Thursday, 6 August 2015
The Gunners are now running out of excuses to mount a serious title challenge. They have money, they have spent it, they have brought in one of the best keepers in the Premier League (Cech) so now can Arsenal finally go the distance and challenge again? We have seen them start slow then once the pressure is off end the season strong. Or they start fast then come to February time and crumble. What will we get this year? I will say Arsenal will do a lot better this year and get a lot closer to the number one spot points wise. An impressive pre season topped with Community Shield success their looking good, however I have them finishing 3rd this year.
Key Man: Alexis Sanchez after what was an impressive first season in English football scoring 16 goals, Sanchez spent his summer guiding Chile to their first Copa America. I expect more of the same and for him to break the 20 goals barrier.
They survived last year off the back of Benteke goals, Delph and Grealish carrying their midfield. Only Jack Grealish will be wearing the Villa shirt this season though, and a lot of pressure and hype surround the youngster. He can’t even enjoy a lad’s holiday no more. Tim Sherwood will believe he can take Villa to the top 8, in reality they won’t and I think they will likely struggle again this year.
Key Man I will go for Jordan Ayew who has spent his career in France and to be honest in the shadow of his brother Andre who has gone to Swansea. Villa also snapped up Rudy Gestede from Blackburn which could be a good deal.
Bournemouth were a class above the rest in the Championship last season, Eddie Howe took his side up in style. Now he has a massive test on his hands. Clearly Bournemouth has the smallest budget and stadium in the league. Can they survive? The only way they can is making their home ground a fortress and a whole lot of luck.
Key Man: Callum Wilson scored goals in the lower leagues and now 'The Cherries' will be hoping he can go the way of Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and Rickie Lambert scoring goals in the big time.
Lead from start to finish last year, had pretty much the team of the year they fully deserved to be crowned champions. The next step is retaining (which they did 2004/05–05/06) and improving the team. Going off the Community Shield performance without Costa Chelsea are not quite ‘Chelsea’. The champions have brought in Falcao on loan, along with Asmir Begovic who will challenge Courtois for the number one spot. Jose will have his team solid through the spine as ever, but can John Terry go another season week in week out in the Premier League?
Key Man:Eden Hazard, a bit of an easy pick really. A stand out season and with a summer tournament in 2016 this could be Hazards year to grab & mix in the world class category.
Palace finished mid table last season with ease, things were looking bad for a while but Alan Pardew showed when given the right tools he can get a team to click. Under Pards’ the likes of Bolasie and Puncheon excelled. Also its clear players want to play for him as he managed to get Yohan Cabaye to sign for Palace.
Key Man:I expect Yannick Bolasie to have a good season and find the net more. The skillful winger left full backs for dead many a time last year.
No European football this time round so it could work in their favour. Everton do have a talented first 11 but after that it gets weak. Their pros are the full backs Baines and Coleman who bomb forward and for fantasy football fans their good for goals and assists.
Key Man: Romelu Lukaku I think he now needs to justify that big price tag. He has it all so expect a big season from the big Belgium forward.
At one point last season the Foxes looked dead and buried, then Nigel Pearson and his team found title winning form and finished 6 points off the drop zone. All things were great, until they went on a post season trip to Thailand. If you don’t know what happened I’m sure twitter can help you find the video. Pearson has also left the club and we have the return of the tinker man! Claudio Ranieri I won’t use the joke thrown at Chelsea fans he was the man in charge before you started supporting them. But they will struggle with this joker in charge.
Key Man:Andrej Kramaric, didn’t set the world alight last season but I think he will have a much better year. Now settled into the English football ways he could be quite a handful.
Come on we all laughed at them last season didn’t we? Rodgers was the man who said if you spend around £100m you should be challenging for the title. They were only 27 points off the winners. Loads of new faces in but Liverpool have a very tricky start, trips to Stoke, Arsenal, Manchester United & Everton Rodgers could be under serious pressure very soon. He needs a fast start or it could be over especially with Jurgen Klopp out of work.
Key Man: You can’t trust Daniel Sturridge to be fit so scoring goals is key especially with Sterling gone to. So Danny Ings? No not really. They need Christian Benteke to find the net quickly.
Big money spenders are flexing their muscles this summer it seems to be though if you’re English they will try and buy you. They got their man in Raheem Sterling the most expensive transfer so far this summer. Fabian Delph, one of the more controversial deals. However their defence is weak, Kompany looks half the player he was. The likes of Demichelis & Mangala are not serious top four defenders. With City still looking to spend anyone could end up at the Etihad Stadium.
Key Man: Sergio Aguero the best striker in the Premier League hard working, pace power and strength for a little man. His partnership with Sterling and Silva will be vital to their success.
