With the new season fast approaching it’s time assess each Premier League club in terms of their transfer business and chance of success this season. So whether you want to beat the drop or win the league, give it a read.
Last season saw Arsene Wenger finally open his cheque book and sign Mesut Ozil. This season he has followed that up with the purchase of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. The Arsenal squad is laced with quality throughout the team, but still seems to be lacking in the defensive and goalkeeping areas. Arsenal fans will be hoping their season isn’t plagued by injuries, such as the ones suffered by Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott last time out. Buoyed by their FA Cup victory, this year does appear to be the season where their title challenge will last past Christmas, but they will face serious competition. Another top four finish is a definite – it’s Wenger speciality – but the top stop may just elude them.
The lack of investment in this Villa squad must surely be exposed soon. After flirting with relegation over the last two seasons, they will hope they will not be dragged into another relegation battle this time round. The fitness of Christian Benteke will be make-or-break; if he can rediscover his form of 2012/13 then Villa should be fine, otherwise they will be looking over their shoulders once again. Anything above 15th place must surely be considered a good season for this Villa side.
Turf Moor will be rocking with the return of Premier League football and they will be hoping to beat the drop this time round. Sean Dyche will have his work cut out to keep Burnley up, but he has a squad that plays with desire and passion, which may just be enough to keep them in the top league. Dyche has said that he is working on more deals and more experience will surely help their squad. Last season Danny Ings, who scored 26 goals, and Sam Vokes, who scored 21 goals, helped fire Burnley to promotion and they will need to rediscover this form if they are to avoid relegation. It will be a long season in East Lancashire and it will probably go to the wire.
Chelsea have completed their transfer business early and have addressed the imbalances in their squad. Last season their lack of a world class striker probably cost them the league, but this season Diego Costa will spearhead their attack, supported by Torres and the returning Didier Drogba. Cesc Fabregas adds another option to their attacking midfield and Filipe Luis replaces the departed Ashely Cole. David Luiz has also left for a sizeable fee which has helped fund other improvements in the squad – and he won’t be missed much in defence. Jose will have felt unlucky last season and I expect Chelsea to come back fighting. They will be prepared to push their rivals all the way for the Premier League title and this season they may just have enough to see them over the line.
Tony Pulis preformed miracles at Selhurst Park last season. They were relegation certainties until Pulis took over, guiding them from rock bottom to 11th place. This season he will hope to maintain the defensive discipline which his teams are famed for and again aim to beat the drop to survive in mid-table. A mass clear out has seen 20 players leave the club, as he rebalances the team and brings in his own players.
Martinez promised Champions League football to the Goodison faithful when he took over as boss and he almost delivered at the first time of asking. They have smashed their transfer record to keep hold of Lukaku, whose goals proved vital last season. Despite their substantial outlay they remain almost identical to Everton squad of last season. The development of Ross Barkley could be critical to their success this season. A top four finish may again prove a step too far, but they will be in the mix for a Europa League place.
A recruitment drive has been underway at the KC stadium all summer, as Steve Bruce aims to add strength in depth, which was sometimes lacking last season. Robert Snodgrass, Tom Ince, Jake Livermore, Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson are some of the player that have already signed. A surprise package last season – Hull finished 16th after a promising start and made the FA cup final. In Steve Bruce they have an experienced manager and he will relish the chance to play European football next season. Despite their European commitments, survival in the Premier League will remain a priority and their new signings should help them achieve this.
The Championship’s run-away leaders were making loud noises at the start of the summer, with some reports claiming the Chairman was willing to sanction £100 million on transfers. Up to now, they do not appear to have delivered in the transfer market. Leonardo Ulloa has arrived from Brighton, as well as a number of players on free transfers, such as Marc Albrighton and Matthew Upson. Nigel Pearson has already stated he wants to make new signings and the coming weeks could be busy at the King Power Stadium. It is difficult to see Leicester not being dragged into a relegation battle, but they might have enough to survive if they bring in a few new faces with Premier League experience.
It is difficult to see Liverpool doing one better and winning the Premier League next season. They have bought seven players already this summer and Brendan Rodgers has already stated that he expects to make more signings. They have addressed their lack of depth in the squad, which they will need in order to succeed with the added pressure of mid-week European matches. However, they are still yet to sign a truly world class player and this is why I cannot see them as genuine title contenders. The loss of Luis Suarez will hit them hard, but they will cope and Daniel Sturridge proved last season, during Suarez’s ban, that he can shoulder the goal scoring duties. Sterling is pushing on with his development and they will try to blitz teams away like last season, but will it be enough? Another top four finish is a possibility, but it will be more difficult than last season; mid-week Champions League football may take its toll.
Last season saw City’s second title win in the past three season and they will be desperate to retain their crown this year. As well as aiming for the title, City will be hoping they can make more of an impact in the Champions League. With a super star squad already existing at the Etihad, this summer has been a quiet one on the transfer front. Fernando has arrived to add even more quality in midfield, Frank Lampard will add experience during his loan spell and the arrival of Eliaquim Mangala will shore up a slightly suspect defence. Other players such as Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Jack Rodwell have been cleared off the books, while others are expected to follow. All-in-all, another good season is on the cards for the blue half of Manchester.
