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Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 5

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 5 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook.

 swnasea Swansea City

Players In – Marvin Emnes (undisclosed), Lukasz Fabianski (free), Bafetimbi Gomis (free), Stephen Kingsley (undisclosed), Jefferson Montero (undisclosed), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8 mill).

Players Out – Ben Davies (£10 mill), Leroy Lita (released), David Ngog (released), Michel Vorm (£5 mill), Michu (loan), Daniel Alfei (loan), Gwiom Edwards (undisclosed), Alejandro Pozuelo (undisclosed), Chico Flores (undisclosed), Pablo Hernandez (undisclosed).

Swansea had a very mixed season last year, the expectations were high going in after an impressive first season in the Premier League, finishing 9th whilst also winning the League Cup. With the signing of Wilfred Bony amongst others few can blame Swansea fans for getting excited about the future. But with the additional games in the Europa League and 5 losses in their opening 10 games it didn’t start as they planned, and after a poor run of results in the middle part of the season, only gaining 6 points from 10 games Michael Laudrup was sacked and replaced by former Swansea player Garry Monk. The club finished 12th and also progressed through the group stages of the Europa League, losing in the round of 32 to Napoli.

This year could be a different affair, without the distraction of Europe they should do better, although the sales of goalkeeper Michel Vorm and Ben Davies to Tottenham and allowing Michu to leave on loan might hinder their chances, but they have bought well, bringing Gylfi Sigurdsson back to the club will delight the fans as he was a star player for them when he was there on loan a few seasons ago, Jefferson Montero is a tricky winger who might prove to be a great bit of business, and snapping up Bafetimbi Gomis on a free transfer could prove to be as astute as the signing as Michu a couple of seasons ago. Lukasz Fabianski has been brought in to replace Michel Vorm but only time will tell whether the club should’ve done more to keep hold of the Dutch keeper.

Swansea fans this season can expect a solid mid-table finish, the signings they have made should prove successful and if they can hold onto Wilfred Bony, he and Gomis could form a formidably strike force for Swansea this term leaving them fighting for the Europa League places. Another centre back to play alongside Ashley Williams is probably needed if they are to achieve this.

Pendle Prediction – 9th Place.

spurs   Tottenham Hotspur

Players In – Ben Davies (£10 mill), Michel Vorm (£5 mill), Erik Dier (£4 mill).

Players Out – Heurelho Gomes (released), Jake Livermore (£8 mill), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8 mill), Alex Pritchard (loan), Grant Hall (loan), Iago Falque (undisclosed).

Tottenham endured a torrid season last season, selling their top player Gareth Bale and signing seven new players with the proceeds didn’t work in the London clubs favour.

Roberto Soldado only scored 6 goals, whilst record signing Erik Lamela was limited to 9 league appearances due to injuries and poor form. Paulinho didn’t prove to be as succesful as Spurs fans had hoped and the signings of Nacer Chadli, Vlad Chiriches and Etienne Capoue for a combined £24.5 million were more to bulk up the squad rather than improve the starting eleven. The only signing that proved a real success was Christian Eriksen, although he started slowly and didn’t get a regular place early on in the season once he had earned his spot he really started to show his potential.

Finishing in 6th place was poor for the club who would’ve been hoping to challenge for Champions League again, but selling their best player always meant it was going to be tough, and for the players that were brought in to not perform didn’t help, Andre Villas Boas was sacked part way through the season and replaced by former player and under 21’s boss Tim Sherwood until the end of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino has been brought in this summer after an impressive season at Southampton, and Spurs fans will be hoping that he can bring the best out of the players that are at the club just like he did at Southampton. So far this summer Pochettino has tried to solve one problem that Tottenham had last season and that is by signing a much needed left back in the shape of Ben Davies from Swansea, the club have also signed Michel Vorm from Swansea as well, as a backup keeper to Hugo Lloris. Tottenham may be far from done in the transfer window, Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with the club and has handed in a transfer request to push through a move, and also Jay Rodriguez has also been linked with following Pochettino to Spurs.

