Football Article

The Complete 2012-13 EPL Preview

The Complete 2012-13 EPL Preview Photo: TT

Manchester City were crowned champions on a dramatic final day last term, so what does the new season have in store for us, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all spending big in the summer?.

Manchester City Arrivals: Jack Rodwell (Everton) Departures: Owen Hargreaves (released) Last season; Champions 2011-12 topscorer; Sergio Aguero - 23

Boss Roberto Mancini has been frustrated by his side’s lack of recruitment this off-season, with Rodwell’s arrival last week their first purchase. However, City retain a strong squad with Carlos Tevez a virtual new signing. If they do sign anyone, they may look to provide Vincent Kompany will some central defensive support.

Manchester United Arrivals: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Nick Powell (Crewe) Departures: Park Ji-Sung (QPR), Fabio (QPR – loan), Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Michael Owen (released) Last season; Runners-up 2011-12 topscorer; Wayne Rooney - 27

The Red Devils will be desperate to avenge last season’s heartbreaking title failure, and the signing of Van Persie will go a long way towards that. How he fits in a side which boasts Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney remains to be seen, however he’ll clearly add to the team. Rooney needs more consistency this term, while fixing the gap in midfield remains a quandary. Is veteran Paul Scholes the solution?

Arsenal Arrivals: Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (Koln) Departures: Robin Van Persie (Manchester United), Denilson (Sao Paulo – loan), Manuel Almunia (released), Kyle Bartley (Swansea City), Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan – loan), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad) Last season; Third 2011-12 topscorer; Robin Van Persie - 30

There was plenty to be excited about for Gunners fans after Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski’s captures but the imminent exit of Van Persie leaves a gaping hole. Arsene Wenger has said he won’t replace him, with his trio of signings brought in to do just that, but Arsenal surely need more if they’re to contend for the title. The return from injury of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will help their cause, while Alex Song could leave for Barcelona.

Chelsea Arrivals: Oscar (Internacional), Eden Hazard (Lille), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen), Thorgan Hazard (Lens) Departures: Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Jose Bosingwa (released), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom – loan) Last season; Sixth 2011-12 topscorer; Frank Lampard & Daniel Sturridge - 11

The Blues may have won the Uefa Champions League last term and gone out and spent millions on new recruits, but many pundits are reluctant to push for them as genuine title contenders. Hazard is a major acquisition after several fine years in France, while Oscar is a raw signing. It’s clear Chelsea are looking to the future with those signings, as John Terry, Lampard and others head towards the end of their careers. Replacing Drogba won’t be easy but Sturridge could be one to step up.

Tottenham Arrivals: Jan Vertonghen (Ajax), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim) Departures: Ryan Nelsen (QPR), Niko Kranjcar (Dynamo Kiev), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Ledley King (retired), Louis Saha (Sunderland) Last season; Fourth 2011-12 topscorer; Emmanuel Adebayor - 17

Andre Villas-Boas has taken over at Spurs with plenty to learn and much to build on. Tottenham have a ready-made squad for a top-four challenge, although Luka Modric’s future remains a hot topic. Vertonghen bolsters their backline after King’s retirement, while Sigurdsson showed at Swansea last term, he is capable at this level. Top four is the goal and AVB will have his work cut out.

Liverpool Arrivals: Joe Allen (Swansea), Fabio Borini (AS Roma) Departures: Craig Bellamy (Cardiff), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Fabio Aurelio (Gremio), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys) Last season; Eighth 2011-12 topscorer; Luis Suarez - 11

Brendan Rodgers has arrived at Anfield with expectations high. The new era has already begun with several big names moving on including Kuyt, Bellamy and Rodriguez. The arrival of young talents Borini and Allen only emphasises a changing of the guard but whether Rodgers will get the time and patience required remains to be seen. There’s still plenty of talent at Anfield, with Suarez the top dog, but there’s issues to be resolved, for example Andy Carroll, meaning it’s hard to see them making the top four.

