With less than 48 hours until the new Premier League season kicks off, we’re itching to get started. With newcomers Cardiff City, Hull City and Crystal Palace replacing relegated Reading, QPR and Wigan, five Premier League managers starting the season at new clubs and an all new goal decision system, it’s set to be a season like no other.
Here’s our Premier League preview, a run-through each of the 20 battling teams this season.
After another difficult campaign, the season ended with a sense of optimism for the Gunners as they claimed 4th place above their rivals Tottenham and the board promised significant funds in the market. As of yet, no major signings, but with a lot of players leaving the Emirates, expect that to change very soon. Although it may be a step too far to really challenge the likes of City, Chelsea and United next season, expect another top 4 finish and perhaps, a trophy at last for the North London side.
Major transfers in : Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre).
Last season was a season which many Villa fans will agree gave them a fair few scares. Perilously close to the drop, a late surge of form for Villa saw them avoid being relegated from the top division, which would have been a first in Premier League history. Much of this improved form can be credited to Belgian striker Christian Benteke, who netted an impressive 19 goals in his first season. Benteke signing a new contract alone should confirm Villa’s Premier League status for another season at least, but the lack of experience in such a young side may still be a concern for Paul Lambert’s men.
Major transfers in : Aleksandar Tonev (Lech Poznan), Jores Okore (FC Nordsjaelland), Leandro Bacuna (FC Groningen), Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg BK), Antonio Luna (Sevilla), Jed Steer (Norwich).
Out : Richard Dunne (Queens Park Rangers), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).
Cardiff were a cut above the rest last season as they deservedly got promoted to the Barclays Premier League as champions. Consistent throughout the season, manager Malky Mackay will hope his Welsh dragons (or bluebirds!) will be able to make the step up. Experienced players such as local hero Craig Bellamy and impressive signings such as Steven Caulker from Spurs should see Cardiff avoid the drop.
Out : Heidar Helguson (released), Stephen McPhail (released).
The special one is back. After the incredible success he achieved in his first stint at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho certainly returns with high expectations from fans. After a mixed spell at Real Madrid, Jose will certainly have a point to prove. For the first time in years there will be real unity between the fans and the club, and with top players such as Hazard and Mata at Mourinho’s disposal, expect Chelsea to be competing for England’s top honour once more.
Out : Yossi Benayoun (released), Florent Malouda (Trabzonspor), Paulo Ferreira (released), Ross Turnbull (Doncaster Rovers).
Despite winning promotion in fairytale fashion at Wembley, their return to the Premier League looks to be a step too far for Ian Holloway’s Palace side. After losing 30 goal striker Glenn Murray to injury and star man Zaha to Manchester United, it is very difficult to see Crystal Palace finishing anywhere other than in the bottom 3 places next season.
Major transfers in : Stephen Dobbie (Brighton & Hove Albion), Dwight Gayle (Peterborough United), Jerome Thomas (West Bromwich Albion), Jose Campana (Sevilla), Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal).
Out : Andre Moritz (Bolton Wanderers), Alex Marrow (Blackburn Rovers).
A season of change for the toffees. For the first time in 11 years Everton will start the campaign with a new manager, as Roberto Martinez replaces David Moyes at the helm. As the new manager will try to instil his new philosophy of slick passing football at Everton, expect a transitional season at Goodison Park. Keeping key players such as Felliani and Baines will be key as to whether Martinez has a successful start at his new club.
Out : Thomas Hitzlsperger (released), Jan Mucha (released), Jake Bidwell (Brentford).
After losing their top two players in the form of Dempsey and Dembele in 2011, a mid-table finish was expected at Fulham last season. With an aging squad plus a lack of money to spend again this summer, expect another tricky campaign for the cottagers. However, with star striker Dimitar Berbatov still at the club and the arrivals of goalkeeper Stekelenburg and Taarabt, they should still have enough to stay in the Premier League for another season at least.
Major transfers in : Derek Boateng (FC Dnipro), Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao), Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Sascha Riether (Cologne), Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers – loan).
Out : Chris Baird (released), Simon Davies (released), Mahamadou Diarra (released), Mladen Petric (released), Mark Schwarzer (Chelsea), Csaba Somogyi (released).
Like Crystal Palace, Hull City were another surprise package in the Championship last season as they won promotion to the Premier League as runners-up. With a few experienced Premier League players in the ranks expect Hull City to make a meal of it, but ultimately staying up may prove a step to far for Steve Bruce’s side.
Major transfers in : George Boyd (Peterborough United), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan Athletic), Curtis Davies (Birmingham City), Ahmed Elmohamady (Sunderland), Allan McGregor (Besiktas), Steve Harper (Newcastle United), Danny Graham (Sunderland – loan), Yannick Sagbo (Evian), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham Hotspur), Jake Livermore (Tottenham Hotspur – loan).
