Top 5 Most Improved Players 2013/14

With the Premier League well on it’s way in to the important last 10 games of the season. We’ve picked out the top 5 most improved players so far this season. These players have made huge steps in their developments and have worked hard on and off the pitch to reap their rewards. As these are personal opinions please feel free to let us know your top 5 improved players, leave a comment or have a go at our poll.

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5. Adam Lallana (Southampton)

The Southampton captain has made a large impact this season under manager Mauricio Pochettino. He has been the driving force behind his team’s push into the top half of the league. His performances have earned him his first international caps for England and he could potentially be on his way to the World Cup if he keeps up his impressive form. With rumours in the media that Manchester United are after him and his team-mate Luke Shaw, it doesn’t come as a surprise for the way his been playing. Consistent player with very good work rates.

Stats - Apps: 28(1) Goals: 7 Assists: 5

raheem-sterling-arsenal4. Raheem SterlingLiverpool )

After bursting on to the scene last season, Raheem had a shaky period where he was sidelined for a few months due to burn out and injuries. He started this season better but it wasn’t until October where he found his feet. He has developed into one of he most feared wingers, lighting pace and quick feet. While working on his abilities he has forged a strong partnership with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. While impressing at club level he has also gained acknowledgement at international level and will be hoping to book his place for Brazil 2014.

Stats - Apps: 16(7) Goals: 6 Assists: 3

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3. Jordan HendersonLiverpool )

After a few difficult seasons at Anfield. Henderson has to be one of Liverpool’s most consistent player this season, after being told he could move on during summer he stayed and put in the work on all aspects of his game. Not having missed a single Premier League game this season you can tell why. His box to box abilities and work rates have always been his strength but now his vision and passing have come on leaps and bounds. Still needs to work on his finishing at times but his starting to pay off some of that fee Liverpool spent on him. He is also fighting for a World Cup place.

Stats - Apps: 28 Goals: 3 Assists: 6

Eden-Hazard

2. Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

What a season it has been for Hazard. He had a good season last year nothing amazing but he has taken his game to another level. You can see how Mourinho has modelled Hazard around Cristiano Ronaldo and it seems to be paying off. His pace and skill when attacking will cause any defence headaches. Not the type of player you can mark as his capable of playing across the front 3. Not only does he provide goals for Chelsea his scoring them for fun. Could prove to be the key player in Chelsea’s push for the title.

Stats - Apps: 28 (1) Goals: 13 Assists: 7

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1. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

After his horrific injury many feared he would never reach his potential. The last few seasons have been tough on the Welshman. He received heavy criticism especially from his own fans but he has silenced them all. Ramsey has worked on his physique making him a powerhouse surging forward bursting past players. One of the most well-rounded players in the League, who does his defensive duties but now also scoring important goals. Ramsey has been a revolution while the fans were praising Mesut Ozil for his impact, Ramsey was making strides. Due to return to action soon after his 2 month lay off, his returning at a very important time for Arsenal. Can Aaron Ramsey be the catalyst to Arsenal’s title, FA Cup hopes?

Stats - Apps: 17 (1) Goals: 8 Assists: 6

Who is Mohamed Salah?

FC Basel's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against Chelsea's during their Champions League Group E soccer match at St. Jakob-Park in Basel

After agreeing to sell two-time player of the year Juan Mata to Manchester United, Chelsea have moved swiftly to replace the Spaniard and have today sealed an £11m deal with FC Basel for winger Mohamed Salah. So just who is he? And what will he bring to Chelsea’s title challenge?

You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about Salah (Tottenham and Liverpool fans apart). Born in 1992 in Basyoun, Egypt, Salah moved to Basel in the summer of 2012 after impressing in a friendly against the club. He quickly established himself as a key player for Basel and after a string of solid performances in the Europa league – most notably against Tottenham – his stock began to rise amongst some of Europe’s top clubs. Blessed with blistering pace, seemingly everlasting energy and tremendous close control Salah has been dubbed the ‘Egyptian Messi’ by pundits and fans alike. However unlike the much anticipated arrival of ‘German Messi’ Marko Marin in 2012, the Blues faithful will hope he goes further than Marin to living up to this tag after completing his move today.

