By Niall Clarke, Stephen Giles and Ryan Moran.
- Our panel of experts place their preview for the upcoming Premier League season
- Niall, Stephen and Ryan give their predictions from Arsenal through to Manchester United
The new season is just days away, and to get you into the football mood Britwatch sports’ panel of experts have given their preview and predictions for the upcoming Premier League season.
Our Champions League correspondent Niall Clarke, Europa League correspondent Stephen Giles, and Premier League correspondent Ryan Moran have given their thoughts on every team for the upcoming Barclays Premier League season, starting with Arsenal through to Manchester United. Also, do not forget to voice your opinion and vote in our poll!
Ins: Petr Cech.
Significant Outs: Abou Diaby (Free- West Brom), Yaya Sanogo (Loan- Ajax).
Niall: Another year and another season where Arsenal will try break their title duck. The Gunners have not won the Premier League since 2004, however there is a quiet confidence amongst Arsenal fans that they can challenge again. The arrival of Petr Cech will add extra stability to the back line, and if the rumour mill is to be believed we could see more arrivals yet. The question is, will it be enough to topple the financial power houses at the top of the league?
Stephen: Hopes are high at the Emirates and quite frankly, they need to muster a title challenge if they want to keep hold of their best talents. The squad has been improved immensely with the signing of Petr Cech & with a long list of attacking talent at their disposal, the Gunners will start like a house on fire, cue calls for Arsene Wenger’s sacking mid-way through and then ultimately tail away in mid-February after an insipid Champions League display. They will end the season happy with another fourth placed finish after another season that promised so much yet delivered precious little.
Ryan: After an impressive display in the Community Shield at the weekend with Petr Cech between the sticks, Arsenal looked a team to be reckoned with. They still lack up front with only Olivier Giroud the only outright goal scorer. If the likes of Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and Theo Walcott can chip in some goals along with Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal could find themselves challenging Chelsea. I believe Chelsea still have the edge however with more strength and depth to their squad.
Ins: Jordan Amavi, Jordan Ayew, Mark Bunn, Jose Angel Crespo, Rudy Gestede, Idrissa Gueye, Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair, Jordan Veretout.
Significant Outs: Darren Bent (Free-Derby County), Christian Benteke (£32.5 Million- Liverpool), Fabian Delph (£8 Million- Manchester City), Shay Given (Free- Stoke City), Andreas Weimann (Derby County).
Niall: The big news surrounding Aston Villa in pre-season was the loss of prolific striker Christian Benteke. The Belgian- who netted 15 goals in the league last season- has found a new home at Anfield, with the fee reportedly being £32.5 million. The Villains also lost Fabian Delph to Manchester City, however with new arrivals in Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair, and Jordan Ayew, Tim Sherwood wasted no time in replacing them. Villa have a good manager and the extra squad depth will keep them in the league for another year.
Stephen: Losing players of the calibre of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph will hurt any side. Villa have “replaced” the duo with £27 million worth of experience and promising young French talent which could go any one of two days: They end up becoming a real bargain should they all live up to their potential and adjust to the physicality of the Premier League, or they could crash and burn. Do they possess enough game-changing talent? Much will depend on Jordan Ayew and Gabriel Agbonlahor to score the goals.
Ryan: The gap left by the departures of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph has been filled by 9 new players. Jordan Ayew, Micah Richards, Rudy Gestede have all made the move to Villa Park, along with Scott Sinclair who has made his loan deal permanent. Many will wonder whether the likes of Gestede and Ayew can fill the goal scoring shoes once occupied by Benteke. Sherwood had the claret and blues playing with confidence at the end of last season with a successful run of results, the ex- Tottenham boss will hope this will carry on into this season.
Ins: Christian Atsu (Loan), Artur Boruc, Filippo Costa (Loan) , Sylvain Distin, Adam Federici, Max Gradel, Joshua King, Tyrone Mings, Lee Tomlin.
Significant Outs: Ian Harte, Brett Pitman
Niall: You look at AFC Bournemouth and say ‘really? They are a Premier League club?’ Well, whether or not they have the profile, The Cherries certainly had what it takes on the pitch last season when they earned promotion from The Championship. Bournemouth have an attacking philosophy, which manager Eddie Howe has stated he will stick to when the team takes to the pitch of a Premier League match for the first time. New signings such as Sylvain Distin Arthur Boruc, and Christian Atsu will add the extra quality the Cherries need but will it be enough to stay in the top division?
Stephen: Everyone’s tip to go down. Bournemouth have added to their ranks and boss Eddie Howe has managed to keep his Championship-winning side together and added to it with one or two interesting signings adding nice depth to the squad, it will be fascinating to see if this free-flowing side can bridge the gap. I believe they’ll be this season’s surprise package.
Ryan: The dream is about to become reality for AFC Bournemouth and Eddie Howe is under no illusion they face an uphill task to maintain their Premier League status. Choosing players over stadium expansion, their motives were clear. Breaking their transfer record to bring in £8 million Tyrone Mings shows their desire to do what it takes to stay in this division.
