Premier League Preview – 2011/2012 (Part Four)

12 08 2011

Swansea City

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

Prediction: 17th

Tottenham Hotspur

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

Rafael van der Vaart

Image via Wikipedia

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

Prediction: 6th

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

Prediction: 13th

Wigan Athletic

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

Prediction: 18th

Wolverhampton Wanderers

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

Prediction: 15th

Predicted Table

1- Manchester United

2- Chelsea

3- Manchester City

4- Liverpool

5- Arsenal

6- Tottenham Hotspur

7- Aston Villa

8- Sunderland

9- Everton

10- Stoke City

11- Bolton Wanderers

12- Fulham

13- West Bromwich Albion

14- Newcastle United

15- Wolverhampton Wanderers

16- Blackburn Rovers

17- Swansea City

18-Wigan Athletic

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!

Click here for Part One

Click here for Part Two

Click here for Part Three

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17/11/2010 – Wednesday’s Paper Round-Up

17 11 2010
Reto Ziegler

Image via Wikipedia

Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar has told Croatian agency Mediaservis he could leave if he continues to be left on the sidelines, but insists he would prefer to stay at White Hart Lane.

“I have to wait to see what Tottenham have to say, but as things stand, a transfer somewhere else is not that far away,” he said. “I am not angry or too disappointed. I believe that things will improve at Spurs. But if not then I will look for a club where I can play week in and week out.”

Meanwhile Kranjcar’s father Zlato, the manager of the Montenegro national team, claims his son has already made up his mind, telling another Croatian agency 24sata: “Niko is definitely leaving Tottenham. There just isn’t any sense to be sitting on the bench all the time.”

Chelsea are considering a January swoop for Benfica’s £25m-rated defender David Luiz with Alex and John Terry both facing spells on the sidelines with injuries.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is set to do battle with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as they attempt to land the services of Sunderland’s 20-year-old midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Mancini is also set to cut his losses on striker Emmanuel Adebayor and offload the striker to Italian club Juventus.

Liverpool are lining up a player-plus-cash offer for Borussia Dortmund hitman Lucas Barrios. Ryan Babel or Milan Jovanovic are believed to be the players involved.

The Reds are also believed to be closing on a £7m deal for Real Sociedad’s highly rated winger Antoine Griezmann.

Liverpool Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli is targeting Sampdoria full-back Reto Ziegler (above). The former Tottenham star’s contract expires in the summer and could be available at a knock down fee of £3million. The Reds are not ruling out trying to tie up a pre-contract agreement although they face competition from Juventus and Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer says Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner would be a perfect fit for the German club.

Blackburn are poised to make a move for Standard Liege striker Mohammed Tchite when the January transfer window opens.

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has talked about the possibility of taking Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema on loan.

England coach Fabio Capello is using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor players’ fitness levels after the team’s World Cup failure last summer.

Blackpool’s Charlie Adam is set to win his £25,000 contract dispute with the club this week over his fight for a ‘survival bonus’.

Karren Brady has promised West Ham fans the club will spend in the January transfer window in a bid for Premier League survival.

Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart thinks life under manager Harry Redknapp is much more exciting than the time he spent under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. “There are no long and boring speeches about tactics,” said the Dutchman.

Although Cardiff City forward Jay Bothroyd was delighted to have been a surprise inclusion in the England squad for Wednesday’s friendly against France, the 28-year-old’s call-up actually came three years later than he had aimed for.

The mooted appointment of Tottenham manager Redknapp as manager of the Great Britain football team for the London 2012 Olympics is being seen as the best way of persuading Wales to join England in providing players, such as midfielder Gareth Bale.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has arrived back at Old Trafford half a stone lighter after his American boot camp experience to help him recover from an ankle injury.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.





Van der Vaart Seals Spurs Switch

1 09 2010

Rafael Van der Vaart’s transfer to Tottenham Hotspur has been ratified by the Premier League.

It was believed that Spurs had missed the deadline to sign the Dutchman but Tottenham’s official website has confirmed the deal.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=rafael+van+der+vaart&iid=9517747″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9517747/los-angeles-galaxy-real/los-angeles-galaxy-real.jpg?size=500&imageId=9517747″ width=”380″ height=”448″ /] The Tottenham website read: “We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement with Real Madrid for the transfer of Rafael Van der Vaart”.

The Holland international came through the ranks at Ajax and won two league titles during 141 appearances with the Eredivisie side, scoring 60 goals before leaving for Hamburg in the summer of 2005.

The attacking midfielder, 27, was the Bundesliga side’s leading scorer in his first season in Germany and went on to captain the side before joining Real Madrid ahead of the 2007/08 campaign.

Rafael has been capped by Holland a total of 83 times, scoring 16 goals, since making his international debut against Andorra in 2001 at the age of 18.

He has since represented the Netherlands at two European Championships and two World Cups, including this summer’s tournament in South Africa where he featured five times in the side’s run to the Final”.

The transfer has also been confirmed by the Premier League. In a statement, they said: “The Premier League can confirm the transfer of Rafael van der Vaart’s registration from Real Madrid to Tottenham Hotspur.”

Real Madrid revealed that there was no interest from German giants Bayern Munich contrary to reports in the English media and by Tottenham themselves.

Madrid director Miguel Pardeza revealed: “Real Madrid met all the deadlines regarding the transfer of Van der Vaart”.