Strengths

As mentioned previously, Salah’s main asset is his blistering pace and lightening acceleration. Based on Champions League performances this season, the Egypt international has suffered more fouls than any other Chelsea forward, testament to his direct approach and willingness to take on his man – something Mourinho is a firm admirer of. His energy is also something Mourinho has sounded out as one the reasons for his purchase. Unlike Mata, who lost his place in the Chelsea team mainly due to his inability to track back and counter quickly, Salah has covered the most distance out of any Chelsea player in this season’s Champions League competition, sitting just outside of the top ten of all players in the competition. Indeed distance covered doesn’t equal effectiveness with the ball, but it displays a player who would seemingly revel in Mourinho’s counter-attacking philosophy.

Weaknesses

Despite exhibiting his fantastic talent on Europe’s biggest stage, the 21-year-old is understandably still very raw and rough around the edges. Not that this is something Mourinho will be afraid of, reminding us all of his ability to develop world-class players such as Arjen Robben and Mesut Ozil in Friday’s pre-match press conference. One aspect of Salah’s game Mourinho will be looking to work on immediately however is his effectiveness when in possession of the football. Despite his superb dribbling ability, the winger’s first touch and ball retention ability has often deserted him in Europe this season ranking in the top five players responsbile for dispossessions and turnover’s per game. His new team-mates, more specifically Chelsea’s misfiring strikers, will also be hoping the young Egyptian can improve on his current return of no assists in all competitions this season. All though it’s worth mentioning of his new colleagues, only Willian has created more chances (10) in this season’s Champions league then Salah (7).

Who does he remind you of?

His style of play is very similar to his soon-to-be Chelsea team-mate Willian. Explosive, energetic, quick, like the Brazilian Salah’s game is built around his ability to retrieve the ball from deep and break at breathtaking pace, committing defenders before driving into key areas to create opportunities for himself or his colleagues.

How he’ll fit in

Predominantly left-footed, Salah will presumably take up a position on the right of Chelsea’s attacking three – a role Juan Mata was unable to adapt to under Mourinho’s new philosophy. Unlike the Spaniard, Salah’s energy and pace won’t give defenders a seconds rest; whether it be through his direct and penetrative runs on the counter, or his ability to hassle and harry high up the pitch, he’ll surely prove a nuisance to Premier League defenders whenever he steps on the pitch.

Stepping into the shadow of Juan Mata is a tough task for any player, let alone one so young and inexperienced. Chelsea fans however will no doubt be hoping Salah can ease the pain of Juan Mata’s sale to Manchester United by getting off to a flying start and helping fire them to a first league title in four years.

Do you think Salah will be a hit for Chelsea? Comment or vote below

*Stats sourced from Uefa.com, Squawka.com and who scored.com respectively

Future Stars #7 – Serge Gnabry

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Name: Serge David Gnabry 

Age: 18 

Nationality: Germany

Club: Arsenal

Position: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Height: 1.73m (5 ft 8)

Born in Stuttgart, Germany to a German mother and an Ivorian Father. Serge Gnabry started off his sporting career as a sprinter before deciding his calling was in football. He made his way through the VfB Stuttgart youth system before being spotted by Arsenal scouts in 2010, at only 16 years old. A £100,000 deal was agreed between the clubs and Serge made his move in the 2011-12 season. Joining up with the Under 18′s and working his way up into the reserve side and catching the eyes of the coaching staff. The 2012-13 season saw Gnabry making his first Arsenal appearance making him the third youngest player in Arsenal’s history. He featured heavily in the NextGen series and made a few appearances off the bench for the first team. The 2013-14 season was the breakthrough season for the young German, injuries to Theo Walcott and Alex Chamberlain pushed him into making his first start against Stoke City. He went on to score his first league goal for the Gunners in a 2-1 victory against Swansea. His impressive start to the season even earned him a nomination  for the Golden Boy Award 2013, he also signed a new 5 year contract with the Gunners.

