Football Season Guide

Arsenal

In


Alexis Sanchez (mid)(Barcelona), Mathieu Debuchy (def)(Newcastle United),David Ospina (gk)(Nice), Calum Chambers (def)(Southampton)

Out


Lukasz Fabianski (gk)(Swansea City), Bacary Sagna (def)(Manchester City). Chuks Aneke (mid)(Zuite Waregem), Nicklas Bendtner (att)(Released), Chu Young Park (mid)(Released), Carl Jenkinson (def)(West Ham United)

The Gunners finally lifted another trophy last season. After an period of nine years without silverware, the FA Cup was a win that manager Arsene Wenger and the club in general needed. In the League they had to settle for a fourth placed finish, seven points off the top spot. They started the season so strongly and up until December they were looking like the finished article. Injuries after Christmas took their tool and form dipped. They remained in the hunt, but their failure to win against the top sides ultimately cost them. Wenger was quick to tie down the services of Alexis Sanchez once his World Cup involvement had ended. Much is expected of the former Barcelona man. Long time servant Bacary Sagna has departed for Man City and Wenger seems to be hedging his bets with regards to a replacement right back. Both Mathieu Debuchy and Callum Chambers have joined. Colombian David Ospina has joined from Nice to provide competition for the Number 1 jersey now that Lukasz Fabianski has been allowed to leave on a free transfer.

Target


A top four finish is once again the main objective for Arsenal. There were times towards the end of last season when it looked like the Gunners were not going to make it. Wenger once again feels his squad are capable of winning the top prize.

Aston Villa

In


Tom Leggett (def)(Southampton) , Isaac Nehemie (mid)(Southampton) , Philippe Senderos (def)(Valencia), Joe Cole (mid)(West Ham), Kieran Richardson (mid)(Fulham)

Out


Marc Albrighton (att)(Leicester City)

Aston Villa finished the season a disappointing fifteenth in the table. Paul Lambert's side only managed to secure their top flight status a couple of games before the end of the season. They were once again just a mere five points above the drop zone. Lambert was under immense pressure on a couple of occasions during the campaign, but the club opted to stick with him. A couple of members of the back room staff were suspended/dismissed by the club towards the end of last season and Lambert has filled the gap by bringing Roy Keane to the club as his assistant. In recent seasons Villa have tended to buy young players, unproven at Premier League level. This pre-season, there has been a slight change in transfer tactics, with Lambert bringing in Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson. They have vast amounts of experience in the top flight and will perhaps bring some know how to the side. After a successful World Cup with the Netherlands, Ron Vlaar is very much in demand. He was a key player for Villa last season and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to keep a hold of him.

Target


Villa should really be showing some signs of improvement this season. They have managed to keep a hold of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph and on paper at least, the squad looks a little stronger than before. They will be hoping to be as far away as possible from the relegation zone.

Burnley

In


Michael Kightly (mid), Stoke), Matthew Gilks (gk), Blackpool), Matthew Taylor (mid), West Ham), Marvin Sordell (att), Bolton), Steven Reid (def), West Brom), Lukas Jutkiewicz (att), Middlesbrough)

Out


David Edgar (sp)(def), Birmingham), Brian Stock (sp)(mid), Keith Treacy (sp)(mid), Joseph Mills (sp)(def), Oldham), Junior Stanislas (sp)(mid), Bournemouth), Chris Baird (sp)(def), West Brom)

Burnley start the new season as members of the Premier League, having exceeded all expectations to finish second in the Championship last season. The promotion represents a return to the top-flight for the Clarets, who were last there in 2009-10, and went down with a whimper in the first season. The Lancashire outfit are determined to make much more of a fist of it this time but they certainly face a mighty struggle in the division full of heavyweights. Burnley were actually considered more likely to get relegated with a rather modest and small squad last season and for them to actually get up to second was a seriously impressive achievement. The superb form of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes up front carried them through the season while the solid defence and industrious midfield papered over the cracks too. However, Sean Dyche has not really managed to improve on the starting 11 from last season over the summer and one suspects that Burnley are bound to struggle badly. He signed a couple of new strikers in Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell to compensate for the injury-related loss of Vokes but they are both Championship-standard players and it is hard to see them getting too many goals. Thus, the momentum and the strong team spirit that Dyche has fostered will be the team’s main assets in the upcoming arduous season. Some versatile and experienced players like Matty Taylor and Steven Reid provide flexibility with their arrival over the summer but there is no denying that Burnley look very likely for a quick return back to the second-flight.