After 2 years of not really being ‘Manchester United’ I think the Red Devils will come roaring back to the top this season. Now OK they still need a centre half, another striker and a replacement for Di Maria. Along with a replacement for David De Gea if he departs. I just think with the midfielders Van Gaal has brought in has been great. A winner in Bastian Schweinsteiger will bring leadership and a strong mentality to a young midfield. Morgan Schneiderlin & Memphis Depay are two classy bits of business.
Key Man: Daley Blind, now we know LVG loves to chop and change his formation for fun. The Dutchman can play defence, wing back or holding midfielder so his versatility will be vital to however United line up. He’s good for a goal to.
Alan Pardew left the Newcastle fans rejoiced, they also nearly went down and needed a last day win to secure their Premier League status. Now with a new face in the dug-out Steve McClaren who couldn’t get Derby promoted after many chances. Newcastle shouldn’t be on any trouble really again this year as there will be a lot of weaker sides near the bottom of the table.
Key Man: The Geordies desperately need a striker to cheer for Aleksander Mitrovic could well be that man.
The Play-off winners have the most recent Premier League history out of the promoted clubs, will that help? They have a positive young Scottish manager in Alex Neil who I think must try to attack more than Chris Hughton did. A hard working midfield has been improved with the signing of Youssouf Mulumbu which went a little under the radar.
Key Man: Nathan Redmond will be dangerous and should score much more than his last appearance in the league where he only scored once.
The Saints were team of the year last year when everyone had them to go down. Koeman guided them to 7th place I expect a repeat of that finish or near about. Juggling European football will be a test, but he does have a big squad to pick from.
Key Man:Sadio Mane the 23 year-old Senegal international knocked in 10 goals last season the attacking midfielder is defiantly one to keep an eye one this year.
Through gritted teeth Mark Hughes is actually a good manager. Stoke finish 9th this would never ever been thought of a few years ago. The rugby tag is disappearing they play intense football but have flair players mixed in with the more hard working players.
Key Man: Bojan was cruelly injured so we didn’t get to see much of him last year; the little we saw was exciting hopefully he hits the ground running.
Dick Advocaat used all those years of experience to drag the black cats to safety last season. He did promise his wife that this would be his last job but an emotional draw at Arsenal seemed to sway the Dutchman into signing on for another year. Sunderland need stability which he can bring, but the squad needs an injection of talent and fast. Yann M'Villa is a very good capture.
Key Man: Jermain Defoe after his semi retirement to the MLS Defoe returned to the Premier League as he was getting 'homesick'. He stamped himself in Sunderland's history books with a unforgettable derby winner. His experience and ease of scoring will be vital.
Gary Monk lead Swansea to their highest ever league finish and points haul so what's the next step? Qualification for Europe may be the aim and it's a step in the right direction with Andre Ayew coming in they might have found a gem. Remember Michu & Bony took to English football like ducks to water.
Key Man:Gylfi Sigurdsson the classy Icelandic midfielder showed his quality last year scoring, assisting and being involved in a lot of what Swansea done well. At the age of 25 another big season a top 4 team could come sniffing.
Last year was Harry Kane, everything about Spurs was him. He netted over 30 goals in all competitions, won PFA young player of the year and scored on his England debut. The question is now if he can follow it up? Tottenham will be lurking around the top 6 but I don't think they will break the top four. Pochettino will again give faith in the youth.
Key Man: Harry Kane, Spurs will be hoping for the same from him.
New manager, new players they have thrown a lot of cash at this Watford could be make or break. Either they will all click and finish mid table, or go very wrong. Watford board love to change their manager too.
Key Man: Troy Deeney has scored 20 plus goals in the last 3 seasons can he do it in the top flight of English football? I think he can.
I think West Brom will be steady this season, like any Pulis side they were good at the back with 14 clean sheets during the 2014/15 campaign. It’s the other end where they have problems if Sadio Berahino leaves there’s a serious lack of goals.
Key Man: Rickie Lambert, maybe a point to prove? For me he was not good enough to play for a club the size of Liverpool. West Brom far more his size and could do very well.
The last year at Upton Park (or if your proper east end the Boleyn Ground), it will be quite strange to see West Ham play elsewhere, but could letting Big Sam go be a major mistake? At least this means Kevin Nolan may not get as much pitch time. The fans wanted him out they got their way, they want a proper West Ham man in, Slaven Bilic is that. His hot temper will be entertaining on the touch-line but if the pressure mounts can he deal with it?
Key Man: Cheikhou Kouyate dominated in the middle of the park, chipped in with a few goals and fans favourite.
1. Manchester United
4. Manchester City
The three that came up I expect to struggle, however Sunderland and Aston Villa to struggle too. So my three for now.
FA Cup - Chelsea
League Cup - Manchester City
Champions League - Real Madrid
Follow me for more Football chat this season @Sean_FootyMad
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
My picks for the 2015/16 Football League