Team by Team guide for the 2011/2012 Premier League Season – As things stand now
The English Premier League is the pinnacle of domestic football in England & it is where every team truly wants to be so they can test themselves week in, week out against the very best players & managers.
Premier League status offers every member team the opportunity to play their valued part in the most competitive & arguably most exciting domestic football league anywhere in europe & indeed the entire footballing world with it’s global appeal proof of that.
The Premier League is a true, honest test & a proper competition in every sense of the word, with every team possessing the ability & desire to beat anybody on their day and that is something that other domestic leagues cannot claim.
An intriguing, potent mix of factors such as finance, size of support, history of the club, profile of the club, squad strength & indeed quality of players required does ensure that only a select group of teams can ultimately aim for the top prize itself, though that is not to the detriment of the Premier League & nor does affect the what is offered on a weekly basis, all the teams are valued & they all play their full part in the League.
Once the action kicks-off in the Premier League we are certain that the season stretching from August to May will provide fantastic entertainment, excitement, great goals, controversy, drama & an overall footballing package that cannot be matched anywhere in the world and that is something for us all to appreciate & greatly look forward to.
We all know that events & situations constantly evolve in football with the 24/7 approach to transfer news & speculation and there are certainly going to be a lot more deals & move made between now an the end of August but as things stand right now here is our team by team guide to the forthcoming Premier League season, who the key players will be, what are the main strengths & weaknesses and where we believe that may well leave each team come the end of the season:
ARSENAL:- It is often said in life that it is how you respond to failings & mistakes that define who you are & where you will end up and it has to be said that Arsene Wenger & his Arsenal side simply have not learned from their repeated mistakes & failings and again face a season of frustration.
In the team by team guide to Premier League last season I wrote the following about Arsenal last August:-
“Those problems have been obvious for the last 5 seasons & yet Arsene Wenger seems reluctant to make the changes required so in our mind we see them producing more of the same again this season, a season long mixture of great quality attacking performances combined with defensively weak & dis-organised performances and ultimately we see Arsenal once again falling short of success in the Premier League.”
Without sounding boastful & indeed taking no real pleasure in it, that paragraph proved to be absolutely spot on with Arsenal playing sublime attacking football & looking capable of beating anybody yet ultimately they lacked the spirit, the belief & the character over the course of the full season & ultimately their season whittled away & left them well off the pace in 4th position.
So Arsene Wenger now comes into this season knowing that Arsenal have achieved nothing for 6 years & that surely has to change this year, the Arsenal fans will not stand for another season of failure & surely neither will the Arsenal board so Arsene Wenger & his team have to somehow find a way to deliver trophies to the Emirates this year.
The big questions is how will Arsene Wenger do that with a squad that is highly likely to be without key players Cesc Fabregas & Samir Nasri as they both look set to leave in big money deals & no apparent sign that Arsenal will be signing the top quality needed to replace them.
Arsenal will surely sign players between now & August 31st so I expect them to have a strong squad but the loss of Cesc Fabregas & Samir Nasri will be a huge blow to Arsenal & that combined with their annual failure to consistently show the character, organisation & belief that Premier League winners require then I really cannot see Arsenal seriously challenging for the title & they face a huge challenge to match or better last seasons finish of 4th so the pressure is definitely on Arsene Wenger & it will be fascinating to see how he handles it, if he can that is.
Key Players:- The form & more importantly fitness of Robin Van Persie will be key for Arsenal because if he stays fit for long periods then goals & wins will come but just as importantly the return & hopefully consistent performances of Thomas Vermahlen in central defence will be vital to Arsenal if they are to have any chance of success.
Predicted Final League Position:- 4th
ASTON VILLA:- What will happen this season at Aston Villa really is anybody’s guess in my opinion – Martin O’Neill quit as Aston Villa manager last august, the unpopular Gerard Houllier came & went because of his unfortunate health problems & nobody in the world could have predicted that Alex McLeish would end up being Aston Villa manager but all of that did happen & now it’s a case of seeing how it all unfolds.