Target


Will fight tooth and nail to stay up but it looks an impossible task

Chelsea

In


Cesc Fabregas (mid)(Barcelona) , Diego Costa (att)(Atletico Madrid), Filipe Luis (def)(Atletico Madrid), Didier Drogba (att)(Galatasaray)

Out


Tomas Kalas (def)(Cologne -Loan), Ashley Cole (def)(Roma) , Samuel Eto'o (att)(Released), Henrique Hilario (gk)(Released), Frank Lampard (mid)(New York City) , Demba Ba (att)(Besiktas), Romelu Lukaku (att)(Everton), Ryan Bertrand (def)(Southampton - Loan)

The Blues finished a respectable third in the table last season and were in the title race up until the last couple of weeks of the season. In the end they finished four points behind trophy winners Manchester City. Going all the way was without doubt the target, so in that respect Jose Mourinho did not deliver. At the back Chelsea were mean and tight, boasting the best defensive in the division. It was upfront where their problems lay. They scored thirty one goals fewer than Man City, and thirty less than second placed Liverpool. As always, the Champions League was seen as very important. In truth they were a little fortunate to make it to the semi final stage. Ahead of the new season strikers Didier Drogba and Diego Costa have been signed. Costa often needs just one chance to hit the back of the net, while Drogba is a hero at Stamford Bridge. It remains to be seen just how often he will feature. Frank Lampard has moved on, but Cesc Fabregas should be able to replace some of his goals. Another mainstay of the team in recent years, Ashley Cole has also departed.

Target


Mourinho has a history of delivering. Winning the Barclay's Premier League is the aim for Chelsea this season, and they will also want to progress as far as they can in the Champions League. They look well equipped to improve on last season's positioning.

Crystal Palace

In


Chris Kettings (gk)(Blackpool), Fraizer Campbell (att)(Cardiff) , Brede Hangeland (def)(Fulham)

Out


Neil Alexander(gk)( Released), Kagisho Dikgacoi (mid)(Cardiff City), Daniel Gabbidon (def)(Released), Dean Moxey (def)(Released), Jonathan Parr (def)(Ipswich Town), Aaron Wilbraham (mid)(Released), Jose Campana (mid)(Sampdoria), Jack Hunt (def)(Nottingham Forest -Loan)

Having been promoted from the Championship via the Play Offs, last season was always going to be very tough for Crystal Palace. They made an awful start to the season and it is fair to say they looked already relegated after less than three months. The club decided to act, opted to part ways with Ian Holloway, and a month later appointed Tony Pulis to the hot seat. The turn around was not instant, but Pulis achieved the impossible and saw the Eagles to safety. Palace finished the season a comfortable eleventh in the table, a massive twelve points clear of the drop zone. After taking some time at the end of the end to assess the situation, Pulis decided to remain at the helm. So far the major addition to the squad has been striker Frazier Campbell from Cardiff City. A large number of squad players that featured little last season have departed and Pulis is throught to have money in the kitty for another three or four signings. He has also been able to keep a hold of practically all of last seasons starting eleven and substitutes. There is no doubt that the squad needs some numbers added to it quickly.

Target


The main objective for 2014/15 will again be to avoid relegation. They will be hoping for another mid table finish. For that to happen though, the funds promised to Pulis need to materialize and they need to quickly get active in the transfer market.

Everton

In


Gareth Barry (mid), Manchester City), Muhammed Besic (mid), Ferencvaros), Romelu Lukaku (att), Chelsea)

Out


Gerard Deulofeu (sp)(mid), Barcelona - end of loan), Lacina Traore (sp)(att), Monaco - end of loan), Apostolos Vellios (sp)(att), Lierse), Magaye Gueye (sp)(att), Millwall)

Everton enjoyed a superb first campaign under the guidance of Roberto Martinez last year and will be hoping and dreaming for more success after the Spaniard showed them the sky is the limit over the last 12 months. The Toffees fans were treated with some exceptional football over the last season and the team was a bit unlucky to miss out on a Champions League spot in the final straight of the season. They are still back in Europe after a few years and will relish the chance to play on the international stage again. It has been a relatively quiet summer for Everton so far, except for their statement-making deal to re-sign Romelu Lukaku on a permanent deal. Everton smashed their transfer record to buy the Belgian, who thrived while on loan last year, but will see it as a sound investment in a striker that is still just 21 but has scored bags of goals over the last two league seasons. It was thought that such a deal was out of Everton’s financial reach but Martinez will be delighted that it was pulled off and will challenge the players to really kick on and battle for the higher places this season. Gareth Barry is also staying on a permanent deal which is a great boost while the returns of Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone after a season on the sidelines will add depth to the squad. Still, there is a feeling that Everton need a bit more quality up front to make a sustained push for the Champions League. At the moment, one suspects that they will have to settle for only a place in the top six. Yet, Martinez and his daring team should not be discounted at all and are capable of taking on any of the big boys in the league.

