EPL team by team preview – National England Football

ทางเข้า m88 Another question is how will the form of Michael Essien be after missing the entire second half of the season and the World Cup.

Manchester City – The biggest question mark of the 10-11 season is undoubtedly the big spending Manchester City. Clint Dempsey returns as well as Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson up front but this team’s problem is still in the center of the pitch.

Birmingham have a talented core and exciting younger players such as Sebastian Larsson and James O’Shea and could make a run at a Europa League spot.

But overall, in two of the last three years Arsenal have had something to say in the title race deep in the season and all while nurturing a core group who were college aged. It’s their first trip to England’s top flight since 1971. The key player of course is Scott Parker who has been linked this summer with a potential move to Spurs. Croyle was hoping to take England and Arsenal starlet, Jack Wilshere on loan for another term after being impressed with the youngster following his arrival to the Reebok last January, but was denied by Arsene Wegner.

West Ham – 2009-10 was a turbulent season for the Hammers as they faced severe money issues, takeover speculation, and uninspiring form which saw them just hold on to the Premier League. Campbell showed great form after his return to Arsenal last January and should have another season or two of good play in him. He’s not only been to the tournament that all players dream of, he immortalized himself in it. David Moyes has expressed interest in bringing Landon Donovan back to Ewood Park but has so far been put off by the high price tag the Galaxy have put on the player.

All this said however, the Reds haven’t done anything significant to improve a seventh place side. After a summer of intense speculation surrounding a potential return to Barcelona, Fabregas chose (or was forced) to stay in London. Though Bruce brought in Cristian Riveros from Cruz Azul and Titus Bramble from Wigan, he lost captain Lorik Cana to Galatasaray. Players such as Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Shay Given, and Martin Petrov are all out or on their way leaving a host of new players many of which have never played in England. But there’s a strong feeling of World Cup hangover surrounding the club and a poor preseason campaign shows they aren’t ready for the season to begin. Redknapp has already complained about his own club’s busy preseason scheduling.

EPL TEAM BY TEAM

by David Wittstock

Everton – After starting the 2009 season in poor form as they dealt with the Jolean Lescott transfer saga, the Toffees were one of the Premier Leagues better clubs as the season wore along.

West Bromwich Albion – West Brom since 2001: Promoted, Relegated, Promoted, Stayed up, Relegated, Stayed down, Promoted, Relegated, and Promoted. Players such as Abou Diaby, Alex Song, Theo Walcott, Nik Bendtner, and Samir Nasri have grown from players who have for years been training on the job, to players who have come into their own with real quality and excellent chemistry with those around them.

Liverpool – Order seems to be returning to Mercyside after a turbulent start to the summer. Among Spurs regular starting eleven only Peter Crouch and Jonathan Woodgate have played in the Champions League so it will likely be Europe that draws much of Spurs attention this season. Saturday starts the 38 game countdown til Blackpool is back in the Championship.

Wigan – Wigan beat Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal last season and also lost to Man United 5-0 twice, 9-1 to Spurs, and 8-0 to Chelsea. They’ll need to get out to a fast start which will be difficult as three of their first five league games are against Arsenal and the Manchester clubs.

Aston Villa – Villa were dealt a serious blow with the shocking resignation of Martin O’Neill on Monday.

In the aftermath of South Africa and a disappointing World Cup for England, there are many questions as to what role the league should play in the training and development of the national team, or conversely, if that relationship should exist at all.

Newcastle – The Magpies dominated the Championship last season finishing up with over 100 points and should come into this season focused and eager to prove themselves. Bent fizzled as the season went along but still ended up third in the league in goals with 24. But will it be enough keep them up one more year? I’m thinking not.

Always careful of the Premier League brand and their national team, the FA handed down a rule requiring that every club have eight “homegrown” players who have played in England for at least three seasons.

Blackpool – Blackpool finished sixth in the Championship last season but were promoted after winning out in the Championship playoff. But Pool quickly pried Roy Hodgson from Fulham; a respected, experienced manager who has, to this point, been able to convince the club’s stars to stay. Antonio Valencia and Nani are one year older and more experienced, the age-less Giggs will perform well as always, and Park Ji-Seung rounds out an explosive set of options out wide. Of course they are right? United are rarely surprised and rarely unprepared. In defense, Patrice Evra is probably the best left-back in the world despite an embarassing tenure as Captain of France.