The shock appointment of Alex McLeish as Aston Villa manager certainly did not go down well with the Aston Villa faithful & I don’t suppose for one minute they will be happy about their best players Stewart Downing & Ashley Young being sold and allround Aston Villa just appear like a club in limbo & it’s a tough call to decide which way they might go & particularly after last seasons prolonged battle against the prospect of relegation.
What we do know about Alex McLeish is that he is an excellent man-manager, has fantastic experience & is proven at being able to organise squads, control discipline & instil belief into players so the Aston Villa squad will know exactly what is demanded of them & that should help to bring consistency to performances & create a solid team spirit which will certainly be needed this year.
Alex McLeish knows he faces a huge test to re-build the Aston Villa squad, to somehow try & get the Aston Villa supporters on side & it will definitely test all of his management skills to the full but I think that as long as he is given time then Alex McLeish will instil his beliefs into the squad & Aston Villa as a football club will regain the stability they need but in terms of success it’s tough to envisage anything other than a season that will end with a mid-table finish at best.
Key Players:- Darren Bent has lost the two players who supplied most of his goals in Stewart Downing & Ashley Young so how Alex McLeish replaces them will determine whether Darren Bent can fire the goals again, if he does they will be fine if he doesn’t then it is hard to see where the goals will come from.
Predicted Final League Position:- 10th
BLACKBURN ROVERS:- With Premier League safety only secured on the very last day of the season, Steve Kean will hope that Blackburn Rovers can build upon that final finishing position of 15th & the fans will hope there is much more to come but looking in from the outside there doesn’t look to be much hope of that actually happening.
I certainly don’t want to sound dismissive & over critical of Blackburn Rovers before a ball has been kicked but they struggled badly last year because their squad was not good enough & nothing has changed so far to suggest they will be any better & in fact their most promising prospect & key player Phil Jones has been sold to Manchester United while their other major player Christopher Samba might leave as well so the prospects don’t look good for Blackburn this season.
Steve Kean is a determined & ambitious coach and he has great belief in the Blackburn Rovers squad but the harsh reality is that without some serious investment & an influx of several quality players in all the positions then Blackburn Rovers look set for another season of struggle & they may well have to concentrate themselves on a relegation battle again but at least in that respect they will know what to expect this time around.
Key Players:- It is absolutely vital that Blackburn Rovers can keep key central defender & inspirational leader Christoper Samba because if he goes then it will be tough to see how Blackburn Rovers will go after that.
Predicted Final League Position:- 16th
BOLTON WANDERERS:- 16th in 2007/08 season, 13th in 2008/09 season & 14th in the 2009/10 season are where Bolton Wanderers have finished in the last 3 seasons & that is the type of range of finishing positions we expect again for Bolton this year too.
Owen Coyle certainly has done a great job at Bolton in terms of the style of play they use, the public image of the club has improved with the myth about long ball Bolton now removed & the Bolton fans are totally behind Owen Coyle but despite all that positivity there does not seem any logical reason why Bolton can expect or hope to finish much higher this season compared to last.
Last year I wrote this about Bolton Wanders in my team by team preview: “we certainly expect Owen Coyle’s positive approach to achieve an higher points total for Bolton this season & again achieve safety although they may not finish any higher up the table.”
Those words proved to be absolutely spot on with Bolton adopting a far more positive approach that did produce a higher league points total but did not help them climb the table & they finished 14th again as predicted.
The reality is that Bolton simply don’t have the funds to compete & they cannot buy the quality they need to progress so while Owen Coyle will continue to make Bolton play better football & entertain the home fans at least, it’s highly unlikely Bolton can go much higher & achieve much more with the squad they have now.
Key Players:- Kevin Davies will once again be the key player at Bolton & that will include Gary Cahill if they manage to hold on to him.