Target


Looking to build on the brilliant last season but it will be mighty difficult to push into the top four.

Hull City

In


Robert Snodgrass (mid)(Norwich City) Undisclosed, Tom Ince (mid)(Blackpool) Free, Andrew Robertson (def)(Dundee United), Harry Maguire (def)(Sheffield United)

Out


Joe Dudgeon(mid)(Released), Abdoulaye Faye (def)(Released), Matty Fryatt (att)Nottingham Forest), Eldin Jakupovic (gk)(Released), Robert Koren (mid)(Released)

All things considered, Hull City fans were pretty happy with how last season went. Having just been promoted to the Premier League, top flight survival was always going to be the main aim. The Tigers finished the season sixteenth in the table, just four points above the drop zone, but in truth they were never really in any danger of being relegated. Having progressed to the FA Cup Final, Steve Bruce's side lost four of their final five league games as their attentions turned to Wembley. Hull had a two goal lead in the FA Cup Final, but gave it up and lost out in extra-time. Having qualified for the Europa League, Hull will need a larger squad should they make it through to the Group Stages. Robert Snodgrass and Thomas Ince should add some creativity going forward, while defenders Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson add to the defensive numbers at the club. Neither Maguire or Robertson have experience at this level so it will be interesting to see how they fare. Bruce has so far been able to hang on to everyone that he wanted from last season's squad. The squad is quite young and could do with at least two or three more new signings before the start, especially if they have ten Europa League Group Stage games to contend with before Christmas.

Target


They will be hoping to build on last season and consolidate their status as a top flight club. As long as they are not dragged into a relegation battle, everyone at the club will be reasonably happy. The Europa League is providing a buzz and plenty of excitement - but it can also be a big distraction.

Leicester City

In


Jack Barmby (mid)(Manchester United), Matthew Upson (def)(Brighton and Hove Albion), Ben Hamer (gk)(Charlton Athletic), Marc Albrighton (att)(Aston Villa), Leonardo Ulloa (att)(Brighton & Hove Albion)

Out


George Taft (def)(Burton Albion), Lloyd Dyer (mid)(Watford), Marko Futacs(mid)(Released)

Leicester City won promotion to the Premier League last season by finishing top of the Championship. They amassed a very impressive 102 points in total and netted 83 times in 46 games. In the end they were nine points clear of second placed Burnley. Leicester looked worthy favourites right from the start of the season and played some great football throughout. Having suffered Play Off heartbreak the previous season, manager Nigel Pearson ensured his side did not feel sorry for themselves and instead ensured they improved considerably. As with any team facing their first season in the top flight, Leicester have a very tough task on their hands. The club seem to have a solid financial base to work from, but Pearson has not been as active in the transfer market as was perhaps expected. The squad looks very light on Premier League experience. The likes of Anthony Knockaert, Kasper Schmeichel and Matty James have plenty of potential, but will need to adapt to the power and pace of the Premier League quickly. David Nugent was a key figure last season and scored goals galore, but will no doubt find it tougher against better defences and will certainly not be presented with as many chances.

Target


Top flight survival is the name of the game for Leicester this season. A good start to the season and solid home form could be key.

Liverpool

In


Rickie Lambert (att)(Southampton), Adam Lallana (mid)(Southampton), Emre Can (mid)(Bayer Leverkusen), Lazar Markovic (mid)(Benfica), Dejan Lovren (def)(Southampton)

Out


Luis Alberto (att)(Malaga -Loan), Luis Suarez (att)(Barcelona), Iago Aspas (att)(Sevilla - Loan), Andre Wisdom (def)(West Bromwich Albion - Loan)

Liverpool had a fantastic season last time around. The Reds had targeted a top four finish and in truth many believed that would be beyond them. In the end they finished an incredible second in the table and were in the race for the title right up until the second last round of games. Brendan Rodgers side matured and gelled at a very quick pace and the question now is whether they perhaps over achieved somewhat. Ahead of the new season there have been plenty of comings and goings. Luis Suarez has obviously left to join Barcelona and as yet the club have not really replaced him. Seeing as he scored and created so many goals last season, that must be a little bit of a worry. Three players have joined from Southampton, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren. Lallana will hopefully be a creative force once he is fully recovered from a knock, while the hope is that Lovren will add some steel and composure to the heart of the defence - something that was missing all too often last season.

Target


This season will be a big test for Liverpool. Expectations are now very high. Rodgers needs to deliver further improvement. The title is not beyond them, but the main aim will be to be in contention as long as possible and ensure another top four finish.

