Less than two weeks remaining in the pre-season before the Premier League season starts so I’m bringing my team by team previews to follow up my 2014-15 Premier League season predictions. Read on for Part Two of these season preview.
Previous Season: The most frustrating season of the last 20 plus years is finally behind the Red Devils. Under David Moyes the 2012-13 Premier League Champions floundered to seventh place with a 19-7-12 record for 64 points. This ended up behind 15 behind Arsenal in fourth and 22 behind title winners, and rivals, Manchester City.
Expectations: Challenge for the top and finish in the top four. Getting a European place is a must!
Prediction: I’m predicting that they do finish in the top four and that they actually challenge for the title. Changes have already been implemented and there is a much more positive vibe around the team already. If they are able to add a solid central defender along with central midfielder, then this will further increase their chances.
Previous Season: Despite playing in the Europa League Newcastle had a very quiet season and managed to finish tenth. The problem though, was that they finished with 49 points, a full 20 behind Tottenham in sixth place.
Expectations: Not much. Most expectations for Newcastle are to simply not get relegated and try to finish in the top ten.
Prediction: My prediction is that Newcastle will again challenge for a European spot. At the same time, there are so many question marks with this team that they could just as easily end up being relegated.
Queens Park Rangers
Previous Season: After being relegated from the Premier League two seasons ago they finished fourth in the Championship last year. They were then able to advance and win the Championship playoffs to win the third promotion spot.
Expectations: Survival. Another relegation would not bode well for the Rangers and their massive wage bill.
Prediction: I believe that QPR has what it takes to survive this season. There may be times of struggle, after all, they didn’t exactly dominate the Championship, but they have quality players there.
Previous Season: The Saints were challenging for top four at one point during the season. They eventually cooled off, but finished a very respectable 8th with a 15-11-12 record and 56 points.
Expectations: By this point, most fans are just hoping not to get relegated.
Prediction: After losing so many top quality players and looking like possibly losing more, it’s hard to see them getting anywhere near last year’s finish. There is still a large amount of turmoil in the Southampton squad with Morgan Schneiderlin now stirring for a transfer out. My prediction is that they will be relegated. With that said, there are still plenty of top notch players in this squad who could pull together, but it will be very hard.
Previous Season: While their 50 points was still 14 behind seventh place Manchester United, a ninth place finish was quite respectable for Mark Hughes’ Stoke City last season.
Expectations: More of the same from last year. Some will expect them to challenge for a European spot, but understand that a top ten finish is about their peak.
Prediction: Stoke City should be able to finish in the top ten again this season. They have brought in some decent players while not losing any of their main squad.
Previous Season: Somehow the Black Cats were able to avoid relegation despite flirting with disaster all season long. Instead they pushed their way up to 14th place with a 10-8-20 record for 38 points, just five above the drop.
Expectations: Sunderland will be expected to perform better than last season and push for a top half of the table finish and even as far as top ten. Another cup run would be tolerated, but flirting with relegation for a second season would not go down well.
Prediction: I’m predicting them to play better than last season and finish in the top half. They might have some difficult times, but have the quality of player to go with their manager and keep them out of a second dismal season.
Previous Season: The Swans involvement in the Europa League seemed to lead to a mediocre season in which they ended up in 12th place with an 11-9-18 record for 42 points.
Expectations: Swansea will be expected to finish in the middle of the table and even more than that, end in the top ten.
Prediction: I’m predicting that Swansea City makes it into the top ten this season. However, there is a caveat with this. I believe their ability to finish in the top half of the table will be dependent on keeping Wilfried Bony. Losing his goals, along with Michu’s (off on loan) would be a blow that I don’t think they could recover from.
Previous Season: The Spurs just missed out on another season of European football mostly due to Hull City taking the final Europa League place as FA Cup finalists. They started out the season far too slowly or they may have actually finished in fourth. Their 21-6-11 record was good enough for sixth place and 69 points, a full ten behind their rivals Arsenal in fourth.
Expectations: This season Tottenham are expected to challenge for top four and finish in a European place at the very least.
Prediction: My prediction is that they will, again, miss out on the top four. However, they will make it difficult and could certainly do enough to top teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, or even Arsenal. They aren’t quite at the point of making a title claim, but will make the third and fourth place teams uneasy. My prediction is a fifth place finish.
West Bromwich Albion
Previous Season: West Brom struggled all season last year before finally finishing in 17th place, just barely eking their way to safety. The Baggies had a 7-15-16 record for 36 points, just three above the drop.
Expectations: Survival is expected, but doesn’t look likely.
Prediction: With all of their problems last season I have a hard time seeing them make it through this season. I suppose the one thing they have going for them is that their goal difference of -16 was not as terrible as those teams around them, but they will need to win many more games this season. Their 7 wins last year was as many as Cardiff at the bottom of the table.
West Ham United
Previous Season: West Ham spent portions of last season mired in a relegation battle before finishing with 40 points in 13th place, 7 points above the drop.
Expectations: Avoid relegation and impress the fans. For some reason many West Ham supporters feel that their team needs to play a certain way even if it means relegation. They could get their wish this season.
Prediction: My prediction is that West Ham is one of the three relegated teams. It is quite likely that Sam Allardyce will not survive the season and I think that this will be a catalyst for their demise rather than a resurgence in belief.
West Ham United has made several moves in an attempt to strengthen, but the biggest has been picking up Enner Valencia. He is known for his ability to head the ball and could be seen as a replacement for Andy Carroll considering his spate of injuries over the past season.