Predicted Final League Position:- 14th
CHELSEA:- Another new season means another new manager at Chelsea with Andres Villas-Boas the man in the hot seat & pressure of guiding Chelsea back to the promise land of success after a season without any.
Carlo Ancelotti won the Premier League & F.A. Cup double in his first season in charge at Chelsea & was still sacked only 1 year later so Andres Villas-Boas knows only too well that success is the only option otherwise he will quickly follow Ancelotti, Ranieri, Mourinho & Scolari out of the evolving door on the Chelsea Managers office.
So the big question is can Andres Villas-Boas, a manager who comes with a monumental reputation & indeed a pricetag of £13 million yet only 1 years full experience as a manager deliver the success that Roman Abramhovic demands & can he guide a vastly experience, quality packed but ageing squad to success in the Premier League again.
The true answer is nobody knows yet & it is too early to try and guess what Villas-Boas will achieve but at least he knows he has a top quality squad at his disposal & he also knows that once transfer targets are highlighted, they will arrive & that will only serve to increase the depth of quality within the Chelsea squad.
Chelsea definitely still have enough quality within their squad to mount a serious title challenge & they should be in the mix of things at the business end of the season and whether they can turn that into a title winning challenge will depend on the impact that the young & inexperienced Villas-Boas has, Chelsea finished 2nd last year & they may well have to settle for 2nd best again.
Key Players:- It’s a case of business as usual for Chelsea with Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba the absolute key to Chelsea’s chances of success while Fernando Torres has to deliver the form & goals if Chelsea are to get the title back.
Predicted Final League Position:- 2nd
EVERTON:- David Moyes is in my opinion right up alongside the finest managers anywhere & the job he has done at Everton is nothing short of incredible & yet he never quite seems to get the credit he deserves & to be fair neither do the Everton players.
Everton finished 4th in 2004/05, 11th in 2005/06, 6th in 2006/07, 5th in 2007/08, 5th in 2008/09, 8th in 2009/10 & 7th in 2010/11 season – that sequence of league finishes is fantastic & any manager can be proud of the consistency in performance & quality that needs to be produced to maintain results like that.
David Moyes has been the man responsible for guiding Everton to all those excellent finishes & what makes those achievements even better is the fact he continues to operate on a very minimal, almost non-existent budget in a league when most teams, even the worst ones, do have a healthy budget to operate with.
David Moyes faces a tough task again this year to get his Everton players to repeat last years 7th position as basically all the teams in & around them have strengthened their squads but the great strength of David Moyes is the fact he is able to instil his own natural characteristics of belief, determination, a desire to fight for everything into his players & the Everton players always respond.
So I don’t expect Everton to be quite good enough to break into the top 5 but they can certainly challenge for 6th/7th & if they do achieve that again then once again David Moyes & the Everton players can be hold their heads high & be very proud of what they have done.
Key Players:- Phil Jagielka is key to guide & control Everton’s defence, Mikel Arteta & Fellaini are vital to Everton’s cause in midfield while Tim Cahill will once again expected to be their inspiration from the front and how those 4 will perform will be the key along with the likes of Loui Saha, Jack Rodwell & Leighton Baines.
Predicted Final League Position:- 7th
FULHAM:- Martin Jol was the first choice manager for Fulham when the wanted to replace Roy Hodgson last summer but circumstances meant they couldn’t get him & Mark Hughes took the job on & did a fantastic job guiding Fulham to 8th place & again a chance to play in european football.
Achieving 8th position & european football again for Fulham was fantastic so it was a huge surprise when Mark Hughes left the job earlier this summer but this time around Fulham didn’t waste any time at all & made sure they got their man with Martin Jol being given the job & chance to get back into the Premier League again.
Martin Jol did a fantastic job at Tottenham & has great experience of coaching throughout europe so it should prove to be a brilliant appointment by Fulham & there is every reason to expect that Fulham can again achieve a top 10 finish & push again for a top 7 or 8 finish if they can play their best for long enough during what will be another long season.
