EPL Season Preview: Teams #1-10
With the EPL season creeping up, it's time to make some predictions for how the season will end. Here are teams in the upper half of the table (1-10). My predictions for the lower half of the table can be found here: http://bit.ly/14DJzw6
#10: Newcastle United
Last Season: 16th
In: Loic Remy (Loan), Olivier Kemen
Out: Mehdi Abeid, Danny Simpson, James Perch, Steve Harper
Preview: After a fairytale 11/12 campaign, Newcastle had a horrendous 12/13 campaign which had them at times flirting with relegation. The Magpies are back at full health however, and should jump back to respectability. Adding Loic Remy on loan provides a consistent scorer to pair with the not so consistent Papiss Cisse. Crucial to Newcastle's hopes of competing for a Europa League spot are veterans Yohan Cabaye, Jonás Gutiérrez, Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini who provide experience in a rather young Newcastle side (average age 24.1). If Newcastle's top players are consistent, it could be a Europa League season. Until then, expect a mid-table finish.
#9: Norwich City
Last Season: 11th
In: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond, Carlo Nash, Javier Garrido, Leroy Fer, Gary Hooper, Martin Olsson, Semi Ajayi
Out: Grant Holt, Leon Barnett, Lee Camp, Jed Steer, Simeon Jackson, James Vaughan, Tom Adeyemi, Marc Tierney, George Francomb
Preview: Change is in the air at Carrow Road, and it could lead Norwich to be one of the biggest surprises of the season. Chris Hughton splashed the cash over the summer, purchasing quality players like Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond, Leroy Fer and most notably, Gary Hooper. Norwich now has one of the most potent attacking forces in the EPL, along with an already strong midfield. The loss of Grant Holt (now at Wigan) is the only real concern for the Canaries, but Van Wolfswinkel and Hooper should make up goal-wise. Look for a strong run in the Capital One and FA Cups, along with a possible Europa League spot for Norwich.
Last Year: 4th
In: Yaya Sanogo
Out: Denilson, Andre Santos, Kyle Ebecilio, Andrey Arshavin, Vito Mannone, Craig Eastmond, Gervinho, Sanchez Watt, Jordan Wynter, Jernade Meade
Preview: The good news for Arsenal is that they got rid of most of their fringe players. The bad news is that they replaced them with one signing. Arsenal's sole signing Yaya Sanogo, is a striker with loads of potential, but Arsenal needs more now if they want to compete for a spot in Europe. The rest of the top half has made quality improvements, making Arsenal lag behind. If Arsenal sign a top name before the transfer window shuts, they should be back in the top 4, but if not, expect a poor season from the Gunners.
#7: Swansea City
Last Season: 9th
In: Wilfried Bony, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jonjo Shelvey, Gregor Zabret, Jordi Amat
Out: Kyle Bartley, Mark Gower
Preview: Michael Laudrup's first season at Swansea was a massive success with the Swans winning the Capital One Cup and finishing in an impressive 9th place. Swansea now looks to build on Laudrup's first season, and should do so easily. Wilfried Bony was a shock signing that should provide as a good attacking partner with Michu, while Jonjo Shelvey provides great potential in the midfield. There is really no weak spot in what will likely be the best Swansea side ever.
Last Season: 6th
In: Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone, Gerard Deulofeu (Loan)
Out: Jake Bidwell, Phil Neville, Jan Mucha
Preview: After David Moyes left for Manchester United, Roberto Martinez has taken over at Goodison Park. Other than signing Arouna Kone, it's been a slow offseason for Everton, who should have an average season this year. It is important for Everton to score more goals this season, as the Toffees only scored 55 last year, putting them last in goals scored in last year's top 7. Kevin Mirallas could be the key to that, scoring nine goals last season in all competitions. If he builds chemistry early with Kone, Everton will be a top 5 team. If not, Everton will be on the outside looking in once again.
