Wednesday, 10 August 2016
1 Manchester United
Money has been thrown and thrown, Paul Pogba has returned in a world record fee and Zlatan is in the Premier League. Oh and now Jose Mourinho is at Old Trafford talk about star names all in one place. It will be interesting viewing from the entire league. Does Jose care about the kids? Can he get United back in top 4? Can they win it? I think yes to the last 2 anyway and Jose will buy and bully his way to the top of the Premier League, just. I'm pretty sure no United fan will care.
Key Man – Anthony Martial his second year in English football he had a good start, I expect all eyes will be on Ibrahimovic, Pogba maybe even Rashford see how he does. Personally I think Martial could outshine them all.
2. Manchester City
Pep Guardiola in the Premier League, City have been after him for years. So after success in Spain & Germany how can he do in England? Well I think he will do very well but that defence at the minute will cost them! John Stones has come in but they need more at the back. Attacking wise they will be exciting maybe even the best in the league.
Key Man – Kevin De Bruyne will be vital to how Pep plays, he has pace power can score and create. When he was injured last year City missed him a lot.
Antonio Conte will have a no nonsense winning mentality this season. He will be animated on the touchline as he kicks every ball with his teams. I think he will get the best out of Chelsea but just miss out on top two. No European football works in his advantage. There's no way Chelsea will be as bad as they were 2 years in a row and that is what makes them a danger.
Key Man – Eden Hazard it seems like he only turned up for the Tottenham game last year. On his day he's one of the best in the league. I think Conte will demand a much better year from him.
All seems very familiar this, Arsenal looked good but imploded. They have not done enough this summer for me to think they will do any different. It may have been the best chance in a long time for the Gunners to win the league last season, they may rue that again this year. They will finish above Spurs that’s the only guarantee.
Key Man – Mesut Ozil how many assist was it last year? Sure any Arsenal fan will tell you. Expect many more and should add to his goals tally too.
5. Leicester City
The Champions of England no one expected that. It really was an extraordinary season for them. They didn’t have many injuries, they played 4-4-2 they didn’t have any major stars but they won the league in style. Some key bits of business is Jamie Vardy staying which could be the biggest of them all. Mahrez is still at the club as of now. Claudio Ranieri has brought Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa, they will need more though to boost the squad for their European adventure. Momentum will carry them to 5th for me.
Key Man – Kasper Schmeichel, 15 clean sheets in the league last season. The outfield players may make the headlines but if he has another season like this following in his Dads footsteps could well be in the making for sure.
Tottenham did have a fantastic season, one of the best defences in the league, Harry Kane and Dele Alli were on fire. They’re a young side and will have an opportunity to shine in Champions League too. The English players may receive some stick at away grounds they will need to be strong in the early games. Spurs took full advantage of others being rubbish last season, I can't see them top 4 this season.
Key Man – Dele Alli like I said he did have a fantastic season but a very disappointing Euro 2016. I expect him to make the next step in his career this season.
7. West Ham
The last season at the Boleyn Ground or Upton Park whichever way you call it, will be remembered for Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman had a stand out season and was pretty good at the Euros too. Deadly free kicks and plenty of assists he will be looking to make a impression at the Hammers new home of the ‘London Stadium’. Well London’s team I think will do well again under Bilic.
Key Man – This could be more of a signing that went under the radar but West Ham snapped up winger Sofiane Feghouli who I think will have a good season.
Attackers galore at Liverpool just who they will go for is anyone’s guess. Klopp got Liverpool to 2 finals but lost them both. The weak links at Liverpool last year were all at the back, the likes of Mignolet, Moreno & Sakho are all still at the club. I expect much of the same for the reds going well in cups but there not consistent enough for top 6.
Key Man – Roberto Firmino an impressive first season in England went a little un-noticed racking in 10 goals, expect more from the Brazilian.
New head coach Claude Puel will have some big boots to fill at St Marys. The former manager Ronald Koeman guided them to 6th, he has moved on and Puel has a pretty good team on his hands. Saints seem to never get weaker even when their better players leave. This summer Pelle and Mane have departed so more game time for Charlie Austin and Southampton picked up Nathan Redmond in the summer.
Key Man – Virgil Van Dijk an impressive first season on the south coast saw the Dutchman being offered a new 6 year deal after only being at the club 8 months.
Ronald Koeman rocks up at Goodison Park with expectations high. Everton failed with a very talented group under Martinez. So now a fresh man with new ideas is what they need. He does need to sort out that defence, leaky is not the word. I can only see them finishing 1 place higher than last year though.