Spurs will need to sign another striker if they are going to have any chance of gaining a top 4 place, Soldado, Adebayor and Kane are unlikely to provide enough fire power, and Spurs may also look for another winger, assuming that Pochettino plays a similar system to the one he played at Southampton. Erik Lamela will need to step up this season and show people why Tottenham paid £30 million for him, and If Eriksen can continue the form he ended last season on, I think Spurs could be outside contenders for 4th.

Pendle Prediction – 6th Place.

 wba  West Bromwich Albion

Players In – Chris Baird (free), Craig Gardner (free), Brown Ideye (undisclosed), Joleon Lescott (free), Sebastien Pocognoli (undisclosed), Andre Wisdom (loan), Jason Davidson (undisclosed), Cristian Gamboa (undisclosed).

Players Out – Scott Allan (released), Zoltan Gera (released), Billy Jones (free), Diego Lugano (released), Steven Reid (released), Liam Ridgewell (released), George Thorne (undisclosed).

West Bromwich Albion suffered a dreadful season last season, with the club finishing in 17th place,  narrowly avoiding relegation. Sacking manager Steve Clarke and replacing him with Pepe Mel didn’t have the impact the club had hoped for and they still struggled to get results in the league. Selling Shane Long half way through the season didn’t help matters either. Their top scorers were Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon with only 5 goals each, which shows you that the club were really lacking a goal scorer.

This season it seems unlikely that West Brom’s fortunes will change, as they are still lacking a recognised goal scorer, despite signing Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kyiv, and I think the squad lacks depth. Some of the signings they have made should prove to be good signings for them, Chris Baird, Craig Gardner and Joleon Lescott are all good additions to the squad with plenty of Premier League experience, but they are surely going to need to sign a top striker to keep them in the division.

The club do have some decent players with the likes of Sessegnon, Berahino and Craig Dawson, but the squad still looks a bit thread bare so they will need to add more quality and experience if they want to survive this season.

With the clubs likely to be around them all improving their squads they will need to do something or they might be playing Championship football next season.

Pendle Prediction – 18th Place.

 

   west hamWest Ham United

Players In – Aaron Cresswell (undisclosed), Cheikhou Kouyate (undisclosed), Diego Poyet (undisclosed), Enner Valencia (undisclosed), Mauro Zarate (undisclosed), Carl Jenkinson (loan), Diafra Sakho (undisclosed).

Players Out – Joe Cole (released), Jack Collison (released), Alou Diarra (released), Stephen Henderson (free), George McCartney (released), Matt Taylor (free).

West Ham were one of a number of clubs that were involved in a relegation battle last season even though they finished in 13th place they were only 7 points off the drop.

West Ham fans, I’m sure will say that they were never in trouble and after 27 games they were mid table and looking safe, but only 3 wins in the final 11 games meant they were drawn back into the battle. With Kevin Nolan being the clubs top scorer with only 7 goals, you can see why they struggled having Andy Carroll out injured for most of the season didn’t help them, and with their other attacking options only getting 9 goals between them they, like West Brom were lacking a goal scorer.

This summer West Ham have bought well, they have brought in two new forwards in Mauro Zarate, the former Birmingham strikers re-joins the Premiership hoping to do a little better than the 4 goals in 14 appearances he managed last time around, and Enner Valencia, the Ecuadorian forward was impressive in the World Cup, he managed 3 goals in 3 games but it wasn’t enough to help Ecuador progress. Cheikhou Kouyate has been brought in from Anderlecht his presence, strength and pace in the centre of midfield will definitely add to their team.

West Ham should be stronger than they were last season and a mid-table finish is on the cards for the club but they will need Valencia, Zarate and Sakho to hit the ground running to make sure they stay well away from a relegation battle especially as their main striker Andy Carroll is out injured and will miss at least the opening 3 months of the season.

Pendle Prediction – 11th Place.