Predicted Final League Position:- 9th
LIVERPOOL:- Andy Carroll £35 million, Lui Suarez £25 million, Jordan Henderson £20 million, Stewart Downing £20 million, Charlie Adam £9 million – that is serious, serious investment that has been made by Liverpool to try & make sure they have a strong season, get back in the Champions League again & be in the position to win things again but the really big question will the mega gamble actually pay off??
£109 million spent on 5 players is a real statement of intent from Liverpool & all 5 players should really improve what Liverpool do on the pitch & certainly give them more creativity, width & attacking threat but Liverpool’s big weakness last year was in defensive situations & they have done nothing in the transfer market to put that right & that might prove to be far more costly than the money spent.
Importantly for Liverpool though they do at least go into a new season full of optimism & indeed the Liverpool faithful finally believe that with Kenny Dalglish in charge & a whole stack of expensive new signings that they will do well again & mix with the big boys again but their defensive fragility does concern me & I can ultimately see that weakness at the back costing them from achieving what they want to this season, they have a chance of Champions League football but might just miss out.
Key Players:- Andy Carroll, Lui Suarez, Steven Gerard & Stewart Downing will be the key attacking players but the actual key to whether Liverpool can achieve something will depend largely on the defensive unit & Jamie Carragher will have to do some sterling work carrying a poor defensive unit if Liverpool are to have any chance.
Predicted Final League Position:- 6th
MANCHESTER CITY:- Carlos Tevez – will he stay or will he go??? – unfortunately as things stand now that is the key element regarding Manchester City & it doesn’t seem to matter right now that Manchester City won the F.A. Cup & finished 3rd in the Premier League last season and should come into this season with renewed belief & confidence that they can finally compete properly for the League title.
Manchester City now have a trophy in the cabinet & that taste of success should help to drive their incredibly expensive & multi-talented squad to believe that they can take the next big step & go for the Premier League title but it is the Carlos Tevez situation that is overshadowing the club right now & until that goes away it might well continue to stop Manchester City being as good as they can be.
There is no doubting that Carlos Tevez has been Manchester City’s best & most influential player for the last few years with his goals & overall contribution a major, major factor in their success so the fact he wants to leave & his trying very hard to leave is a big concern for Manchester City but letting this situation drag on will cause more damage to the team than it would to let him go right now so what Manchester City achieve this year will ultimately depend on what happens to Tevez.
If Carlos Tevez stays then they will have a player on the books who has repeatedly stated he wants to leave & that can only damage team spirit while if he goes it will mean Manchester City losing their best player & that would leave a big hole in their side.
Of course Manchester City have unlimited funds & are likely to sign several high profile, high quality players in the next few weeks with or without Tevez they will still have a high quality squad that should be able to put a solid & consistent league title challenge together & even if they don’t quite have enough to win it, they should comfortably have to finish top 3 again.
Key Players:- Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Nigel De Jong, Vincent Kompany are massively important players for Manchester City & they look set to have vital roles again this year so how they play will reflect in how well Man City do this year.
Predicted Final League Position:- 3rd
MANCHESTER UNITED:- Quite simply Sir Alex Ferguson & Manchester United set a very high standard & if any team finishes above Manchester United this season they are highly like to be champions because it’s tough to see one side being better & stronger than United let alone two sides who will finish above them.
Describe by manys as not a vintage League winning side & certainly not a vintage Manchester United side, under valued by many in the media, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United recorded a tremendous 19th League title win by displaying great quality, consistency, character, determination & just an immense belief in their own ability to get the job done, get the games won & get more points than any other team.
The simple truth is as things stand right now Manchester United set the standards for everybody else to try & aim at and definitely, 100% deserve to be strong favourites to take the Premier League title again & they’ve cemented a title winning side by adding real quality to the squad that will just make them even stronger next season & beyond.
