Sunday, 12 August 2012

2012/13 Premier League: Preview Part 2

As promised we look at the second half of teams in the Premier League and look at their chances this year as well as the transfer activity they have been involved in.

Queens Park Rangers: 
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Rangers have been one of the busiest clubs in the transfer market. Manager Mark Hughes has brought in a number of players which include South Korean Park Ji-Sung from Manchester United and Junior Hoilett who made the move from Blackburn Rovers. Pre season has been very productive for the London side who have gone through unbeaten winning four and drawing two in their six games. With a squad full of Premier League experience, Rangers will want a higher finish in the league this season and want to establish themselves as a Premier League club.
Prediction: 19th
Reading return to the Premier League after a four year absence from the top flight. They achieved automatic promotion last season finishing top of the Championship ahead of Southampton. Boss Brian McDermott has worked wonders at the Berkshire club and has significantly strengthened the squad during the summer transfer window. Chris Gunter has made the move from Nottingham Forest and is joined by forward Pavel Pogrebynak who chose Reading ahead of Fulham who he spent the second half of last season at. Left back Ian Harte is a set piece specialist and has gathered a number of goals and assists since he joined the Royals back in 2010. Strikers Jason Roberts and Adam Le Fondre scored a number of critical goals last year and they will be key if they are to remain in the top flight. 
Prediction: 16th
The Saints joined Norwich last season in achieving two successive promotions in two seasons. Having looked the favourites to win the league, the Saints were pipped to the title by Reading who they will join in the Premier League this season. Southampton open their campaign away at Manchester City, and will follow up with a trip to Arsenal and a home game against Manchester United. Manager Nigel Adkins paid £7million for Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez who scored 15 league goals for his former side last season. He joins a strong Saints front line with main man Rickie Lambert and fellow forward Billy Sharp expected to score the goals that will keep them in the league. 
Prediction: 20th
Stoke City:
Stoke had a busy season last year competing in four competitions and collecting plenty of air miles. Having finished runners up in the 2010/11 FA Cup, they achieved a place in the Europa League. The Potters made it comfortably past the group stages but their journey came to an end having lost to Valencia 2-0 on aggregate in the round of 32. Tony Pulis's men only managed four wins in the second half of the season meaning they finished in 14th place. The signing of Peter Crouch at the start of the season was a great acquisition by Pulis, and the frontman rewarded his manager by scoring one of the goals of the season against Manchester City. So far Pulis has only brought in three players in the window, Michael Kightly made the move from Wolves, and is joined by defender Geoff Cameron and midfielder Jamie Ness from Rangers. 
Prediction: 9th
Martin O'Neill brought in a breath of fresh air for Sunderland last season replacing former boss Steve Bruce. Bruce was sacked midway through last year having only won two games in 13. The Black Cats finished in 13th place last season, and fans will want a significant improvement this year. The development of James McLean was something positive to take from last year, with the winger making the Republic of Ireland squad at the end of the season for Euro 2012. Sunderland only mastered 45 goals last season with Nicklas Bendtner their top goal scorer with only eight league goals to his name. If they are to improve on this total this season then O'Neill will need to bring in a centre forward to give them a greater threat upfront. 
Prediction: 11th
Swansea City:
Brendan Rogers took Swansea to an impressive 11th place finish last season and excellent performances throughout the year, saw him snapped up by Liverpool. His 'Tiki Taka' style of play saw Swansea beat Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal at home and eliminated any thoughts that his team would be favourites to be relegated. The loan signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson was a masterstroke by Rogers as the Icelandic starred in many games scoring important goals. Striker Danny Graham scored 12 league goals and with Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer aiding him out wide, Graham will want to better his tally this season. With Rogers off to Liverpool, former Juventus man Michael Laudrup took the reigns at the club and has so far brought in Spanish defender Chico and Spanish striker Michu from Rayo Vallecano during the window.
Prediction: 13th
Tottenham Hotspur:
Tottenham ended last season in fourth place having been title contenders mid way through the season. Due to Chelsea's Champions League final win, Spurs will be playing Europa League football though this year and not in the Champions League. Harry Redknapp was sacked at the end of the season and was replaced by Portuguese man Andre Villas Boas. Striker Emmanuel Adebayor was the top goal scorer for Spurs last season and scored 17 league goals in his loan spell. The Togo man has since gone back to parent club Man City and a deal to keep him at White Hart Lane has yet to be agreed. AVB has so far only brought in two players during the window, snapping up midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, and defender Jan Vertonghen who signed from Ajax. 
Prediction: 6th
West Bromwich Albion:
Roy Hodgson's decision to become England manager has meant that WBA will start 2012/13 with Steve Clarke at the helm. Clarke spent the last season and a half as the number two to Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool, and was also Jose Mourinho's number two when the 'special one' was manager at Chelsea. Clarke's first competitive game as West Brom manager will be against former team Liverpool as they face each other at The Hawthorns on the opening day of the season. On loan last season, keeper Ben Foster signed permanently for the Baggies from Midland rivals Birmingham City. Swedish frontman Markus Rosenberg has also been brought in from Werder Bremen and will offer a further attacking threat alongside Shane Long and Peter Odemwinge.
Prediction: 17th
West Ham United:
West Ham made an immediate return to the Premier League coming up through the play-offs. Sam Alladyce's men looked likely to achieve automatic promotion but poor performances in vital games meant they needed to go through the play-offs to get promoted. Alladyce has been busy in the transfer window so far bringing in eight players including goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and former Wigan man Mohamed Diame both on free transfers. West Ham will be looking to get off to a good start as they face Swansea, Aston Villa and Fulham in their first three games. Led by Kevin Nolan, goals shouldn't be a problem with Ricardo Vaz Te, Nicky Maynard and Carlton Cole all available to play up front. The experience of Matty Taylor and Mark Noble in midfield will help the younger players in the squad and guide the team through the season.
Prediction: 12th
Wigan Athletic:
Wigan made yet another remarkable escape last season avoiding relegation and finishing in 15th place above Aston Villa and QPR. This season will be their eighth successive season in the Premier League and will be manager Roberto Martinez's fourth in charge of the Lactics. The Spaniard turned down the chance to manager both Liverpool and Aston Villa to remain with Wigan. Martinez has been relatively quiet in the transfer market so far only bringing in just the two players. Fraser Fyvie has joined the club from Aberdeen and is joined by defender Ivan Ramis who decided to join Wigan when it looked like he was going to fellow Premier League side West Ham. 
Prediction: 18th

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