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The TWO Premier League Club-by-Club Season Preview


Boyo
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The new season starts this weekend, and we still have a couple more weeks to go until the transfer window slams shut, so we enter a quite exciting stage of the footballing calendar where not only are we playing games, but clubs can plug gaps and trade players.

 

I would love it if the members of the TWO Sports Forum can come together and produce a "State of the Squad" season preivew. Please write about the Goalkeepers, Defence, Midfielders and Attackers in four paragraphs, as long or as brief as you want. Who plays there now, who's past it, who should play more, how good has their transfer business been this year?

 

Come and claim them folks! Maximum of 3 clubs please, and I'll take the last 3. :xyx

 

Arsenal - Laffy

Aston Villa - DraVen

Cardiff - DraVen

Chelsea - John Hancock

Crystal Palace - Chris2K

Everton

Fulham

Hull

Liverpool - King

Man City - Boyo

Man Utd - DraVen

Newcastle - Ciaran The King

Norwich City - Magic

Southampton

Stoke - Boyo

Sunderland - Laffy

Swansea - Fury

Tottenham - Ciaran The King

West Bromwich Albion - DSR

West Ham

 

One club per post please!

 

Cheers!

Edited by Boyo
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I'll take Manchester United.

 

Our existing squad is strong in three areas: goalkeeping, defence and attack. David De Gea stamped his name on the goalposts and is now officially the United #1, leaving Anders Lindegaard for dust. Even Ben Amos has a better chance of stepping up than Lindegaard does, but strength in depth has never hurt us before. Similarly, we are stacked with options defensively. Despite Patrice Evra competing with himself (and Buttner, but really...) for left back, we have Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans and Jones battling in a centre back role, and Rafael, Fabio and Smalling more than capable at right back. Options are not scarce, but injuries have hampered us before.

 

In attack, where do we begin? Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez have the goal-to-game ratios that most clubs would sell Emile Heskey for, whilst Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck have proven superb in a wide or deep position. Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj will need to provide some spark this season to nail their places, but both have shown unbelievable promise to do so. A fit and firing Nani, along with an excitable Zaha will make wing play harken back to the days of exciting United counters, leaving Valencia to only hope that he can recapture the form of a few seasons ago.

 

That leaves the central area of the pitch, and this much is clear: without Michael Carrick, we are f**ked. F-STAR-STAR-K-E-D F**KED!!! Anderson is a criminal underachiever, Fletcher is not a shoe-in to return, Cleverley likes to push up far too much, Giggs is terrible there and is preferable as a wide player, and Paul Scholes has already retired twice now. We need to support Carrick, instead of praying that he'll carry the team on his back. So far, it's not looking positive.

 

In the Ferguson days, a gaping hole in midfield always led to us signing a brand new striker. Under Moyes, it seems clear that he wants to fill the gap in midfield, especially given how much emphasis he put on the position at Everton. A Modrid or Fabregas is an exciting pipedream, but any strong imposing deep midfielder or creative playmaker is going to suffice as United, not unlike Bayern or Barcelona, work better when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A Fellaini figure isn't going to set the world on fire alone, but he will bully opposition teams and create chances for the RVPs and Rooneys to swallow up. That means more than any £40m signing ever will.

 

If we pick up just one strong midfield player, no matter who he is at the stage, we'll go in with a major hole plugged. It only takes one signing to change the game and for United, a Fellaini could prove the difference between a dismal title defence and Championship 21.

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Okay Liverpool and here is what I think will be the starting XI against Stoke on Saturday and a general look at the squad as a whole.

 

GK - Simon Mignolet

Letting Reina go on loan is a massive call from Rodgers, sure Pepe was in decline for the last 2 years but still I think he should have sold instead of loaned out, still though I like Mignolet and I think he will do well for us.

 

RB- Glen Johnson

He can really annoy me at times, I do like the work rate he puts in and I think he will have a big season for us this year but he needs to concentrate more.

 

CB- Kolo Toure

A great bit of business by us I must say, Kolo has seen it all and will add valued experience to the CB role, especially with a new keeper.

 

CB- Daniel Agger

DAGGER has just got the vice-captaincy hopefully to fend off interest from Barca and Man City,creating a new center back group is always a nerve-wracking endeavor, but with the two having had the entire summer together, it should be a smooth transition for us.

 

LB- Jose Enrique

When Enrique is at his best, he is a top left back. He has a great combination of strength and speed, and loves to defend as well as get forward and play balls around and over-the-top of defenses.We will be signing another left back so it's good he might have to fight for his place.

