Premier League Preview – Part 1

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It feels like it’s barely been and gone doesn’t it? It’s been a mighty 3 months since we laughed (lots) at Liverpool losing 6-1 to Stoke, and watched Chelsea overcome their inconsistent competitors to win their fourth Premiership trophy. Now it’s time to see whether they can do it again. There have been big-money moves over the summer (the Sterling Saga to name just one) and managerial changes (four teams have new managers for the season). So will Chelsea continue their dominance? Will new boys Bournemouth stay up in their debut season? The answer to these questions and more is, ‘we’ll tell you in May.’

Arsenal

Sports Editor Chris Bickley – Before last season’s end, many thought Arsenal could win the league in 2015/16. However as others strengthened over the summer, Arsenal’s lack of a huge signing may come back to haunt them. Petr Cech isn’t going to win them the league, so how long until fans call for Wenger’s head again? 4th

SCAN Editor Ollie Orton – I think the signing of Cech is the missing piece in the Arsenal jigsaw. If they start well, they could win the title, but my head tells me that they will just fall short. 2nd

Bailrigg FM’s Head of Sports Jason Naylor – A 3rd place finish last season saw Wenger’s Arsenal surpass their usual 4th and with the help of Alexis Sanchez, they retained the FA Cup. In this season’s curtain raiser, the Gunners have already beaten Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and I expect them to push a little more for the title. But ultimately they’ll fall flat again due to their lack of any signings (except Cech, of course!). 3rd 

Aston Villa

CB – Villa have been frequently tipped for the drop for a while now, which would end their omnipresent Premier League status. The loss of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph will hurt them, and although the acquisition of Jordan Ayew is interesting, they’ll likely be fighting a relegation battle again. 16th

OO – Losing Delph and Benteke are big blows to the side. Their purchases are interesting, especially the signing of Ayew from Lorient. I’m predicting mid-table mediocrity, unless ‘tactics’ Tim Sherwood has a meltdown. 14th

JN – Villa are a team who I’m really unsure about. They were largely terrible last season but Sherwood them from the drop. I’ve put them as finishing 11th as Sherwood, Rudy Gestede, Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards will contribute to a really good Villa season. The first in a few years. 11th

Bournemouth

CB – To be in the Premier League is extraordinary for Bournemouth. Yann Kermorgant and Callum Wilson should score for fun, as Wilson has notched 20 league goals in his past two seasons. The club have also acquired the services of the experienced Artur Boruc and Sylvain Distin, and one can be justified in expecting the Cherries to stay up. 14th

OO – The hipsters team of choice for the new season. Eddie How has built an entertaining and youthful team on the South Coast, but signings such as Distin to go straight into the first team are risky (think Rio Ferdinand at QPR last year). Major relegation candidates. 19th

JN – After an unbelievable season in the Championship for Eddie Howe’s side (that earned him the Manager of the Decade award), Bournemouth start their first premier league campaign against Aston Villa, a game they could feasibly win. However new signings and the general infrastructure of the club mean it’ll be a tough season. As with Burnley last season, I hope to be proven wrong. 20th 

Chelsea

CB – Defending champions, it would surely take a fool to bet against them repeating this feat by May 2016? Still with the likes of John Terry, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, plus the undeniable yet Premiership-unproven talent of Radamel Falcao, Chelsea must be everyone’s favourites to retain the title. 1st

OO – Another successful season for Jose Mourinho last year brings the inevitable question as to whether he can complete back-to-back titles. There’s no reason why not, with the team looking a cut above all others last year. Problems could arise if Costa is injured for a prolonged period of time, but overall Chelsea are still a rock solid unit. 1st

JN – Mourinho and his Chelsea side blew everyone out of the water in last season’s campaign and I can’t see anything but Chelsea retaining the league title this season. The title race will be a lot closer but with the odd parking of a bus or two, Chelsea will come out on top. Falcao will take some of the pressure off Diego Costa when it comes to scoring goals, though the Champions League may be more of a priority this season. 1st 

Crystal Palace

CB – Whether you like him or not, Alan Pardew is a good manager. He guided Palace to relative safety last year, and with the shock signing of Yohan Cabaye sealed, the question is what next for Palace? Surely if they’re secure in the Premier League, challenging with Swansea, Everton and Stoke for a top-half finish is a must. Expect mid-table obscurity for the Eagles. 12th

OO – The signing of Cabaye (why couldn’t he come back to Newcastle) indicates real desire from the South London outfit. Patrick Bamford on loan and Scott Dann on a 5 year contract extension are savvy deals. 9th

