Gurjot Thind and Phil Smith
After examining countless hours of pre-season and World Cup footage, we’ve come up with some predictions as to what will happen over the next few moths. Which teams will struggle with the competitive nature of the league? Which players will rise to new heights or fall to the lowest corners of the football world?
Burnley – When the Clarets were promoted to the top flight of English football in 2009, Burnley became the smallest town to ever home a premier league club. Sean Dyche is a very impressive young manager and Burnley are without doubt in good hands. Their squad however, just looks to be a little bit lacking, and their transfer business has not been inspiring. Unfortunately, you have to think they’ll struggle.
Aston Villa – Adding Premier League experience to their young squad seemed like a very good strategy, but the players that have come in are unlikely to arrest what is becoming a long-term decline. Add to this uncertainty over the club’s ownership and you have a melting pot for disaster.
West Ham – the board at west ham have seemingly been undermining Big Sam for some time now, with the desire to bring more flair to the Hammers ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium. Expect a stubborn Allardyce to struggle to maintain authority, and there are serious fears of the fitness of their attacking players; a potential disaster waiting to happen.
Most likely flop:
Leonardo Ulloa – This prediction is a cheat, really, because we’ve seen this happen before. On a Football Manager save with Sheffield United, I, like Nigel Pearson, was convinced Ulloa would have the firepower to keep me in the Premier League. He didn’t. I resigned after five games. Leicester, you’ve been warned.*
We can’t really include Aly Cissokho of Aston Villa here, because we all know already how that will end.
Player of the Year: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)/ Nemanja Matic (Manchester City)
Aaron Ramsey –
The young Welshman had a fantastic season last year, epitomised by a well-worked goal in the FA Cup final at Wembley. With 10 goals in 23 Premier League appearances, Ramsey’s incredible performances led to rumours about a possible transfer to fellow tiki taka enthusiast Barcelona. In preseason, he looked as fresh as ever, gliding passed midfielders and bursting into the penalty box just at the right time. If he can remain free of injury (and that’s a big if), I’m sure another successful season is on the cards for the twenty-three year old.
Nemanja Matic – Having being flooded with players of his ilk, the Premier League now appears to have a surprising dearth of genuine defensive midfielders. Nemanja Matic, a real beast of a footballer, is comfortably the best. The archetypical Mourinho midfielder, he will destroy teams in the centre of the park. Especially in the top 4 clashes, he could be the difference.
Golden Boot: Diego Costa (Chelsea)/ Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
Diego Costa –
Chelsea, or should I say Mourinho, have been busy this summer, securing some of the best players in Europe. Last season, the only thing holding Chelsea back was their lacking of a convincing striker. Both Torres and Samuel Eto’o looked passed their best and were unable to take advantage of Chelsea’s formidable midfield. The signing of Diego Costa could very well prove to be the final piece of the puzzle for Mourinho. If Costa can adapt quickly to English football, he’ll score plenty. If not, then he’ll go down as yet another continental footballer that Chelsea have ruined.
Edin Dzeko – For Dzeko, it’s simple. We think he’ll either score millions or not very many at all. We’ve tossed a coin and it has suggested the former.