Ins: Asmir Begovic, Radamel Falcao, Danilo Pantic.
Significant Outs: Christian Atsu (Loan- Bournemouth), Patrick Bamford (Loan- Crystal Palace), Petr Cech (£10 Million- Arsenal), Didier Drogba (Free- Montreal Impact), Marco Van Ginkel (Loan- Stoke City).
Niall: Champions, brilliant, the best. Many ran out of superlatives to described Joe Mourinho’s men as they stormed to a fourth Premier League triumph. Now the Blues will aim to repeat what they did in Mourinho’s first run as manager, and that is retain the title. With world-class players in every position, Chelsea will be amongst the favourites yet again. The addition of Radamel Falcao will give them extra depth up top, and with the spending power under Roman Abramovic, expect Chelsea to add more new additions before the transfer window closes. Over 38 games, expect the Blues to be too consistent for their title rivals.
Stephen: Their main emphasis will be on the fitness of Diego Costa and the supporting role of new loan signing Radamel Falcao – can he and Loic Remy produce the goods? Chelsea’s main strength will be their defensive unit. It’s the best – simply put and will likely win the league title once again. Mourinho expects. So do I.
Ryan: Offloading a world-class goal keeper to one of your rivals may turn out to be a major fault in Chelsea’s attempt to retain the Premier League. Petr Cech got one over on his old employees in the Community Shield and his performances will close the gap between the two sides. However, the strength and depth in Chelsea’s squad is much stronger than those of their rivals. The tactical mastermind leading the charge also gives Chelsea that upper hand. Love him or hate him, Jose Mourinho adds that psychological advantage along with a range of tactics to see out a victory; as seen in what was a comfortable title win for Chelsea last season. Manchester United and Arsenal are getting stronger but it is Chelsea’s title to lose.
Ins: Patrick Bamford (Loan), Yohan Cabaye, Alex Mccarthy, Connor Wickham.
Significant Outs: Brede Hangeland (Unassigned)
Niall: Palace showed some nice form at the end of the season when Alan Pardew took over as boss. The addition of Yohan Cabaye is an excellent piece of business as he will add an extra bit of quality to the midfield. Patrick Bamford could provide some goals up top, which is what they have sorely needed over the past couple of seasons. Expect more progress for Palace and a fight for the European places, but I feel they may end up in the same position.
Stephen: Signing Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint Germain is a real coup for the club. He’ll chip in with goals from midfield and dictate how Palace want to play. They have pace on the flanks to hurt any team and if Patrick Bamford, on loan from Chelsea, can chip in, too, Palace will take another step forward, especially if Yannick Bolasie continues to develop. Interesting.
Ryan: Another club busy in the transfer window were the Eagles with attacking players high on Alex Pardew’s wishlist. The ex- Newcastle manager has strengthened with the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham as well as a loan deal for Patrick Bamford from Chelsea. The Selhurst Park side play an attacking brand of football led by the wingers of Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha and these additions are only going to add to this.
Ins: Tom Cleverley, Gerard Deulofeu.
Significant Outs: Sylvain Distin (Free- Bournemouth)
Niall: It was a poor season for the Toffies last year on the whole, but they still managed to salvage a respectable 11th place. The problem is that Everton have failed to really strengthen their squad over the summer so you are looking at a similar side to last season. With that in mind I believe it will be a similar run as last time out.
Stephen: Will they cash in on John Stones? For me, mid table is as good as it gets – unless Roberto Martinez freshens up his squad with real quality. Much will depend on Romelu Lukaku continuing his goal-scoring form. Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu have been brought in and will be good additions and with the added bonus of no Europa League football at Goodison this season, Everton can fully concentrate on the league. But with precious little back up in the striking department, an inconsistent season lies ahead.
Ryan: After a superb first season, Roberto Martinez would not have expected to drop that far into mid table. However, bringing back Gerard Deulofeu should bring life back into a side lacking that cutting edge the ex- Barcelona B winger gave them in the season before. A talented Toffees will be hoping to show their worth in what was an underwhelming season not many would have predicted. A season on, with the squad mostly unchanged and a few new additions; Goodison Park should see better results this season.
Ins: Yohan Benalouane, Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth, N- Jolo Kante, Shinji Okazaki.
Significant Outs: Tom Hopper (Released), Tom Pearson (Released), Chris Wood (£2.5 Million- Leeds United).
Niall: They pulled the great escape last season with some tremendous wins towards the back end of the season, but still it was not enough for Nigel Pearson to keep his job. Enter Claudio Ranieri, a man who is familiar with the Premier League with his stint at Chelsea over a decade a go. Is he the right man for the Foxes? It is hard to say, but I do not see a repeat of last season whether they stay up or not.
Stephen: Claudio Ranieri has taken up the Leicester hot seat which can only be described as a huge punt. The risk is that the Foxes will now lose some of the energy, aggression and spirit that pulled them to safety under Nigel Pearson. Losing Esteban Cambiasso’s experience is a big blow. A long arduous struggle lies ahead, unless they sign some real quality before the transfer windows slams shut.
