Sunday, 25 July 2010

Early Preview of Premier League (Part 2)


Ongoing Story - As League champions Chelsea don't have to many concerns, although their aging squad has caused them to look to invest it younger players, starting with Neymar. West Ham bid for the Santos youngster with rumours that Chelsea were behind the deal with some sort of arrangement however Chelsea now seem to be interested in buying him out right. Injuries also seem to be an ongoing story, with Cech & Drogba missing the first week or two of the season


Yossi Benayoun (From Liverpool £5.5m)
- A creative player to replace Joe Cole, will probably have most impact off the bench, offering an alternative to the usual style of midfielder that Chelsea have

Matej Delač (From Inter Zaprešić £2.7m)
A young Bosnian goalkeeper that Chelsea actually agreed a deal for after the England v Croatia game in September 2009, defiantly one for the future he Definitely will spend this season on loan at Inter Zaprešić to continue his development. One for the future at only 17 and big things are expected from this young keeper

Tomáš Kalas (From Sigma Olomouc for £5.2m) Another 17 year old, he's a very highly rated center back signed from Sigma Olomouc and then loaned straight back out to them. Got sent off in the U-17 final against Greece, another one for the future


Joe Cole (To Liverpool for free)
The summers big Bosman deal, once it became clear Cole & Chelsea couldn't agree a deal he was linked to a whole host of clubs, from Man Utd, Arsenal, A.C Milan to West Ham but eventually he joined Liverpool in what was basically a swap for Yossi Benayoun, both players being very similar

Michael Ballack (To Bayer Leverkusen for free) Another player who couldn't agree a contract, he reportedly wanted a 2 year deal but was only offered a 1 year deal and left the club to return to his former club on a free.

Juliano Belletti (To Fluminense for free) Another elder player who wasn't offered a new deal, never more than a fringe player at the club and at 34 with the club looking towards youth it wasn't really a surprise when the club announced they wouldn't be renewing his contract

Miroslav Stoch (To Fenerbache for £5m) A surprise leaver this summer, at 20 seemed to fit the new 'young' policy at Chelsea and after an excellent season on loan at FC Twente last season he seemed ready to step in, but clearly he wasn't in line for as much first team football as he wanted, an exciting attacking midfielder it wouldn't surprise me to see him back in a major European league soon

Key Player - After last season you can't look further than Drogba, if he can hit the same form as last season then he will terrorise defences up and down the country and through out Europe, although Cech's importance to the team can't be underestimated - their rough patch last season was whilst he was injured

My predictions - As usual Chelsea will be challenging on all fronts, although missing key players like Drogba & Cech at the start of the season could hamper them they will still be there or there abouts come the end of the season. I think the problem in their squad is the age, a lot of the key players aren't getting any younger i think they will finish 2nd this season


Ongoing Story - the search for new investment. Bill Kenwright has said for years that he can't take the club to the next level they need to go to and that someone with deeper pockets needs to come in. This means very few new signings and leads David Moyes to yet again be expected to work miracles. Another problem could be Mikel Arteta apparently wanting to leave for a bigger club


Jermaine Beckford (From Leeds, for free) Another Bosman signing that rolled on for a while, it was obvious in January that Beckford wanted to leave Leeds and when Newcastle came calling he had his bags packed but Newcastle refused to meet the valuation and Beckford was stuck, although he made in quite clear he wouldn't be signing a new deal Leeds took a gamble on his goals helping fire them back to the Championship and they did, and in return he got a move to a big premiership club, it'll be interesting to see how Moyes handles Beckford who allegedly has a bit of an ego on him

João Silva (undisclosed, reportedly around £1.2m from Aves)
Made his debut last season at 20 and went on to finish top scorer in the Portuguese 2nd division with 14 goals in 28 games, might take time to adapt to the premier league but is an explosive striker with an eye for goal

Magaye Gueye (undisclosed, reportedly £1m from Strasbourg) Another 20 year old striker who was born in France to Senegalese parents, a quick player who impressed in the ligue 1 before picking up a knee injury he's already made 2 appearances for Everton on their pre-season tour of Australia scoring his first goal in his 2nd appearance against Brisban Roar


Dan Gosling (To Newwcastle, free transfer) After only agreeing a contract verbally but not in writing Gosling decided to walk away from Goodison park and join Newcastle for more first team chances, a big loss to Everton as him and Rodwell were considered key future players. Everton will not be making the mistake of taking players at their word again

Key Player - Tim Cahill is the heartbeat to everything, capable of scoring goals with his head or either foot the Australia has an excellent work rate which has made him a fans favourite with the toffee's fans

My Prediction - after an awful start to the season last year Everton recovered to finish 8th and only 2 points behind Liverpool, if they can make a better start this year a EUROPA league spot isn't out of the question, i think they'll finish either 6th or 7th


Ongoing story
- after weeks of speculation Roy Hodgson left to join Liverpool leaving the managerial most vacent, the leading candidates right now appear to be Sven Goran Eriksson or Bob Bradley after Martin Jol decided to stay at Ajax, who ever takes on the job expectations will be high after Hodgson's last 2 season in charge.