Ashley Young, Phil Jones & David De Gae have come into the squad to replace Paul Scholes, John O’Shea & Edwin Van De Sar and even though they were 3 excellent players & truly world class in the case of Scholes & Van der Saar, those 3 signings really will give the United squad a huge lift & will serve to make the players work harder & compete harder to get into the team & stay there.
So a Manchester United title winning squad that has been freshened up with real quality definitely sets the standard for this season & with the promise of more high class talent still to come in, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will take all the beating & look a very solid option to make it League title number 20 & if anybody is to stop them it will take a huge effort.
Key Players:- The team spirit, desire to win & belief is the key factor at Manchester United & every player counts but certainly Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand are likely to be the core players who will dictate the play & lead United on the field this season
Predicted Final League Position:- 1st
NEWCASTLE UNITED:- The general vibes about Newcastle United & indeed Alan Pardew don’t seem that positive this summer & many are tipping Newcastle United to struggle but I personally think those negative thoughts are off the mark & disrespectful to Newcastle United and I am sure they will do their best to prove people wrong.
Alan Pardew has never really received the praise & respect for the job he has done at Newcastle United since taking over & the fact he comfortably kept Newcastle United up in the Premier League by finishing a highly creditable 12th seems to have completely passed most of the media by but that is fact & Alan Pardew can be very proud of the job he has done & of his squad.
The Newcastle United squad is not the strongest in terms of quality & quantity and the loss of Kevin Nolan will be noticed but I like the look of the players that Newcastle United will have next season & as long as the mainly young french talent that they now have settle down well then I think Newcastle United can go well & surprise people again this season.
Key Players:- Demba Ba, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Abeid & Marveaux all look interesting & potentially interesting young talents to me & they can hopefully give Newcastle United a really fresh & creative spark this season.
Predicted Final League Position:- 15th
NORWICH CITY:- From day one in management, Paul Lambert always looked like a young manager going places & always destined to make it big and he’s certainly done that in fine style taking Norwich City from a 7-1 thrashing in League 1 to the Premier League promise land & no matter what Norwich City do this season, this surely won’t be Paul Lambert’s last season in the Premier League.
That said, Paul Lambert will not be thinking like that & he will be 100% focused on making sure Norwich City have a really determined & positive effort at life in the Premier League & his personal positivity & determination will give the Norwich City players the belief they need to compete, whether they have enough quality & experience is another matter though.
Norwich City were really impressive in the Championship, entertaining their fans playing great, attacking football & scoring goals for fun but they will find that approach much tougher in the Premier League & while they will impress people with their positive nature, the lack of Premier League quality & experience will surely be a major factor & a relegation battle looks on the card & it might well be one they ultimately end up losing.
Key Players:- Steve Morrison’s goals will be vital as will Grant Holt’s while Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington & James Vaughan bring pace & creativity to the side
Predicted Final League Position:- 19th
QUEENS PARK RANGERS:- Neil Warnock’s Queens Park Rangers were absolutely fantastic in the Championship last season, winning 24 & only losing 6 of their 46 games to win the league with relative comfort after being in control for large parts of the season.
Now the real test starts for Neil Warnock & he knows only too well that his players will really have to fight for everything & step up their performance levels if they are to have any chance of pulling off what would be a great survival because on the face of it QPR’s squad does not look good enough or strong enough to get through the tough demands of the Premier League season.
Having said that I do feel that if any of the promoted clubs are going to survive then I think QPR have the best chance as long as they keep Neil Warnock in charge, if they do that then I can see them being well organised, competitive & hard to beat at home and that might just enable them to pull it off as long as they can keep things ticking over with wins here & there.
It will be seriously tough though & it will test Neil Warnock & his players to the limit but I think QPR might just do it & pull off the great survival which would surely go down as Neil Warnock’s greatest achievement in football.
Key Players:- I know this is cheating a little but all of QPR players will be vital, there is no standout superstar at QPR & it will all be based around team spirit, work ethic & commitment and if they show enough of that as a squad that might be good enough.