Strengths & weaknesses

Serge Gnabry’s main strength has to be his pace, his ability to get past players with ease making him a threat on the either wing. With fast and close dribbling skills, he possesses the flair to make anything out of nothing. Not only does he have an eye for goal he has the vision to pick out a pass, a vital skill to have in the Arsenal tactical system. Regardless of his short and stocky structure this acts as an advantage. His lower centre of gravity and strength is a major plus especially in the Premier League. At only 18 you forget his talent is still developing many considering him to be more effective than Theo Walcott, which is extreme. Serge Gnabry is still a bit raw at times but that will change with more match experience. It’s vital next season he either goes on loan or Mr Wenger gives him the match experience in the first team. The only issue is not to over play him at such a young age.

The future is very bright for the Arsenal winger, already an established under 19 German international it wont be long until he starts featuring in the under 21 side. One to watch! Enjoy the video.

Five things we’ve learnt from last weekend’s games

With over half the season now behind us, just what has last weekend’s match-ups told us about how the final half of the season may shape up?

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1. The only way to beat Manchester City at the Etihad is to score at least 3 times

Is there a better strike force than City’s in world football at the moment? After becoming the first Premier League side to reach 100 goals before the end of January (the majority of which coming at home) by beating Cardiff 4-2 on Saturday, the 2012 champions seem immune to the defence tactics deployed by almost any of their Premier League counterparts. As stupid as it sounds, the only way to beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side is to outscore them. However when you consider that City’s last 5 home matches have yielded a total of 18 goals and only Crystal Palace have stopped them scoring more than once at home, the idea of a club playing every striker one their books at once seems slightly more feasible. Its simple; City will score eventually. And the only thing that is going to stop them winning the league this season is either their questionable away performances, or teams that go to the Etihad and attack from the off (hopefully notching at least four goals on the way).

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2. Arsenal will be right up there come May

Despite many continuing to write-off the Gunners as potential winners of this season’s league title, the facts are there for all to see – after 22 games, the North London club are top of the pile. There’s no question that they may not have the strength in depth that Manchester City or Chelsea have, but what they do have is a starting eleven that could match any team in Europe. The question now is: Can they stay injury-free for the rest of the season, or will Arsene Wenger be forced to add to his squad before the Janaury window closes in 11 days time? If they do both there’s no reason why Arsenal can’t go all the way this season, although failing to do either could see them slip away from their title rivals in weeks to come.

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3. Manchester United must act quick if they are to make the top 4 this season

After another somewhat embarrassing result against Chelsea on Sunday, Untied are in serious danger of failing to make the top 4 this season and missing out on Champions League football for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Moyes’ side are enduring one of their worst Premier League campaigns ever, and despite the imminent return of both Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney to bolster their attack, an uncharacteristically leaky defence has them languishing in 7th place – 14 points behind leaders Arsenal. Moyes has made no secret of his desperation to bring in new recruits, and should he harbour any ambition of a top 4 finish will need to act quickly to bring 2/3 world-class players into a depleted United squad. Whilst talk of Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley has failed to materialise, the United boss will no doubt be relying on the advice of his scouts to add the much needed spark to the midfield and enforcer to the defence. This is a big window for the Manchester club and failure to recruit the right players could have huge knock-on effects. Losing out on Champions League football could cause a mass exodus at Old Trafford this summer as well as an inability to attract the big names that were once so easily drawn to the club. Whilst Moyes may feel he has time on his side, the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson still looms large at Old Trafford and failure to improve on the current state of affairs will certainly have Fergie ‘checking his watch’.