Manchester City

In


Bruno Zucculini (mid), Racing), Bacary Sagna (def), Arsenal), Fernando (mid), Porto), Willy Caballero (gk), Malaga), Frank Lampard (mid), New York FC - loan)

Out


Joleon Lescott (sp)(def), West Brom), Costel Pantilimon (sp)(gk), Sunderland), Marcos Lopes (sp)(mid), Lille - loan), Gareth Barry (sp)(mid), Everton), Jack Rodwell (sp)(mid), Sunderland)

Manchester City start the season as the Premier League champions and will be determined to make further progress and maintain their status as one of the best teams in the country. Manuel Pellegrini enjoyed a brilliant first season in English football as his side deservedly claimed the trophy at the end, despite some hiccups along the way. They played the best football in the country and will aim for more of the same in the coming season while making a real breakthrough in the Champions League. City’s transfer spending has had to be somewhat curbed this summer as the Financial Fair Play regulations started to hit them. They have still improved their squad with Bacary Sagna and Fernando being the most impressive signings so far. Yet, they are not expected to become automatic regulars and will be more about brining depth and cover at key areas in the squad. Frank Lampard has also joined on a loan deal for the next few months and while the move raises eyebrows, the ageing midfielder is not expected to play any significant role in the coming season. The stellar, big-money signing is expected to be French defender, Ellaquim Mangala, but his move from Porto continues to drag on. He is still likely to join before the end of August and should become a regular at the heart of defence. Yaya Toure is staying put despite his declarations earlier in the summer and City will hope to have a fit and firing Sergio Aguero after he barely played so far in 2014. Steven Jovetic has shown impressive form in preseason and may finally start to justify the big money paid for him an year ago. Overall, the squad looks strong and ready for the challenges ahead but the failure to really bolster the starting 11 from last season may prove costly as Chelsea have certainly closed the gap in that regard with their summer dealings.

Target


Added depth to an already stellar squad and will certainly be in the title race; more likely to miss out on the title this time though

Manchester United

In


Ander Herrera (mid), Athletic), Luke Shaw (def), Southampton), Wilfred Zaha (att), Cardiff - return from loan)

Out


Nemanja Vidic (r)(def), Inter), Rio Ferdinand (sp)(def), QPR), Ryan Giggs (mid), Alexander Buttner (sp)(def), Dynamo Moscow), Patrice Evra (r)(def), Juventus), Bebe (sp)(att), Benfica)

The new season brings new hope for Manchester United after the nightmare they had to endure in the first season after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. It was always thought that it will be a rough ride but it was a complete collapse under David Moyes and the Scott was eventually put out of his misery in April, being sacked after leading the team to a disastrous seventh-place finish. Yet, that all feels like a previous era now as there is lots of excitement and anticipation among the fans and casual observers as to how the behemoth that United are will respond to the challenge to forcing their way back into the top four. Louis van Gaal was put in charge in the summer and he already looks like a much better appointment than Moyes. He has the brass personality, the bravery and the tactical acumen to lead a club as big as the Red Devils and the pre-season could have hardly gone any better too. Despite going all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup with the Netherlands, Van Gaal immediately took charge of United at the start of July and has lead them to impressive wins over Roma, Real Madrid and Liverpool in their USA tour. The team now plays a much more different 3-4-1-2 formation that gets the best out of the available personnel. The fluidity and movement has been a world apart from the turgidness of last season and there is definitely a lot of anticipation placed on Van Gaal’s shoulders now. Yet, he remains adamant that the team will only start to look like he wants them to after a few months of training and drilling of ideas. A gentle start of the season, unlike last year, will allow the Dutchman to indeed integrate his ideas in less pressure and the lack of midweek games will be a bonus as well. Of course, there are still a lot of issues that hamper United’s chances of a sustained tittle charge. Ander Herrera looks a cracking signing in midfield but there is the need of at least one more body there, especially with Michael Carrick out until November. Moreover, one centre-back is a minimum requirement after both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand left over the summer. But United will surely sign at least one more big player before August and Van Gaal is anyway prepared to work with what he has and the World Cup showed that he can take even rather average players very far. Therefore, it should be a very interesting season at Old Trafford and a return to the top-four looks to be on the cards if United sustain and build on the momentum generated in pre-season.