So here is the complete Pendle Predicted League Table:

1. Manchester City    man city

2. Chelsea    chelsea

 

3. Arsenal    arsenal

 

4. Manchester United    man utd

 

 

5. Liverpool    liverpool

 

6. Tottenham Hotspur    spurs

 

7. Everton    everton

 

8. Newcastle United    newcastle

 

9. Swansea City    swnasea

 

10. Hull City   Hull

 

11. West Ham United    west ham

 

12. Stoke City    stoke

 

13. Crystal Palace    palace

 

14. Southampton    soton

 

15. Queens Park Rangers    qpr

 

16. Aston Villa    astonvilla

 

17. Sunderland    sunderland

 

———————————————-

18. West Bromwich Albion    wba

 

19. Leicester City    Leicester

 

20. Burnley    burnley

 

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 4

Posted on: August 13th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 4 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook.

 qpr Queens Park Rangers

Players In – Rio Ferdinand (free), Steven Caulker (undisclosed), Jordan Mutch (undisclosed), Mauricio Isla (loan).

Players Out – Yossi Benayoun (free), Hogan Ephraim (free), Aaron Hughes (free), Andrew Johnson (released), Stephane Mbia (free), Luke Young (free), Esteban Granero (undisclosed), Samba Diakite (loan).

After being favourites to come straight back up, it wasn’t that easy for QPR, finishing in 4th place and having to win the Play-off to return. After overcoming Wigan Athletic in the Semi-Final, they beat Derby County in the Final with a 90th minute winner to return to the top flight. This season will be very different for QPR, they have made a few signings so far this window and I’m sure you can expect plenty more and the obvious sight of Harry Redknapp from his car window on deadline day.

Young England defender Steven Caulker has been brought in to strengthen their defence and should prove an excellent signing for the club, despite going down with Cardiff last season he was one of the standout players in that side, and some believe he did enough to earn a place on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand has also been brought in, his experience will be vital for both the progression of Caulkers career and also the R’s first season back in the Premiership. The return of Julio Cesar, Loic Remy and Adel Taarabt  from their loan deals will also help adding much needed depth to the squad.

QPR will likely be fighting against the drop for the majority of the season but in the end they should stay up due to the experience in the squad. Like Burnley they will be relying on their home form throughout the season and that could prove vital. If they can bring in a couple more quality players they might even manage to climb into mid table.

Pendle Prediction – 15th Place.

 soton Southampton

Players In – Dusan Tadic (undisclosed), Graziano Pelle (undisclosed), Ryan Bertrand (loan), Fraser Forster (undisclosed), Saphir Taider (loan).

Players Out – Guly do Prado (released), Jonathan Forte (released), Lee Barnard (free), Rickie Lambert (£4 mill), Luke Shaw (£27 mill), Adam Lallana (£25 mill), Dejan Lovren (£20 mill), Calum Chambers (£16 mill).

Southampton were one of the stand out teams in last season’s Premier League, finishing in 8th place, this was largely due to their players out performing their expectations. The front three of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez were their star players from last term, Lallana scored 9 and assisted 6 goals, Rodriguez scored 15 and assisted 3, and Lambert scored 13 assisted 10, which shows how strong their front line was.

Southampton have one of the best youth systems in the country, in recent years producing such talented players as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the most expensive player in the world Gareth Bale, and last seasons side was no different. Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana and James Ward-Prowse becoming established Premiership players after coming through the youth ranks at Southampton.

Southampton’s great form last season has resulted in some of their top players leaving the club, Lallana, Lambert and Dejan Lovren have all joined Liverpool for a combined £49 million, while Luke Shaw has joined Man Utd for £27 million and Calum Chambers left the club to join Arsenal. Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez have also been rumoured to be leaving with Tottenham leading the chase for the pair.

This has left The Saints with a squad that may have to set their targets lower than last season . Graziano Pelle has been added as a replacement for Rickie Lambert, Dusan Tadic has been brought in to replace Lallana, and Southampton have brought in Ryan Bertrand on loan to replace Luke Shaw, but they are going to have to spend a lot of the money they have received to replace these players and get a team that can compete in the Premiership.