The Rest

Newcastle Arrivals: Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Gael Bigirimana (Coventry), Romain Amalfitano (Reims) Departures: Danny Guthrie (Reading), Leon Best (Blackburn), Peter Lovenkrands (Birmingham City), Alan Smith (released) Last season; Fifth 2011-12 topscorer; Demba Ba - 16

It’ll be difficult for Alan Pardew to match last season’s feats. The Magpies have made some modest purchases but with Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba up front, have plenty to work with for a top-half finish.

Everton Arrivals: Steven Naismith (Rangers) Departures: Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Marcus Hahnemann (released), James McFadden (released), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce) Last season; Seventh 2011-12 topscorer; Nikica Jelavic - 9

The Toffees have lost Cahill and Rodwell but this is a club who keep keeping on. Naismith arrives after a long injury absence in Scotland so will need time. Jelavic, who also joined from Rangers, showed plenty after his signing in January.

Fulham Arrivals: Hugo Rodallega (Wigan), Sascha Riether (Koln – loan), Mladen Petric (Hamburg SV) Departures: Andy Johnson (QPR), Danny Murphy (Blackburn), Bjorn Helge Riise (released), Orlando Sa (released), Dickson Etuhu (Blackburn) Last season; Ninth 2011-12 topscorer; Clint Dempsey - 17

Martin Jol’s side are expected to be comfortably clear of the drop zone, with Rodallega a shrewd purchase, replacing the injury-prone Johnson. Murphy’s exit is a problem, while Dempsey’s future is key, but Petric is a slippery striker who could be a big hit in England.

West Bromwich Arrivals: Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea – loan), Claudio Yacob (Racing Avellaneda) Departures: Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest), Nicky Shorey (Reading), Keith Andrews (Bolton), Somen Tchoyi (released), Marton Fulop (released), Paul Scharner (released) Last season; 10th 2011-12 topscorer; Peter Odemwingie - 10

Steve Clarke takes the reins full-time now after Roy Hodgson’s move to the England job, and there’s steady foundations at Albion, however he’s only previously worked in assistant roles, so this is a big step up. Lukaku and Rosenberg add firepower alongside Odemwingie. Should be okay.

Swansea City Arrivals: Kyle Bartley (Arsenal), Michu (Rayo Vallecano), Chico (Genoa), Jonathan de Guzman (Villarreal - loan) Departures: Joe Allen (Liverpool), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim – loan return), Ferrie Bodde (released) Last season; 11th 2011-12 topscorer; Danny Graham - 12

Former Denmark international Michael Laudrup is the new Swans boss after a spell in La Liga, which shows the ambition of the Welsh club, who always do things differently. Allen and Sigurdsson’s exits will hurt, along with Rodgers’ move, so this could be a testing season.

Norwich City Arrivals: Javier Garrido (Lazio – loan), Michael Turner (Sunderland), Robert Snodgrass (Leeds United), Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley), Steven Whittaker (Rangers) Departures: Adam Drury (Leeds United), Zak Whitbread (released), Aaron Wilbraham (released), Andrew Crofts (Brighton) Last season; 12th 2011-12 topscorer; Grant Holt - 15

Another club with a new coach, the Canaries have welcomed ex-Newcastle and Birmingham boss Chris Hughton to the helm after Paul Lambert’s departure for Villa. Turner and Snodgrass are good acquisitions if they can remain fit, while Norwich showed last season they’ve got plenty to work.

Sunderland Arrivals: Carlos Cuellar (Aston Villa), Louis Saha (Tottenham) Departures: Michael Turner (Norwich City), Craig Gordon (released), Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal - loan return) Last season; 13th 2011-12 topscorer; Nicklas Bendtner - 8

Martin O’Neill turned around the Black Cats last term and he’s been calculated in his off-season moves, with Saha bolstering their frontline which never totally recovered from Asamoah Gyan’s exit last season.

Stoke City Arrivals: Michael Kightly (Wolverhampton), Jamie Ness (Rangers) Departures: Andrew Davies (Bradford), Jonathon Woodgate (Middlesbrough), Danny Collins (Nottingham Forest), Salif Diao (released), Ricardo Fuller (released) Last season; 14th 2011-12 topscorer; Peter Crouch - 10

The Potters are being mooted as potential relegation contenders by some this term as the rest seem to have progressed. Tony Pulis’ brand of football has got them by in the past few years along with their fine home record.

