In the final part of our Premier League preview, LS Sport’s Theo Lee Ray takes a look at Swansea, Spurs, West Brom, West Ham and Wigan…
There can be no doubting that Swansea’s newly appointed manager, Michael Laudrup, has perhaps the hardest job of any boss for the upcoming season. After finishing 11th and winning the hearts and minds of football fans across the whole country last season Brendan Rodgers has left some very, very big shoes to fill. Not only does Laudrup have to follow the hailed footsteps of the previous manager, he does so with no managerial experience in the Premier League and without three key players from last season.
The loss of Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurosson and Steven Caulker, all to teams who will be challenging for the Champions League spots next season, may leave Swansea struggling to stay out of the relegation zone come May next year. A lack of firepower means that there will be a lot of pressure on Danny Graham and Scott Sinclair to deliver the goals whilst we may also see the possession stats begin to decrease in the absence of the cool heads of Allen and Caulker.
The new Danish manager will hope to keep the free-flowing, tiki-taka philosophy but may also have to find a more direct ‘plan B’ if he hopes to steer Swansea clear of relegation.
Andre Villas-Boas will be as determined as anyone to prove himself in the Premier League this season. His appointment has been received with a nervous curiosity of what he could achieve at Spurs.
The astute signings of both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen seem to fit the AVB style of play, however, until he can find a replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor upfront, White Hart Lane may miss out on Champions League football once again.
Though impressive last season, Gareth Bale’s form was mixed. It appears the Welshman will be playing as part of a front three for AVB and his contributions will be key as he hopes to thrive further up the field. One man who no one can be sure of is Luca Modric. With his future still uncertain, Daniel Levy will hope to resolve the situation in time to replace the midfield maestro.
Chelsea and Arsenal have both made impressive improvements to their squads over the summer and the Spurs faithful will be fearful of getting left behind in the race for fourth if no more new faces come.
West Bromwich Albion
Steve Clarke’s appointment as a manager of a Premier League club has been a long time coming. After successful spells as an assistant coach at Newcastle, Chelsea and West Ham, it seems that West Brom’s board have decided that Clarke is more than ready for the step up. As was seen during his spell at Liverpool last season, if not much else, he managed to sure up a defence that had been alarmingly leaky only the year before.
Following in the footsteps of Roy Hodgson is not an easy job. However, if Clarke can works wonders to West Brom’s backline and find a way to get the best out of Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long, we could see another successful season at the Hawthorns. Promising youngster Romelu Lukaku has also joined on loan from Chelsea, along with Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg.
He also has a wealth of attacking options from midfield with Chris Brunt, Zoltan Gera, James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas all fighting for a place in the starting XI.
Clarke’s appointment may be viewed by some as a risky appointment. However, if he can get the Baggies playing neat football, built from the back, they could thrive under their new manager.
West Ham United
Too big to go down? The Upton Park faithful won’t assume as much this time round.
After an uncomfortable season in the Championship, many now feel that West Ham are ready to begin an assault on the Premier League but consolidation will be the main aim for Sam Allardyce and the East London club. ‘Big Sam’ boasts one of the best squads ever to be promoted from the Championship yet it is still up for debate whether he is the right man to allow this squad to fulfill its capabilities.
There can be no doubting that the former Bolton manager’s relationship with the fans was not the best. Famously heard singing ‘We’re West Ham United, we play on the floor’, it is safe to say many supporters at Upton Park were not too keen on Allardyce’s willingness to give up on passing football in favour of a more pragmatic style of football. Yet, whether it was attractive or not, Allardyce got West Ham promoted- exactly what he claimed he would do when he took the job.
After a few shrewd moves in the transfer market, including the signings of Mohamed Diame, Jussi Jaaskelainen and French international Alou Diarra, Allardyce will hope to re-establish the Hammers as a Premier League side.
With this squad, West Ham certainly can be steered clear of relegation. However, it is hard to see Allardyce lasting an entire season.
It seems inevitable that Wigan will prove any doubters wrong again this season, but one begins to feel that the Latics are slowly running out of time in the Premier League.
Dave Whelan has, yet again, done well in keeping the highly-rated Roberto Martinez, however the manager has seen some key players leave over the summer. Chris Kirkland, Mohamed Diame and Hugo Rodallega have all left and Wigan fans will be fearful of the fact they lack the squad depth needed to challenge in the English top flight.
Whatever happens in the drawn-out transfer saga of Victor Moses, we may see the unwanted attention from his potential move to Chelsea have an undesirable affect on his performances. Martinez does have a replacement lined up though, taking Arsenal’s Ryo Miyaichi on loan for the season.
Wigan still haven’t found a striker who can get into double figures during a single season since 2005 and while Arouna Koné certainly has potential, it seems a risk to rely too heavily on the Ivorian. Despite stabilizing the backline towards the end of last season, the DW continue to cry out for a proven Premier League goal scorer that Martinez seems to lack the funds to acquire.
A team can only perform the great escape so many times. Wigan, though hard to predict, look like they may struggle again.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Premier League season previews! The LS Sport team got together and came up with a predicted final table and we’re tipping Manchester City to retain the title. Let’s hope this season will be exciting as the last…
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Aston Villa
- West Ham
- West Brom