Friday, August 13, 2010

English Premier League Season 2010-11 Preview


Coach: Arsene Wenger since September 1996
Star men: Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie
Last season: 3rd
Season expectations: Champions League place
Ins: Marouane Chamakh, Laurent Koscielny, Wellington
Outs: Fran Merida, Pedro Botelho, Eduardo, Sol Campbell, William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Kerrea Gilbert, Francis Coquelin, Sanchez Watt, Philippe Senderos
If they were a pop act, they'd be: The Saturdays; Plenty of hits and attractive on the eye, but no sign of a number one

Arsenal were finally expected to splash the cash this summer after their centre back ranks were depleted and frustrations grew about the lack of a first choice goalkeeper. So far, the only major signings have been Koscielny and striker Chamakh. The most important piece of transfer news is undoubtedly their successful attempt to keep Fabregas away from Barcelona's clutches.

Aston Villa
Coach: Kevin MacDonald caretaker manager since Monday
Star men: Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor
Last season: 6th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Barry Bannan (loan return)
Outs: Wilfred Bouma, Marlon Harewood, Nicky Shorey, Andy Marshall, David Bevan, Stephen O'Halloran
If they were a pop act, they'd be: The Spice Girls; Years of success, but one high profile departure threatens to unravel the whole outfit

A quiet summer for the Midlanders exploded into life this week after manager Martin O'Neill dramatically quit the club amid rumoured accriminations about the impending sale of James Milner and a lack of transfer spending. If the England man seals his big money switch to Manchester City, Stephen Ireland is expected to travel the other way. More faces, and a new manager, are needed imminently if the club's push to towards the Champions League can continue.

Birmingham City
Coach: Alex McLeish since November 2007
Star men: Lee Bowyer, Nikola Zigic
Last season: 9th
Season expectations: Europa League qualification
Ins: Ben Foster, Nikola Zigic, Enric Valles
Outs: Christian Benitez, Gregory Vignal, Gary McSheffrey, Franck Quedrue, Colin Doyle, Artur Krysiak, Lee Carsley, Jake Jervis
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Editors; Surprise success story from the Midlands

The debate over how much money owner Carson Yeung actually has to spend has raged on all summer. After initially racing out of the blocks with the captures of Foster and Zigic, things have gone quiet. If the rumoured arrivals of Moussa Dembele, Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso come to fruition, another season of success could be on the cards.

Blackburn Rovers
Coach: Sam Allardyce since December 2008
Star men: Ryan Nelsen, David Dunn
Last season: 10th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Mame Biram Diouf
Outs: Yildiray Basturk, Steven Reid, Andy Haworth
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Seasick Steve; Rough, tough and bad looking

Manager Allardyce have endured a frustrating summer as he has chased replacements for his shot shy strikers. Manchester United's Diouf is so far the only arrival, but after scoring on his debut, big things are expected. If further additions can be made to boost a solid squad, then another campaign free from relegation worries can be expected.

Coach: Ian Holloway since May 2009
Star men: Charlie Adam, Marlon Harewood
Last season: Promoted
Season expectations: Relegation
Ins: Craig Cathcart, Elliot Grandin, Malaury Martin, Marlon Harewood
Outs: Ben Burgess, Daniel Nardiello, Alhassan Bangura, Hameur Bouazza, Stephen McPhee
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Tangerine Dream; Supporters need to pinch themselves that Premier League campaign is not fantasy

The shock promotion story of the past decade had looked to have turned into a nightmare already after Holloway was rumoured to have grown frustrated at the lack of transfer activity. After seeing repeat deals fall through to bolster his inexperienced squad, a raft of players were secured this week. More faces are needed if The Tangerines aren't to face a season of thumping defeats.