Predicted Final League Position:- 17th
STOKE CITY:- Tony Pulis knows exactly what he wants from his players, the Stoke City fans know what they want & indeed everybody expects Stoke City to do what they do best & again do more than enough to stay in the Premier League with comfort.
Of course that all sounds too simplistic & it’s far from that, it has been tough for Stoke City to survive but they have done & now look a solid fixture in the Premier League comfortably finishing 13th & only 3 points off 8th position and to top all that they got to an F.A. Cup Final as well.
Tony Pulis & Stoke City certainly do have those that knock them for their style of football & approach to matches but Stoke City are incredibly effective & give 100% every single time, the fans offer fantastic support all the time & once again that combination will be easily enough to keep them in the mid-table region of the Premier League.
Key Players:- Matthew Etherington is a big key feature of how Stoke City play, Kenwyn Jones, Jonathan Walters & Jermaine Pennant are key to Stoke City’s as they provide they extra quality & dnyamic play that gives them a huge edge in games when they play well.
Predicted Final League Position:- 11th
SUNDERLAND:- Steve Bruce has by far been the busiest manager around this summer with transfer after transfer happening at the Stadium of Light & quite clearly Sunderland are totally intent on making sure their nightmare end of season slump has no chance of happening again.
That horrible run of bad injuries, loss of form & bad results saw Sunderland slump alarmingly down the table & flaunting dangerously with the threat of relegation until the last few weeks of the season but the signings of Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardener, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, David Vaughan, Connor Wickham + a few others really has bolstered the Sunderland squad with quality & experience now.
That extra quality & experience should see Sunderland have a good, solid season and they looked booked for at least matching last seasons finish of 10th & they could well go higher than that if the players go well together from the start of the season with their home form likely to be their strong point again.
Key Players:- Asamoah Gyan’s goals will be important but the signings of O’Shea, Brown, Gardener & Larsson really do add some real experience to the Sunderland squad & that should prove vital this season.
Predicted Final League Position:- 8th
SWANSEA CITY:- Brendan Rodgers has already done a tremendous job at Swansea guiding the team through a sensational season in the Championship losing only 6 games & a fantastic victory in the Play-Off Final but if he can somehow pull of survival in the Premier League with Swansea then that will put all that well & truly into the shade.
Admittedly it is obviously expecting a lot for a small club like Swansea on limited finances to properly compete with the big boys in the Premier League but Brendan Rodgers will definitely not see it like that & he will certainly use Blackpool as the inspiration & guide to be positive & have a real go.
Swansea’s positive, passing football will win them a lot of friends this season just as Blackpool did with their attacking philosophy but when you look at it honestly then Swansea really don’t appear to have the necessary Premier League quality & just as importantly proven experience at the top level and Swansea will face a massive struggle to survive & I personally don’t think they will.
Key Players:- Danny Graham & Scott Sinclair will be responsible for getting the goals to try & keep Swansea in the top flight & how they do will probably decide what Swansea do
Predicted Final League Position:- 20th
TOTTENHAM:- Like so many teams around, this summer has been pretty tough for Tottenham & nothing really positive has happened yet so there seems a kind of doom & gloom to be hanging around with the whole Luka Modric ‘will he stay or will he go’ saga rumbling on with no end in sight.
It is that whole drawn out & messy transfer saga surrounding Luka Modric that has dominated Tottenham’s summer & until the situation is resolved one way or the other then I really don’t see that changing.
The facts are Tottenham have some fantastic talent within their squad & have the capabilities to seriously compete & have a real go at getting back into the top 4 again but what happens to Luka Modric will be the vital key to it all.
If Luka Modric stays then Tottenham will still have one of the very best players in the Premier League & that will keep all their other star players happy & motivated and maybe even encourage more top class players to join but if Tottenham sell Modric then it really would be a huge blow to the club & they might suffer a bad reaction to it that could cost them again this season.
