Max Mclean looks at the second half of teams in this year’s top flight, and previews their upcoming season.
The Bentley has a new man behind the wheel, but the car works just the same. I don’t see too many issues for Moyes in his first season, as the team is still built by the great architect, Ferguson. The real question may be posed in three or four years, when Moyes’ team is his own. For now, the quality and mentality is there, and from RVP to Nemanja Vidic the side is full of champions. The pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, or a player in his mould, could be season defining.
Key player: Robin van Persie
Player to watch: Danny Welbeck
Alan Pardew is another season into his humungulously (a word of my own creation) long contract at Newcastle, and boy will he hope for better this year. A relegation scrap brought many at Newcastle crashing back down to earth just as their Europa League dream was beginning. This season Pardew won’t have to juggle Europe and the league, and having acquired the services of Loic Remy he will be keen to get Newcastle back into the top half of the Premier League.
Key player: Fabricio Coloccini
Player to watch: Loic Remy
Having been dragged into a relegation scrap they might not have expected, Norwich have spent big this summer, adding skill, strength and footballing quality through signings Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Javier Garrido, Leroy Fer and Gary Hooper. Chris Hughton has made a huge statement of intent with these quality additions, and having survived ‘second season syndrome’ will be looking to consolidate Norwich’s position as a Premier League club and not simply a Championship vacationer.
Key player: Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Player to watch: Nathan Redmond
Pochettino leads the Saints into their second successive season in the Premier League, and after a bright start of attractive football and decent results the new manager had to steer his side clear of the grimy clutches of the relegation zone. Moving forward Southampton have added the Champions League experienced Victor Wanyama, a member of the famous Celtic team to have troubled Barcelona last season. Along with Roy of the Rovers frontman Ricky Lambert, Morgan Schneiderlin and Gaston Ramirez, the Saints certainly have the quality to be comfortable in the league.
Key player: Ricky Lambert
Player to watch: Victor Wanyama
It appears Stoke are favourites with some for one of the three relegation places, and Mark Hughes certainly has a point to prove after his time at QPR. The departure of Tony Pulis, the man who brought Stoke to the Premier League, is one met with mixed emotions. Some say it’s time for the club to ditch their label as physical footballers, and the departure of long-throw specialist Rory Delap suggests maybe the towels have been locked in the airing cupboard for now. Erik Pieters joins the club from PSV Eindhoven, but signings have been few and far between.
Key player: Asmir Begovic
Player to Watch: Erik Pieters
Three points, or the skin of your teeth to you and me, kept Di Canio’s side in the top flight, and Paulo certainly seems to have seen the need for change. Vito Mannone, Modibo Diakite and Jozy Altidore are but a few of the new names to arrive, with Danny Graham, Simon Mignolet and my cousin (not really) James McClean making their way out of the club. It is goals that Sunderland lacked last season, but can the like of Conor Wickham step up to the plate?
Key player: Stephane Sessegnon
Player to Watch: Conor Wickham
The Welsh side are undoubtedly a recognised and respected Premier League outfit, acknowledged as one of the finest passing teams in the league. It could however be a difficult season what with the potential for a gruelling Europa League campaign. FC Petrolul Ploiești awaits Swansea in the final qualifying round, and if successful, Laudrup’s men could face long midweek trips. Jonjo Shelvey, Jose Canas and Wilfred Bony strengthen the squad, but as Newcastle will attest, the Europa League is a test of mettle.
Key player: Michu
Player to watch: Wilfred Bony
For the last couple of years Spurs have been on the verge of overtaking Arsenal, and the way things stand as far as transfers go, this could be a huge chance. Paulinho, Chadli, Soldado and Capoue are four major signings and give Tottenham fantastic squad strength. Should Bale stay they will obviously be all the better for it, but many are suggesting AVB is already spending that money. With a quality manager who has bounced back well from disappointment at Chelsea, and with the window not yet closed, Spurs fans should feel optimistic about the season ahead.
Key player: Roberto Soldado
Player to watch: Paulinho
West Brom looked the part last season, finishing 8th and starting the season phenomenally. Under Roy Hodgson and now Steve Clarke the West Midlands side look to have firmly taken their seat at English football’s top table, and go into the new season with signings Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra of Udinese on loan. It seems safe to assume every club has an Anelka shirt somewhere just in case, and these two, along with Peter Odemwingie and Zoltan Gera, provide a strong set of options for Clarke to choose from up front.
Key player: Ben Foster
Player to watch: Matej Vydra
West Ham showed glimpses of great football last season, and the signing of Andy Carroll is a fantastic decision for both Andy and West Ham. Carroll can thrive at a club like West Ham, and at the age of 22 has the time to become a club legend . The signing of Stuart Downing too is an astute one, and should offer Carroll the sort of assistance that made his name at Newcastle. Sam Allardyce knows what he’s doing in the league, and West Ham shouldn’t be troubled by relegation this season.
Key player: Kevin Nolan
Player to watch: Andy Carroll