This could prove to be a long, hard season for Southampton, losing so many first team players will be hard, replacing these players is going to be key for them to stay in the Premiership and they will need to make sure they buy the right players to do the job. Ron Vlaar has been rumoured to be coming in as a replacement for Lovren which would be good but not a great signing. They have brought in Pelle, who comes with an impressive record from Feyenoord, 50 goals in 57 league games, they will need him to continue that goal scoring record if they are to finish in the top half this season. It will be interesting to see who they do sign in the window but with the start of the season fast approaching they need to do something fast.

Pendle Prediction – 14th Place.

 stoke Stoke City

Players In – Phil Bardsley (free), Mame Biram Diouf (free), Bojan Kikic (undisclosed), Steve Sidwell (free), Dionatan Teixeira (undisclosed)

Players Out – Matthew Etherington (released), Michael Kightly (undisclosed).

A 9th place finish in last season’s Premiership was definitely a surprise to most people, but with only 10 points between them and 13th place they could’ve finished anywhere in between. A similar season could well be on the cards for The Potters, and their final position could be affected by what the teams around them are doing in the transfer window.

Stoke have made a few free transfers in this window so far with Phil Bardsley, Steve Sidwell joining the squad with plenty of experience battling against the drop and the signing of Mame Biram Diouf will add to their front line, but the signing of Bojan Krkic from Barcelona has to be the surprise transfer of the season. The 23 year old Spaniard joins up with the squad with a reputation that, unfortunately for him, he has never really lived up to. Only time will tell if he can start fulfilling his early potential but for now Stoke can only hope that they have managed to bag themselves a potential star.

With the side Stoke have currently, another mid-table finish seems most likely but maybe a few places lower than last season. If Bojan can be the player he was touted to be then they could rise up the table and even challenge for the Europa League places but that may be a big ask.

Pendle Prediction – 12th Place.

 sunderlandSunderland

Players In – Jordi Gomez (free), Billy Jones (free), Patrick van Aanholt (undisclosed), Costel Pantilimon (free), Jack Rodwell (undisclosed).

Players Out – Phil Bardsley (free), Jack Colback (free), Carlos Cuellar (released), Andrea Dossena (released), Craig Gardner (free), Billy Knott (free), Louis Laing (free), Oscar Ustari (released), David Vaughan (released), Kieran Westwood (released), Ignacio Scocco (undisclosed).

Sunderland struggled in last season’s Premiership and if it wasn’t for the late rally of 4 wins and 1 draw in their last 6 games they would’ve gone down. Bringing in Gus Poyet as manager definitely changed the clubs fortunes as under Paulo di Canio they were certain for the drop.

All in all last season was one that many Sunderland fans will want to forget, but allowing players like Phil Bardsley, Jack Colback and Craig Gardner to all leave the club may prove to be a mistake and, with the exception of the hugely talented Jack Rodwell, the signings they have made aren’t the most exciting. Billy Jones has signed from West Brom to replace the exiting Bardsley, and it will be interesting to see if Jordi Gomez will be able to make a bigger impact than he did when he was with Wigan, Patrick van Aanholt, the former Chelsea player has been a regular for Vitesse on loan over the past two seasons, like Gomez he also has previous Premier League experience. The signing of Costel Pantilimon should be a good signing for the club, he will certainly be the first choice keeper for the club next year, but the question remains whether they can score enough goals to keep their place in the Premier League?

The Sunderland squad seems solid if unremarkable and their overall fortunes will rely greatly around the unrivalled team spirit that guided them to safety so dramatically at the end of last season.

If they can replicate that never say die attitude and maybe add another goal scoring threat to their squad The Black Cats could push further up the table, if not it could be another tense relegation battle for the Sunderland fans.

Pendle Prediction – 17th Place.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 2

Posted on: August 7th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to Part 2 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League Preview Blog. In this post we will be assessing the chances of Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City & Leicester City. Let us know what you think by commenting on Facebook or Twitter

 palaceCrystal Palace

Players In – Chris Kettings (free), Fraizer Campbell (900,000), Brede Hangeland (free).

Players Out – Neil Alexander (released), Jose Campana (undisclosed), Kagisho Dikgacoi (free), Danny Gabbidon (released), Dean Moxey (released), Aaron Wilbraham (released).