JN – Out of all the teams outside of the top four, Crystal Palace are probably the team I’m most excited about. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish 9th or 8th with the superb signings that have been made including Cabaye, Bamford and Connor Wickham. 10th 

Everton

CB – Last season was disappointing, there’s no doubt about that. People expressed anger at manager Roberto Martinez, as fans expected another year challenging for European places. If Romelu Lukaku’s out of form again, I can’t see anything great happening for the Toffees this year. They have a strong squad, but by no means anything like Tottenham or Liverpool. 10th

OO – Keeping hold of John Stones must be the priority this summer. Last season was a curious one – finishing 11th is far too low when considering the expenditure of last summer. Lukaku must do better; otherwise Roberto Martinez might be an early candidate for the sack. 7th

JN – Martinez really struggled last season to get the best out of his side. His lack of defending knowledge really hampered Everton, and as a Wigan fan (unfortunately), I have seen first-hand Martinez’s deficiencies. Having said this however, when he gets it right, he really gets it right. So Everton are a club that may surprise me. 8th 

Leicester City

CB – I doubt Claudio Ranieri will do wonders at Leicester, especially considering Esteban Cambiasso rejected a stay at the club. The lack of star signings will hurt Leicester, and they’ll be extremely lucky to avoid playing Championship football next year. 20th

OO – After being the club to undertake the annual ‘great escape’ last season, the close season has not brought the stability desired. Replacing Nigel Pearson with Ranieri is very, very bold, and losing Esteban Cambiasso is a major concern. Will just manage to stay up. 17th

JN – I tend to agree with those who feel that Ranieri’s bad for Leicester. He may demand more money for new signings à la Harry Redknapp and Tony Pulis. A lack of quality signings and letting Cambiasso go will surely see Leicester City return to the Championship after only two seasons. 18th 

Liverpool

CB – You could write loads about Liverpool couldn’t you? Will Jordan Henderson fill Steven Gerrard’s boots? Will Liverpool have a better chemistry now that the Sterling saga is over? Will Benteke, Milner and Clyne flop? Will Brendan Rodgers still be in charge come May? Will they lose 6-1 to Stoke on the opening day of the season? With Liverpool, you really haven’t a clue. 5th

OO – Almost impossible to predict. Losing Raheem Sterling has been difficult, and the redistribution of those funds has been questionable (£32.5 million for Benteke). A good start is required if Brendan Rodgers is to keep his job. 6th

JN – The jury is still out as to whether Brendan Rodgers is the right man for Liverpool. Fans must start to realise that they do not have the economic backing that Manchester City and United have, nor do they have the tactical prowess of Chelsea and Arsenal. Even with the addition of James Milner and Christian Benteke, I struggle to see Liverpool breaking in to the top four this season. 5th 

Manchester City

CB – With their token English players now captured, can the blue half of Manchester overhaul Chelsea to win the coveted Premiership trophy? The signing of Fabian Delph is pointless, and although Sterling is less pointless, it’s still seemingly a case of taking him so no-one else can have him. If Silva, Aguero, Toure and many more can be consistent over 38 games, Man City should win the league. But any slip-up will inevitably not go unpunished. It’ll be close this year. 2nd

OO – It seems strange to call a season where a team came 2nd a failure, but it probably was. Signing Sterling is a big call, as would be the still mooted £50 million deal for Kevin De Bruyne. Again, will probably fall short. 3rd

JN – It seems that spending copious amounts of money still cannot guarantee that Manchester City dominate English and European football. A different tactic has seen City buy younger, English footballers which could just work in their favour. However, a poor showing in the Champions League yet again could mark the end of Manuel Pellegrini’s time in charge. I expect a better season for City but they’re still nowhere near as good as Chelsea. 4th 

Manchester United

CB – Well it was better than Moyes’ stint wasn’t it? But anyone involved with Manchester United won’t be happy until they reclaim the Premier League title again. The new signings of Depay, Schneiderlin and Darmian appear on first glance to be shrewder than previous transfer window tactics. Expect another top 4 finish, though a title charge may be a little too unobtainable for now. 3rd

OO – Having restocked the midfield with roughly 87 new players, the striker cupboard still seems bare. Asking Wayne Rooney to play 50 games as a lone striker is wildly optimistic, and the drama surrounding David De Gea can’t be helping preparations. 4th

JN – A summer that has seen Louis Van Gaal bring in five new signings including Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger should ensure that Manchester United at least challenge for the title this season. Anything less than challenging for the title and reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League would surely be classed as failure for the club. 2nd

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