When questioned on the subject of Bayern Munich making an approach for the Holland star, Pardeza said:

“It is absolutely false that Real Madrid received a 21million euro offer from Bayern Munich for Van der Vaart.

“In fact, the German team never showed an interest to sign the player, so the allegations made in England have greatly surprised us.”

Mark Jepson





Van der Vaart Deal Hits Snag

1 09 2010

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Tottenham Hotspur have missed the deadline to sign Holland star Rafael Van der Vaart, according to Sky Sports.

Reports in Spain yesterday revealed how Van der Vaart’s proposed £18million move to Bayern Munich had fallen through which paved the way for Spurs to make a late bid to bring him to White Hart Lane. The deal is believed to have hit a snag due to ‘technical issues’.

Tottenham are believed to have requested special dispensation from the Premier League to allow them to add the Dutchman to their 25 man squad.

Harry Redknapp previously told Sky Sports News earlier in the day that he expected no activity from his club on the last day of the transfer window but when the Bayern Munich move fell through, he could not pass on the opportunity to sign him.

“I think he was going to Bayern Munich yesterday for about £18million, but suddenly it became an awful lot cheaper,” said Redknapp.

“He is available now for about £8million. He is a quality player. He is a Dutch international and a great footballer.

“For that sort of money, he is a top player and he will improve us for sure. We have made the effort, whether we can pull it off or not we will have to see.

“I am hopeful. It could happen. It was a last-minute job. When I came in this morning it certainly wasn’t something I was looking to do.”

He added: “He is a great passer of the ball, he is a top footballer. He will join in here and play the way we like to play, he would be a big plus for us.

“He looked like he was going for £18million but then the fee came crashing down because the deadline got close. If the chairman can pull it off, I think he will have got a real bargain.”

As of yet there is no indication from the Premier League as to whether the special dispensation that Spurs have requested will be granted.

Mark Jepson





20/08/2010 – Friday Transfer Talk

20 08 2010

Paul Konchesky has been offered a new contract by Fulham to keep him out of the clutches of Liverpool, who are preparing a £3m bid for the English left-back.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=dirk+kuyt&iid=9298413″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9298413/dirk-kuyt-holland-world/dirk-kuyt-holland-world.jpg?size=500&imageId=9298413″ width=”234″ height=”333″ /]  Dirk Kuyt’s agent, Rob Jansen, claims the Liverpool striker (left)  is considering a reunion with former Reds boss Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan. Jansen claimed there is “real interest” from the European champions and added: “There is also the possibility that a player from Inter could be included in the deal.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will turn his attentions to Bordeaux’s France international defender Michael Ciani, 26, if his bid to land Sevilla centre-back Sebastien Squillaci fails.

Tottenham are set to offer £6m for Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, who has just one year remaining on his contract, and secure the services of Read Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra on a loan deal.

Santos president Alvaro Luis De Oliveira has offered 18-year-old playmaker Neymar a new and improved contract to try to keep him out of the reaches of Chelsea.

Birmingham are poised to make a £6m move for Tottenham defender Alan Hutton.

Carlton Cole insists he is happy at West Ham and will not be joining Liverpool this summer. The striker has been strongly linked with a move away from Upton Park to Anfield.

Spurs face a battle with Spanish side Seville in a race to sign Barcelona’s former Arsenal winger Alex Hleb, who went on loan to German side Stuttgart last season.

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has confirmed he is considering the possibility of sending midfielder Alberto Aquilani out on loan in an effort to help him play first-team football.

Aquilani’s agent insists the player will remain at Anfield but that is not preventing Juventus from lining up a bid for the Italian.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=rafael+van+der+vaart&iid=9567436″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9567436/world-news-august-2010/world-news-august-2010.jpg?size=500&imageId=9567436″ width=”234″ height=”366″ /] Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart (right) is eyeing a move to Manchester United after becoming one of four players put up for sale. The Dutchman said: “If you are leaving Real Madrid, there is only one club that is not a step down – and that’s Manchester United.”

Blackburn are set to sign Jonathan Greening from Fulham on a season-long loan. The former Manchester United midfielder, 31, is not in new Fulham boss Mark Hughes’s plans and Rovers have been cleared to speak to him.

Bolton’s versatile midfielder Matt Taylor is a target for West Ham and Blackburn, despite the £2m-rated star signing a new contract last year.

Birmingham want to secure a deal for Wolfsburg striker Grafite but obtaining a work permit could be a problem. The 31-year-old Brazilian has scored 50 goals in 79 games for Steve McClaren’s side but only has four caps.

Manchester City fans may be a little concerned after reading Roberto Mancini’s latest managerial ambitions in his homeland. The Italian, who led his team to a 1-0 win in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday, said: “You cannot say no to the national team. I would love to coach Italy one day.”

Chelsea’s 21-year-old defender Sam Hutchinson has been forced to retire because of a chronic knee injury. First spotted by Jose Mourinho, now at Real Madrid, he made his senior debut aged 18 against Everton in 2007 and played four times for the first team.

Dimitar Berbatov has painted himself as Manchester United’s modern-day Eric Cantona. “Football is like art and my aim is to create beautiful things on the pitch to help the team be successful,” said the Bulgarian, who has also drawn caricatures of team-mates Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic.

For full stories, head over to the BBC website.

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