Well, after the the Euro’s and Olympics, world football’s yearly juggernaut rolls back into town this Saturday. To mark the occasion, here is a preview, club by club, of how I see each team doing this season. This will consist of the major transfer dealings, followed by some opinionated scrawling upon the team in question.
Big signings In: Podolski £11M Giroud £12M Cazorla £15M
Out: Van Persie £22M- Man Utd Miyaichi Loan-Wigan Denilson loan- Sao Paulo Vela Undisclosed- Sociedad
Where to begin. I’ve already written on the season Arsenal now face (http://ludicrousdisplay.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/the-arsenal-conundrum/) Yet despite RVP’s decision to win some silverware, I feel weirdly optimistic for the Gunners. The addition of Cazorla to assist the already impressive creative midfield of Arteta Ramsey and Song (Who at the time of writing has not signed for Barca) (11 assist last season) could help in the unlocking of the best defences. Podolski brings vast experience in with him, and Giroud has even won a Championship! With Wilshere to come back, assuming he ever does; Arsenal, as they always have, have the makings of a strong squad.
Yet as Ra’s al Ghul would say, they lack the strength to do what is necessary. They can’t seem to end this trophy drought, yet every season a compelling reason can be made for its ending. This year It’s Steve Bould coming in as the new assistant to shore up the defence. Could they win a trophy this year? Of course they could, the Capital One Cup and FA cup are both within reach. The Premier League? When Arsenal can hold onto their best players, and add ones of equal calibre, then we’ll talk about it. I see no better than last years third place finish in this regard.
In: Vlaar £3.2M El Ahmadi £2.5 Lowton £3M Holman Free
Out: Heskey-Free Agent Cuellar Free- Sunderland Collins 2.5M- West Ham
Last season was a horrendous one for Villa. A change was definitely needed, and in the shape of Lambert, one would have to say, they have made a good appointment. He seems to have an infectious energy and enthusiasm which at times last season made me want Norwich to stay up. His positive style of play could well encourage his players, such as Bannan and Albrighton who may not have flourished under the more conservative Mcleish. After all among his ranks include play-makers such as Ireland, N’Zogbia and the ever deadly Bent.
Yet with the spending being cut faster than funding for rape crisis centres in London; Villa will need more from the aforementioned characters to avoid another scrap. A Mid-Table finish would go down would have to be considered a success, in this, another year of transition.
In: Hazard £32M Marin £6.5M Oscar £25M
Out: Drogba Free- Shanghai Kalou Free- Lille Bosingwa Free Agent Lukaku Loan- West Brom
With Di Matteo getting the job he deserved, Chelsea have continued to have a respectable summer. Well; John Terry aside. The signings of Hazard and Oscar both appear to be sensible ones (Don’t forget Marin though. We here at Ludicrous Display have quite the affinity for German football) and for the time being, they retain the experience of Cole Terry Lampard. This fused with the likes of Ramires Ivanovic and Torres, Chelsea look as if a force capable of stopping the title heading to Manchester. They even seem to posses the “strength in-depth” required to win, with players such a Cahill Bertrand Sturridge and Co ready to step into the breach.
But, Torres. Could Chelsea’s downfall prove to be the reliance on one of the worlds greatest strikers? It seems an odd question, but maybe. His performance against Man Utd proved this last season. Flashes of the Torres we know is still there, coupled with that miss. Torres and Sturridge, don’t quite match up to Tevez Dzeko Aguero Balotelli. Or Rooney RVP Hernandez Welbeck. Could they win the Premier League, yes. Any team with the ability to win a Champions League is in with a shout. Yet Drogba-less, can Chelsea compete with The Manchester’s? I’m not all too sure.
In: Pienaar £4.5m Naismith Free
Out- Rodwell £12M- Man City Cahill £1M- New York Yobo £2M-Fenerbahce
Ahh Everton. The team you always think, surely they’ll fail this time, and yet keep marching on. Having once more proved he’s one of the best managers in the Premiership with his signing of Jelavic, to replace Saha (A signing of which proves he may still have some work to do) Everton marched on to yet another high-placed finish. The old under investment problem yet lingers, once more Everton’s dealings with have to be primarily funded by transfers out, this time it’s the promising Rodwell, who we English fans hope will excel, and not stagnate at City.