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4. Mourinho has Chelsea playing like champions, but not well.

Keeping pace with City and Arsenal, Jose Mourinho has unquestionably re-installed the winning mentality that the blues have lacked since his first spell in charge. However despite amassing a total of 49 points (just 2 off the lead) Chelsea have found themselves failing to exert the ‘sexy’ football that Premier League rivals Arsenal and Manchester City have shown so far this term, and as evident in Sunday’s game against Manchester United, have won games due to a resolute defence rather than a potent attack. Chelsea’s ability to counter-attack is second to none, and the centre defensive partnership of Gary Cahill and John Terry is the second best in the division. Despite this, only 11 out of 43 goals have come from Chelsea’s three strikers, which begs the question – where would Chelsea be with a Suarez or Falcao in the team? Mourinho has remained firm on his stance to stick with his current attacking options, though with the window coming to a close and Fernando Torres ruled out for ‘weeks’ after picking up an injury against Untied, he may be forced to add firepower to his title chasing side. The key to Chelsea’s success this season will boil down to the masterful thinking of Mourinho, he’s been there, done it, and lifted the trophy, and the inability of his team to get out of second gear will only strike fear in to fellow title contenders.

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5. This year’s relegation battle is shaping up to be one of the most exciting for a long time

The entertainment doesn’t stop at the top of the Premier League table you know, oh no. With the bottom three teams level on points and only a further 4 points separating 17th and 11th, this year’s relegation dogfight is shaping up rather nicely (unless you support one of the teams involved of course). With Crystal Palace and Sunderland seemingly on the up after a change in managerial personnel and some impressive performances, some of last seasons high-fliers such as West Ham and Swansea have now been dragged into a relegation battle which has seen its fair share of twists and turns already this season. Despite recording impressive wins over some of the league’s ‘big boys’ Cardiff have not only found themselves in the headlines because of their bonkers owner Vincent Tan, but now also sit rooted to the bottom of the table without a win since December 2013. Fulham also find themselves in danger after another defeat at the hands of Arsenal, and will be looking to talisman Dimitar Berbatov to steer them away from the drop zone (they’ll need to keep him first though). The neutral is definitely in for a treat with these teams scrapping it out over the next few months, and each team’s safety will be no doubt down to their ability to take points off of their fellow relegation candidates. I think this one will go right to the wire, with a final day eclipsing the excitement that many of us witnessed in the 2004/05 season when West Brom completed the ‘great escape’ after a dramatic final day home victory over Portsmouth.

Let us know your opinion! Vote for your winners and losers of this season below:

World Cup 2014: Who will Roy pick for the plane to Brazil?

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After a nail-biting 90 minutes, we can all finally rest easy with the assurance that England have booked their place in the World Cup 2014. It wasn’t  done the easy way, no, it never is – it was done the English way which as usual, consisted of a prolonged period of uncertainty and huge streams of criticism from the English press, followed by one good result and a renewed sense of optimism that we will end our 48-year wait (more than a lifetime for some of us) for glory on the international stage.

So, now seems about the right time for the speculation to begin about just who Roy Hodgson will select to be part of his 23-man contingent. Of course, so much will rely on this seasons performances and players staying injury free, but we want to look at who, so far this season, is a certainty for the squad, who may be left at home, and what surprise packages (think Walcott in 2006) may just force their way in.

Goalkeepers

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Certain: Joe Hart

Good chance: Ben Foster, John Ruddy, Jack Butland

Outside chance: Fraser Forster, Alex McCarthy

After a shaky start to the season, Joe Hart looks to have started to regain his form for club and country and is a certainty for the plane to Brazil. Although Hodgson retains that Hart is his number one and he has full confidence in him, there will be a number of Hart’s colleagues reaching for his number one shirt should he dip in form again.  All three of Foster, Ruddy and Butland face competition at club level which may leave the door open to the ever impressive Fraser Forster who has displayed some majestical European performances as Celtic’s number one. However, despite recent call-ups Forster has yet a cap to his name and will have to pull-out more world class performances before he is to totally convince Hodgson to give him a place in the 23.