Key Man – Ross Barkley didn’t get a kick in the summer so a clean slate after a poor season by his standards. Could be rejuvenated under Koeman.
The dizzy heights of 9th last season Mark Hughes has done a good job at Stoke. Solid and strong through the whole side a comfortable mid table finish on the cards once again.
Key Man – Marko Arnautovic best scoring season at Stoke hitting 11 goals can play in midfield and up top.
A very impressive first season in the Premier League, Eddie Howe had no sign of fear. Bournemouth played just like they did in the Championship so what's next? Second season syndrome? I think Howe is too smart to let his side slip, Jordon Ibe and Nathan Ake could be some smart bit of business.
Key Man – Callum Wilson missed much of the season to injury, hopefully he stays fully fit and gets amongst the goals again.
Started last season like a train but slowed right down after Christmas. I expect much of the same, a fast start and once safe they will take the foot off the gas. All bets are off if Ighalo or Deeney leaves then Watford may struggle.
Key Man – Odion Ighalo netted 16 times last year and was a real handful. He does though need to turn up all season.
Swansea finished 12th last season I see them a little lower this year. All eyes will be on the new front man Llorente as a source of goals. A talented midfield with the likes of Britton, Fer, Sigurdsson and Routledge should see them out of any danger.
Key Man – Gylfi Sigurdsson confidence should be high after an impressive summer. One of the best goal scoring midfielders in English football and the key to everything the Swans to well.
15. Crystal Palace
Palace fell like a stone at the end of last season. A lack of a striker at the minute will be a big worry for the Palace fans. Pardew’s ego took a bit of a knock too but he will come back firing as ever.
Key Man – Andros Townsend could be one of the best deals of the summer. Can score from the wing and should be exciting to watch along with Puncheon and Zaha.
David Moyes back in English football and with a point to prove. Sunderland are the right size club for him. But they are still a poor side and I think they will still struggle under him, expect a bunch of Manchester United youngsters to arrive very soon. They will do just enough to stay up as they always seem to do.
Key Man – Jermain Defoe can still score goals score goals in the Premier League and he will be key, a England recall may even be on the cards.
Boro’ back in the big league I think they have just enough to survive. Aitor Karanka is a good manager and will keep them up. Their home form will be key. Nobody will want to go there play in the winter so they have to take advantage of that. They do have some gems in that squad too Valdes, Ayala, Adomah and Rhodes could all shine.
Key Man – Alvaro Negredo on loan from Valencia did well at City, now in the North East his Premier League experience will be crucial.
18. West Brom
'Pulis sides never go down'. This year I think he will come unstuck. They only scored 34 goals last season and they still don’t have a decent striker in. Berahino looks like he may finally be out the door along with a aging midfield I think there in trouble and will find themselves in the bottom 3.
Key Man – Ben Foster the England keeper will be kept extremely busy this year.
A serious lack of investment I can only see them going right back down to the Championship. More of a shop window season for the likes of Gray and Heaton.
Key Man – Andre Gray should take to the Premier League like a duck to water he was at Luton a few years ago so this is a great opportunity to show what he can do on the big stage.
20. Hull City
No chance of staying up. Trouble in the board room, Bruce has gone and a load of injuries, things are looking bad. One and done for me. The fans care more about Rugby League anyway so no real loss.
Key Man – Abel Hernandez the main source of goals he will have his work cut out.
The cups an early shout for:
FA Cup - Tottenham
League Cup - Manchester United
Champions League - Barcelona
Follow me through the season for more previews and predictions.
Friday, 5 August 2016
So down at Loftus Road it's strange it's been pretty quiet compared to recent years. Now the QPR fans have watched a lot, promotion relegation twice, lord knows how many mangers a lot of good but really more bad and that's just in the past 5 years. So what do we expect now?
I think Rangers fans are defiantly in two camps. The ones who are happy again for a settled season, finish mid table no drama. 'Were not ready to go up again'. I understand this. Then there's the rest who think QPR should be challenging for top 6. We are a good team and maybe they have been spoilt in the past (League winners & the manner of promotion at Wembley) and their expectations have been raised. Rangers have had a lot of players that have under-achieved. I think that's the problem the fans have seen so many players come in and just not perform. The list is endless.
Ok so this season I think its massive for Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink. For me he had a free hit last season did what he wanted. Now QPR have got their books in order (ish) the bad eggs have gone so what next? All the players who were 'targets and scapegoats' for our ever so vocal fans have gone.