Bolton Wanderers
Coach: Owen Coyle since January
Star men: Gary Cahill, Martin Petrov
Last season: 14th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Martin Petrov, Ivan Klasnic, Robbie Blake, Marcos Alonso, Tom Eaves
Outs: Ali Al Habsi, Ricardo Vaz Te, Nicky Hunt
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Dave Matthews Band; Dull but refuse to go away

The 'Owen Coyle revolution' has continued at pace as the club seek to move away from the dark days of Gary Megson's reign. A serious of smart acquisitions have boosted a previously thread bare squad and given signs of optimism for the first time in several seasons. If the Scot can convince Arsene Wenger to lend him Jack Wilshere again, a punt at the upper reaches of mid-table can't be discounted.

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti since July 2009
Star men: Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard
Last season: 1st
Season expectations: Champions
Ins: Yossi Benayoun, Tomas Kalas
Outs: Michael Ballack, Deco, Juliano Belletti, Joe Cole, Jack Cork, Miroslav Stoch, Scott Sinclair, Ricardo Carvalho, Ryan Bertrand, Tomas Kalas, Rhys Taylor
If they were a pop act, they'd be: t.A.T.u.; Chart topping Russian heavyweight

Ancelotti's pre-season spending spree has taken a Samba touch after attempting to bring in Ramires and Neymar. After freeing about £20 million from the wage bill after the exits of some elderly stars, the Italian is determined to freshen up his Premier League champions. So far, Yossi Benayoun has been the star arrival but expect this to change in the coming weeks as the Blues attempt to finally land the Champions League crown.

Coach: David Moyes since March 2002
Star men: Steven Pienaar, Tim Cahill
Last season: 8th
Season expectations: Europa League qualification
Ins: Jan Mucha, Jermaine Beckford, Joao Silva, Magaye Gueye
Outs: John Ruddy, Dan Gosling, Carlo Nash, Anton Peterlin, Lukas Jutkiewicz
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Simply Red; "Money's too tight to mention" but the Toffees continue to perform

Moyes has again returned with empty pockets after asking chairman Bill Kenwright for funds, but this hasn't stopped him adding to an already impressive squad. Beckford and youngsters Silva and Gueye have add to the Scot's occasionally shot shy striking options. Importantly, there have been no high profile exits to match last summer's Joleon Lescott saga to leave the Toffees in rude health on the pitch if not off it.

Coach: Mark Hughes since August
Star men: Clint Dempsey, Brede Hangeland
Last season: 12th
Season expectations: Europa League qualification
Ins: Philippe Senderos
Outs: Chris Smalling, Erik Nevland, Elliot Omozusi, Toni Kallio, Andranik Teymourian, Wayne Brown
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Billy Joel; Recently dumped for a more attractive option

After the euphoria of last season's Europa Cup final run was dampened by Roy Hodgson's exit, the Cottagers have been attempting to hold the fort. With Mark Hughes freshly installed and armed with a reported £20 million transfer kitty, another push for Europe can't be discounted. They will do this without their only major signing of the summer after Senderos was ruled out for six months with serious injury.

Coach: Roy Hodgson since July
Star men: Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard
Last season: 7th
Season expectations: Champions League qualification
Ins: Danny Wilson, Christian Poulsen, Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Jonjo Shelvey
Outs: Albert Riera, David Martin, Yossi Benayoun, Philipp Degen
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Rolling Stones; Big name but no smash hit in England for two decades

After a season to forget, change has been afoot at Anfield with Roy Hodgson drafted in for Rafael Benitez. Smart moves in the transfer market have seen a weak squad strengthened with Danny Wilson, Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen, while Joe Cole has added some much needed star quality. The biggest 'deals' have been Hodgson's ability to persuade Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to stay on Merseyside and a push up the table towards the Champions League is on the cards.

Manchester City
Coach: Roberto Mancini since December 2009
Star men: David Silva, Carlos Tevez
Last season: 5th
Season expectations: Champions League qualification
Ins: David Silva, Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure, Aleksandar Kholarov, Robinho (loan return), Jo (loan return), Joe Hart (loan return)
Outs: Valeri Bojinov, Martin Petrov, Benjani, Sylvinho, Javier Garrido, Ben Marshall, Adam Clayton, Gunnar Nielsen, Nedum Onuoha, David Ball
If they were a pop act, they'd be: P Diddy; Flashing cash like it is going out of fashion

The biggest spenders in the division have kept up the act this summer as Mancini tries to craft a squad capable of lifting a major trophy for the first time in 34 years. World Cup 2010 stars Silva, Yaya Toure, Baoteng and Kholarov have been brought in, with James Milner and Mario Balotelli believed to be on the way. An impressive roster has been established, now the pressure is on to turn the pound notes into silverware.