Defenders:

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Certain: Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines

Good chance: Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones

Outside chance: Steven Caulker, Kieran Gibbs, Luke Shaw, Joleon Lescott, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Micah Richards, Carl Jenkinson, John Terry (would be a big shock)

For some, a decisive factor in England’s possible World Cup challenge, the days of having two of the world’s best defenders (Terry and Ferdinand) marshalling the heart of a resolute English defence are all but over (unless something miraculous happens, of course). While not necessarily world class, we do have two very experienced and capable defenders in Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill, with young blood in the shape of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones seemingly waiting in the wings. Whilst Glen Johnson at right back is almost another certainty not only to travel to Brazil, but to start at right-back, the only position seemingly up for debate is the left-back spot and the return of the  Baines or Cole debate. Not a bad problem to have for Hodgson of course, what one seemingly lacks, the other makes up for, but which one will start in Brazil will surely be down to their form this season.

Midfield 

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Certain: Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard,

Good chance: James Milner, Theo Walcott, Andros Townsend, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley, Tom Cleverley

Outside chance: Gareth Barry, Ravel Morrison, Ashley Young, Aaron Lennon, Raheem Sterling, Gareth Barry, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Wilfried Zaha, Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone

Maybe one of the more ambiguous areas of England’s possible World Cup squad, the midfield boasts a mix of exciting new talent and world-class experience. Roy will be keen to use experienced heads of  Gerrard and Lampard in his World Cup camp, even with doubts over both’s ability to retain a high-level of performance throughout a full Premier League season and World Cup. Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley and Ravel Morrison all look like real talents, with all three enjoying impressive starts to the domestic campaign. However, doubts may be cast over each of their ability to handle such a large, pressurised occasion, especially as they have just three full caps between them. Hodgson therefore may be more inclined to use some of the more experienced fringe players such as Ashley Young and James Milner to fill his 23-man allocation.

Strikers

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Certain: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck

Good chance: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert

Outside chance: Andy Carroll, Fraizer Campbell, Darren Bent

Goals win games. Goalscorer’s win world cups. England’s attackers hold the key as to how far they can go next year in Brazil and in Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, we finally have a strike partnership that will put the fear back into national team defenders. Both complement each other well, and more importantly, both can score goals – from near enough anywhere on the pitch. With a front two seemingly sorted, Danny Welbeck will be hoping to retain his role on the left hand side of midfield, but he will have to keep up his recent good performances if he doesn’t want to lose his position to a more ready made winger such as Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert and Andy Carroll will also be hoping for a chance to catch Hodgson’s eye over the next few months with their club performances, whilst Fraizer Campbell and Darren Bent won’t do their chances of a surprise call-up no harm with a few goals this term.

So, that’s a round-up of near enough every player who possible could make the squad. Now, here’s my 23:

Joe Hart

Fraser Forster

John Ruddy

Kyle Walker

Glen Johnson

Gary Cahill

Phil Jagielka

Ashley Cole

Leighton Baines

Chris Smalling

Micah Richards

Steven Gerrard

Frank Lampard

Jack Wilshere

Ross Barkley

Andros Townsend

Michael Carrick

Theo Walcott

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Daniel Sturridge

Wayne Rooney

Danny Welbeck

Rickie Lambert

 

Disagree? Comment and leave your 23 below

Future Stars #6 – Ross Barkley

Ross-Barkley-Everton-1024_2979633Name: Ross Barkley 

Age: 19 

Nationality: English

Club: Everton

Position:  Attacking Midfielder

Height: 1.89m (6ft 2)

One of England’s hottest prospects at the moment, Ross Barkley has been causing a stir in his first full season at Everton. At only 19 years old Ross has worked his way into Roberto Martinez’ first team. An Evertonian youth product, he has been with the club since he was 11 and first made his break during the 2011-2012 season in which he played 6 games. He spent a seasons on loan at Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday to help gain him first team experience. He returned and made an impressive start in the pre season games, where Martinez saw his talent put him straight into his team.