#4: Manchester United
Last Season: Champions
In: Guillermo Varela
Out: Sean McGinty, Frederic Veseli, John Cofie, Reece Brown, Paul Scholes, Michele Fornasier, Luke Giverin, Luke Hendrie, Luke McCullough, Gyliano Van Velzen, Sir Alex Ferguson
Preview: Even though David Moyes is the right man for the Manchester United job, this will be a year in transition for the Red Devils. Players like Evra, Ferdinand and Fletcher are past their prime, while players like Nani, Valencia, Fabio and Rafael simply aren't Manchester United quality players. United has a strong group of youngsters coming in with top names like Wilfred Zaha and Nick Powell, but they probably wont make their mark until next season. United fans need to have patience in what will probably be an poor season by United standards.
#4: Tottenham Hotspur
Last Season: 5th
In: Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli
Out: Steven Caulker, Clint Dempsey, John Bostock, David Bentley, William Gallas, Jack Munns, Jake Nicholson
Preview: Tottenham could be the biggest surprise of the season (sorry Hull and Norwich) thanks to the signing of former Valencia striker Roberto Soldado. Tottenham has long needed a top striker, and they now have one in Soldado. This could be the year in which Gylfi Sigurðsson breaks out for the Spurs, and if he does, the rest of EPL should watch out. Tottenham is a young group with players like Sigurðsson and Holtby and that should correlate to a run for the title sooner rather than later.
Last Season: 7th
In: Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet
Out: Jamie Carragher, Danny Wilson, Jonjo Shelvey, Suso, Jay Spearing
Preview: After two years of Liverpool lagging behind rivals Everton, Liverpool looks to be back on top. The signing of Simon Mignolet means that Liverpool has a consistent and quality goalkeeper, and the signings of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto complement the Anfield side perfectly. Luis Suarez will mean trouble for Liverpool even if he stays, as he has to sit out the first few games of the EPL season, including important games vs Swansea, Manchester United and Aston Villa. Also, Suarez seems to have annoyed many of his Liverpool teammates, something that never ends well. If Suarez leaves, Liverpool still have Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to lead the front line. Liverpool are going to be the front runners for a Europa League spot and a dark horse for the Champions League this season.
#2: Chelsea FC
Last Season: 3rd
In: Andre Schurrle, Marco Van Ginkel, Mark Schwarzer, Stipe Perica, Cristián Cuevas, Hilario (Signed with the club after being released)
Out: Jeffrey Bruma, Amine Aflane, Paulo Ferreria, James Ashton, Samuel Bangura, Yossi Benayoun, Conor Clifford, Aziz Deen-Conteh, Florent Malouda, Ross Turnbull
Preview: Chelsea FC are without a doubt the most shaky team in the top half of the table. That said, the return of Lukaku and the Special One should bring the Blues to the EPL title. Back at Stamford Bridge after an impressive season on loan at West Brom is Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku was the 6th top scorer in the EPL last season and will compete with Ba and Torres for playing time. Watch out for Marco Van Ginkel, as he could be the final piece in Chelsea's already strong midfield. The Special One is back at Stamford Bridge, but won't win the title due to the club changing the direction for the future (again).
#1: Manchester City
Last Season: 2nd
In: Fernandinho, Jésus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic
Out: Carlos Tévez, Jeremy Helan, Wayne Bridge, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Touré, Maicon, Filippo Mancini
Preview: Despite boasting the best squad in the EPL, Manchester City will struggle to compete for the title due to having an average manager. Manuel Pellegrini only had a 40% win percentage with Malaga before joining Manchester City, while now ex-manager Roberto Mancini had a 60% win percentage before being sacked at the end of last season. City unloaded several high wage players who failed to live up to expectations including Carlos Tevez, Kolo Toure and Maicon. City are the favorites for the title thanks to their depth, and should take the EPL title come May.
Who do you think was placed too high or too low? What players that weren't mentioned could be difference makers? As always, your comments are welcome!