 

CM- Lucas Leiva

Lucas struggled a bit last season while recovering from injury but hopefully he can get back to the form he showed the previous season.He could be a key player for us if he avoids injury.

 

CM- Joe Allen

Rodgers has played him a bit higher up on the pitch this summer,and has serious faith in him, but for me I'm still on the fence about him, granted he played with an injury for most of last season BUT this is a massive year for him, if he doesn't perform I think he could be sold in January.

 

CM- Steven Gerrard

His mad running days are over but Gerrard can control the game like no other, he is vital for us to push for a top 4 and to close off games that we are winning 1-0.Still the most important player in the team.

 

RW- Iago Aspas

I like what I see so far, he's got 4 pre-season goals and seems to have a good attitude and a good footballing brain.Really excited about him this season.

 

LW- Philippe Coutinho

Now this might go in the BIG STATEMENT thread but I think next season he will be up for POTY, I really do!!, he has showed what kind of player he is and the little touches of magic he has.

 

Striker - Daniel Sturridge

This boy can score goals and when's he's fit he will get you 20 goals a season, thing is though keeping him fit might be a problem.He has serious talent but hopefully his body is not crocked.

 

 

As a squad it is getting stronger with Sterling who seems to like getting in the front pages of the tabloids aswell as the back, Alberto who I think could do really well for us, an improving Jordan Henderson, still has to come to terms of what was paid for him I think.

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Stoke City

 

Goalkeepers

Mark Hughes can boast a wealth of goalkeeping talent come the kick-off to the new season, with Begovic, Butland and Sorensen to choose from. In fact, Stoke probably have the best goalies overall in the Premier League, they're that strong. It's whether all three will remain in Stoke's squad come September 3rd is what no one knows. The rumour mill has gone a bit quiet after his expected move to Liverpool in fact went to Simon Mignolet, but I think someone will come in and quietly take Asmir Begovic before the transfer window slams shut. if that happens then all of a sudden their goalie situation looks a bit more nervous. I mean, Jack Butland is a very, very strong bennch-warmer, as is Sorensen, but first choice for a Premier League season..?

 

Defenders

What they have is good, if a bit samey (if you like 6' 4" tall, shaven-headed mammoths then Stoke is the place for you!), with Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson and Shotton all battling for a starting place. Hughes does have the very under-the-radar (and good) Marc Wilson at his disposal and has also been quick to bring in some kid from the Barcelona B Team. Stoke are always going to be hard to beat, but a couple of injuries may undo them.

 

Midfield

Who would want to be a Stoke midfielder under Pulis? I certainly wouldn't. You'd never see the ball, other than to see it flying over your head towards Peter Crouch. Expect much the same under Hughes, only perhaps to a slightly lesser extent. And it's a shame too, as Stoke do have some decent midfielders and wingers like Charlie Adam, Michael Kightly and Wilson Palacios. It'll be Steven N'Zonzi and Glen Whelan as the starting two, and I hope that Charlie Adam can become the lynchpin in this side. Mark Hughes' Blackburn made use of David Bentley's talent, and Tugay's, so you've got to think an opportunity will be there for Adam to be a quiet riot for Stoke.

 

Strikers

Crouch is OK. I like Crouch. Always have. Probably always will. So yeah, he's a reason to be optimistic. Beyond Crouch however, you've got Jon Walters, Cameron Jerome and Kenwynne Jones. Walters will, to be fair to him, run about a bit, but there's nothing there to frighten anyone. Crouch aside, Stoke are terrible up top. You've got to think Hughes is working overtime to bring in a new striker somewhere. And if not a new striker, a Beardsley type, who'll drop deep, scheme, play one-twos with the wingers and Adam. In fact I'd say "a Beardsley type" is key to Stoke this season. Sign one and you meld your entire team together. Don't, and you remain a disjointed bunch of cloggers.

 

Cheers!

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I completely forgot about the biting ban, i like the team you have and how I missed you bought Toure I will never know. I think you could challenge this year. Would be good I have always had a soft spot for Liverpool.

 

I doubt we will challenge but hopefully we can give top 4 a good run for it's money :)

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Nowich City

 

I think Norwich could be on for a big season, particularly down to the players they have signed. I tipped them for relegation last year, and they proved me wrong and I think this season they'll do even better.

 

Goalkeepers:

 

John Ruddy will be their main man again this year, and a player I am quite a fan of. Pretty unlucky to get injured just as he was getting some international recognition, he's the perfect example of a player not getting a chance at a bigger club, and taking the step down has really shown what he can do. He's turned into a solid EPL keeper, and if he can stay fit will probably have a good season.