To be fair Tottenham should still have enough within their ranks to make sure they at least match last seasons achievement of finishing 5th & while Harry Redknapp will want to desperately get back into the Champions League, 5th place in the Premier League is still an achievement & something Tottenham can be proud of.
Key Players:- Luka Modric if he goes or stays will be a key influence, Gareth Bale, Defoe, Van der Vaart & Michael Dawson will be the key spine to the team & how those 4 perform on a weekly basis will certainly go a long way to seeing where Tottenham finish.
Predicted Final League Position:- 5TH
WEST BROM:- Last season was an incredible roller coaster for West Brom manager Roy Hodgson having suffered badly with Liverpool before going onto West Brom and inspiring them to go from almost relegation certainties to mid table comfort in 11th so this time Hodgson will definitely only want to experience the highs.
When Roy Hodgson took over West Brom they were in totall freefall & looked doomed but somehow Roy Hodgson was able to have an immediate impact by straight away bringing discipline, organisation & team spirit to combine with West Brom’s positive football philosophy and it proved to be successful with Peter Odemwinge, Chris Brunt & Mulumbu the stars of the show for the Baggies.
The one problem with finishing 11th is the fact that expectations at West Brom will be higher this season & the pressure will be on Hodgson & the players to at least match that so how the West Brom players handle that change in expectation will be the absolute key to what West Brom do this season but as long as they keep the key players mentioned they should be fine & stay up with comfort.
Key Players:- Odemwinge, Mulumbu & Brunt are the 3 players within the West Brom squad that have extra level of quality & how they perform will go along way to deciding what West Brom do & they will need all 3 in form & consistent all season to do as well again.
Predicted Final League Position:- 12th
WIGAN:- Roberto Martinez produced an absolute miracle to somehow keep Wigan in the Premier League last season when for 99% of it they looked certain to go down so he deserves tremendous praise for that but the stark reality is the task to stay up this season will be tougher than ever.
The honest facts & realities are that Wigan simply don’t have enough Premier League quality players within their squad & indeed their squad is very, very thin so with the likely sales of star players Charles N’Zogbia & Hugo Rodallega then it’s hard to imagine how Wigan will cope this season & another long, hard season looks guaranteed.
I again expect Roberto Martinez to win praise for the way Wigan will look to play positive, possession football but this time around I just don’t see it being enough & I think this could be the season that Wigan finally slip through the trap door back into the Championship, if they survive Martinez will have performed another miracle.
Key Players:- If Wigan sell N’Zogbia & Rodallega as expected then it’s hard to see who will be good enough to Wigan & inspirational enough to make a real difference so if N’Zogbia & Rodallega stay Wigan have a chance, if they go they have very little chance.
Predicted Final League Position:- 18th
WOLVES:- One solitary point was all that kept Mick McCarthy’s Wolves in the Premier League last season & everybody at the club will be desperate to avoid another lengthy battle against relegation this season so it will be fascinating to see how Mick McCarthy’s team respond this year.
Mick McCarthy has signalled his clear intentions on making sure Wolves do their very best to avoid that happening with some very interesting signings so far this year with the excellent central defender Roger Johnson & high energy midfielder Jamie O’Hara bought in on permanent deals and those two alone will add a real element of quality & solidity to the Wolves squad.
Mick McCarthy will also be hoping that key strikers Kevin Doyle & Steven Fletcher stay fit & actually manage to play together because they didn’t manage that last year & if they can do it this year that should make Wolves much more of a threat & give them much more chance to get draws & wins from matches this year.
Wolves actually played a lot better than their final position suggested last year & if they can do that again with the likes of O’Hara, Johnson, Doyle & Fletcher the majority of their games then they should have enough to stay up with a bit more comfort this time although how high they can actually climb is unsure but then again safety is all that really matters to those at Wolves.
Key Players:- As I mentioned the likes of Jamie O’Hara, Doyle, Fletcher & Roger Johnson will be absolutely key to Wolves & their form will decide what Wolves achieve this year.
Predicted Final League Position:- 13th