Philippe Senderos (From Arsenal for Free) Signed on a Bosman after Arsenal didn't offer him a new contract, well known to English fans he's certainly not a top 4 defender but might be able to find some form and confidence at a club with less pressure

Jonathan Greening (From West Brom for Free) Another Bosman signing after spending last season on loan at Fulham and became an important part of the team making 23 league appearances, he can play anywhere across the midfield


Stefano Okaka & Nicky Shorey have both left after loan spells and the club chose not to sign them permanently.

Chris Smalling (To Man Utd undisclosed but reportedly around £7m) A young defender who is very highly rated, came through non league football at Maidstone Utd making 12 appearances before Fulham signed him, he then made 13 appearances over 2 years before joining Man Utd.

Erik Nevland (to Viking FK for free) returned to the club he's spent 3 seperate spells at already, made over 50 appearances for Fulham over an 18 month spell but mostly off the bench

Mark Schwarzer is also reportedly on his way to Arsenal but it all depends on the the new manager

Key Player - Brede Hangeland had an impressive debut season and followed that up with a solid second season to become an integral part of the back line, Danny Murphy is also important in the midfield pulling the strings of attack but the key player is Bobby Zamora, who's incredible form last season is well documented, would have made the England 30 man squad had it not been for injury both himself and the Fulham fans will hope he can keep his form going this season

My prediction - with a new manager due in i don't expect Fulham to have a repeat of the last 2 seasons with cup or league runs, however i don't expect them to get into relegation trouble. 12th place last season seems like a realistic expectation and i think anything 14th - 10th is a respectable season for the team.


Ongoing story - Stability finally seems to have been bought with the appointment of Roy Hodgson as well as captain Steven Gerrard committing his future to the club. Question marks still surround Fernando Torres & Javier Mascherano with the later expected to leave soon. Of course the main question mark is over the American owners and when they will leave having saddled the club with debt and overseeing one of the worst season's this decade, the fans will be glad to see the back of them


Joe Cole (From Chelsea for free) An excellent signing as he will bring a creative spark to the team that was so lacking it last season, also helping persuade Gerrard to stay on as this was the sort of signing he felt met his ambition, but after a stuttering last 2 years which saw him endure patchy form and suffer with injuries it will be interesting to see if he can last the whole season and provide the fans with the flair they so crave

Milan Jovanović (From Standard Liège for free)
a left winger signed for free after an impressive spell for Standard Liège with a conversion rate of nearly a goal every other game, turned down the chance to join Real Madrid last summer he decided his future lay elsewhere after he was isolated from his team mates last season following a row with the manager and team mates on the pitch, will be interesting to see how quickly he settles at the club - nicknamed the snake for his fast movement both on and off the ball

Jonjo Shelvey (From Charlton for £1.7m)
a youngster not expected to make an immediate impact, had an excellent 18 months at Charlton, establishing himself in the team at only 17 before Liverpool came calling, if he does feature this season it will be from the bench but an exciting 18 year old prospect for the future

Danny Wilson (From Rangers for £2m, £5m with add on's)
another 18 year old, voted Scottish FWA & PFA young player of the year last year he formed an excellent defensive partnership with veteran David Weir in his debut season, a quick & intelligent defender he's bought in to put pressure on Carragher & Agger this season and will probably be the long term replacement for Carragher once he retires


Emiliano Insúa (To Fiorentina £5m) although this deal isn't done yet they are just going through the formalities, with the deal expected to be done in the next few weeks. A good attacking fullback but was exposed for his defensive frailties a bit to often

Albert Riera (To Olympiacos £5m) After that rant at previous boss Rafa Benitez it was widely expected Riera would leave, after a flop spell at Man City he was given a second chance in the premier league and after a pretty solid debut season he became pretty average again, won't be missed to much

Fábio Aurélio (released) failed to agree a new deal with Liverpool and currently on a free, started off well after following Benitez from Valencia to Liverpool injuries soon became all to frequent, he was offered a pay as you play deal but rejected it saying he needed more stability in his career, wouldn't surprise me to see him pop up at Inter following Benitez once again

Yossi Benayoun - (To Chelsea for £5.5m) Had an excellent debut season with Liverpool after moving from West Ham however found himself well down the pecking order last season with Benitez seemingly ignoring him despite being the obvious answer to the lack of creativity in the team. He vented his frustrations at the end of the season and despite Benitez leaving had his heart set on a move to Stamford Bridge.