Arsenal – After surrendering 41 goals in the 09-10 season, Arsene Wegner claimed that his defense was not good enough to legitimately contend for the title. Four years ago he was an 18 year old just beginning to get playing time with Arsenal and watching his country in Germany. To be fair, neither are terribly bad but for a young team that needs marshalling and organization, both are unassertive and inspire little confidence in the defense around them.

This season shouldn’t be any easier for Steve Bruce’s side. Big Sam brought in Man United youngster Mame Biram Diouf on loan which should add flair to their attack.

Bolton Wanderers – Owen Croyle brought in Martin Petrov, Marcos Alonso, and Ivan Klasnic in the offseason which should be enough of a boost to keep them out of the relegation zone. If West Ham holds on to their captain, the Hammers could surprise a lot of people and finish up in the top ten.

Saturday begins a new season in the Barclay’s Premier League and it looks to be one of the most open and unpredictable seasons in recent memory.

Wolverhampton – Stephen Hunt and former Burnley striker Steven Fletcher are solid additions to a team that scored the fewest goals in the Premiership last season. But with the expected signings of Mario Balotelli and James Milner, you get the impression that there’s too much turnover, too many star players to fit in, and no plan other than to simply throw a bunch of big names together and worry about how it’ll fit afterwards.

Considering recent events it’s hard to see Villa finishing in the top four and possibly not even in a Europa League position.

The problem with Fulham last year was scoring and in that department, they haven’t improved. New manager Roberto Martinez will be hoping to find a little more consistency this term and especially a better defensive record having given up the second most goals in the league last season (79). This will be difficult as their first two games are against Man United and Aston Villa.

So why are Arsenal going to win the 2010-2011 season? Firstly, when Arsenal have been at their best in recent years, they dominate possesion of the ball and the key to this is the return of the captain, Cesc Fabregas. And the unpopular ownership pair of Hicks and Gilette appear to be selling to wealthier foreign investors who have promised to take care of the debt situation.

Everton have for so long been not quite good enough to crack the top 4 but clearly better than the mid table pack and you get the impression that something has to give. Yossi Benayoun and Ramires are fast, creative, and technically sound and great additions to a side coming off a season where they won the double. After a series of high profile gaffes, the Emirates Stadium faithful have little confidence in keepers Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski. And this doesn’t even get into the goalkeeper issue. The Red Devils have enough champions and intangible qualities to compete for the league but with an aging first team and talented, younger reserves that aren’t yet ready, United feel like they’re in transition. How long can Sir Alex Ferguson milk the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and Edwin Vander Sar? Additionally, Rio Ferdinand is out until at least September leaving the young but capable Johnny Evans to fill in alongside Nemanja Vidic.

Fulham – Despite a historic run to the UEFA Cup final, Fulham actually had a uninspiring run in the premiership, finishing 12th. With that group now mature, with a little karma on their side after terrible injury luck in recent seasons, and also under the condition they add reinforcements to the defence, I expect the Gunners will get over the hump this season and be crowned 2010-2011 season.

Blackburn Rovers – Blackburn is perhaps the least interesting team in premiership. Joey Barton.

And so it is that the end of a World Cup can sometimes bring dramatic change to the order of the next four years of a domestic league. The Blues did lose Joe Hart when the England international returned to Man City with the expiration of his loan deal but McLeish bought United backup keeper, Ben Foster, to plug the whole.

Or look at Cesc Fabregas. But the key here is Yaya Toure. A great pick up who should terrorize Premier League opposition.

Birmingham City – Speaking of surprises, Birmingham surprised everyone last term with a ninth place finish. I suspect that Newcastle, as much as any team, will need success early in the season to establish a good feeling around the club. Following the season they dumped manager Gianfranco Zola and brought in Pompey manager Avram Grant.

The pull of the World Cup has an interesting relationship with the form of domestic leagues. Players are generally in top condition in the year or two leading up to the cup, fringe players are doing their best to stand out, and leagues are generally very competitive during that time. If they fall out early, you have to wonder how it will effect their mentality towards the Premier league season; if they advance, you have to wonder how they’ll respond physically to a significant increase in the number of games played. Keeping with that pattern they should stay up.

Sol Campbell also arrives on a free transfer and will play a key role in their season. Thankfully for them their August fixtures are West Brom, Wigan, and at home to Stoke.

West Ham have queitly been among the league’s most busy clubs this transfer period with former Lazio man Thomas Hitzlsperger, Pablo Barrera, Winston Reid, and Tal Ben-Haim all arriving to East London. Hughes should add toughness; his Blackburn teams were always among the most disciplined sides in the league and defense wasn’t going to be a problem. Wegner also added Marouane Chamakh, whose best skill as a striker is holding the ball and distributing.

