manager. Jose is back and ready
to launch Chelsea towards another title but they can't just rely on the
'Mourinho effect'. A lot will depend on how Fernando Torres plays this
year and whether Eden Hazard and Oscar can improve on last year. Hopes
are high but it may not be enough to propel the Blues back to the top.
Keyman: Fernando Torres
Play off winners can be swept along
by the excitement generated by their special day. Ian Holloway will certainly
be hoping so and he does have the experience of coming up via that route
with Blackpool. Dwight Gayle became the club record signing but it will
be a big step up for the former Peterborough man. Marouane Chamakh brings
top flight experience but despite this it should be a fairly quick return
to the Championship.
Keyman: Dwight Gayle
After many speculated what he would
be like at a bigger club than Wigan, Roberto Martinez has finally been
given the chance. Everton have for the most part been solidly top half
of the table under David Moyes and will hope the Spanish influence of Martinez
can push them on. Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz are good if unspectacular
signings from Wigan but the capture of Gerard Deulofeu has raised a few
eyebrows. Expect a season of bedding in but another top half finish.
Keyman: Arouna Kone
Fulham are one of those teams that never
seem to be doing much but often make the top 10. They have lost Mark Schwarzer
but in Maarten Stekelenburg they have a more than able replacement. Adel
Taarabt has arrived on loan from QPR and on his day he can be a match winner.
Darren Bent is close as is Scott Parker. However that has been about it
for the Martin Jol's summer dealings. Survival should achieved without
too much problems. But I fear another season of mediocrity beckons.
Keyman: Dimitar Berbatov
Of all the three promoted teams Hull
seem to have invested wisely. Danny Graham, despite his poor spell at Sunderland,
can score goals at this level and in Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore
they have two solid English Premier League players. It will be close but
Steve Bruce may be doing his own version of Phil Brown's Karaoke by the
Keyman: Tom Huddlestone
The future of Luis Suarez has prompted
many column inches in the national press but it looks like the volatile
Uruguayan will be staying at Anfield for the time being. He will be suspended
for the opening few games of the season but if he can avoid trouble he
can single handled push Liverpool towards the top half of the table. Simon
Mignolet is a decent goalkeeper and while Jamie Carragher will be a miss,
Steven Gerrard remains. However they are still too far behind the rest
to make that elusive top 4 spot again.
Keyman: Luis Suarez
After a poor season last year and relinquishing
their title rather meekly, and to their arch rivals of all people, city
have used their financial clout over the summer to land Fernandinho, Steven
Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negrado, for a combined price of £105m.
A lot will depend on how they bed in but with the likes of David Silva
and Sergio Aguero already used to the Premier League it should be enough
to bring the title back to Eastlands.
Keyman: Sergio Aguero
One of the big questions of the season
is how will Manchester United fare without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.
It is a massive role that David Moyes has taken on and despite his credentials
it may be a step too far. The Rooney saga hasn't been what he needed and
the lack of signings is a worry. People point towards the players winning
mentality but it will need the senior pros like Ryan Giggs to make it work
for United this year. I don't think it will and it may even see Moyes out
of a job come May.
Keyman: Robin Van Persie
Yet another summer dominated by off
field issues. Joe Kinnear arrived as Director of Football to the disbelief
of most fans and the appointment hasn't yielded a plethora of incomings.
Loic Remy will finally don the black and white stripes after agreeing a
loan move but the lack of a striker is worrying. However with the new signings
that arrived in January now bedded in it should be enough for the Magpies
to avoid a repeat of last years struggles.
Keyman: Papiss Demba Cisse
Chris Hughton is starting to mould this
Norwich team in the manner he wishes. Out has gone Grant Holt and in comes
record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel and long term target Gary Hooper.
This will improve Norwich's goal ratio but it may not be enough to help
the Canaries improve on last year's 11th place. Same again I think.
Keyman: Gary Hooper
A lot was made about Mauricio Pochettino's
arrival at St Mary's but performances were on the whole impressive. With
a season behind them the likes of Rickie Lambert, Gaston Ramirez and Adam
Lallana should improve and with the signings of Victor Wanyama and Dejan
Lovren the Saints have a very good chance of making the top 10. It would
certainly be a surprise to see them involved in the relegation battle.
Keyman: Gaston Ramirez
After a poor campaign last time out
Stoke have moved to appoint Mark Hughes as the new manager ahead of Tony
Pulis. Hughes' last appointment was his ill-fated tenure at QPR and he
will be hoping for better luck in The Potteries. However the goalscoring
problems that plagued Pulis remain and for Stoke to avoid the drop this
year they need to address this quickly.
Keyman: Peter Crouch
It's all change at Sunderland as Paulo
Di Canio shapes the team in his vision. No less than 12 new players have
arrived at the Stadium of Light with Italian Emanuele Giaccherini, arriving
from Juventus the most high profile. With any changes of this magnitude
it will take time for his team to gel but the return from injury of Wes
Brown may be vital. Expect them to fare better than last year.
Keyman: Emanuele Giaccherini
Very impressive upto and including their
League Cup Final win yet went off the boil after that. With Europe to contend
with this season they may find their sqaud size stretched to capacity.
However new signings Wilfried Bony and Jonathan de Guzman are an improvement
on what was available last year so expect another top 10 finish this time
Keyman: Wilfried Bony
Like Liverpool with Suarez and Man Utd
and Rooney, Gareth Bale has never been far from the headlines this summer.
Yet with days to go he remains a Spurs player and if they manage to retain
his services for another year, he will line up against some impressive
new signings. Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue
have all joined the North Londoners and the spending spree doesn't appear
to be over. It is an array of talent which may finally see Tottenham break
into the top four for good.
Keyman: Roberto Soldado
West Brom had an excellent 2012 finally
finishing 8th. However their form after Christmas wasn't the best and will
be cause for concern. Romelu Lukaku has gone back to parent club Chelsea
so the Baggies have to turned to experience in the form of Nicolas Anelka.
They have also snapped up Matej Vydra on loan from Udinese after the Slovakian
impressed on loan at Watford last year. It may not be enough to avoid a
relegation scrap but they will ultimately retain their Premier League status.
Keyman: Nicolas Anelka
West Ham had a decent first season back
in the top flight and have added more players with Premier League experience
this summer. Andy Carroll has made his move from Liverpool permanent while
former team-mate Stewart Downing has also moved from Merseyside. The defence
stills looks a little thin however so while they will be pushing for another
top 10 finish, they may fall just short.
Keyman: Andy Carroll