Strength in depth is a problem Moyes has long dealt with in his lengthy spell as manager, and it will be up to the likes of Young Barkley Vellios and Gueye to provide some rest bite for the main protagonists. That provided players such as Felliani and Heitinga remain. Also just want to mention Leon Osman. I don’t feel he gets mentioned often enough, so there.
In: Rodellega Free Petric Free Riechter Loan
Out: Murphy Blackburn- Free Johnson QPR- Free Etuhu Blackburn- Free
Whilst in recent times Fulham have performed well with in the Premier League; something in no doubt part to the groundwork laid by now England manager Roy Hodgson an issue now faces Fulham. That groundwork is breaking up, and Jol, who lead Fulham capably last season, must build his own team. Despite Murphy leaving, a fairly influential figure, there is plenty of talent still around. The defence build by Woy still stands firm, though ageing rapidly, and Fulham still posses talented players, Dempsey and Dembélé, of whom I have in my Fantasy Football team. Now that’s believe.
Yet many, like me, suspect Dempsey will soon be mired in Andy Carroll’s hair down in Liverpool. Can the new young crop off Alexander Kačaniklić and Karim Frei step up. If (When) Dempsey leaves it will leave a lot of heavy lifting on the shoulder of Bryan Ruiz. His season, along with how quickly Mladen Petric beds in, could determine wether Fulham are top half contenders again this season.
In: Allen £15M Borini £11M Assaidi £3M
Out: Aquilani Fiorentina £15M Kuyt Fenerbahce £1M Bellamy Free- Cardiff Maxi Rodriguez Free- Newell’s Old Boys
Liverpool, last year were to be blunt, bad. We all saw it coming. £35M for Carroll, £20M for Downing, and we need not even mention Henderson. All paid for over the odds. Luis Suarez proved he is an arse. No other way of putting it. Ultimately, even a heroic win in the League Cup against the titans of Cardiff couldn’t save King Kenny. Will anything change under Rogers? Personnel wise, much remains the same. To be fair, I may do a fair bit of Liverpool bashing, but they have good players. Downing isn’t a bad player, Henderson isn’t a bad player, Adam isn’t a bad player. They just didn’t play well last season, ever really. Rogers almost tiki-taka syle play will no doubt challenge this set of players, yet if it can be done at Swansea, why not at Liverpool?
The addition of Joe Allen signals the willingness to play this more expansive football, something with players of the quality of Gerrard, Enrique and the returning Joe Cole, should be achievable. This is a season of transition though, and some ups and downs will most certainly occur. Even with the arrival of Dempsey and a couple of other new faces, Liverpool could be looking at another Champions League-less season. But I wouldn’t expect them to be as far out as eighth again.
In: Rodwell £12M
Out: Bridge Loan-Brighton Hargreaves- Free Agent
Last season, was for Manchester City nearly perfect. A Champions League away from perfect. Can they go one better this season? Well for starters, this current squad will look very different come September 1st. One would suspect that Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Kolarov are likely to leave, that and Mancini has expressed his desire for new players. Carlos Tevez, practically is a new signing, and having come back a whole stone lighter, he means business.
There’s not a lot to say that we don’t all ready know. Toure is a man mountain, Aguero a force of nature, and Kompany, well enough said. Overall, I have a bad feeling they will retain the title. I say bad feeling, my secondary team are Manchester United (Come on now, we all had a glory hunting team when we were 7). But if I had to lay money on it, I wouldn’t.