Target


Obligated to return to the top four this season; anything more than that will be an unexpected bonus

Newcastle United

In


Ayoze Perez (att), Tenerife), Jack Colback (mid), Sunderland), Jonas Gutierrez (mid), Norwich - return from loan), Siem de Jong (mid), Ajax), Remy Cabella (mid), Montpellier), Emmanuel Riviere (att), Monaco), Daryl Janmaat (def), Feyenoord), Facundo Ferreyra (att), Shakhtar - loan)

Out


Dan Gosling (sp)(mid), Bournemouth), James Tavarnier (sp)(def), Wigan), Shola Ameobi (sp)(att), Romain Amalfitano (sp)(mid), Dijon), Luuk de Jong (sp)(att), Borussia Monchengladbach - end of loan), Loic Remy (k)(att), QPR - end of loan), Mathieu Debuchy (r)(def), Arsenal), Sylvain Marveux (sp)(mid), Guingamp - loan)

Newcastle suffered a rather disappointing last season as they faded badly in the second half of it and eventually finished right in mid-table, having been in contention for the Champions League places at one point. The loss of Yohan Cabaye proved too big to handle but there is now renewed optimism and ambition around Tyneside as some excellent transfer business has been undertaken. Remy Cabella has been signed from Montpellier and he will be the man expected to replace Cabaye in the side in the coming season. The young attacking midfielder has been playing sizzling football in France over the last two seasons and it will be interesting whether he translates that form into the Premier League as well. Moreover, Dutch duo Siem de Jong and Daryl Janmaat have been signed up too and they look like excellent additions to the side as well. De Jong is a very versatile player who has excelled at a fine Ajax side in recent season. On the other hand, Janmaat had a good World Cup with the Netherlands and comes as a direct replacement for Mathieu Debuchy, who joined Arsenal. Loic Remy is another big loss from the starting 11 last season but Newcastle cannot afford to make his loan deal a permanent one. Therefore, the onus in the attacking department is expected to fall on the shockers of another of the new additions in Emmanuel Reviere. The striker has not really pulled any trees at Monaco but seems to be a decent hold-up striker with good physique and has also shown strong form in preseason. Facundo Ferreyra is the other addition up front while Jack Colback has been snapped up on a free transfer from local rivals, Sunderland, and has the potential to become an excellent midfielder for the Magpies. Therefore, it can be argued that Newcastle enjoyed a superb transfer campaign so far and their team is certainly stronger compared to last season. However, it remains to be seen how that transpires into the pitch in terms of results. There is still not enough quality to back the Magpies for a top-four push but they should be much closer to the Europa League places this time around.

Target


Challenge for a Europa League place

QPR

In


Rio Ferdinand (def), Manchester United), Steven Caulker (def), Cardiff), Jordon Mutch (mid), Cardiff), Mauricio Isla (def), Juventus - loan)

Out


Yossi Benayoun (sp)(mid), Maccabi Haifa), Ji Sung-Park (sp)(mid), Stephane M’Bia (sp)(mid), Andy Johnson (sp)(att), Niko Kranjcar (sp)(mid), Dynamo Kyiv - end of loan), Aaron Hughes (r)(def), Brighton), Samba Diakite (sp)(mid), Al-Ittihad - loan), Esteban Granero (sp)(mid), Real Sociedad), Gary O’Neil (r)(mid), Norwich)

QPR are back in the big time after just a season spent in the Championship. In truth, they did not really merit their promotion as the play-off final by Derby County was fully dominated by the Rams and they should have run out very comfortable winners. Yet, Rangers struck right at the death to nick a 1:0 win and thus completed a straight return to the Premier League. Harry Redknapp will be hailed as the difference maker but he had the best squad in the Championship last season and still could not get at least a second place in the table. He has been rather limited in his approach to games and will need to up his managerial game by more than a notch for QPR not to suffer another disappointing relegation this season. Of course, with Tony Fernandes splashing the cash again, the Hoops have more than a fair chance to beat the drop and have already signed some impressive players. By far their most eye-catching capture is that of Mauricio Isla. The Juventus wing-back has been lured on a loan deal for a season but he does not really deserve to play at such a low-level club. He is a player of genuine quality and it beggars belief that clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal did not push for him given that he was available on loan. The defence will have a new look this season too as Rio Ferdinand arrives from Manchester United and Steven Caulker will be his partner. The latter may have suffered relegation last season but he is a fine defender with good presence and will certainly make a good pair with Ferdinand, if the veteran stays fit. There is lack of quality in midfield and attack, however, even though the signing of Jordon Mutch from Cardiff is a good piece of business. QPR are bound to sign a few more players before the end of August and will have a different look in a month’s time but the current crop of players faces a serious challenge in beating the drop and will definitely have to raise their game in the upcoming campaign.