Out : Sonny Bradley (Portsmouth), Danny East (Portsmouth), Seyi Olofinjana (released), Jay Simpson (released), Andy Dawson (Scunthorpe United), Mark Oxley (Oldham Athletic – loan), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers).
Towards the end of last season, there were flashes of brilliance from Liverpool, as Brendan Rodgers philosophy of passing play came into effect. January signings Sturridge and Coutinho gave Liverpool edge and depth, making them a much stronger outfit towards the closing stages of last campaign. With youngsters such as Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom achieving impressive debut seasons, a talisman in midfield with skipper Steven Gerrard, and, if they can keep him, 23 goal striker Luis Suarez in the team, expect the reds to be tough opposition in 2013-14. Although breaking in to the top 4 may be beyond them, a better start to next season should see them at least challenge for those Champions League spots.
Major transfers in : Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Luis Alberto (Sevilla), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Simon Mignolet (Sunderland).
After a dreadful campaign last year which saw City tamely lose their Premier League crown and lose the FA Cup final against Wigan, there has been a lot of change at Eastlands. New players and a new manager, but will it work? Impressive signings such as Fernandinho, Jovetic and Negredo should strengthen the City side as they attempt to win back the league and progress further in the Champions League.
If new boss Pellegrini can bring harmony back to the City squad and unite the team as magnificently at Malaga CF , expect City to be challenging for the Premier League and the Champions League next year.
Major transfers in : Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina).
Despite winning the title last season, the appointment of David Moyes has seen United drop down to third favourites to retain the Premier League crown this season. Seen as a strange decision by some to appoint a manager that has never won a major trophy and has no Champions League experience, Moyes will have a lot to prove at his new club. However, let’s not forget that the Scot has inherited a Championship winning side, with top players such as Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic still at the club.
With Manchester United also keen to add another top class midfielder to their already impressive side, expect the red devils to make a fight of keeping their Premier League trophy, although a new manager at the club for the first time in 26 years may make this more of a transitional season.
Major transfers in : Guillermo Varela (Atletico Penarol).
Well, how on earth do you predict how Newcastle will do? After an incredible 2011-12 season which saw Newcastle finish in 5th and just five points off 3rd, 2013 ended up being a relegation dogfight for the geordies as they finished just two places above the bottom three.
With the unpopular appointment of unintentional comedian Joe Kinnear as director, the doom and gloom appears to have yet again surrounded the North-East club. Despite all of this, the club have still managed to keep hold of prized assets Ben Arfa, Cisse, Krul, Coloccini and Cabaye. With that much quality in the squad, minus European distractions, surely the club should be safe? You’d think so, as long as off the field problems don’t thwart the side again.
Major transfers in : Olivier Kemen (Metz), Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers – loan).
Out : Steve Harper (Hull City), Danny Simpson (Queens Park Rangers), James Perch (Wigan Athletic), Mehdi Abeid (Panathinaikos – loan).
Despite relegation fears, Norwich finished a respectable 11th place, including wins versus the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal. The Canaries have been quick to strengthen, signing promising forwards Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper. If these new signings bed in quickly, it could be a good season for Norwich; potentially top half.
Major transfers in : Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon), Javier Garrido (Lazio), Nathan Redmond (Birmingham City), Carlo Nash (Stoke City), Martin Olsson (Blackburn Rovers), Leroy Fer (FC Twente), Gary Hooper (Celtic).
Out : Chris Martin (Derby County), Simeon Jackson (Eintracht Braunschweig),Lee Camp (released), Marc Tierney (Bolton Wanderers), Elliott Ward (AFC Bournemouth), Tom Adeyemi (Birmingham City), Jed Steer (Aston Villa), James Vaughan (Huddersfield Town), Grant Holt (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Surman (AFC Bournemouth – loan), Leon Barnett (Wigan Athletic).
After a mid-table finish last campaign, Southampton will look to again consolidate their Premier League status. The £12.5 million signing of Victor Wanyama from Celtic suggests the Saints hold ambitions to avoid any kind of relegation battle this time. With Mauricio Pochettino beginning his first full season in charge at the club, fans will hope to see stability at the club as Southampton continue their Premier League adventure.
Major transfers in : Dejan Lovren (Lyon), Victor Wanyama (Celtic).
Out : Frazer Richardson (Middlesbrough), Danny Butterfield (released), Dan Seaborne (Yeovil Town), Ryan Dickson (Colchester United), Ben Reeves (Milton Keynes Dons), Sam Hoskins (Yeovil Town), Richard Chaplow (Millwall), Vegard Forren (Molde FK), Steve De Ridder (FC Utrecht).
