Last season, after a poor start under Martin Jol, Fulham eventually found their best form to finish in an impressive 9th place. Next season, it is likely to be more of the same. Fulham will find it difficult to break into the top 8 but are unlikley to be seriously threatened by relegation at any stage. Having said that, a lot will depend on their ability to keep hold of Clint Dempsey who has been linked with a move away from the club. The American was Fulham's top goalscorer last season and has been consistently been one of their key men in recent years. Fulham have parted company with other players who have been considered key men in the past and have been a big part of Fulham's success in previous season; Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora. It will be interesting to see how they cope without these players and if Martin Jol will be loking in the transfer window again for replacements.
There were some positives to take out of King Kenny' retun to Anfield including a Carling Cup win and an FA Cup final. However, Liverpool's dismal league performance cost him his job and perhaps, rightly so, after investing so much into the likes of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll, all of whom have failed to deliver so far. Brendan Rodgers has replaced him, bringing with him a new style of play, new ideas and a few of his players from Swansea. Fabio Borini and Joe Allen have joined him at Anfield but the £15 million they payed for Allen once again begs the question; have Liverpool overspent on a young British player again? In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes but I do believe that Joe Allen is nevertheless capable of making an impact at Anfield. The new manager's job could be made a lot harder if Daniel Agger join Barcelona who he claims would be the only club he would consider leaving Anfield for. That would leave Liverpool short at the back annd, considering their remarkable inability to convert great chances into goals last season, Liverpool can't afford to start shipping goals. More of a killer instint is required next season from Liverpool's front line but if Gerrard stays fit, Liverpool should start to move in the right direction under Rodgers.
Last season was one of the most memorable in Man City and Premiership history. The dramatic way in which Man City snatched the Premiership crown from their rivals will live long in the memory of City fans. However, the defence of their title will prove very difficult. Man Utd will be more motivated than ever and have added Robin van Persie to their ranks. City, on the other hand, have added only youngster Jack Rodwell to their squad and he will probably have to wait for a chance in the 1st team. Carlos Tevez seems to have sorted his problems off last season and, if that is the case, will mean that City, like United, will have gained a world class striker. A partnership of Tevez and his fellow Argentinean Sergio Aguero could prove to be a truly formidable partnership. This season's title race could be just as dramatic as last season with the two Manchester clubs so evenly matched and they are unoubtedly the two teams to beat next season.
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Chelsea finished last season in what is, by their standards, a very disappointing 6th place. The Blues never looked like challenging the Manchester clubs and were remarkably inconsistent in the league with Andre Villas Boas sacked . However, remarkably, they delivered more than ever before in cup competitions as Roman Ambramovich finally got his hands on the Champions League and added the FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. Since then, Didier Drogba has desparted amongst others and the likes of Eden Hazard have been drafted in whilst Roberto di Matteo did enough to earn him a stay at Stamford Bridge. Looking ahead to next season, it seems that Chelsea have undoubtedly enough talent on paper to challenge for the title but, for me, their remains too many unanswered questions. Firstly, can their new, young signings deliver.Eden Hazard attracted the interest of many including Man Utd and Man City, but will the new signings gel? Secondly, can Fernando Torres deliver now he's out of the shadow of Didier Drogba? If not, where are the goals going to come from? I expect Chelsea to be stronger in the league next season but think it may be another season before we see a new look Chelsea making a genuine case for the title.
Despite difficultie off the field and almost no money to spend, David Moyes and Everton delivered a top 7 finish. For almost any other team, this would be a big surprise, but Everton are making it a habit. A typically strong ending to last season saw them finish above Liverpool and a similar finish and maybe a European challenge will be Everton's aim this season. They may have lost Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell, but with Steven Pienaar returning permanently and Steven Naismith being added to the squad, Everton's midfield should remain strong. Whether or not Everton can make a serious promotion will also depend on the future of Leighton Baines who has been heavily linked with a move away from Goodison Park. If Everton keep hold of Baines, they wil be just as strong as previous seasons.
Posted by Adam at 15:23
Arsene Wenger has often been critcised for his lack of ambition and his reluctance to spend big in the transfer market. His transfer policy is one of the main reasons for Asenal's trophy drought in recent years and also one of the reasons that they have lost the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. With Robin van Persie deciding not to sign a contract extension at Arsenal, it seems as though, he will be the next big name to leave the Emirates. If that transfer saga isn't over by the end of the summer window, it looks as though RvP will eventually leave Arsenal anyway. Considering the fact that Arsenal relied on Robin van Persie and his goals more than anything else last season, it looked as though Arsenal would be facing a struggle to maintain a Champions League qualifying place this season. However, Arsene Wenger has finally showed some purpose and ambition in the transfer window, bringing in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud so that someone other than Robin Van Persie could contribute in the goalscoring department and has also brought in the creativity of Spanish international Cazorla to their midfield which could prove to be one of the signings of the summer. Jack Wilshere who was missing for so much of last year will also be welcomed back although not quite as soon as expected. Therefore, although they may soon be losing their captain and talisman, their is still room for some optimism for the Gunners. Arsenal's defensive frailties prevent me from suggesting that they will be genuine title contenders next season and Chelsea's big spending could see them overtake Arsenal into 3rd.
There is a fresh wave of optimism surrounding Villa Park as we approach the new season. The appointment of Paul Lambert will have been met with far more approval than that of Alex McCleish 12 months ago. Alex McCleish was unpopular from the start amongst Villa fans due to his connections with their rivals Birmingham City. The lack of support for the manager and negative atmosphere surrounding Villa Park last season due to McCleish's arrival goes someway to explaining my Villa flirted with relegation. The arrival of Paul Lambert, who did such an impressive job at Norwich, will ease tensions between management and the fans. On the pitch, the rebuilding that needs to take place under Lambert seems to have started with the likes of James Collins, Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar having left. Incoming players include Dutch international Ron Vlaar to help bolster an often frail-looking back line last season.
Posted by Adam at 04:37