Manchester United
Coach: Sir Alex Ferguson since November 1986
Star men: Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic
Last season: 2nd
Season expectations: Champions
Ins: Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling, Bebe, Tom Cleverley (loan return)
Outs: Ben Foster, Zoran Tosic, Craig Cathcart, Matthew James, Mame Biram Diouf, Daniel Drinkwater, David Gray, Tom Heaton
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Take That; Manchester juggernaut that remains one of the biggest acts around

Groans and moans about a lack of spending from the Glazer family continue, but fresh faces have been in supply at Old Trafford. Smalling will boost a defence that fell apart through injuries last term, while Hernandez and Bebe add more bite in attack. The chase for Mesut Ozil continues and if he - or another star name - can be added, an assault on the sport's top prizes cannot be discounted.

Newcastle United
Coach: Chris Hughton since November 2009 (permanent)
Star men: Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan
Last season: Promoted
Season expectations: Survival
Ins: James Perch, Sol Campbell, Dan Gosling, Xisco (loan return)
Outs: Nicky Butt, Fabrice Pancrate, Jonny Godsmark
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Lady Gaga; Erratic, out of tune but highly entertaining

Gone are the days of the Magpies being one of the biggest spenders. With chairman Mike Ashley forcing a new found prudency, manager Hughton has gone about his business in a demure fashion. Solid signings Campbell, Perch and Gosling won't set pulses racing but give the side a chance of avoiding another painful drop into the Championship.

Stoke City
Coach: Tony Pulis since June 2006
Star men: Kenwyne Jones, Ryan Shawcross
Last season: 11th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Carlo Nash, Kenwyne Jones
Outs: Amdy Faye, Steve Simonsen, Andy Griffin, Rodney McDonald, Ibrahima Sonko, Diego Arismendi
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Metallica; They may not be pretty but their powerful hooks have struck the right chord in the Premier League

A quiet summer burst into life this week as months of frustration ended with Pulis breaking his transfer record to land Jones. The powerhouse striker is the perfect fit for the Potters and will provide an excellent focal point for Glenn Whelan's passes and Rory Delap's throw-ins. With more cash to spend, a tilt at the upper reaches of the division isn't out of this world.

Coach: Steve Bruce since May 2009
Star men: Darren Bent, John Mensah
Last season: 11th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Cristian Riveros, Simon Mignolet, Marcos Angeleri, Nedum Onuoha, Titus Bramble, Ahmed El-Muhammadi
Outs: Marton Fulop, Nyron Nosworthy, Daryl Murphy, Lorik Cana, Roy O'Donovan, Jean-Yves Moto, Kenwyne Jones
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Elvis Presley; Up and down success over the years with a mystery American in the background pulling the strings

Bruce has been ruthless in re-moulding his squad, with players coming in the front door as quickly as others have been pushed through the exit. South American duo Riveros and Angeleri look set to impress, while Onuoha and Bramble should help firm up a leaky defence. With Manchester United's Danny Welbeck set to replace Jones, the ex-Wigan Athletic boss looks set to anchor the Black Cats in mid-table.

Tottenham Hotspur
Coach: Harry Redknapp since October 2008
Star men: Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale
Last season: 4th
Season expectations: Champions League qualification
Ins: Sandro, Giovani dos Santos (loan return)
Outs: Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jimmy Walker, Adel Taarabt, John Bostock, David Button, Oscar Jansson, Dorian Dervite, Sam Cox
If they were a pop act, they'd be: N-Dubz; London stars set to make breakthrough into Europe and beyond after success in England

The excitement building at White Hart Lane is set for breaking point as the final Champions League qualifiers set to kick-off next weekend. After successive summers of big spending, Redknapp has yet to flash the cash with Sandro's deal set-up last season. The Spurs supremo never goes through a transfer window without making a splash and a few astute buys could keep the north London outfit in the mix for domestic and foreign success.