A creative, technical player Ross is known for his surging runs through the middle of the pitch, taking on players with his burst of pace and strength. His main position is an attacking midfielder but his capable of playing in a more deeper central role as well. Good with the ball and has a keen eye for shooting. His form has even earned him his first England cap. Playing for England does come with huge pressure and this will be new territory for the teenager, some are already calling for him to make the 2014 World Cup squad. When players of Barkley’s calibre emerge they need to be handled with care, the rarity of such players means they gain so much attention. It’s reported a few top clubs have started showing interest in the youngster, Everton will be hoping to keep hold of him for a few more years.


Premier League Preview 2013/14

arsenal badgeArsenal

What have they done this summer? Not a lot in truth. After promises of a big spending summer from Arsene Wenger back in May, Arsenal are still yet to add any notable strength to the trophy-less squad of last season. With the Gunner’s main rivals significantly bolstering their squads over the summer, the onus is now on Wenger avoid the last minute deadline day trolley dash and add some quality to a side that if not strengthen, could struggle to make the top 4 this year.

Key player: Jack Wilshere

Prediction: 5th (tak) / 5th (ash)

AVAston Villa 

After getting caught up with the relegation battle last season, Paul Lambert will be hoping for a much improved season. Villa have brought in some good quality players from Europe but many of them do lack premier league experience. Either way it adds much needed depth and quality to what was an average young squad. Benteke’s performances will be key this season.

Key player: Christian Benteke

Prediction: 11th (Tak) / 11th (Ash)

CCCardiff City

After walking away with the Championship title last season, ‘the bluebirds’ will be looking forward to finally testing their metal against the big boys of English football. Southampton and West Ham before them will provide Cardiff with a perfect example on just  what it takes to survive a first season in one of toughest leagues in the world, but they will also be looking to the expereince of Craig Bellamy and club recording signing Steven Caulker to try and steer them clear of the drop.

Key player: Steven Caulker

Prediction: 18th (Tak) / 19th (Ash)

CFCChelsea 

Chelsea’s biggest signing this summer has to be the return of the ‘special one’ Jose Mourinho. The fan favourite manager has made an emotional return to the Premier league and his hungry for success. Chelsea have spent money on youth and bright talents from across Europe this includes Andre Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel, adding much needed youth and energy. Chelsea will be favourites this year as they try to bring back the Premier League to West London. Big season ahead at Stamford Bridge.

Key player: Juan Mata

Prediction: 1st (Tak) / 2nd (Ash)

CPFCCrystal Palace 

After narrowly avoiding relegation from the Championship just three seasons ago, the revitalisation of Crystal Palace is a surprise to the many that thought they may slip down the trap door which has taken many ex Premiership clubs into lower league obscurity. Now, rejuvenated under the guidance of the flamboyant Ian Holloway, Palace will be hoping good home form can help them once again keep their heads above water – this time in England’s top division.

Key player: Mile Jedinak

Prediction: 20th (Tak) / 20th (Ash)

EFCEverton

After loosing long-serving manager David Moyes to Manchester United. Everton brought in former Wigan manager Roberto Martinez to lead the Toffes. Martinez has inherited a very decent squad and has made a few additions including 3 former Wigan players Arouna Kone, Antolín Alcaraz and Joel Robles. Considering they hold on to key players Leighton Baines and Marouane Felliaini Everton can make a push for European football. It will be interesting to see how Martinez handles his first season.

