Saturday, 18 August 2012

Premier League Preview : A-F


It's almost impossible to predict Arsenal's season at this point.  They had made two good signings in Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.  Their other signing, Oliver Giroud, I am not completely sold on.  I worry he may turn out to be another Marouane Chamakh and if he does then Arsenal could have a very difficult season ahead of them.  He does have a better goal scoring record than Chamakh and with Van Persie's transfer to Manchester United he will most likely feature a lot more than Chamakh did when he first arrived but until we see how he settles into English football the jury will remain out.  Rumours are also going around that midfielder, Alex Song could be on his way to Barcelona.  If Song leaves then Arsene Wenger could have a huge two weeks ahead of him to try to save Arsenal's season.

Key Player : Santi Cazorla - A very good signing and an absolute bargain at £15m.  The fact Arsenal were able to sign this guy for £15m makes a mockery of the inflated prices being paid for British players.  I expect to see him collect a load of assists and I expect to see him at the front of the queue when Arsenal have free-kicks around the edge of the box.

A Player I'd Sign : Yann M'Vila - Regardless of whether Song leaves or not, Arsenal need to bring in M'Vila.  They lack that bite in midfield.  Wilshere and Diaby are both injury prone and are unlikely to make enough appearances.  M'Vila is often compared to Patrick Vieira and that is exactly the sort of player Arsenal need.  At 22 years old he's a good age and as he's not English he could probably be bought at a respectable price.

Prediction - 5th


Aston Villa have parted company with last season’s manager, Alex McLeish and replaced him with a young manager with a great track record in Paul Lambert.  I read a statistic recently that McLeish is the worst manager in Villa's history with a win percentage of just 21.4%.  I imagine the Aston Villa board were surprised by this but I've no idea why.  McLeish after all is the only man in my living memory to guide Rangers to a league position outside the top 2 in the SPL.  He followed that up with a brief stint at Scotland before going to Birmingham where he managed to get the Blues relegated twice.  Lambert on the other hand has got quite a positive CV.  At Wycombe he led them to the League Cup Semi-Finals while they were in League 2 and after a short stint at Colchester he moved to Norwich, where in 3 years he got promoted from League One, promoted from the Championship and then led Norwich to a mid table Premier League finish.  The new man has brought in a few signings and to be honest I don’t know much about most of them.  I do like Ron Vlaar, previously of Feyenoord.  He will be a direct replacement at centre-back for James Collins.  Another ex-Feyenoord signing is Karim El Ahmadi who will line up in midfield in place of Stiliyan Petrov who had acute leukaemia and is now in remission.  Their other signings I know very little of, other than Brett Holman is a winger and Matthew Lowton a full-back.  However, with Lambert’s record I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned out to be decent signings.

Key Player : Darren Bent – Aston Villa don’t look like a team with a lot of goals in them so they have to keep Bent fit.  If Bent gets injured again, Villa could really struggle.  If he stays fit, he is more than capable of 15-20 Premier League goals.

A Player I’d Sign : Dimitar Berbatov – As I’ve said Villa will struggle to score goals and with Van Persie signing for Manchester United, Berbatov is going to find it even harder to get a place in the starting line up.  He’s behind Rooney, Van Persie, Welbeck and Hernandez at United, so a move to Aston Villa could be a good move to get his career back on track.

Prediction – 9th  


The European Champions have had a busy summer, with new permanent manager, Roberto Di Matteo making his mark in the transfer market.  Chelsea have bought well.  Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin are all good players.  Chelsea now have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to creative options in their midfield with the three new boys joining Frank Lampard and Juan Mata as advanced midfielders.  It should make Chelsea enjoyable to watch in the coming season.
My biggest worry for Chelsea is a player they lost.  Their best player in the last few seasons has been Ivory Coast star, Didier Drogba.  He has now left to join Shanghai Shenhua in China.  That leaves Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge as Chelsea’s only strikers.  In recent years I have said Torres will come good but I’m still waiting for it to happen.  I’ve no idea what has gone wrong but he is definitely a different player to the one who arrived at Liverpool from Atletico Madrid in 2007.  Torres should see more game time now Drogba has left but it would take a serious improvement from his current record of 7 goals in 46 games to make him look worth the £50m Chelsea spent on him.

Key Man : Oscar – I think signing this guy will turn out to be a masterstroke from Chelsea.  I have been very impressed by him in the games I have seen.  He was Brazil’s best player in the Olympics and he could well be the best player of this generation.

A Player I’d Sign – Edinson Cavani – Chelsea need a replacement for Didier Drogba and Cavani is that man.  He wouldn’t come cheap but Chelsea have never been shy to spend big if they believe they have the right man.

Prediction – 3rd


How long before David Moyes decides enough is enough and it’s time for him to move on to a new club with a bit more ambition that Everton?  Yet another transfer window has passed were Moyes has lost more than he has been allowed to bring in.  The two players he brought in are good signings.  Steven Pienaar comes back after being on loan at the club last season.  He never really got a chance at Tottenham but in both his first spell at Everton and his loan spell he was a key player.
Steven Naismith has also signed on a free transfer from Rangers.  I watch a lot of SPL games so I am very familiar with Naismith.  He was a good prospect at Kilmarnock and moved to Rangers in 2007.  He had a bit of a slow start at Rangers but he was becoming an important player.  Unfortunately for him he picked up a cruciate knee injury in October last year which finished his season.  If he makes a full recovery then Everton have a good player on their hands.
Unfortunately for Everton and Moyes, they have lost three key players.  Jack Rodwell, Tim Cahill and Joseph Yobo have all left the club.  All three were important players and it will be interesting to see how much activity there is at Goodison Park between now and the close of the transfer window.

Key Player : Nikica Jelavic – The Croatian needs to keep up his good goal scoring record if Everton are to have a good season.  He will be boosted by the arrival of Steven Naismith as they were beginning to develop a good partnership at Rangers before Naismith’s injury.  He had 9 goals in 13 games last season.  If he can keep himself fit I expect him to hit at least 20 goals.

A Player I’d Sign : Adam Johnson – Everton seem to be in the market for a wide man and there seems to be a few rumours going around that City would be willing to let him go.  Johnson is a good player who will want to get back in the England team and a move to Everton may just help him get there.

Prediction – 8th


Fulham’s hopes for the new season will depend a lot on what happens with Clint Dempsey.  The American has been linked with a move to Liverpool and if the deal goes through Fulham will be losing their best player and have little time to replace him.  Dempsey has put in a transfer request and Jol has said he will sell him if the money’s right.  If Dempsey goes I think Fulham will find themselves right in the middle of a relegation battle.
They have brought in Mladen Petric, Hugo Rodallega, George Williams and Sascha Riether.  Petric and Rodallega should provide some much needed goals.  Williams is a young prospect, signed from MK Dons.  Riether is a full-back who has been capped by Germany.
Fulham have lost Etuhu, Johnson and Pogrebynak.  These three are all good players.  Pogrebynak, in particular had a great spell at the club last season.

Key Man : Mladen Petric – If Dempsey leaves, Fulham are going to need to find goals from another source and Petric could well be that man.  He had a decent record at Hamburg and he will be looking to make a similar impact in England as his Croatian team mate, Nikica Jelavic.

A Player I’d Sign : Joe Cole – With Dempsey leaving and Liverpool a likely destination why not try to get Cole as part of the deal.  There have already been rumours that Charlie Adam could be used as bait but Cole is a better player and with all these midfielders at Liverpool, surely a deal could be worked out.  I’d play Cole in an attacking central midfield role instead of on the wing and I have a feeling it could be the life line that may just save Fulhams season.

Prediction : 18th

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