Brendan Rogers has been fairly busy strengthening his squad this summer and has spent £10.2million in a bid to survive in the top flight. Rogers has spent that money on players who are more familiar with the Championship than the Premier League, though. Danny Graham has been charged with the responsibility of scoring the goals needed to survive after his £3.4million move from Watford. Wayne Routledge joins Swansea, and club number nine in the process, for a fee of £2.8million, Leroy Lita cost £1.7million from Middlesbrough whilst goalkeepers Michel Vorm (£1.5million) and Jose Moreira (£750k) join from FC Utrecht and Benfica respectively.
Brendan Rogers likes his team to play attacking football and often deploys a 4-3-3 formation. This leads to obvious comparisons to Blackpool last season. I think Swansea will begin life in the Premier League in a similar fashion too. If we look at Hull City and Blackpool, the last two Championship play-off winners before Swansea, the ‘surprise factor’ was often mentioned as a reason for their good starts. Last season I was impressed with Swansea in an attacking sense and their defensive record was the best in the Championship at home which leads me to believe they will get off to a good start this season too. A strong start and getting points on the board early is crucial for newly promoted sides. Failure to do so can lead to a long and rather miserable season.
Key Player: Scott Sinclair
Net Spend: -£10.2million
Tottenham’s quiet summer so far makes it difficult to imagine them challenging for the Champions League places this season. Brad Friedel arrived from Aston Villa and the veteran American goalkeeper signed a two-year-deal at White Hart Lane. The highly-rated Souleymane Coulibaly signed from Siena for an undisclosed fee and Cristian Ceballos joined on a free transfer from Barcelona B. Two senior members of the Spurs squad have departed with the injury-plagued Jonathan Woodgate joining Stoke City on a free transfer whilst Jamie O’Hara turned his loan move at Wolves into a permanent deal for £3.5million.
The Luka Modric ‘saga’ continues to unfold and Tottenham need that to be resolved one way or the other before the season kicks off. Modric is an outstanding player and would be a great addition to any team. If he doesn’t want to stay at Tottenham, though, it might be best if Harry Redknapp cashes in.
The biggest problem with the Spurs squad is the lack of a top class striker. They have talent in abundance in midfield with Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Rafael Van Der Vaart (pictured), Gareth Bale and, of course, Luka Modric all excellent at
fashioning out chances for strikers but there isn’t a striker at the club good enough to lead the line on his own and score goals on a regular basis. Jermain Defoe is still a top quality finisher but Harry Redknapp opted to play one up front for large periods of last season with Rafael Van Der Vaart deployed just behind the lone striker and Defoe isn’t equipped to play the lone role up front. Robbie Keane’s second spell at the club has been a complete disaster and he is coming ever closer to leaving the club. Peter Crouch showed signs last season that his days playing at the top level are coming to an end and Roman Pavlyuchenko has struggled to score regularly since signing from Spartak Moscow in 2008. Pavlyuchenko’s record at Tottenham is 20 goals in 73 games; a ratio close to a goal every four games.
Tottenham have looked to ease their striker crisis on a number of occasions. Harry Redknapp lodged a bid for Andy Carroll in January before he moved to Liverpool and Fernando Llorente, Hulk and Giuseppe Rossi have all been linked with big-money moves to White Hart Lane this summer. Neither of those three are realistically likely to join Tottenham but there is someone who appears to be close to agreeing a season-long deal to return to north London. That man is Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor, whilst not a popular figure among the Tottenham faithful, is the type of player Tottenham need if they are to continue with a 4-2-3-1 formation. He is comfortable leading the line on his own and the service provided from a creative midfield should ensure that he is a success for Tottenham this season.
Tottenham’s rivals have spent considerable amounts of money this summer and unless they bring in reinforcements before the transfer window slams shut on the 1st September, it’s hard to imagine they will keep up with the rest of the teams aiming to secure Champions League football.
Key Player: Rafael Van Der Vaart
Net Spend: +£3.5million
West Bromwich Albion
Roy Hodgson has done a good job at West Brom since replacing Roberto Di Matteo as manager in February this year. He safely guided The Baggies to 11th place last season and will hope to build on that finish this season. He has added to his squad with the record signing of Shane Long for an initial fee of £4.4million and Ben Foster could turn out to be the bargain of the season after his switch from rivals Birmingham City for just £970k. Boaz Myhill joined Birmingham on loan as part of that deal. Zoltan Gera has returned to the club where he made his name in England, leaving Fulham on a free transfer.
West Brom have a decent squad and one which should have no problems in surviving in the Premier League again this season. There is a worry that West Brom’s defence remains somewhat suspect and there have not been any defensive reinforcements so far. However, the influential Chris Brunt has remained at the club and so have Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans and Peter Odemwingie. The retention of these key players coupled with the additions of Foster and Long should inspire belief that West Brom can secure another mid-table finish this season.
Key Player: Chris Brunt
Net Spend: -£3.4million
Wigan Athletic continue to defy the odds by establishing themselves as a Premier League club, having remained in the top flight since promotion was won in 2005. They narrowly escaped relegation last season but this summer’s transfer activity points to another season in a relegation battle. Ali Al-Habsi impressed enough on loan last season to earn a permanent deal and Oman’s number 1 joins The Latics for £3.7million. David Jones joins on a free transfer from Wolves and the pair are the only signings made by Roberto Martinez this summer.
Charles N’Zogbia is arguably the biggest reason Wigan are still a Premier League club. His goals and assists proved just enough to lead Wigan to safety and earned him a transfer to Aston Villa as a result. This season, there a two players who need to perform consistently if Wigan are to have any chance of surviving again. These are Hudo Rodallega and James McCarthy. Both have been linked with moves away from the club but as the beginning of the season edges ever closer, Wigan will do everything in their power to keep the two at the club. Without N’Zogbia, though, Wigan’s fight for survival has been made all the more difficult and this could be the season their Premier League journey comes to an end.
Key Player: Hugo Rodallega
Net Spend: +£5.9million
Wolves begin their third successive season in the Premier League away to Blackburn Rovers and the moves made by manager Mick McCarthy in the transfer market this summer point to them surviving once more. The acquisition of Roger Johnson for £7million is very good business and Jamie O’Hara will add some much-needed creativity to Wolves’ midfield. O’Hara was on loan at Molineux last season and has made the move permanent for £3.5million. With no high-profile departures, Wolves are in good shape for the coming season.
The defence and midfield have been strengthened this summer so it is vital that key strikers Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle remain fit. Both are very good, underrated players and their goals will be key for Wolves this season. The two complement each other very well and should become a good partnership if McCarthy plays two strikers.
Wayne Hennessey has established himself as McCarthy’s number 1 goalkeeper which means there is a strong spine to the team in Hennessey, Johnson, O’Hara, Fletcher and Doyle. If all five remain fit and in form, Wolves should enjoy a successful season.
Key Player: Kevin Doyle
Net Spend: -£9.6million
1- Manchester United
3- Manchester City
6- Tottenham Hotspur
7- Aston Villa
10- Stoke City
11- Bolton Wanderers
13- West Bromwich Albion
14- Newcastle United
15- Wolverhampton Wanderers
16- Blackburn Rovers
17- Swansea City
19- Queens Park Rangers
20- Norwich City
All transfer fees correct according to the excellent TransferMarkt. Don’t believe the exaggerated fees you see in newspapers and on Sky Sports News!
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