Ryan: With Nigel Pearson’s departure, it was hard to see Claudio Ranieri’s face fit the picture at the King Power Stadium. The Italian has Premier League experience but with a bigger budget and at the other end of the table. The ex- Chelsea boss’ face doesn’t fit with the squad assembled and seems a complete mismatch in terms of players at his disposal. The grit of Nigel Pearson was the drive that saw Leicester City safe and personally, Ranieri isn’t the right character for the personalities he has been left with.
Ins: Christian Benteke, Adam Bogdan, Nathaniel Clyne, Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, James Milner.
Significant Outs: Sebastian Coates (£2 Million- Sunderland), Steven Gerrard (Free- LA Galaxy), Glen Johnson (Free- Stoke City), Rickie Lambert (Undisclosed- West Brom), Raheem Sterling (£49 Million- Manchester City), Andre Wisdom (Loan- Norwich City).
Niall: Liverpool suffered last season after losing Luis Suarez, but with that behind them and a new season on the way, can The Reds regain a Champions League spot? It was a bold move by Brendan Rodgers to sign Benteke and Roberto Firmino, but they could be the men to propel Liverpool back to the top four. Unfortunately for them, there will be four teams just better than The Reds which means Europa League again.
Stephen: If Christian Benteke and Roberto Firminho can strike up a telepathic relationship, Liverpool will be hard to stop this season and with so many attacking options, Brendan Rodgers must find the right blend going forward as well as the right style to suit them. But more significantly, he also must build a much better defence than the one that proved so unreliable last season.
Ryan: With the Sterling saga finally over, Liverpool can start concentrating on the football once again. The Merseyside club have failed to recapture the quality of football played by the likes of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. The one who deserves credit is Philippe Coutinho who pulled the Anfield club out of trouble, pulling the strings from midfield. The Brazilian will be vital if the reds are to mount any challenge on the top four along with Christian Benteke. The likes of the Belgian along with Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino add a lot of quality to the squad and Brendan Rodgers will hope this year’s business has a profound effect, more than last year’s signings.
Ins: Fabian Delph, Patrick Roberts, Raheem Sterling, Enes Unal, Bruno Zuculini (Loan- Racing Club).
Significant Outs: Stevan Jovetic (Season long loan- Inter), Dedryck Boyata (£1.5 Million- Celtic), John Guidetti (Free- Celta Vigo), James Milner (Free- Liverpool), Scott Sinclair (£2.5 Million- Aston Villa), Enes Unal (Loan- Genk).
Niall: It is a make or break season for Manuel Pellegrini after failing to retain the title and make any impact in the Champions League last season. City showed their ambition with the big money transfer of Raheem Sterling, but the ex-Liverpool man is still potential at the moment. The key man will be Sergio Aguero, and if the Argentinian can stay fit the Sky Blues will mount another title challenge. But can they fend off the other challengers?
Stephen: Chelsea’s main title rivals. The arrival of Raheem Sterling should certainly make a difference to their attack. Fabian Delph’s role however is less than clear. A team that looked off colour at times last year should bounce back and assuming Vincent Kompany rediscovers some form, a title challenge is expected.
Ryan: A club on the decline, desperate for success but money not spent wisely is not helping the cause. A large price tag has been paid for Raheem Sterling but many will agree the England international is not on the same level as Sergio Aguero. The new signings don’t add any quality to the squad, they add homegrown talent. Game time will be hard to come by with Manuel Pellegrini supposedly getting the boot, with Pep Guardiola ready to take to the hot seat at the beginning of next season. The likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have added quality, a tough season ahead at the Etihad.
Ins: Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, Sergio Romero, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Significant Outs: Tom Cleverley (Free- Everton), Robin Van Persie (£3.8 Million- Fenebahce).
Niall: After spending a few years in the wilderness after Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Man United are ready to challenge again under Louis Van Gaal. Nobody can accuse the Red Devils or being ‘tight’ with their money in recent seasons, and yet again United have looked to the transfer market to strengthen their squad. The new signings will be key, as will Wayne Rooney with the departure of Falcao and Robin Van Persie. United will improve this upcoming season, but I do not feel they will go all the way to the title. Maybe a domestic cup title, but in league terms they will have to settle for another fourth place finish.
Stephen: Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin will add to the United midfield which for long periods last season was pretty abysmal. Matteo Darmian is underrated and Memphis Depay will hope to form an effective partnership with Wayne Rooney. Angel Di Maria and Van Persie have left so if Louis van Gaal cannot find another striker and sort out his back four, any talk of winning the league will be fruitless.
Ryan: Many football fans will be looking forward to see the Red Devils take to the field with the likes of Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger added to the ranks. Manchester United are definitely a team on the up and will provide stiff competition for a declining Manchester City. Louis Van Gaal’s men will provide an interesting conclusion come the end of the season for second and third with Arsenal also on the up.
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The Premier League kicks off on 8th August. You can follow all the action this weekend via our live-scoring service: Live Scores