After the departure of Tony Pulis, Mark Hughes was appointed to manage Stoke. Despite successful spells as manager of Blackburn and Fulham, dreadful stints at QPR and Man City will worry Stoke fans. Mark Hughes’s principal challenge will be to change Stoke’s style of play to a more attractive brand of football, whilst at the same time maintaining the clubs status in the Premier League.
Mark Hughes will have to make a positive impression quickly, so it’s just as well that he faces Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal in his first 5 games! To completely transform a sides’ style of play will take time. Added to that, a lack of money to spend will consequently see Stoke City as relegation candidates in my opinion.
Major transfers in : Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven), Marc Muniesa (Barcelona).
Out : Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough), Matthew Upson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Rory Delap (Burton Albion), Mamady Sidibe (released), Carlo Nash (Norwich City), Matthew Lund (Rochdale).
After a 17th placed finish for the Black Cats, it is up to Paolo Di Canio to pick up the pieces and make Sunderland a force again. The Italian’s reign at Sunderland began brilliantly with a 3-0 win at rivals Newcastle, but the Di Canio factor appeared to fizzle out, including a 6-1 defeat to Aston Villa. They just about stayed up, but with a higher standard in the Premier League this term, expect another difficult campaign for Sunderland.
Major transfers in : Cabral (Basle), Modibo Diakite (Lazio), Valentin Roberge (Maritimo), David Moberg Karlsson (IFK Goteborg), Vito Mannone (Arsenal), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), El Hadji Ba (Le Havre), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor – loan).
Out : Titus Bramble (released), Matthew Kilgallon (Blackburn Rovers), Ryan Noble (released), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull City), Danny Graham (Hull City – loan), Alfred N’Diaye (Eskisehirspor – loan), James McClean (Wigan Athletic).
It’s easy to forget this is only Swansea’s third season in the premier league, after an incredible season last time round which saw them win the League Cup and finish in the top half. With Michael Laudrup in charge, expect more of the same, including being great to watch. Despite a congested fixture list due to the Europa League, the Swans should still have enough in the team to achieve a successful league campaign again.
Major transfers in : Jose Canas (Real Betis), Jordi Amat (Espanyol), Jonathan De Guzman (Villarreal – loan), Gregor Zabret (NK Domzale), Alex Gogic (Olympiakos), Alejandro Pozuelo (Real Betis), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Wilfred Bony (Vitesse Arnhem), Jernade Meade (Arsenal).
Out : Mark Gower (Charlton Athletic), Kyle Bartley (Birmingham City – loan), Kemy Agustien (Brighton & Hove Albion).
Despite missing out on Champions League football once again in heart-breaking fashion, Spurs fans still have plenty to be optimistic about. Although star player Gareth Bale looks set to leave (for a huge sum of money), there is still enough quality in the squad to challenge the top four positions again. Added to the squad this summer are the impressive signings of Paulinho and Soldado, both who have plenty of quality and experience. This should see Spurs challenge yet again for Champions League qualification, although you still feel that it may still be a tall order to finish above the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.
Major transfers in : Paulinho (Corinthians), Nacer Chadli (FC Twente), Roberto Soldado (Valencia), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse).
Out : Nathan Byrne (Swindon Town), David Bentley (released), John Bostock (released), William Gallas (released), Steven Caulker (Cardiff City), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Tom Huddlestone (Hull City), Jake Livermore (Hull City – loan).
West Bromwich Albion
An 8th placed finish last season was an incredible feat for the West Midlands side, especially if you take into account that they have one of the smallest wage bills in the division. A lot of that was down to 17 goal striker Romelu Lukaku, who unfortunately for Baggies fans has returned to parent club Chelsea. Because of this it is unlikely that they will reach the heights of last season, although they should have enough to comfortably stay up. A mid-table finish expected.
Major transfers in : Nicolas Anelka, Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev – loan), Diego Lugano (Paris St Germain), Matej Vydra (Udinese – loan), Zoltan Gera.
Out : Marc Antoine-Fortune (Wigan Athletic), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), Jerome Thomas (Crystal Palace), James Hurst (Crawley Town).
West Ham United
West Ham achieved an impressive 10th place finish in their first year back in England’s top division. Retaining Andy Carroll’s services permanently is a huge boost for the East London side, as the big English forward played a key role in the sides’ successes last campaign. With a squad packed with Premier League experience, expect Sam Allardyce’s men to be immune from second season syndrome in 2014 and improve on last season’s finish.
Major transfers in : Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk), Adrian (Real Betis), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Danny Whitehead (Stockport County), Stewart Downing (Liverpool).
Out : Carlton Cole (released), Gary O’Neil (Queens Park Rangers), Robert Hall (Bolton Wanderers).
Premier League prediction table
That’s all the teams, here is my predicted table in full :
What do you think of these predictions? Too harsh on your team? Let us know in the comments!