We do have one of the best keepers in the league (Alex Smithies). The defence is solid, we brought in Jake Bidwell from Brentford also Joel Lynch from Huddersfield. This along with Grant Hall who was fantastic last year, captain Onuoha and our youngsters Cole Kpekawa most likely to make the most impact this season it looks OK. At the time of writing Steven Caulker is still at the club, could he fancy it this time?
We all know our central midfield last season were sluggish, slow and not enough goals from them. So Jordan Cousins should see to that. Luongo and Patrasso have to pull their socks up. I don't know much about Ariel Borysiuk but the fact he's already injured is very QPR.
In this league though we know a good goal scorer gets you far. QPR have still not replaced Charlie Austin, Conor Washignton needs to step up this season after a very quiet start in front of goal. Seb Polter looks like he will do well this season. El Khayati is skilful but we need a bit more from him. It will be interesting if Jay Emmanuel Thomas gets a go, same with Ben Gladwin who has not been great. Tjaronn Chery as long Rangers don’t foolishly play him on the wing could be very good this year.
See there is a good team hidden there, I think a winger is desperately needed though, plus along with another striker, Rangers could be knocking on the door, I mean they have done it before when it was not fancied so I wouldn't knock them just yet. Jimmy is expected to do good things as a manager so let's see what he can do this season.
Thursday, 4 August 2016
The Championship this season looks harder than ever. Some heavy hitters and big names now clog up second tier of English football. With so many teams that have tasted top flight football, whose looking like they will make a return to the top flight. Here's my preview of what should be a very competitive season.
From the teams relegated from the Premier League last season Newcastle look the most likely to make an instant return. I would be shocked if Newcastle doesn’t win the league by at least 8 points. Rafa has the skills to do one job and focus on one thing, get them back up. They have enough about them to bounce right back to the top flight. Some smart Championship buys in Grant Hanley, Matt Ritchie & Dwight Gayle they should win the league quite comfortably. Then it’s just the massive scrap for the rest.
Aston Villa also went down last season they were pretty horrendous from start to finish. Players were not focused and enjoyed more of their holidays, smoking, drinking and Twitter posting than anything else. Villa were a joke, some may say they still are. Roberto Di Matteo could have quite a job trying to get this teams harmony back as Villa were quite rotten. I can see them getting into the play offs but they will be a team everyone wants to beat so it will be a tough season.
Norwich also went down however, they already look set for a top 6 finish. Some proven Championship players like Jonny Howson, Wes Hoolahan, Steven Naismith, Matt Jarvis you know these players will a job in this league. They could be a little light up top though.
Brighton are expected to improve on their unexpected success last season with a good manager in Chris Houghton they should be in the mix again. The one thing about the Championship if you have a proven scorer and a half decent midfield it gets you far. Nobody can really defend well. Brighton picked up Glenn Murray on loan from Bournemouth he will do well. Another side who may have been punching above their weight last season were Brentford this time around I think they will finish a little lower than last year's 9th.
Cardiff City also had a good season but a lack of budget and with big money being thrown around at the top of the Championship this year they may slide back down to mid-table. Derby always seems to be up there all season but always find a new way to mess it up. Even with Nigel Pearson at the helm I think Derby will still won't win promotion.
A dark horse this year could be Leeds, getting Garry Monk in could be a stroke of genius. Kemar Roofe who banged in the goals for Oxford, he arrived this summer. The owner is a bit crazy & has promised the Leeds fans money back if they don’t make top 6! I think Leeds if they get a good start and the fans start flooding back it could be a very good season at Elland Road.
Money bags Wolves expect the unexpected at the Molineux now. Unless they do miracles personally I can’t see them doing much this season. From the rest QPR will be quite interesting this season. Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink had basically a free hit last season did what he wanted. Now QPR have got their books in order (ish) the bad eggs have gone so what next? QPR do have one of the best keepers in the league (Alex Smithies). The defence is solid, but like I have mentioned, you need a goal scorer in this league. QPR have still not replaced Charlie Austin, Conor Washignton needs to step up this season after a very quiet start in front of goal. Tjaronn Chery as long Rangers don’t foolishly play him on the wing could be very good this year.
Sheffield Wednesday are another side I think can do really well. A big support, lost out in the play off final last season. A strike force of Steven Fletcher & Gary Hooper if they click could be one of the best in the league.
So my picks for the Championship this season are:
1. Newcastle United
2. Sheffield Wednesday
5. Aston Villa
1. Scunthorpe United
Follow me for more football chat this season. Also my Premier League and European preview coming soon