Key player: Marouane Fellaini

Prediction: 7th (Tak) / 7th (Ash)

FFCFulham 

A disappointing end to last season saw Fulham end their campaign flirting dangerously close to the league’s bottom three. This season however, the Cottagers have made some astute signings, adding experienced Premier League players such as Scott Parker and Darren Bent, along with some international experience in the form of Maarten Stekelenburg and Derek Boateng to their ranks. Martin Jol will be looking to improve the teams away form this year if they are going achieve a top half finish; the goals of a certain Dimitar Berbatov will be equally as vital to the West London club’s success this season.

Key player: Dimitar Berbatov

Prediction: 13th (Tak) / 14th (Ash)

HCFC

Hull City

After spending a number of years out of the Premier League, Hull City have made a return with manager Steve Bruce. After finishing 2nd in the Championship, Hull have been the busiest of the newly promoted teams in the transfer window. Bringing in no more than 10 new faces to the team.Tom Huddlestone, Yannick Sagbo, Allen McGregor and Maynor Figueroa will prove vital to ensuring Premier League safety. Hull are one of the favourites to go down but they may surprise many.

Key player: Tom Huddlestone

Prediction: 19th (Tak) / 18th (Ash)

LFCLiverpool

A frustrating summer for Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool team has seen them miss out on many of their top transfer targets, although they have managed to add experienced defender Kolo Toure, Spanish pair Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas and former Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet to their squad. The retention of Luis Suarez and performance of some of their top players such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will be vital for the Merseyside clubs Champions League push this year.

Key player: Philippe Coutinho

Prediction: 6th (Tak) / 6th (Ash)

MCFCManchester City

The departure of Roberto Mancini ended a spell but a new era has began under Manuel Pellegrini. City have spent heavily this summer, with a total bill of about £95 Million spent on new players. Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo. Man City have strengthened and look like title contenders this season. With strength and depth in all area’s  this season will be an exciting watch. With such attacking flair up for show City will be a dangerous team.

Key player: Vincent Kompany

Prediction: 2nd (Tak) / 1st (Ash)

MUFCManchester United

For the first time in 27 years, United are about to embark upon a top flight campaign with a new man at the helm – that man, David Moyes.  The former Everton manager has taken over from fellow Scot Sir Alex Ferguson and is seen as the man with the ability to continue United’s dominance in the Premier League. Although he has his critics as to his suitability for what some describe as ‘an impossible job’, Moyes will look to last years title winning side and star man Robin Van Persie to make the impossible task just a little bit easier, and ensure the Premier League crown stays at Old Trafford for a least another season.

Key player: Robin Van Persie

Prediction: 3rd (Tak) / 3rd (Ash)

NUFCNewcastle United

Last season was a major disappoint for Newcastle, after flirting with relegation they managed to survive the scare. This summer Newcastle have not done enough to add depth to what looks like a stretched squad. The only signing has been Loic Remy who has joined on loan. They have been linked with a number of names but nothing has come of it. This season will be a testing one for Alan Pardew and his team and could struggle if they don’t spend before the end of the transfer window.

Key player: Hatem Ben Arfa

Prediction: 14th (Tak) / 16th (Ash)

NCFCNorwich 

Chris Houghton has made his intentions clear for Norwich’s upcoming season, making some exciting signings under the noses of some of the bigger teams in the league. One of the most goal shy teams last season, Houghton has added some much needed fire-power to the Canaries front line, replacing target man Grant Holt with Dutch ace Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Celtic front-man Gary Hooper. They also managed to poach Leroy Fer under the noses of Everton and will hope he – along with the other new recruits – will lead them towards mid table safety and a decent cup-run this term.

Key player: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel

Prediction: 12th (Tak) / 13th (Ash)

SFCSouthampton

Southampton did well last season as they survived the relegation battle and finished in a respectable mid table position. This summer Southampton have spent big money on big players, adding quality to all areas of their squad. They have signed Vincent Wanyama a defensive midfielder, Dejan Lovern a centre back and Pablo Osvaldo a target man striker. These signings show an intent of ambition, with plenty of youth coming through the ranks such as Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers .Southampton will be a team to watch.