Wigan Arrivals: Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca), Arouna Kone (Levante), Fraser Fyvie (Aberdeen), Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal - loan) Departures: Hugo Rodallega (Fulham), Mohamed Diame (West Ham), Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wednesday), Hendry Thomas (released), Steve Gohouri (released) Last season; 15th 2011-12 topscorer; Franco Di Santo - 7

Roberto Martinez remains with the Latics despite wild speculation to the contrary during the summer and that’s a big boost for a club who seem to always flirt with the drop. Rodallega is a big loss, but Kone had a fine term last year in Spain while Miyaichi is a young gun ready to explode.

Aston Villa Arrivals: Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Matthew Lowton (Sheffield United), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar) Departures: Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland), Emile Heskey (released), Brad Guzan (released), James Collins (West Ham) Last season; 16th 2011-12 topscorer; Darren Bent - 9

Alex McLeish never won over the Villa fans and have been given the boot with Paul Lambert arriving with the promise of more positive football. That’s a good start. Australia international Holman is an exciting purchase, while Vlaar adds defensive depth after Cuellar and Collins’ exits.

QPR Arrivals: David Hoilett (Blackburn), Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United), Fabio (Manchester United – loan), Robert Green (West Ham), Andy Johnson (Fulham), Ryan Nelsen (Tottenham), Samba Diakite (Nancy) Departures: Heidar Helguson (Cardiff), Paddy Kenny (Leeds United), Danny Gabbidon (released), Danny Shittu (released), Fitz Hall (released), Akos Buzsaky (released) Last season; 17th 2011-12 topscorer; Heidar Helguson - 8

Rangers narrowly avoided the drop last term, so this off-season has been all about bringing in seasoned talent to ensure that doesn’t happen again as the club’s Asian owners try to solidify their top flight status. Park and Hoilett are good additions, but there’s a lot of changes so it’ll take time for Mark Hughes to get it all together.

Reading Arrivals: Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest), Adrian Mariappa (Watford), Nicky Shorey (West Bromwich), Pierce Sweeney (Bray Wanderers), Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest), Danny Guthrie (Newcastle), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Stuttgart) Departures: Andy Griffin (released), Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday) Last season; Championship champions 2011-12 topscorer; Adam le Fondre - 12

The second tier champions have been suggested as genuine relegation contenders, but Royals fans are excited by the arrival of Pogrebnyak who did some good things on loan at Fulham last term. They’ve followed Norwich’s lead from last season with their summer recruitment, bolstering with top Championship players who are hungry to take their careers to the next level. Touch and go.

Southampton Arrivals: Paulo Gazzaniga (Gillingham), Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace), Steven Davis (Rangers), Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) Departures: Radhi Jaidi (retired), David Connolly (released) Last season; 2nd in Championship 2011-12 topscorer; Rickie Lambert - 27

The Saints look like one of the Premiership weakest squads, with Nigel Adkins sure to have a challenging campaign. Burnley striker Rodriguez is their big arrival but he’s unproven at this level. Likely to go down.

West Ham United Arrivals: Alou Diarra (Marseille), James Collins (Aston Villa), Raphael Spiegel (Grasshoppers), Modibo Maiga (Sochaux), Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton), Mohamed Diame (Wigan), Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth) Departures: Robert Green (QPR), Freddie Sears (Colchester), Julien Faubert (released), John Carew (released), Abdoulaye Faye (released), Papa Bouba Diop (released), Frank Nouble (released) Last season; 3rd in Championship (promoted via playoffs) 2011-12 topscorer; Carlton Cole - 14

The Hammers are back after only one season down and boss Sam Allardyce has brought a strong squad with him. Plenty of talent from their relegated 2010-11 side remains, such as Carlton Cole, Jack Collison and Mark Noble, although they have lost keeper Green but the experienced Jaaskelainen is a good replacement.

Sports Pundit’s Predictions, Champions: Manchester United Top four: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal Relegated: Southampton, Wigan, Norwich Player of the Year: Robin Van Persie Young Player of the Year: Oscar

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer
@bensomerford Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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