Key Player - if he can stay injury free then Torres will provide the goals Liverpool need, however he's already set to miss up to a month of the season with a groin injury he picked up in the World Cup final. Of course Steven Gerrard will be a key figure, expected to save Liverpool if and when they need it, he is the heartbeat of not only the midfield but the club

My prediction
- Liverpool are a tough one, i don't think Joe Cole will provide the difference they need to make up the gap from them to 4th from last season but having someone like Hodgson at the helm could make the difference as he isn't as stubborn as Rafa. However with out the investment they so desperately need to bridge the ever growing gap from them to Man City & Spurs i think the best they can hope for is a EUROPA league spot, i think they'll either finish 6th or 7th all depending on injuries

Man City

Ongoing story - the endless bags of money being thrown around by Sheik Monsour and the club seems to be a good place to start, or upsetting Aston Villa for the second season in a row this time by chasing James Milner, and they've already spent £100m this summer for the 2nd summer in a row.


Jérôme Boateng (From Hamburg, undisclosed rumoured to be £10m)
The second Boateng to land in this country following brother Kevin-Prince, another center back who can also play as left or right back. The interesting thing will be to see who he starts instead of, whilst he is effective as a back up full back against a top class team he struggles, so will he start over Lescott or Toure? After both had very average season's he'll be given a chance at one of their expense's.

Yaya Toure (From Barcelona, undisclosed rumoured to be £28m) a pricey deal for a player that didn't really play much last season but clubs are taking City for every penny they've got, a truly class addition to the squad although again at who's expense? City have a large number of holding midfielders (De Jong, Kompany, Barry, Viera) and a versatile player as well, can also play as a center back or slightly higher than defensive midfielder.

David Silva (From Valencia, undisclosed rumoured to be £24m) an interesting one, Silva said he wouldn't leave Valencia for another team unless they had champions league football then promptly turned up at Man City (sounds like Gareth Barry again...) a very small but creative player, can play on either wing or as an advanced midfielder, a good dribbler but not such a great crosser as seen in his World Cup, he started against Switzerland but was dropped for the rest of the tournament (except for a brief sub appearance against Germany) as he bore most of the criticism for not really providing much to the team. A good signing but he may take time to settle and adjust to the different style of football

Aleksandar Kolarov (From Lazio, undisclosed rumoured to be £16m) A left back capable of playing in left midfield, he is known for his runs down the left wing and his powerful shot, certainly coming in at Wayne Bridge's expense this is a player that has been linked to quite a few top clubs after being a standout player in a poor Lazio team. Again one they probably paid slightly over the odds for but like Yaya Toure he is a truly class addition to the squad and should settle in quickly as fast paced & physical football suits his style


Martin Petrov (To Bolton for free) not a huge surprise, although he quickly became a fan favourite falling out with the management with both Hughes & Mancini didn't help matters. Not considered a big enough name for the team since Mansour bought the club it was only a matter of time

Benjani (released) no club has come in for him yet but found himself far down the pecking order so no surprise really when City didn't offer him a new contract.

Sylvinho (released) again not a surprise as at 35 his best days are behind him, with the arrival of Kolarov he was no longer needed

Valeri Bojinov (To Parma, undisclosed rumoured to be £6m) Came to City with high hopes but a succession of injuries soon disrupted him, was on loan at Parma last season and helped them stay in Serie A so no surprise the Italians wanted to keep him

Key player - Emmanuel Adebayor will be expected to get the goals City need to challenge for the top 4 just as Shay Given will be expected to keep the goals out however i think the key man here will be Mancini and how he controls the ego's in that dressing room as well as keeping all the players happy, right now City have a massive squad and will need to trim some players or it could result in a bad dressing room atmosphere.

My Prediction
- If Mancini can keep things in check and everyone happy then they could well finish 4th, however i don't think this will happen. They are chopping and changing to many players and are choosing luxury players over work horses (i.e Silva over Bellamy) and i think they will finish 5th again this season, but have every chance of picking up a trophy like a domestic cup or even the EUROPA league

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