After an impressive end to last season and an even more impressive 11th place finish, Crystal Palace will be hoping for more of the same at the start of the new season. Tony Pulis certainly got Palace playing in a way that caught out teams and stopped them playing their game, from the tactics that forced Chelsea to play through the middle when they were better going out wide and the unbelievable comeback against last season’s runners up, when they caught the reds on the break when Liverpool were chasing goals rather than just claiming the three points. Few could’ve predicted the turnaround in the way the team played, from losing 9 of their opening 11 games under the previous manager Ian Holloway. Holloway was sacked and Pulis was brought in, and their fortunes changed. This season we predict much of the same under Pulis, the team will be hard to break down at home and will be able to go away and grind out results. Another mid table finish is on the cards.

The signing of Fraizer Campbell is a good signing for them as they have been lacking a bit of fire power up front, but they may still need more. Palace were the third lowest scorers last season with only 33 goals scored, only Cardiff and Norwich scored less, Jason Puncheon and Dwight Gayle were the clubs top scorers last season with only 7 goals each and with just 5 coming from Marouane Chamakh, they definitely needed another striker. Despite the lack of goals the solidity of their back line was key for them under Pulis last season only conceding 48 goals in 38 games with 21 of those coming under Holloway in the opening 11 games.

This season will be tough for Palace to repeat the feat from last season but with a little bit of investment up front they could match if not beat what they achieved last season. The squad on the whole isn’t very big so a few more Premiership quality signings could see them even pushing for the top half this year, but it all depends on who Pulis can bring in to bulk up the squad.

Pendle Prediction – 13th Place.

 evertonEverton

Players In – Gareth Barry (free), Muhamed Besic (£4 mill), Brendan Galloway (undisclosed), Romelu Lukaku (£28 mill).

Players Out – Magaye Gueye (released), Apostolos Vellios (released).

Everton enjoyed a successful first season under Roberto Martinez, finishing in 5th place just outside the Champions League places but above Man Utd and Tottenham. This season it may prove more difficult for them to finish in that 5th place, Martinez has definitely got Everton playing better football than they did under David Moyes but with both Utd and Spurs employing new managers and making some solid signings I’m not sure if they can finish higher than them both again.

Everton so far have been quiet in this transfer window and they are going to need to start spending to compete with the best. The capture of Gareth Barry permanently is a good signing for them he was one of their star players in last season’s success adding solidity to their midfield, and the signing of the 21 year old Besic will add to the size of the squad they have, as they will also be competing in the Europa league this year. Gerard Deulofeu returns to Barcelona after a successful loan last season his style of play, pace and skill will be missed this season unless they can replace him, but with last season’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku signing permanently from Chelsea after his impressive loan, 15 goals in 31 games and 9 assists last season, he will definitely give Everton a chance of competing for 4th place.

With the additional games of the Europa League this season, Everton may need to bulk the squad to be able to compete with the extra games and all the travelling. They could be in for a tougher season than last time out and a finish higher than 7th would be a great achievement. The signing of Lukaku on a permanent deal is going to be vital for them, if they can get him playing the way he was last season they will be in with a shout.

Pendle Prediction – 7th Place.

 HullHull City

Players In – Tom Ince (compensation to be agreed), Jake Livermore (£8 mill), Robert Snodgrass (£7 mill), Harry Maguire (£2.5 mill), Andrew Robertson (£2.85 mill).

Players Out – Abdoulaye Faye (released), Matty Fryatt (free), Robert Koren (released), Cameron Stewart (released).

Hull City struggled in the league at the end of last season, dropping from 12th to 16th in the final 6 games, despite this drop relegation was never a worry. This drop in form at the end may have been due to the two trips to Wembley they managed, beating Sheffield United in the Semi-final guaranteed them Europe next season and another appearance at Wembley but they narrowly lost to Arsenal in the Final of the F.A. Cup.