 

Defenders:

 

There's some real quality and stability in the Norwich defence this year. As a Scotland fan, I like Russell Martin alot. Really dedicated to the cause. Sebastian Bassong is an accomplished EPL player as well, and will probably do a good job in the captain's role this season. They've signed Martin Olsson from Blackburn, who is decent, and will get crosses into the box, as well as Javier Garido who had a good season on loan last year at them. Michael Turner kind of resurected his career at Norwich since his Sunderland big money move, another player who I think is good at this level. And another Scotsman Steven Whittaker will provide full back cover. Despite his Rangers past, I've always quite rated Whittaker, and with Martin likely to start at Right back, is useful cover. I like the strength and depth of their defence which also includes Daniel Ayala and Ryan Bennett. They should be more than covered if injuries and suspensions and boast alot of players who are tried and tested in the Premier League, which could be crucial over teams like Hull and Palace.

 

Midfielders:

 

Also full of strength and depth is the Norwich midfield. They've signed Leroy Fer, a solid centre mid who can get find a pass and works hard. I think he'll be a big player for them this season. Alongside him is Bradley Johnson, Johnny Howsen and Alex Tettey. Tettey works hard and they're all solid. Having said that, the centre of midfield is probably their weakest area, though to be honest that's perhaps down to the strength and depth they have elsewhere.

 

The wings Snodgrass and Pilkington, who both had good years last year. I'm not Snodgrass's biggest fan, I've been critical in the past of him, but he does have a goal in him. They've also added Nathan Redmond who has a bright future no doubt. Lots of pace, and hopefully this season at Norwich he'll get a chance to show he's got some end prodouct to go with him. He's a bit of a coup for Norwich and I think he'll move to a big team in a couple years if he progresses as he should. Wes Hoolahan is another attacking player with a goal in him. Again plenty of depth and a nice mix of youth and experience.

 

Strikers:

 

Now this is why I really wanted to cover Norwich. I'm a huge fan of both the strikers they have signed. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is excellent business at just under £9m and a definite coup for Norwich as he was linked with some other bigger teams. I think he's gonna be class in the Premier League and I can't wait to see how he does. Same goes for Hooper, as a Celtic fan I really hope he does well and gets the England call up he deserves. A old school poacher, won't necessarily work the hardest but will find the net when given a chance, and in my opinion worth the money they paid for them. I'm also personally really glad that they've rebooted their strike force, as it has allowed us at Wigan to get Grant Holt for a steal at less than £2m. Between Hooper and RVW, Nowrich definitely have the goals in them to fire them to a really good position in the table.

 

They also have Luciano Becchio.

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I could but I am not going to. I have some serious feelings on certain players including no love for Theo Walcott I have never rated him and never will. Although I was wrong about RVP as I did not rate him either. Walcott or crap in front of goal and you can not depend on him when the going gets tough. Any how going to leave the rest of my comments till i complete this tomorrow.
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Swansea City

 

Big season for laudrup and his squad regarding europa league and the premier league. For the first time i reckon their is a level of expectation from this club. They've spent a lot of money and anything lower than 10th place would be classed as a fail IMHO. They were very impressive against Malmo with their passing abilities, big key is can they keep it up in the premier league?

 

Goalkeepers

 

No major changes with Vorm as number one and Tremmel second choice. Vorm is a very good goalkeeper and i think will again play any part in Swansea's success this season.

 

Defenders

The question is can the spanish boys they've brought in from la liga cope with premier league? Jordi Amat looks set to be featuring in the first team with Canas more of a substitute. Their central defenders are really rock solid with chico and williams but i'm ever so slightly concerned they need to help their flanks out a tad more. With some set out on loan i feel they need to get some back up's to help cover any injuries or suspensions. I always feel when one of their central defenders are out, they tend to struggle. So while their defence isn't the worst, it could still need strengthened.

 

Midfielders

Hands down their strongest part of their squad with plenty of quality players and plenty of back ups. They really should be ok here with the passing and control of the ball they showed in pre-season and against Malmo. Jonjo Shelvey is the man everyone wants to see considering he didn't really fulfil his talent at liverpool. I reckon swansea are the club that he can show that talent to. I'm also interested in how Pozuelo does. Their wings were solid last year and they've strengthened central midfield. I think teams who face them may be in for a surprise into how formidable this midfield will be.