Target


Will be battling to stay up and certainly have the personnel too; the motivation of the players and the ability of the manager are their main issues though

Southampton

In


Dusan Tadic (mid)(FC Twente), Graziano Pelle(att) (Feyenoord), Ryan Bertrand (def)(Chelsea - Loan)

Out


Tom Leggett (def)(Aston Villa), Isaac Nehemie (mid)(Aston Villa), Guly do Prado (mid)(Released), Rickie Lambert (att)(Liverpool), Luke Shaw (def)(Manchester United), Adam Lallana (mid)(Liverpool), Dejan Lovren (def)(Liverpool), Calum Chambers (def)(Arsenal)

Last season was a major success for Southampton. The Saints finished a very impressive eighth in the table and had that position secure with a couple of League games remaining. It was manager Mauro Pochettino's first full season in charge and he made a huge impact. It came as no surprise that he was subsequently linked with a number of bigger jobs, and a few weeks after the season had ended he opted to quit the club and join Tottenham Hotspur. Southampton appointed Ronald Koeman to the top job in the middle of June. The club have been victims of their own success to a degree. Along with Pochettino, a number of first team regulars have been sold. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren have all joined Liverpool, while full back Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw have also departed for top dollar. The club seem willingly to let further top players leave also, so it remains to be seen just how many of last season's team will remain once the new season kicks off. Koeman has not as yet replaced these players and the Dutchman has admitted that the squad is lacking in quality and depth.

Target


Koeman has a very tough looking task on his hands. He needs to quickly get some players in, preferably with experience of the Premier League. The mood around the club seems to already be one of disappointment as a result of all the departures. . As things stand it is hard to see Southampton match last seasons position. The club are at a crucial juncture it seems.

Stoke

In


Phil Bardsley (def), Sunderland), Mame Diouf (att), Hannover), Steve Sidwell (mid), Fulham), Bojan Krkic (att), Barcelona)

Out


Matthew Etherington (sp)(mid), Michael Kightly (sp)(mid), Burnley), Oussama Assaidi (r)(mid), Liverpool - end of loan), John Guidetti (sp)(att), Manchester City - end of loan)

Stoke City enjoyed a pretty good first season under Mark Hughes last year and will be looking for more of the same in the upcoming campaign. The Potters were tipped to struggle by many as they came to terms with life after Tony Pulis and indeed they looked like one of the candidates for the drop midway through the last season. However, Hughes pulled off some smart deals in the transfer market while also giving the players lots of belief in their own ability. Stoke, therefore, played some genuinely impressive football in the spring and even managed to finish in the top half of the table at the end of the season. It was a job well done for the Potters and their manager will certainly be hoping for some progress in the upcoming campaign too. The signings have not been too many but have addressed specific areas of the squad and the Potters are looking in decent shape for the new season. Mame Biram Diouf is a fine capture, especially on a free, as he is coming off a few really strong seasons at Hannover and looks a perfect fit to lead the attacking line. He may not have made his mark at Manchester United a few years ago but he is a lot more experienced now and can certainly thrive. Bojan Krkic arrived from Barcelona and may well prove quite a find too. He has regressed badly from the years when he was considered to be the next wonder boy of world football but he does have quality and football intelligence and can play across the front lone. Steve Sidwell will provide competition in midfield and is a very good addition to the squad too. On the top of that, Roberth Huth is back fit after a serious ankle injury and Asmir Begovic is staying on for another season. Thus, Stoke are looking quite good at present and have every chance to improve on a tenth-place finish. That said, a battle for the Europa League places is likely to be too much to ask from them.

Target


improving on the tenth finish from last season but are still too average to really challenge for the European places

Sunderland

In


Billy Jones (def), West Brom), Jordi Gomez (mid), Wigan), Modibo Diakite (def), Fiorentina - return from loan), Alfred N’Diaye (mid), Betis - return from loan), Cabral (mid), Genoa - return from loan), Costel Pantilimon (gk), Manchester City), Patrick van Aanholt (def), Chelsea), Jack Rodwell (mid), Manchester City), Santiago Vergini (def), Estudiantes - loan)

Out


Phil Bardsley (r)(def), Stoke), Jack Colback (r)(mid), Newcastle), Fabio Borini (r)(att), Liverpool - end of loan), Craig Gardner (sp)(mid), West Brom), Oscar Ustari (sp)(gk), Carlos Cuellar (sp)(def), Andrea Dossena (sp)(def), Ki Sung-Young (k)(mid), Swansea - end of loan), Marcos Alonso (r)(def), Fiorentina - end of loan), Ondrej Celustka (sp)(def), Trabzonspor - end of loan), Kieron Westwood (sp)(gk), Sheffield Wednesday), Ignacio Scocco (sp)(att), Newell’s Old Boys), David Vaughan (sp)(mid), Nottingham Forest)