As with Everton, Hull are likely to struggle to cope with the amount of fixtures they will have, if they manage to qualify for the Europa League group stage. The five signings that Hull have made already will help with this workload, Jake Livermore, who was on loan last season, has signed permanently and the introduction of Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince will prove more width and more attacking threat going forward, Harry Maguire has been added as another centre back and Andrew Robertson from Dundee United joins the squad.

Hull’s season, for me, revolves around a few different things this season. Firstly, how far they get and who they get drawn against in the Europa League, Everyone wants to play in Europe, but having to travel to the far reaches of Europe isn’t worth your Premier League place. Secondly, they need to make sure the partnership of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic continues to prosper, the two of them are great assets for a team like Hull and they will need them both to be on form this season. Thirdly, the midfield, Tom Huddlestone was again a great signing for Hull, the vision he has and his passing ability is vital for Hull to get the strikers scoring. With the addition of Snodgrass and Ince on the wings, if they can hit the ground running they could be in the top half of the table. Finally they need to dip further into the transfer market. Another centre back is needed, Michael Dawson from has been touted as a potential signing and I think Dawson for his experience, will help them cope with the extra fixtures.

Pendle Prediction – 10th Place.

 LeicesterLeicester City

Players In – Marc Albrighton (free), Matthew Upson (free), Leonardo Ulloa (£8 mill), Jack Hamer (free), Jack Barmby (free)

Players Out – Zak Whitbread (released), Sean St. Ledger (released), Neil Danns (released), Lloyd Dyer (released), Kevin Philips (retired)

Leicester City return to the Premiership after 10 years in the second and third tier of English football. Last season’s Champions stormed the league finishing up with 102 points, 9 points clear of second place Burnley, but this could prove to be a tough season for the Foxes and they will be reliant on last year’s good home form to keep their heads above water.

Leicester’s new signings have divided opinion so far in this window. £8 million for Leonardo Ulloa  seems a large sum for a striker with no Premier League experience, but if he can keep up his scoring rate of a goal every two games then it will prove to be a good buy for them, his goals could be the difference between success and failure for the Foxes. The addition of Matthew Upson to the squad will add Premier League experience, but the former England international is now 35 years of age and whether he is still able to cut at the top level remains to be seen. The signing of Marc Albrighton on a free should be a great signing for the club, it was a surprise to see that Aston Villa had released him and he could well prove be a standout player for Leicester this season.

Simlar to Burnley, this season is likely to be a struggle for Leicester. A lot of Leicester’s season will depend on how Albrighton can play and whether Ulloa, David Nugent and Luke Vardy can score the goals they need. They will probably need to bring in some more, experienced Premiership players to help them out this season, if they can do that they might have a chance of getting out of the bottom three, but as it stands survival seems unlikely.

Pendle Prediction – 19th Place.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 1

Posted on: August 4th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to the Pendle Sportswear Premier League Preview Blog . Over the next two weeks we will be looking at the comings and goings over the summer and assessing the prospects for each of the 20 Premier League clubs. Have Your Say – Let us know what you think will happen in the upcoming season and whether you agree with our predictions!

arsenalArsenal

Players In – Mathieu Debuchy (£12 mill), Alexis Sanchez (£30 mill), David Ospina (£3.2 mill), Calum Chambers (£12 mill)

Players Out – Carlos Vela (£12 mill), Bacary Sagna (free), Park Chu Young (released), Lukasz Fabianski (0), Nicklas Bentner (released), Johan Djourou (£2.5 mill)

For the past few years Arsenal have become known for buying youngsters and not really spending money on established players in the transfer windows, but for the second season in succession Wenger has spent big on one star player. Alexis Sanchez joins Arsenal from Barcelona for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £30 million, and Wenger will be hoping that he will be the player to bring success back to Arsenal. Winning the FA cup last season may have brought an end to the trophy drought at the Emirates but another 4th place finish isn’t what the fans were hoping for at the start of the season and they will certainly be expecting more next season.

With Bacary Sagna leaving to join Premier League champions Manchester City and back up keeper Fabianski leaving to join Swansea, Matheiu Debuchy and David Ospina have been brought in to fill the gaps. With a couple of seasons of premiership experience under his belt, Debuchy should prove to be a good bit of business by Wenger and after some impressive displays in the World Cup for Colombia, Ospina could take the number one spot from Szczesny if his impressive performances continue.

