Saturday, 13 August 2011
Well as I write this Fabregas & Nasri are still at The Emirates, but if they stay which I severely doubt they will find it hard this season. Yes Arsenal can play the best football in the Premier League, yes when it’s going well it all looks brilliant, but when it’s bad, it goes very bad very quickly and usually from February to the end of the season. Arsenal would be great if they had a decent keeper, 2 big strong centre-backs, a defensive midfielder and maybe a striker. What Wenger has brought in is another Theo Walcott in Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. The pressure is on Wenger to end Arsenal’s long wait for an honour, I think the wait will continue.
Key Man- Jack Wilshere – The England man has progressed faster than Ramsey, and will have a lot of pressure to fill in the gaps left by Nasri or Fabregas. If he can add goals he will & control his fiery temperature he could become the Paul Scholes of Arsenal.
Stat-The Gunners had a league high 17 different goal scorers in 2010/11
There was unrest at the appointment of Alex McLeish from near neighbours Birmingham City, they have sold Young & Downing. That’s around 20 goals and 35 assists lost already. They have brought in a quality keeper in Given and Charles N’Zogbia , and do have some good young players in Bannan, Albrighton & Delph. They will of course rely on Bent to supply most the goals, but if he doesn’t get the supply Villa will find it hard. Villa must have a good start or the fans will get on the back of Big Eck faster than Agbonlahor in a 100m sprint.
Key Man – Has to be Darren Bent, he will get the bulk of the goals and is hoping to have a good season so he is front runner for that England number 9 shirt next summer.
Stat- 81% of Villa’s goals last season was scored by an English player.
Kean kept them up by the skin of their teeth last season. Rovers are a team that you know will work hard but their main problem is scoring goals. This season I think they will struggle. No real goal scorer.
Key Man- David Jnr Hoilett, the Canadian born forward shone last year towards the end of the season. Rovers will need a big season from him.
Stat- If all Premier League games finished at half time last season Blackburn would have finished 4th.
Bolton had a great season and then it all went a little wrong when they faced Stoke in the FA Cup semi final, after that crushing defeat they lost their last five PL games. Daniel Sturridge has gone, Lee & Tyrone Mears are out for long periods with have broken legs. Stuart Holden is coming back from injury and the future of Gary Cahill is still in doubt.
Key Man- Kevin Davies is still the key part to how Bolton play. Coyle has made them more eye catching but there main tactics is using Davies’ power, strength and height to good effect.
Stat- Used a joint low of 24 players in the PL last season.
With a new manager Andre Villas-Boas at the helm there’s a sense that Chelsea may have got a manager to lead them to where Roman wants them to be, Champions League winners. The League though is the bread and butter. AVB will want to get this Chelsea team back in line like Mourinho had them. I think his strict attitude is what Chelsea need, they haven’t brought anyone of yet, but Modric is the player they want. The main issue for Chelsea is making the team work with Torres, get that right Chelsea can go a long way.
Key Man – Frank Lampard, missed a lot of last season with injury. If Chelsea can get 20 goals out of him again & keep him fit he could firmly put his name down in the greats of Chelsea history.
Stat- The Blues defenders netted league high 11 goals in 2010/11
Either they start the season slow and get better, or come out the block fast & get worse. Last year it was slow so all the Everton fans hope the pattern will continue. They once again haven’t spent money but do have a very good team when all fit. Moyes though may be coming to an end at Goodison, I think he has taken them as far as he can & with lack of investment he may see a new challenge elsewhere.
Key Man- Leighton Baines, broke into the England squad last season, he can play left back or wing, can score goals and has a great delivery from a dead ball. A good season from him may get him another opportunity on the international stage.
Stat- Everton had 12 shots cleared off the line last season the most in the Premier League.
Martin Jol has come in and Fulham fans can look forward to his attacking forward this season. Fulham rely on their home form to survive and this season will be no different. The Europa League may become a distraction for a squad that doesn’t have much depth.
Key Man- Clint Dempsey, he consistently gives good performances and chips n with the goals. The American international is a fans favourite and will want to have another good season.
Stat- Fulham only conceded one penalty last season.
This is a massive season for Liverpool, no European football means they can focus on the one thing Liverpool fans really want, a Premier League title. After being surpassed by United last season they no longer can hold that over them. Kenny has brought in £100m worth of talent so can Liverpool really mount a serious challenge?
Key Man- Luis Suarez, off the back of a great second half to the season, he went on to win the Copa America in the summer. Know he can show the Premier League how good he really is.
Stat- If the PL begun when King Kenny took over the reds would have finished 3rd.
The richest club in the world are now in the Champions League, this could be the start of a major shift in the footballing world. They won the FA Cup last season which is massive for the club. Now by adding Sergio Aguero & Clichy with the likes of Toure & Dzeko who already have a year in English football under their belts it’s a massive season.
Key Man- Vincent Kompany, with all Cities’ attacking options keeping it tight at the back is what’s going to be important. Kompany will be the new captain & will marshal that defence which will enable the more creative players to do their stuff.
Stat- City scored 24 goals in the opening 30 minutes of PL games in 2010/11 a PL high.
19. That means everything to everyone connected with United. Now the goal is 20. Sir Alex has brought in young players now to build for the future. Scholes leaving and Giggs coming to the end he has looked for players who can fill these massive gaps for years to come. Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones & Tom Cleverley will have all have massive seasons.