Sunderland were one of the standout stories of the last season as they pulled off a barely believable escape having been dead and buried with a month of the season left. Gus Poyet and the players deserve a lot of credit for that show of strength and fortitude and the Black Cats will feel that they were worthy of staying up, courtesy of some remarkable results against the top sides in this final months of the season. But the euphoria of that achievement has died down over the summer and the realisation has come that they are set for another season of struggle has started to settle in. Poyet has not been able to strengthen his side as he would have liked to so far in the summer and in facet some pretty big players over the close season. Jack Colback left on a free transfer and, to add salt to the wounds, joined Newcastle in what is a painful move to take for the Black Cats given that the midfielder was one of their most promising and well-liked players in the past year or two. Moreover, impressive loanees like Fabio Borini, Ki Sung-Young and Marcos Alonso have not been retained and will be missed in the coming season. Some of the deadwood in the squad has not been shifted yet and the hands of the manager has been pretty much tied down in terms of newcomers. That said, Sunderland completed a deal to sign Jack Rodwell from Manchester City but a £10m outlay on the talented but perennially injured midfielder does look like a pretty big gamble. Rodwell is a fine player on his day and was regarded as a real talent only a couple of years ago. However, he has not played regularly for a long time now and struggles to stay fit for an extended period. He will add real touch of quality and bite to the midfield if he settles in nicely while Connor Wickham will be expected to continue his form from the end of the last season when he suddenly burst into the scene. Yet, there is lack of pace and quality at the back and not enough depth to last the distance. It will be a tough old season again at the Stadium of Light but there are still likely to be at least three worse teams than the Black Cats at the end.

Target


The transfer campaign has been underwhelming and the Black Cats look set for another season of relegation battle; should still have enough to stay up

Swansea City

In


Lukasz Fabianski (gk)(Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (att)(Lyon), Stephen Kingsley (def)(Falkirk), Gylfi Sigurdsson (mid)(Tottenham Hotspur), Jefferson Montero (mid)(Morelia)

Out


David Ngog (att)(Released), Michu (Napoli - Loan), Ben Davies (def)(Tottenham Hotspur), Michel Vorm (gk)(Tottenham Hotspur), Alejandro Pozuelo (att)(Rayo Vallecano)

Last season was a bit of a let down for Swansea City fans. The club were expected to build upon their ninth placed finish and there was also the added excitement of the Europa League. After some worrying form in the League, Michael Laudrup was sacked in February at a time when they sat just two points above the drop zone. Their European involvement soon ended also, and although Gary Monk ultimately steered them safe of relegation, they left it late and were extremely unconvincing. Monk was surprisingly given the job on a permanent basis shortly before the end of the season. Star striker Michu has departed the club on a season long loan. There had been rumours that he and Monk did not get on so well. Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have also been sold. Wilifried Bony remains at the club for the moment, but there has been plenty of talk that he will be allowed leave before the start of the season. It should be noted that new signing Bafetimbi Gomis looks to be a very similar type player. Jefferson Montero, signed from Morelia, has bags of pace and it looks like he will cause opposing full backs lot of problems.

Target


The club are hoping to not be involved in another relegation battle this season. It is very hard to see them finish in the top half of the table. A lot will depend on how Monk performs - he has no managerial experience at this level, or indeed at any other level.

Tottenham Hotspur

In


Lewis Holtby (mid), Fulham - return from loan), Ben Davies (def), Swansea), Michel Vorm (gk), Swansea), Eric Dier (def), Sporting Lisbon)

Out


Heurelho Gomes (sp)(gk), Watford), Jake Livermore (sp)(mid), Hull), Gylfi Sigurdsson (sp)(mid), Swansea)

Tottenham start another new era this season with the latest manager appointed over the summer with the expectations of breaking the glass ceiling that is the top four. Last year, Spurs were a study case how not to run a football club as a highly promising squad was not allowed to develop under a bright and talented manager due to the erratic and irrational decisions of the man responsible for taking the decisions in the boardroom. Tim Sherwood proved an awful appointment and Spurs basically sleep-walked through the second half of the season thanks to the complete ineptitude of both the man in the dugout and the ones higher up in the hierarchy. Yet, things are looking a bit better now as Tottenham appointed an excellent new manager in Maurico Pochettino and now need to give him ample time to develop his ideas and make the team a better one. The Argentinian was met with scepticism when he arrived in England at the start of 2013 as a manager of Southampton but he left the south coast this summer with the adulation of the Southampton fans and the acceptance across the country that he is a fine team-builder and superb tactician. Saints were genuinely superb last year and Tottenham will definitely be expected to match the same level of performances this year given that Pochettino has better players to work with. He has sought to maintain the chemistry of the squad and the signings so far have not been too eye-catching. Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have arrived from Swansea but only the former can really claim a regular starting slot this season. A few other additions are expected until the end of August but Spurs do have an excellent squad at the moment anyway. The big problem for the new manager is to mould a distinctive style and make the team a much more coherent one this season. Erik Lamela will be expected to do a lot better under the guidance of his compatriot after his struggles last year. There is also a bit of a question mark up front as Emmanuel Adebayor is a fine striker but only when he is bothered while Roberto Soldado has not really settled yet and the odds are against him really thriving this season. Yet, the midfield is excellent and Christian Eriksen showed flashes of brilliance last season. There is a good base for Pochettino to work on but one feels that even a Champions League push is beyond this team given the improvement of the sides above them.