West Bromwich Albion
Coach: Roberto Di Matteo since July 2009
Star men: Pablo Ibanez, Chris Brunt
Last season: Promoted
Season expectations: Survival
Ins: Boaz Myhill, Nicky Shorey, Pablo Ibanez, Steven Reid, Gabriel Tamas (permanent deal)
Outs: Filippe Texeira, Robert Koren, Borja Valero, Andwele Slory, Andwele Slory, Kayleden Brown, Marcus Haber
If they were a pop act, they'd be: The Yo-Yos; History repeats for the Baggies as bounce back and forth from the Premier League and Championship

Since the Midlanders were promoted back into the top flight, Di Matteo has been a man on a mission to stop the cycle of relegation and promotion. The Italian has bolstered his squad with smart buys such as Ibanez, Shorey and Reid. A lack of a cutting edge up front still hangs over the club and this must be corrected if another spell in the Championship isn't too occur.

West Ham United
Coach: Avram Grant since July
Star men: Carlton Cole, Scott Parker
Last season: 17th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Pablo Barrera, Thomas Hitzlsberger, Frederic Piquionne, Tal Ben-Haim, Winston Reid
Outs: Ilan, Guillermo Franco, Matthew Fry, Josh Payne, Daniel Kearns
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Madness; London-born owners David Gold and Sullivan having a Premier League knees up

The memories of a disastrous previous campaign are slowly being swept away as a series of exciting signings have been brought into Upton Park. With Avram Grant at the helm, Mexico World Cup 2010 star Pablo Barrera is set to be given the platform to shine, while Hitzlsberger has just returned from captaining Germany while on friendly duty. If the club can continue to resist bids for Parker and Cole, last season's battle against relegation can be consigned to the past.

Wigan Athletic
Coach: Roberto Martinez since July 2009
Star men: Charles N'Zogbia, Maynor Figueroa
Last season: 16th
Season expectations: Survival
Ins: Ronnie Stam, Mauro Boselli, Antolin Alcaraz, Ali Al Habsi, James McArthur
Outs: Marcelo Moreno, Antonio Amaya, Jason Koumas, Cho Won-Hee, Olivier Kapo, Vladimir Stojkovic, Tomasz Cywka, Tomasz Kupisz, Mario Melchiot, Richard Kingson, Paul Scharner, Titus Bramble
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Paul Simon; Calls on sections from each corner of the globe to forge an eclectic mix

The Latics' well travelled scouting department have been racking up the air miles once again to forge a team capable of keeping their head above water in the Premier League. Argentine hit man Boselli has been banging in the goals in pre-season, while Alcaraz played the star role for Paraguay at the World Cup. Boselli must continue this form if Wigan are to avoid the dreaded drop.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Coach: Mick McCarthy since July 2006
Star men: Kevin Doyle, Matthew Jarvis
Last season: 15th
Season expectations: Mid-table
Ins: Steven Fletcher, Steven Mouyokolo, Stephen Hunt, Jelle Van Damme, Adlene Guedioura (permanent deal)
Outs: Jason Shackell, Chris Iwelumo, George Friend, Daniel jones, Andrew Surman, Kyle Bennett, Sam Vokes, Stefan Maierhofer
If they were a pop act, they'd be: Snow Patrol; Predictable and uninspiring but still residents in the top 20

McCarthy has plundered the remains of last season's relegated trio to snatch his star summer signings. Fletcher showed enough in an otherwise dismal Burnley squad for the Irishman to splash out £6.5 million, while Mouyokolo could be the break out performer at the back. Relegation shouldn't be an issue for this smartly assembled squad and the safe surroundings of mid-table should be well within the Midland outfits reach.

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