In: Kawaga £12M Van Persie £22M Powel £3M
Out: Park £2M- QPR Pogba Free- Juventus Michael Owen- Free Agent Fabio Loan- QPR
I wouldn’t lay money on it, because again this season, it will be too close to call between the Manchester clubs. United took stock of what was, despite missing out on the League on goal difference, a poor season. Both the FA and League Cup runs were not all too long, and the Champions League performance, was nothing short of unacceptable. Not quite back to the drawing board for Sir Alex though. United will have the advantage of a fit Vidic, Fletcher and Cleverly during the course of this season. That and the addition of Kawaga (His face is our twitter picture, told you we liked German football) and now Van Persie, it would appear United have the strength required to go for the Premier League once more.
The 4 strikers, Rooney Welbeck RVP and Hernandez would and Sir Alex’s recent remarks about the 1999 strike force would suggest his main objective, as always, is the Champions League. This may well prove a step too far. Barcelona retain their brilliance, Madrid continue to strengthen with Modric, even Paris now has a team capable of performing on the biggest stage, albeit a team brought more outrageously the Man City and Chelsea ever dared. Will United win something this season? I would say yes. The Champions League? I doubt it, but we can dream, right?
In: Anita £6.7m Bigirimana £1M Good £400,000 Amalfitano Free
Out: Best £3M- Blackburn Forster £2M- Celtic Guthrie Free- Reading Smith Free- MK Dons Lovenkrands Free- Birmingham
Last season was a very pleasant surprise to the fans of the Toon army. The form of Ba and Cisse, the success of Cabaye, who I still cannot believe only cost £5M and wasn’t brought by Arsenal, lead to a very impressive 5th placed finish. Pardew will once again look to challenge for the European places after keeping hold of his main men, such as Ba, and will gain both Taylor and Marveaux, both of whom missed large chunks of the season through injury.
Yet even the addition of Anita, described by Agent ITK on twitter, as the “signing of the summer” Newcastle have brought in only youngsters. Can these guys really step up for the currently injured Cabaye or Tiote? And what happens when the inevitable happens and Ba and Cisse gets injured, as they are doubtful for the first game? It will be a big ask to repeat the last years success, but if Newcastle can bring in a couple of new faces in mould of Debuchy, the perhaps they might.
In: Snodgrass £3M Turner £1.5M Butterfield Free Whittaker Free
Out: Crofts Free- Brighton Whitbread Free- Leicester Drury Free- Leeds
If there is one man you would want to do well this season, its new Canaries manager Chris Hughton . Replacing Paul Lambert will be no easy task, but one that could well be done by this man of whom has already had a crack at Premier League management, unfairly cut short many would say at Newcastle. By bringing in Michael Turner from Sunderland he looks to add experience to a defence which was Norwichs main weak point during last seasons successful 12th placed finish. (Not that he need defenders when he has Ex-Posh player Ryan Bennett) This and being able to keep hold of talisman Grant Holt, suggest Hughton is well on the way to replicating last seasons success.
However I worry about the lack of genuine improvement, Whittaker is currently injured, and both Snodgrass and Butterfield lack Premier League experience. With teams like Southampton and QPR making great leaps forward in the playing staff, Norwich could be left behind.
In: Diakite £3M Park-Ji-Sung £2M Jose Bosingwa Free (Pending) Hoilett Free Fabio Loan Johnson Free Green Free Nelsen Free
Out: One Size Fitz Hall Free- Watford Kenny Free- Leeds Helguson Free- Cardiff Ginger Rampage Free- Crystal Palace Gabbidon Free Agent Barton- Marseille (Pending)
This is a club I do think will better last seasons showing. Mark Hughes is a good manager, and though last season QPR left it late, he kept them up. However he signalled his intent to change the squad Neil Warnock had built to win the Championship by bring in the likes of Cisse and Onouha.
This summer had seen an overhaul of experience, with Park, Bosingwa and Nelsen adding some real know how, and a backbone to a side that conceded 66 goals last season. Coupled with the exciting forward signing of Hoilett, I feel QPR could make a real charge for the top half of the table this season. Especially if they can swap Barton for M’bia, who would add yet more steel to a strong looking QPR squad.