 

Strikers

Michu was their showcase signing and one of the best deals of the entire transfer window. He will be crucial for this squad to score goals again. But the talk of the club is Wilfried Bony. Who they paid 12 million for. I'm not a fan of the dutch league as i don't really think they show quality of players at times, and that was proven when Afonso Alves (the best rated scorer in the world at the time) signed to boro from Heerenveen and was a flop. Bony needs to cope with the pressure and show his talent or else it could one of the biggest flops of this season. I don't rate lita or moore and i do believe they do need to sign one more striker for cover or else an injury could completely change their season.

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West Bromwich Albion

 

BAAAAGGGGIIEEEESSS!! Oh my beloved West Brom, flitting awkwardly between the Championship and the Premier League, we seem to have finally found a little stability and a bit of pride about ourselves. Finishing in the top half of the table last season was a pleasant surprise (I honestly wasn’t sure my one and only BIG STATEMENT was gonna come off), and I’m honestly starting to feel more than a little hopeful of us being able to pull off something similar this season. Only problem we’ve got now is I don’t think the opposition are gonna take us as lightly as they have in the past any more…

 

Goalkeepers

We’re actually in a decent position here. Foster’s a pretty capable keeper (although admittedly prone to the odd blunder) and there’s been lots of reports of the good work our keeping coach has been doing with Myhill and Daniels over the summer. Personally I’d like to see both of those guys push Foster a little more for his spot this season, but I’m kinda safe in the knowledge that should Foster pick up another injury we’ve got some competent cover for him and things won’t turn to cr*p too quickly.

 

Defenders

So we’ve had fairly shaky defences previously and we desperately needed something to bolster our defensive line up this year seeing as we don’t have the same kind of firepower up front to depend upon. With recent signing of Lugano I think it’s gonna do nothing but good things for our defence, especially having a seasoned international player to pass on advice to guys like Dawson and Jones. We’ve also got some interesting prospects coming up from the Youth System too, so even if things don’t go well this season, we’re at least starting to put get some of younger players prepared to take over in the next few seasons. Oh, and we really should give Popov a bit more of a run out this year.

 

Midfielders

Gutted we lost Isaiah Brown to Chelsea. He was a great young player, but if Chelsea come knocking for you what are you gonna do? Hodgson did some great work with our midfield and I’m hoping Clarkey can continue that trend. Guys like Yacob, Mulumbu, Brunt, & Morrison are dependable and Brunt especially is capable of some really nice passing and crossing when the mood takes him. I’m looking forward to seeing how Mulumbu and Yacob partner up this season, as last year it seemed like quite the budding midfield partnership was on the cards. Add to that resigning Gera for another 12 months (again another old head capable of passing on some knowledge to the younger players) and all in all I’m happy with what we’ve got going on so far.

 

Forwards

So obviously we have the huge gap left behind by Lukaku. Goddamn, if I could keep one player from last season it would’ve been that guy. That being said, I don’t think in too bad a shape this year. At least not in the kind of condition we were in when we were depending on Kanu for goals (remember that, yeesh). It looks like Clarke’s looked at this strategically as we’ve signed Anelka who not only scores goals, but is capable of holding the ball up nicely and producing some great passing in his own merit, and we’ve got Matej Vydra as our speedster to run onto the end of passes. According to reports he’s got an old head on a young set of legs, so I’m looking forward to seeing what our new attacking line up can do. That’s not to discount guys like Long (who no doubt will be looking to make sure he makes his own mark at The Hawthorns this season and doesn’t get overshadowed), Rosenberg and Dorrans, who all play a valuable role for us. Actually looking at it on paper like that, or attacking line up has waaaay more depth than it has in a long time. My choice for “one to watch” for West Brom this season? Saido Berahino. The dude moved to Birmingham area when he was ten from Burundi, and got picked up from the local Phoenix FC to attend the West Brom academy. He’s had a couple of good loan spells out in the lower leagues, and he looked sharp as hell against that Greek team we played. All that and apparently Anelka’s kinda taken him under his wing already. I’ve got a good feeling about that kid. If we manage to keep hold of him.

 

Oh, almost forgot about Peter Odemwengie. F*ck Peter Odemwengie.

 

It’ll be interesting to see what formation Clarke goes with this season, as 4-2-3-1 worked really well us last year, as did the 4-3-3 with Lukaku and Long spearheading the attack with Rosenberg or Fortune. The preseason reports have said Clarke’s switched to a 4-4-2 for friendlies with Long playing off Anelka up front, and from the results it certainly looks like it’s working so far?

 

I’d say West Brom are in the best shape they’ve been in for a good many years, I just hope we can develop a few of the young guys into the players they look like they could be. If you listen to Jeremy Peace he’s currently all about developing some homegrown guys to make us stronger for years to come, and I’m all for that.

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