Key player: Rickie Lambert

Prediction: 9th (Tak) / 9th (Ash)

SCFCStoke City

A new man at the helm and a quiet summer from Stoke may not have been what the fans had expected from a team who were dragged into a relegation battle last season. Erik Pieters will add international quality to a reasonably strong stoke defence this season, however, the main problem for the Potters is their misfiring strikers. If they don’t add some goalscoring quality before the window shuts on September 2nd expect another long season for Mark Hughes and his team.

Key player: Erik Pieters

Prediction: 17th (Tak) / 17th (Ash)

SAFCSunderland

Last season was a roller-coaster ride as Sunderland scraped survival finishing in a disappointing 17th position. Paulo Di Canio has not wasted any time this summer and has been busy in the transfer window brining in 11 new faces. The most exciting has to be Italian Winger Emanuele Giachherini who will be looking to impress. Sunderland lacked goals last season and much weight and pressure will be on Jozy Altidore to provide them with goals. Bringing in so many new faces in such a short period will require time for the squad to gel. This season will be a testing one for the team and for their erratic manager.

Key player: Jozy Altidore

Prediction: 16th (Tak) / 15th (Ash)

SWANSEASwansea 

After an excellent season under Michael Laudrup last year, The Swans have found themselves competing amongst Europe’s elite for the Europa League this season after they secured the Carling Cup earlier this year. With the addition of Eredivisie top scorer, Wilfied Bony, Spanish midfielder Jose Canas and England under-21 international Jonjo Shelvey, the Welsh team will be looking to further improve on last seasons league form and try and put together a challenge in Europe. The biggest test however will be keeping hold of star man Michu, who will be under the watchful eye of a number of Premier League teams up until the transfer window shuts.

Key player:  Michu

Prediction: 8th (tak) / 8th (Ash)

THFCTottenham

Tottenham have been one of the most active teams this summer. They have broken their record transfer fee twice! After missing out on a top 4 position last season, AVB and Daniel Levy have brought in some serious talents from around the World spending just under £60 Million in total. Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Étienne Capoue have all joined. The Gareth Bale saga has dragged on all summer and has been reported that he will join Real Madrid before the end of the window. Spurs have already made moves in replacing the unsettled Welsh man. This season Tottenham will have one of the strongest teams on paper and have a chance of pushing their North London rivals Arsenal out of the top 4 race. Big season ahead for the Hotspurs.

Key player: Roberto Soldado

Prediction: 4th (tak) / 4th (Ash)

WBAWest Brom

A low-key summer so far for Steve Clarke’s side, the Baggies’ most notable additions are journeyman striker Nicholas Anelka and former PSG defender Diego Lugano. Whilst the West Brom faithful will be hoping Anelka can fill the huge six foot two void left by loanee Romelu Lukaku, Diego Lugano could represent some of the smartest business done this summer – arriving on a free transfer. Steve Clarke will be hoping to add more quality to his side before the window shuts but with the current squad, West Brom are not a team likely to be in trouble come May, nor a team likely to be ruffling a few feathers at the top either. A solid mid-table finish and a strong cup run are the most realistic targets for the Baggies this term.

Key player: Diego Lugano

Prediction: 15th (Tak) / 12th (Ash)

whuWest Ham United

After an impressive return to the Premier League last season, finishing in the top half of the table. West Ham have spent wisely in the transfer window. Signing Andy Carroll after a good loan spell at the club, English winger Stewart Downing, Spanish goalkeeper Adrian and left back Razvan Rat. The types of players brought in all link in with West Ham’s style of play which proved effective last season. West Ham will have a solid season and will be looking to reach the same heights as last season.

Key player: Andy Carroll

Prediction: 10th (tak) / 10th (Ash)