Premier League Preview – Part Two

Posted: August 7, 2015 in Football
Tags: , , , , , ,
Louis Van Gaal

Can Van Gaal lead Manchester United back to prominence?

The football season is back! Rejoice! The tedium that is the close season and the rubbish that fills our newspapers and websites desperate to fill column inches is finally at an end, and we can focus on the football itself. Well, nearly. I’m looking at you Daily Mail.

The Premier League has opted to kick-off at the same time as the other divisions in England this season due to a major tournament appearing next summer and it looks set to be potentially the most interesting season in a while, with a number of teams well equipped to mount a title challenge and nobody looking quite weak enough to be dead certs for the drop. 

Thus I have compiled a quick preview of every side in the division, rated and/or slated their summer transfer activity and attempted the fools’ game of predicting where they will end up. Enjoy and feel free to add your own comments at the bottom! 

Here’s Part Two, taking us from Everton to Manchester United:

Roberto Martinez

Martinez is running a risky strategy this summer if Everton are to get back among the European contenders

Everton

Last Season: 11th

Transfers In: Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona)

Transfer Out: Sylvain Distin (Bournemouth), Antolin Alcaraz (Released), Luke Garbutt (Fulham, Loan), Chris Long (Burnley)

Has any side been as disappointing as Everton in the transfer window this summer? After a season in which they went from European qualifiers to flirting with relegation after blowing their entire transfer budget on Romelu Lukaku, Everton have yet again done nothing to address a threadbare squad.

While the departures of Alcaraz and Distin were to be expected, the fact that Roberto Martinez has done nothing to replace them will be of cause for concern to Everton fans, with the continued speculation around John Stones even more of a worry. The only position that has been strengthened has been arguably the strongest area of the pitch, with Cleverley coming in to join Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and the criminally under-used Muhamed Besic on the centre of midfield.

The arrival of Deulofeu after a semi-successful loan spell two years ago still simply smacks of standing still while all others around them have improved their options. There is still very little support to Lukaku with only Arouna Kone of Steven Naismith offering any semblance of striking options.

Martinez still claims he wants another three players, but he is running out of time. This is beginning to look like a long and difficult season ahead for the Toffees unless something is done drastically to improve a paper-thin squad.

Prediction: 14th

Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri is the man to lead Leicester into this season’s relegation battle

Leicester City

Last Season: 14th

Transfers In: Christian Fuchs (Schalke), Robert Huth (Stoke), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), N’Golo Kante (Caen), Yohan Benalouane (Atalanta)

Transfers Out: Paul Gallagher (Preston), Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Matthew Upson (MK Dons), Chris Wood (Leeds), Ben Hamer (Nottingham Forest, Loan), Paul Konchesky (QPR, Loan), Esteban Cambiasso (Released)

Leicester were the story of the season last season as they finished the season with a phenomenal run that saw them go from dead certainties for relegation to finish nice and clear of the drop zone, avoiding even a nervy final day showdown to secure their place in the Premier League at the first time of asking.

And then they self imploded over the summer, with three of their younger players being sacked for partaking in a filmed orgy laced with racial slurs and manager Nigel Pearson soon also receiving the boot, presumably for failing to condemn the actions of his players, with his own son one of the main protagonists.

Now Claudio Ranieri has undertaken the task of steadying the ship in the East Midlands, with the club in a spot of disarray and now in the thoughts of many as likely to face the drop once again. Again they have recruited from abroad to give a number of new foreign players their first crack at the Premier League, but the loss of Cambiasso in the centre of the park may well prove a huge difference in their fight for survival.

Prediction: Relegation. Potentially Bottom

Brendan Rodgers

Will Brendan Rodgers’ signings fare better than his attempts of last year?

Liverpool

Last Season: 6th

Transfers In: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), James Milner (Manchester City), Danny Ings (Burnley), Adam Bogdan (Bolton), Joe Gomez (Charlton), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)

Transfers Out: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Iago Aspas (Sevilla), Rickie Lambert (West Brom), Glen Johnson (Stoke), Andre Wisdom (Norwich), Brad Jones (Released)

Ah Liverpool. After all the crowing in regards to their near miss of a maiden Premier League title, the loss of Luis Suarez and subsequent spunking of money saw them slip completely out of the Champions League picture, with Brendan Rodgers coming under immense pressure after failing to build on that superb season.

Most of those signings have been written off as flops already, and yet somehow he has been granted another heavy transfer kitty to hit the market hard again.

These signings look far more shrewd however and it is the signing of Roberto Firmino that really intrigues the imagination, with the Brazilian having been a regular on the scoresheet at the ever-entertaining Hoffenheim in Germany. Milner, Ings and Clyne also ups an English contingent of players with enough top flight experience and still with a hunger to prove themselves.

Losing Raheem Sterling as a second big name sale in as many years is a blow, but Liverpool have enough options in that position to cover his absence. The attacking winger bit anyway. Not the wing-back role he was often forced into last season.

There is enough about this Liverpool squad to mount an attack on the top four once again with Manchester City the most vulnerable of the sides above them. They just require Rodgers to stay out of his own way.

Prediction: 5th

Raheem Sterling

There’s a lot of pressure on young Raheem Sterling’s shoulders after his antics this summer

Manchester City

Last Season: 2nd

Transfers In: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Patrick Roberts (Fulham), Enes Unal (Bursaspor)

Transfers Out: James Milner (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (New York City), Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan), Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), John Guidetti (Sevilla), Alvaro Negredo (Valencia)

A failure to strengthen and build upon their Premier League success hurt City last season and quite frankly it remains difficult to gauge as to whether they have actually addressed that problem as yet.

With Edin Dzeko looking likely to join the list of departures, City will only have Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony to call upon as senior striking options, with young Patrick Roberts looking set for a more involved role at the club than he may have envisaged upon arriving from Fulham after a handful of Championship games.

The defence that was such a problem for them at times last season has been completely ignored in terms of any improvement and you would definitely look at City as the side most likely to fall out of the top four, despite their second place finish last year.

With Arsenal and Man Utd having strengthened, they look most vulnerable. They will have to hope they do hold on, with enough of a wake up call to the higher ups to address the gaping holes in their side. Otherwise the likes of Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero will perhaps look elsewhere to ensure continued success.

Prediction: 4th

Depay & Van Gaal

Memphis Depay is one of the most exciting additions to the Premier League this summer

Manchester United

Last Season: 4th

Transfers In: Memphis Depay (PSV), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria)

Transfers Out: Tom Cleverley (Everton), Ben Amos (Bolton), Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb), Nani, Robin van Persie (Fenerbahce), Rafael (Lyon), Angel Di Maria (PSG)

Another summer, another expensive shopping list for Manchester United. This season does seem more optimistic than the slap-dash nature of last season, with Louis van Gaal having now had a year to look at his squad and make the necessary alterations to the flawed areas.

Central midfield was an obvious weak point at times, especially with the unreliability of Michael Carrick’s fitness, and while it is a surprise that two top quality players have come in, it adds a strength in depth that most clubs could only dream about in the centre of the park.

The uncertainty around David de Gea provides an unwelcome distraction for United as they look to re-establish themselves as a Premier League and European force, while at the other end of the pitch work still needs to be done to give Wayne Rooney some competition, with both Van Persie and Falcao having now left the club without a replacement being signed.

Get those two issues sorted and United are genuine title challengers. Until then, they may have to wait another year and just get into as good a position as possible to launch an assault next season.

Prediction: 3rd

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