Target


Aiming to challenge for the Champions League spots but do not look capable at the moment

West Bromwich Albion

In


Craig Gardner (mid)(Sunderland), Joleon Lescott (def)(Man City), Chris Baird (def)(Burnley), Sebastien Pocognoli (def)(Hannover), Brown Ideye (att)(Dynamo Kiev), Andre Wisdom (def)(Liverpool - Loan)

Out


Billy Jones (def)(Sunderland), Zoltan Gera (mid)(Released), Diego Lugano (def)(Released), Liam Ridgewell (def)(Released), Steven Reid (def)(Burnley)

West Bromwich Albion dropped from eighth in the table in 2013/14 to a disappointing sixteenth last season. After a slow start Steve Clarke was surprisingly sacked and the club eventually appointed Pepe Mel to the top job. The Spaniard succeeded in keeping the Baggies in the top flight, but did so very unconvincingly. Only goal difference ensured they were safe ahead of the final round of games. Mel departed the club following the final game of the season and in the middle of June, Alan Irvine was named as his replacement on a 12 month rolling contract. Irvine has no managerial experience at this level, but does seem to be a very well respected coach and all-round nice guy. He has been pretty busy in the transfer market, with plenty of comings and goings in the last two months. Joleon Lescott has joined on a free transfer from champions Manchester City and should add some stability and experience to the heart of the defence. Andre Wisdom has also signed on a one year loan deal from Liverpool. Diego Lugano, Steven Reid, Zoltan Gera and Liam Ridgewell have all departed.

Target


Irvine has a big rebuilding job on his hands. The aim is to quickly move on from last season's various disasters - prior to that they had been on the up for three or four seasons. The club will be hoping for a mid-table finish.

West Ham United

In


Mauro Zarate (att), Velez Sarsfield), Cheikhou Kouyate (def), Anderlecht), Diego Poyet (mid), Charlton), Andrew Cresswell (def), Ipswich), Enner Valencia (att), Pachuca), Carl Jenkinson (def), Arsenal - loan)

Out


George McCartney (sp)(def), Jack Collison (sp)(mid), Joe Cole (sp)(mid), Aston Villa), Alou Diarra (sp)(mid), Pablo Armero (sp)(def), Napoli - end of loan), Marco Borriello (sp)(att), Roma - end of loan), Antonio Nocerino (sp)(mid), Milan - end of loan), Matthew Taylor (sp)(mid), Burnley)

West Ham managed to beat the drop last season but that was the only positive in what was universally accepted to be a dire and unenjoyable campaign for the West London club. Changes were expected over the summer due to the increasing fans’ discontent but the directors did not have the audacity to sack Sam Allardyce. They still demanded drastic changes in the way the team plays and will certainly expect more progressive and pleasing football in the coming season. Allardyce has never been known to play such way though and has not really taken the instructions too well. Thus, it has the makings of a rather unhappy marriage of convenience for a manager and a club at the moment. That certainly does not bode well for the Hammers as a whole but there are reasons to look forward to the new season as well. The team signed a few promising players from abroad and have a fresher and more interesting look at the moment. Enner Valencia was signed for big money from Mexican side Pachuca after a highly prolific 2014. He also shone during the World Cup and certainly has what it takes to thrive in the Premier League. However, he will have to quickly settle in as a new serious injury by Andy Carroll leave West Ham without their main man in attack until November. Cheikhou Kouyate is a good player as well, comfortable as both a centre-back and a defensive midfielder, while Mauro Zarate has lots of talent but is way too erratic to be considered a good addition to the squad for the time being. There is a good mix of quality and experience in the squad and West Ham should not have problems staying up. That is of course if everything goes smooth in the dressing room and in the boardroom as there is a good chance that Allardyce leaves by his accord or is sacked within a few months of the season if the rumblings go on. Yet, the Hammers look in decent nick and should be comfortable in mid-table.

Target


The squad has been bolstered a finish in mid-table is perfectly within reach