Louis Van Gaal arrives at Old Trafford on the back of an impressive pre-season. This will mean nothing though if he does not achieve a top four finish. He already looks more at home than David Moyes ever did and he seems to be getting more out the current squad. Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata have looked impressive, and alongside Robin van Persie they should propel United back into the top four. Herrara and Shaw have already joined but more new signings are a must, with new, experienced defenders and more steel and creativity in midfield top of the list. A clear out appears to be on the cards with Anderson, Nani, Javier Hernandez and Wilfred Zaha just some of those who will be shown the door, if reports are to be believed. A return to the top four is a possibility but winning the title may be a step to far this season.
Newcastle have gone some way to spend some of the money they have acquired from the sale of their star assets over the past few seasons. Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong, Daryl Janmaat and Jack Colback are just some of their purchases. A top half finish is again on the cards for Newcastle, but the European places may just be out of their reach. Goal scoring was a problem as last season wore on and if the new signs fail to solve the problem then it could be another long season at St James’ Park. The long suffering Newcastle fans will be happy with a top half finish if it is combined with a decent cup run, but it remains to be seen if cup competitions will be prioritised by the club’s hierarchy.
A last gasp play-off victory has seen QPR bounce straight back to the Premier League and they appear to have learnt from their last stint in the top flight. The cash has not been flashed as much as the last time they secured promotion. Even though Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker have arrived, as well Jordan Mutch and Mauricio Isla, the squad appears to be lacking forwards. Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora have shared the responsibility in pre-season, but it remains to be seen whether Loic Remy is still at the club at the start of the season. At any rate QPR need more strikers if they are to make an impact this season. They should be alright come May, as they have plenty of Premier League experience in the squad, but it is going to be a long season for QPR fans if more striking options aren’t acquired.
The exodus which has occurred at St Mary’s over the summer shows no signs of letting up. With six first team players already exiting the club and more reported to follow, Ronald Koeman has a massive rebuilding job on his hands, with only a couple of weeks left to carry it out. With £100 million in the bank, it shouldn’t be hard for the Saints to recruit new players, but it will take time for them to gel. New players are already arriving in the shape of midfielder Dušan Tadić, striker Graziano Pellè and midfielder Saphir Taider. However, the coming weeks will no doubt see a frenzy of activity at the South Coast club. It may be a nervy season at times, but the Saints should not get into too much trouble. Sliding down the table from 8th to a more mid-table position seems the most likely situation.
After an impressive top-half finish (9th place) in Mark Hughes’s first season at the Britannia, this year they will want to push on and as well attempt a decent cup run. The signing of Bojan could be inspire the side if he able to get his career back on track and fulfil the potential he once showed at Barcelona. More reinforcements may be needed to push further up the table, but another top 10 finish and cementing their place as the current top Midlands club will keep Stoke fans happy.
Gus Poyet has had a mixed time in the transfer market over the summer. Jack Colback has moved to arch rivals Newcastle, Connor Wickham has yet to sign a new deal and the transfer of Fabio Borini appears to have stalled. On a positive note, Jack Rodwell has arrived from Manchester City and he will hope to rediscover the form he showed earlier in his career. The spirit inspired by Poyet saw Sunderland mastermind a great escape last season and took them from almost certain relegation to a 14th place finish. If they can bring in Borini and Rodwell stays injury free, then they should secure a more secure finish this season without too many problems.
Swansea’s chances of maintaining a decent finish must rest on them keeping hold of Wilfried Bony. The striker found the net 25 times in all competitions last season and has drawn a few admiring glances over the summer. With Bony spearheading their attack and without the distraction of Europa League football on a Thursday night, Gary Monk will look to elevate the Welsh club higher than their 12th place finish last season.
The sale Gareth Bale weighed heavy on Spurs throughout last season. The masses brought in with the money the Bale sale generated failed to make much of an impact, as the club finished 6th. A top four finish will once again be Tottenham’s aim, but again it may prove to be a step too far. Mauricio Pochettino will hope to replicate his success at Southampton, but after a poor display last season, Spurs have yet to invest this summer. If the best can be brought out of record signing, Érik Lamela as well as Roberto Soldado, coupled with the impressive Christian Eriksen in midfield, then Spurs could prove people wrong. Otherwise they will be settling for Europa League football again next season.
Last season was a bit of a reality check for the Baggies’ fans, after their finish of 8th the previous season, they slumped to 17th the next time round. This season they will be hoping not to get dragged into a relegation battle, and despite the difficulties of last season and they should have enough to finish around the mid-table mark. Plenty of players have arrived – 8 in total – as they look to reinvigorate their squad. Joleon Lescott will add experience at the back and Brown Ideye could be an exciting addition. Few Baggies would complain about a mid-table finish as long as it provides them with a platform to climb back up the table over the next few seasons.
The injury to Andy Carroll has thrown Big Sam’s pre-season plans into chaos. They appear to be desperately diving back into the transfer market in attempt to fill the void left up front. Enner Valencia played well in Brazil and may be a revelation up front, but the Hammers are still short in the striking department. Due to his style of football Big Sam is still not universally loved at Upton Park, despite overseeing a 13th place finish last season. A higher finish would be welcomed, along with a more entertaining style of play – it could be the more of the same at West Ham though.