In: Gunter £2.3M Mariappa £1M Guthrie Free McCleary Free Shorey Free Pogrebnyak Free
Out: Antonio £700,000- Sheff Wed Manset Undisclosed- Sion Cywka Free- Barnsley
A mixture of undying team spirit concocted by Brian McDermott and Jason Roberts drove Reading the Championship title last season; though it might take a little more to stay up. Though the Royals have signed Pogrebnyak, who on the back of his time at Fulham last season will be expected to score the goals, Reading have seemingly little Premier League pedigree.
Whilst the likes of Kebe, Karacan and McCleary are all very exciting prospects, it can be said there is some doubt as to whether they will be able to make the leap to Premier League level. Even the signings with real Prem experience, Shorey and Guthrie, were hardly ever class acts, though Shorey had his days. Overall I believe Adam Federici will be busy this season. Yet is this not the same as was said of Norwich last season? Yet Holt made the step up, and Ruddy is in the England squad, stranger things have happened.
In: Rodriguez £7M Davis Free Clyne Undisclosed Ramirez £11.8M (Pending)
Out: Harding Undisclosed- Nottingham Forest Lee Holmes Free- Preston
Once more a club with two successive promotions enter the top tier. With momentum on their side, good quality players such as French Lallana (I’ll stop making Swoodilypoopers references now) Schneiderlin and Cork, could Southampton make an impact this year?
Well, maybe. Whilst it is true these players do appear to be good enough to play in the top flight, they are yet to do so, and The Saints lack many players with a Premier League track record. Whilst they posses Steven Davis, and soon Gaston Ramirez who so impressed at the Olympics, they’re strength in depth is such that if they are injured Richard Chaplow could be called upon to step into the breach. Event the Marquee forward player signing of Jay Rodriguez from Burnley isn’t a nailed on success, with his youth and Premier League naivety.
Southampton most certainly posses enough quality to stay up, but a lot will depend upon whether players such as Lambert Fonte and Sharp are able to adjust to live at a higher level. Potentially a nervy season ahead.
In: Kightly Undisclosed Ness Free
Out: Collins £500,000- Nottingham Forest Woodgate Free- Middlesbrough
This will be a defining season for Stoke. After the Potters heady European exploits they somewhat fizzled out, finishing in their lowest position since promotion in 2008. Stoke have also failed to do a vast amount of business thus far in the transfer market, could Stoke be dragger further down than 14th into a relegation battle?
Possibly, yet we should remember that no Europe this season will leave Stoke with more in the tank as the season progresses. That and last season both Crouch and Palacios were signed late on in the window. Pulis and his men are most unlikely to do down without a fight, and the Britannia yet remains an uncomfortable place to go. Stoke need a good start against Reading. With the next five games after being Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, an opening day defeat could leave them well adrift.
In: Cuellar Free Saha Free
Out: Gyan £4.4M- Al-Ain Turner £1.5M- Norwich McCartney Undisclosed- West Ham
For some reason I quite like Martin O’Neil as a manager, and always fancy his teams to do well. To be fair, there are plenty of positives for him going into the new season. Ji looked like a good forward in the Olympics, McClean should continue to impress this season, and with Gardner Larsson and Vaughan they have the makings if a good squad. Yet even with Ji looking more impressive, none of he Fraizer Campbell or Conor Wickham will really be capable of scoring the goals Sunderland need to break into the top half, leaving Sessègnon all alone.
Whether Sunderland can break into the top half will depend upon the form and fitness of new boy Saha, and upon O’Neil’s transfer endeavours, namely Steven Fletcher. Until such time he or another striker is brought in, a lower mid table finish surely awaits.
In: Flores £2M Michu £2M Guzman Loan Schechter Loan
Out: Allen £15M- Liverpool Bodde- Free Agent
Last seasons heroics under Rogers will be difficult to repeat for the Swans. The departure of Allen and Rogers can only be softened by the fact replacement Laudrup looks more than capable of continuing the legacy of good football, and most of the Swans main protagonists from last season yet remain. This, coupled with the players brought in by Laudrup, are all experienced players in both Serie A and La Liga, albeit Premier League new boys. Not that any amount of them can replace the goals and talent of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who Tottenham have done well to sign.