Either way, Spurs have been quiet this transfer period with the only addition being the return of Robbie Keane back from his loan stint with Celtic. They rarely are blown out and are tough to beat at home.

This season also looks to be the first in about a half decade where the majority of the first team is an experienced, mature professional. Alex McLeish hasn’t slowed down splashing a fair amount of cash, for such a small club, bringing in Serbian striker Nikola Zigic arriving on a 6 million pound deal with Valencia. It’s unlikely Wigan will have the same sort of luck against the top clubs and will struggle to stay up.

Stoke will need to improve their attack and away form if they’re to push for anything significant this season. None of their players are very exciting, they probably won’t be in the relegation battle and won’t be anywhere near a Europa League spot. On paper, there’s an argument to be made that Chelsea are even stronger than they were last year. The addition of Joe Cole is a wash, at best, with the departure of Benayoun and while Milan Jovanovic came in, it’s looking as if Javier Masherano is on his way out. In response to this problem, Wegner allowed William Gallas and the resurgent Sol Campbell to leave and brought in the promising but unproven Laurent Koscielny from League 1 side, Lorient. Roy Hodgson left for Liverpool and the West London club brought in Mark Hughes as a replacement. First Rafa Benitez resigned, Yossi Benayoun was sold to Chelsea and the club’s biggest stars Stephen Gerrard and Fernando Torres looked close to leaving as well. Everything is seemingly in play from their first League Championship since 1968 to spectacular self destruction and a typical mid table finish. But even with Bent’s hot form, Sunderland struggled to keep themselves mid table and out of the relegation battle.

Stoke City – Stoke’s 09-10 season was rumoured to be beiseiged with in-fighting but even so, the Potters still managed an 11th place finish in their second season in the top division. Last term the Potters only scored 10 goals away from home good which was last in the league.

The key to Chelsea’s league run will simply be motivation. Now he’s a World Cup champion and set up the winning goal for his country. Always suffering from in-fighting, it seems as though they’ve found solid chemistry under Chris Hughton and the veteran leadership of Kevin Nolan and… Adding insult to injury, there are strong indications that the Villians will sell England international James Milner to Manchester City.

Manchester United – United’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield showed that they’re ready for the new season to begin. World Cup success or failure can change the course of players careers. The Black Cats will need players like Lee Catermole to step up and take ownership of the midfield or they could see themselves in danger of going down.

The addition of these players also means the subtraction of quality talent who are proven on the Premier League level. This season he should bring the same quality to Arsenal, but a different mentality.

Chelsea – Chelsea are quietly putting together an excellent transfer period shedding past their prime stars and bringing in younger, hungrier talent to an established side. Austrailian international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer looks set to stay after being linked to Arsenal over the summer abutSwiss international Philippe Senderos who joined the club on a free transfer will now miss a significant chunk of the season after a late training injury.

As has been the case in recent years, United are loaded on the wings. O’Neill, who had been with the club since 2006 is one of the best managers in the premiership and will be sorely missed by a team that has ground out top eight finishes in each of the last three seasons. For example, after the turmoil of John Terry’s 09-10 season and then the ultimate failure of the English national team, can he really be expected to be driven by the same fire that drove him a year ago at this time?

Tottenham Hotspur – Finishing last season in fourth place gave Spurs their first Champions League appearance since 1961, when Harry Redknapp was 13 years old. While the likes of Gareth Barry and Aaron Lennon came into their own last season, it’s difficult to see them making dramatic improvement this term and with added games, it could be a disappointing season at White Hart Lane.. Add to this an enormous club debt and a dysfunctional ownership situation and the club looked closer than ever to disaster. The massive Ivory Coast midfielder controls the pace of games, kills attacks with tough tackling and even can provide pin point passing going forward. This team has won every honor you can on the England level, the Champions League is what stands as the great prize and I could see them laying down in a few league games if it meant being rested and sharp for Europe. With transfer spending in excess of 100 million Euros and counting, City have, on paper at least, bolstered their squad significantly. Below is a team by team preview of each team and predicted finish.

Sunderland – Darrent Bent was so hot at the beginning of last season he was scoring off beach balls. Tony Pulis’s team is built around a tough defense and efficient ball movement. Somehow Rovers finished last term in 10th place thanks in most part to an excellent home record

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Nicole Frost

Nicole Frost

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