With the Premier League about to begin, Max Mclean takes a look at 10 of the teams battling for either the title, champions league positions or to simply survive.
– What can you say? After two seasons scraping Champions League football when all seemed lost, Arsenal seemed in a position to make their way back to the top again with a figure in the region of £70m apparently available in the summer. Apart from Yaya Sanogo however, Wenger has been unsuccessful in the market, failing to land ‘targets’ such as Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Lars Bender. The squad will be unified with no major upheavals, but is in no position to challenge for the title.
Key player: Jack Wilshere
Player to watch: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
– I imagine all summer Mr Lambert had a big whiteboard in his office with one thing emblazoned across the surface: KEEP BENTEKE. Having seemingly succeeded, Lambert has reinforced the squad with a handful of signings, but interestingly following a season where lack of experience was deemed the problem by many pundits, Darren Bent and Richard Dunne have exited the club. Will Villa’s attempted brand of attacking football pay dividends?
Key Player: Christian Benteke
Player to watch: Andreas Weimann
– Welsh new boys Cardiff and their manager Malky Mackay have been busy in the window, breaking their transfer record twice. Andreas Cornelius, Gary Medel and Steven Caulker are three astute signings from Cardiff, and their rivalry with Swansea will add a little extra bite to the season. Craig Bellamy will offer experience, passion and quality.
Key player: Craig Bellamy
Player to watch: Gary Medel
– Chelsea haven’t splashed the cash as much as others this transfer window, but they have acquired the services of one of the highest profile managers around. Jose Mourinho’s return has prompted many to place the Blues as favourites for the title. Andre Schurlle joins the West London outfit, but the talk may be of how Mourinho gets the best from the likes of Lampard than new arrivals. Schwarzer was a strange purchase.
Key player: Juan Mata
Player to watch: César Azpilicueta
– Holloway is back ladies and gentlemen! Mourinho, Di Canio and Holloway all in the same league. It’s like when British rock supergroup ‘Cream’ got together, except with more press conferences and fewer instruments. Holloway’s Blackpool lit up the Premier League in 2010/11, but his side lacked defensive cohesion. The ever-present Kevin Phillips is joined by Chamakh and Dwight Gayle, but can Holloway learn from his mistakes and create a defence worthy of the top flight?
Key Player: Kevin Phillips
Player to watch: Dwight Gayle
– With Moyes gone, chairman Bill Kenright has taken a gamble on the intriguing Roberto Martinez. Roberto brings with him Arouna Kone and Antonio Alcaraz, but perhaps his most impressive bit of business has been the loan capture of Gerard Deulofeu, an ever-present through Spain’s youth teams. It looks as though Fellaini may well be staying at Goodison as well, and if Baines and Jagielka stay put, Martinez may find he succeeds in defence where he didn’t at Wigan.
Key man: Marouanne Fellaini
Player to watch: Gerard Deulofeu
– Having lost Mark Schwarzer to West London rivals Chelsea, Fulham have replaced him with the promising Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Adel Taarabt also joins in a bid to kick start his career in the premier league, and boss Martin Jol will hope to improve on what was a mildly disappointing season for the Cottagers. The mercurial talent of Dimitar Berbatov will be crucial.
Key man: Dimitar Berbatov
Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
– Hull should be concerned more about their status as a premier league side than about a potential name change. Be they Tigers, Lions or Gerbils, Hull will have a fight on their hands to stay up, but transfer activity has been encouraging. Danny Graham, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Maynor Figueroa all come in for this season, and combined with Steve Bruce’s Premier League experience they could be contenders for a top 10 finish.
Key Player: Ahmed El-Mohamady
Player to watch: Jake Livermore
– No player is bigger than the club, but Suarez is certainly testing the theory. Liverpool are at a crossroads where they must decide whether it is worth cashing in now on their star man, or attempting to reintegrate him back into the side and enduring months worth of headlines. Aside from Suarez, Rodgers has worked well in the market bringing in Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet, with talk of a marquee signing in Willian. A top four finish should be the target.
Key player: Luis Suarez
Player to watch: Phillipe Coutinho
– Manuel Pellegrini arrives as Manchester City with expectation on him to bring attacking football to the club. City have already made massive signings in Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stefan Jovetic, and anything less than the title will surely be deemed a failure. Pellegrini is also in charge of establishing City as a European force, something that has yet to materialise despite domestic success.
Key Player: Yaya Toure
Player to watch: Jesus Navas
Part 2 will be online soon.Tweet