Swansea should be careful this season, there are a lot of Ifs surrounding the club. If Britton doesn’t step up to take Allen’s mantle, If Sinclair doesn’t reclaim his form, and if Vorm is not once more in inspired form, Swansea could be in for a scrap.
In: Vertonghen £9.5M Sigurdsson £8M
Out: King- Retired Kranjcar £5.75M- Dynamo Kiev Corluka £5.5M- Lokomotiv Moscow Nelsen Free- QPR Pienaar £4.5M- Everton Modric £32M- Real Madrid (Pending)
Out with the old, in with the new. Off rides Harry Redknapp, and in comes AVB, a man with quite a bit to prove to the Premier League. On the face of it, Spurs have a good squad. The deadwood is beginning to clear, and the new faces were both snatched from under the noses of Arsenal and Liverpool respectively. Crucially, suspected (definite) Olympic skiver Bale remains. Tottenham on the face of it, seem easily able to challenge for another top 4 finish.
Yet they lack a striker. With Adebayor going back to Manchester City, and as yet staying there, Spurs are left with Defoe, a striker who deos not entirely fit the Tottenham system. But with the Modric money coming in, and with Sigurdsson, a replacement at the ready, there is yet time for Spurs to find a new striker or two, and battle the big boys for 4th.
In: Forster £3.5M Lukaku Loan Rosenburg Free Yacob Free El Ghanassy Loan
Out: Cox Undisclosed- Nottingham Forest Andrews Free- Bolton Mattock Free- Sheff Wednesday Tchoyi- Free Agent
Last season for Albion was quite the league success. 10th, due to a impressive away record, lead to manager Woy leaving to answer her Majesty’s call to serve. In comes Steve Clarke, first time manager, but long experienced at both Chelsea and Liverpool as assistant manager. Forster remains solid keeper, and both Yacob and Lukaku seem to be signings that add real quality to Albion’s ranks.
However it’s yet to be made clear as to whether it was Hodgson’s know how that lead to such a good season, or the quality of the Albion squad. Much will depend I suspect upon the seemingly capable hands of Clarke, and how he handles his long overdue first job in management.
In: Maiga £4.7M Collins £2.5M Diarra £2M McCartney Free Diame Free Henderson Undisclosed Jaaskelainen Free
Out: Faubert Free -Elazıgspor Green Free- QPR Barrera Cruz Azul Morrision Loan- Birmingham
West Ham would appear, to be best eqquiped squad wise to stay up. Maiga, Diarra, Diame and Collins all seem to be inspired signings of real Premier league class, adding both the classic Allardyce toughness and goals, in the form of the much wanted Maiga. Moreover, of the player brought in, only Henderson lacks top flight experience in a major European League, with the likes of Collison Noble and Nolan having all been here before.
In my humble opinion, West Ham will do well this season, the core of a good squad remains, and the additions made seem shrewd and clever. If Big Sam can add someone of the ilk of Jarvis as he is currently looking to do, The Hammers could be flying high this year.
In: Ramis £4M Fyvie 500,000 Miyachi Loan Kone Undisclosed
Out: Diame Free- West Ham Rodallega Free- Fulham
Wigan seemed to finally become the Premiership club they are last season. The good football came together, and for the first time, I didn’t spend my time wondering what an earth they were doing in the top flight of English football. Though both Diame and Rodallega have now left, Wigan have made strides in improving the club.
Ramis signed after a long drawn out battle with West Ham, Miyachi showed promise at Bolton last year, and if Moses does not leave for Chelsea, Wigan have plenty of wide options. New striker Kone scored 15 goals in La Liga last year, imagine that, a Wigan side with a goal scorer! Wigan do have the makings of a side that could trouble the 10th position, yet much will depend on Ramis’ impact, and whether Moses stays on, as to whether such a lofty title is achieved.
Relegation- Reading, Norwich, Stoke
Champions- Manchester City
Champions League- Manchester United, Chelsea Arsenal
Europa League- Tottenham, Liverpool ,Everton