Key Man- Wayne Rooney, had a bit of a shaky start to the season, but ended well. He scored that goal against City, but still owes the United fans after his antics. He will want to get at least 20 goals in the league & stay fit for the Euros next summer.
Stat- Only one man scored a first-half goal at Old Trafford last season, Charlie Adam for Blackpool.
The black clouds are gathering around St James as Barton causes controversy on twitter. Nolan & Enrique have gone so Pardew has a real job on his hands. The Cockney Mafia are not the most popular people in the toon, but Pardew has brought in Yohan Cabaye from Lille which is a very shrewd singing and hopefully he will link up with Cheik Tiote well.
Key Man- Cheik Tiote had a fantastic first season & will be remembered for his volley against Arsenal in the 4-4 draw. He does pick up a lot of yellow cards but the fans love him and will be vital in a midfield without Barton & Nolan.
Stat- St James’ Park saw more goals than any other PL ground in 2010/11 (68)
Back to back promotions might be one of the hardest things in football to do, but Lambert did it. Norwich scored so many last minute goals last year which shows they never give up, they have to carry on that belief this season. They will find it hard though and it could be a very long season.
Key Man- James Vaughan has PL experience from Everton even though he is young, his partnership with Holt will be crucial.
Stat- City scored 43 goals in the last 30 minutes of games last term more than any other side.
After a 15 year absence the Super Hoops find themselves back in the big time. They won the Championship in style but matters above have seen Warnock have to seal with only bringing in players on frees. Yes they did get DJ Campbell for £1.25m but surely they need to invest to have any chance of staying up? Warnock has the players backing, the fans backing but maybe not the board. QPR will rely on their home form to have any chance of staying up. Loftus Road is not a 30,000 brand new, shiny new bowl looking like stadium with a beautiful surface. This won’t suit the better teams and could play right into QPR’s favour.
Key Man- Adel Taarabt, tore apart the Championship, he didn’t get his move to PSG, but if he can show he do it in the PL he can become an even bigger hero at Loftus Road. He will be a marked man so it will be interesting to see how he deals with it.
Stat- The R’s kept 25 clean sheets last season 4 more than any other side.
Stoke last season showed their not just an aggressive side they can play a bit. Reaching the cup final was fantastic for them, & now in the Europa League it’s like a dream land for all Stoke fans. Their a solid team who all work for each other, now they have to reach that next step and have a solid top 10 finish and do their very best in Europe.
Key Man- Jonathan Walters had a very good season, can play right wing or up front, should be looking to get into the double figures this season.
Stat- Stoke took 570 long throws in 2010-11 the next highest was Bolton with 288.
Bruce has brought in virtually a whole new team. Injuries last season saw them plummet down the table so now they have numbers, but maybe not quality. Will be interesting to see how all the new players link up.
Key Man- Asamoah Gyan will be the main man up front, has lots of energy and flair and will want to improve on his 10 goals he scored last season.
Stat- The black cats have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their previous 10 opening day games.
The first time a Welsh team are ever in the Premier League, they play some exciting football and will be interesting to see if that style will work in the top flight.
Key Man- Scott Sinclair scored a hat-trick in the play-off final to cap off an excellent season. Now he will want to test himself against much better defenders His pace will be an outlet for the swans.
Stat- Sinclair scored 27 goals last season
Tottenham will aim to get back into the Champions League where they done very well last season. Their problem was scoring goals, & to date they still haven’t brought in a new striker. If they lose Modric it won’t be a good sign of intent. Spurs are also in the Europa League which Harry has clearly stated he doesn’t want to be in. I can see a good cup run for Spurs this season.
Key Man- R Van Der Vaart, when fit he will get the goals/ assists and make Spurs tick, however he is to injury prone.
Stat- Spurs scored more goals from outside the box than any other PL side (15)
Roy Hodgson came in and steadied the baggies ship, they stay up with ease in the end & this season should be the same. The Shane Lon signing went under the radar but it was a great bit of business.
Key Man- Chris Burnt, an amazing left foot, great delivery gets the goals. How he is not at a bigger club yet is a shock to me.
Stat- The baggies went a record 34 PL games without a clean sheet in 2010/11
Stayed up on the last day of the season, but after losing N’Zogbia I think their time is finally coming to an end in the top flight.
Key Man- Hugo Rodallega a great player who will have even more pressure on him, he can score but how much supply will he get?
Stat- Wigan are the only team to have played in the top flight & not be relegated.
Nearly went down on the last day in fantastic style, but managed to save themselves just. McCarthy brought in Roger Johnson to sure up that defence and the signing of O’Hara will improve their midfield.
Key Man- Jamie O’Hara was on loan last year and done really well, now signed permanently he can be the star for the Wolves.
Stat- Wolves have won only 3 of their last 23 PL games on the road.
Friday, 5 August 2011
The Football League kicks off this weekend with the first game being Hull City v Blackpool. There’s some amazing stories in the football league, West Ham can they go straight back up? Leicester City, with Sven and all their money can they do it? The ‘Wally with a Brolly’ is at Forest, Leeds United a massive club can they go up? Brighton & Southampton can do a Norwich and get back to back promotions. Here’s my picks for the football league.
West Ham United
Look out for – Hull City & Brighton
Look out for- Brentford
Look out for– Swindon