Arsenal’s season very much depends on two things, firstly if they can keep their players fit, Aaron Ramsey was a big loss for them in the latter parts of last season,  they will surely be in the top four.  Secondly, Wenger will need  Alexis Sanchez to adapt to Premiership life quickly, Mesut Ozil started well but didn’t really live up to his £42 million price tag, so if Sanchez does the same for Arsenal they might have to settle for 4th or lower this season, but if he can hit the ground running they may be challenging for the title.

Pendle Prediction – 3rd Place.

 

     astonvillaAston Villa

Players In – Joe Cole (free), Kieran Richardson (undisclosed), Philippe Senderos (free).

Players Out – Albrighton (free), Jordan Bowery (undisclosed), Nathan Delfouneso (released), Nicklas Helenius (loan), Yacouba Sylia (loan).

Aston Villa suffered a dreadful season last season and relegation to the Championship looked a possibility, finishing 15th wasn’t what the fans would’ve hoped for at the beginning of the season. This season may well prove to be much the same for Villa fans as the current crop of players look unlikely to improve on last season.

With Christian Benteke still out injured and likely to miss a big part of the opening half of the Premiership, it seems unlikely Agbonlahor, Weimann or Darren Bent will get the goals needed for Villa in his absence.

The signing of Joe Cole seems questionable, yes he is a good midfielder, yes he has played for England and various Premiership teams and yes he has a lot of experience, but at 32 years of age, surely they would’ve been better off keeping Marc Albrighton. He is younger, he has got more to offer going forward and will demand a lot less in wages than Cole will.

Kieran Richardson is a good signing, despite going down with Fulham last season, he was one of their better players, I think his experience will be vital for Villa to battle against relegation this season, and equally the signing of Senderos is the same.

For Villa to get back to the top half of the table, they are going to have to invest more  money and improve their whole squad. They have a handful of decent Premier League players but not enough to get them back up the table.

Holding on to Ron Vlaar could prove vital to their fortunes, if Villa were to lose him and weren’t able to replace him with someone with equal experience and quality they could be playing Championship football very soon.

Getting Christian Benteke back fit and scoring goals, will also be vital to their fortunes.

Pendle Prediction – 16th Place.

 

  burnley Burnley

Players In – Michael Kightly (undisclosed), Matt Gilks (free), Marvin Sordell (undisclosed), Matthew Taylor (free), Steven Reid (free), Lukas Jutkeiwicz (undisclosed).

Players Out – Joseph Mills (free), David Edgar (free), Junior Stanislas (free), Chris Baird (free).

Last season’s Championship runners up are returning to the Premiership for only their second season, and things could prove to be equally difficult second time around for the Clarets.

They will be looking to make Turf Moor a stronghold, possibly pulling off the odd surprise result at Turf Moor as was the case  in their first season in the Premiership when they beat Man Utd, Everton and Spurs and earned a point against Arsenal. It could be away from home where Burnley will struggle to earn many points.

The signings they have made this summer so far have been good additions to their squad but  on the whole the squad seems just a little too weak to compete in the top flight. It will be interesting to see how Sam Vokes and Danny Ings manage in the Premiership after scoring 20 and 21 goals respectively in the Championship last season – Burnley will certainly need these two to be on top form as they fight to stay in the division.

Burnley fans will be expecting a tough season and will just be enjoying life in the Premiership again. However,  if they can add a few more experienced Premier League players they may just stand a chance of surviving maybe they should dip further into the free transfer market to see who is available, or maybe look to some of the bigger teams for some loan deals. It seems unlikely that there will be three teams that finish below them at the end of the season.

Pendle Prediction – 20th Place.

  chelseaChelsea

Players In – Diego Costa (£32 mill), Cesc Fabregas (£30 mill), Filipe Luis (£15 mill), Didier Drogba (free).

Players Out – Demba Ba (£4.7 mill), Ashley Cole (released), Samuel Eto’o (released), Frank Lampard (released), David Luiz (£40-50 mill), Romelu Lukaku (£28 mill)

Chelsea have already made a statement of their intent for the new season, spending nearly £80 million on three new signings and bringing club legend Didier Drogba back to the club, Jose Mourinho is targeting a third Premier League title with Chelsea. After a poor season for Chelsea’s strikers, less than 20 goals between the three of Eto’o, Torres and Ba, Jose can’t rely on goals from midfield again this season and with the signing of Diego Costa, he will be hoping to sort that out. The former Atletico Madrid striker pipped Lionel Messi to second place in the top scorer stats in La Liga with 28 goals, could he finally be Chelsea’s main man and score the goals to secure a third title for Mourinho?

Signing Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona will fill the void left by Frank Lampard who leaves the club this summer after 13 years at the Bridge, and Filipe Luis, who also joins from Atletico Madrid will replace Ashley Cole who has swapped London for Rome.

Didier Drogba Returns to the London club after only 2 seasons away, in his last game for the club he scored the decisive penalty to secure a first Champions League Title for the blues and securing his place amongst the fans as the clubs greatest ever player. The big question is will the 36 year old play that often or is he going to be used to help Costa adapt to the English game?

Everyone will be expecting Chelsea to be fighting for the Title this season  but whether they win it or not is likely to depend on how quickly Costa adapts to the way Chelsea play and the English game. With Demba Ba, Eto’o and Lukaku all leaving this summer and talks of Torres potentially moving away from the club as well, they could be very light on strikers for the coming season so if Costa ends up being a first season flop like Soldado proved to be at  Spurs last season they will struggle to win the title this time around.

Selling David Luiz seems to be great business by Chelsea, quite what the Paris Saint Germain scouts saw in Luiz to make them pay £40 million (or £50 million depending on which report you read) for the player seems unclear but it is no surprise that Chelsea cashed in, they will surely be looking at adding another centre back to play alongside Cahill in the heart of the defence.

Another question for Mourinho will be who to play in goal this season? Petr Cech is currently the first choice and few keepers could challenge his position but with the returning Thibaut Courtois, will they look at replacing Cech with one of the best young keepers in the game, or will they continue with the ever solid Cech for another season, whoever they choose they will have a very good backup on the bench.

Pendle Prediction – 2nd Place.

 

Non League Football Review – Skrill North & South, Who are the Potential Winners & Losers?

Posted on: March 18th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

As the football season draws to a close there is still everything to play for down the divisions, non-quite as much as the Football Conference Divisions.

With North Ferriby United and AFC Telford United, relegated from the Conference Premier last season, battling for the top two places in the Conference North, with only a point in it with eleven games to go, neither side will want to give up in the hunt for the automatic promotion place.

With these two sides running away at the top of the league the fight for a Playoff place is between at least seven sides, Hednesford Town, Altrincham and Harrogate Town, despite having a three point deduction, are currently occupying the other three Playoff places, but down as far as Guiseley who, looking resplendent in their Pendle football kits, lie ninth but still have a great chance of stealing a place away. Although they may look too far behind, being eight points adrift from the fifth place side, they do have four games in hand and with a decent run being put together you can’t rule out a fourth successive season in the Playoffs. Could this finally be their year?

In the Conference South the top four teams are only separated by six points it could be an interesting run in for the rest of the season. Top side Eastleigh have got two games in hand over most, if they can win those, surely they will be in a great position to win the league and gain promotion to the Conference National for the first time in the clubs history.

With an eight point gap to fifth place, Ebbsfleet United, Sutton United and Bromley look likely to be battling for the Playoff places, and with what looks like only one place left available there are a host of clubs vying for the position. As far down as Concord Rangers in thirteenth place are still in with a shout, only nine points behind with three games in hand they could make a final push for a playoff place.

When you look slightly higher up the league it looks more likely though that Havant and Waterlooville or Bishop’s Stortford have a better claim to the place. With four games in hand they lie six and seven points behind the playoffs respectively, Dover Athletic will have a real battle on their hands to keep hold of the final promotion place.