Saturday, 13 August 2011

TSBV Feature: Premier League preview (Part 4)

With less than 24 hours to go before the season finally kicks off, we wrap up our Premier League Preview by examining how Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and Wolves will do this season.

Swansea City
After beating Reading in the Championship play off final, Swansea became the first ever Welsh side to play in the Premier League. Nobody could argue that they didn't deserve it either, as they played some marvellous football throughout the season which Barcelona could've been envy of at times. Their short and slick passing style caused loads of havoc for many defences last season, and was a reason the Liberty Stadium turned into a fortress.

Can Sinclair keep up last season's
Obviously though, it won't be as easy in the Premier League for them. Their adventurous approach against bigger teams could lead to them being easily exposed in defence, and if were being honest, their back 4 doesn't look to be full of Premier League experience. Their main signings have been Leroy Lita, Danny Graham and Wayne Routledge, all of which are not exactly spectacular signings. It could be a worrying sign for Swans fans, and one thing they'll have to watch out for is to avoid being a carbon copy of Blackpool - they will need to ensure their defence is solid when attacking.

If they are too be successful and stay up, Scott Sinclair is central to those hopes. The versatile attacker was their top score last season with 22 goals, posing a threat in both wide and central areas to opposition defences. Ever since his last Premier League appearances, he seems to have matured a lot, so this bodes well for Swansea. However, due to the lack of Premier League experience, it could be a long season for Swansea.

TSBV predicts: 19th

Tottenham Hotspur
Last season turned out to be a mixed one for Spurs. A quite brilliant Champions League campaign, which featured a glamour tie against Real Madrid and victories against both Milan clubs was rivalled by a somewhat poor Premier League campaign. Draws at home to the likes of Sunderland and Blackpool meant that they finished 6 points off a Champions League spot in 5th place.

It isn't likely to get any easier this year either. Liverpool have become significantly stronger, whilst the teams who got the Champions League places all strengthened pre season as well. Add that to the fact that Redknapp has only brought in 40 year old Brad Friedel, it is quite worrying for Spurs fans. The main priority for Tottenham has to be to bring in a world class forward, as that is where they are significantly weak. But the wages are too high to acquire these world class strikers, according to Redknapp. Interest in Sergio Aguero was scuppered because they couldn't afford £250k a week. It seems like they need to get a rid of a lot of deadwood before they can buy. The likes of David Bentley, Robbie Keane and Wilson Palacios, who are all rare starters, are on high wages, and these need to go.

If Tottenham are to improve last seasons position, the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric need to perform on a consistent basis though. The latter has been subject to intense interest from Chelsea though, and he has indicated his desire to leave. This would be a massive blow if he left, and Daniel Levy has acknowledged this himself, saying he had no intention to sell Luka, especially considering his contract doesn't run out until 2016. Because of the many issues surrounding the club, we predict Spurs to finish just outside the top 4 again.

TSBV predicts: 6th

West Bromwich Albion
The introduction of Roy Hodgson in the second half of last season re-invigorated both West Brom and Hodgson. 20 points from 12 games ensured safety for the Baggies, and Hodgson will be hoping for a season of stability at the Hawthorns this season.

He has also bought shrewdly in the window as well, bringing in Shane Long from Reading and Zoltan Gera, who has returned to the club who introduced him to English football. Gera's attacking prowess will add an extra dimension to the Baggies attack, whilst in Shane Long, West Brom have acquired a player who can do it all. His pace, composure and finishing ability (which got him 23 goals at Reading last season) ensures Peter Odemwingie has a good strike partner. With both Paul Scharner and Youssuf Mulumbu protecting the defence, the likes of Chris Brunt can prove how good they are going forward. He will be West Brom's key man next season, and will hope to improve upon his very impressive 11 assists from last season.

However, if they are too become a stable Premier League side, they need to improve the defensive side to their game. It is no secret that West Brom are well known for their attacking philosophy, and this is one reason why they were one of the most unstable clubs in football. However, Hodgson brings a different mentality to the club, one which maintains a solid team shape. Additions in Ben Foster, Marton Fulop, Gareth McAuley and Billy Jones all come in to add some steel into the defensive positions. If anyone can transform a leaky defence given time, it is Roy Hodgson, and we predict a more than average season for the Baggies

TSBV predicts: 9th

Wigan Athletic
After winning back to back matches for the first time in the season, Wigan ensured their survival on the final day and made it their 6th year in the top flight. One person they had to thank for that was their ambitious manager Roberto Martinez, who, despite interest from Aston Villa, stayed on at the DW Stadium for another year.

Rodellega needs to step up to the plate this season
with the departure of N'Zogbia
It is hard to predict anything but another relegation battle for Wigan and perhaps a low mid table finish at best. The modest budget given to Martinez means he doesn't have much room to manoeuvre and buy top quality to move Wigan up the table. Martinez recognised at the end of last season that they needed to buy a new striker, but he is yet fail to deliver, and has only brought in David Jones from Wolves, as well as making Ali Al Habsi's loan move permanent.

There is also the departure of Wigan's most creative players in the summer, in Charles N'Zogbia (who has moved to Aston Villa) and Tom Cleverley (whose loan deal has run out). This could be a worrying sign for the Latics, as their top scorer has departed and there is no real threat coming from the midfield. If they are to be successful, the likes of Rodellega, Ben Watson, James McCarthy and Victor Moses need to step up to the plate, otherwise it could be a hard season for Wigan.

TSBV predicts: 15th

This season should turn out to be a more comfortable season for Wolves, considering the players that have come in, as well as the key players that Mick McCarthy has been able to keep hold of. They look a much stronger team than others surrounding them, and if they can beat their rivals, they should stay up comfortably.

With clean sheets scarce last year, the purchase of Roger Johnson was a smart move by Wolves. He is a commanding centre back who will provide some much needed steel to the defence. And there is also the permanent purchase of Jamie O'Hara, who was definitely a player who revitalised Wolves in the second half of last season. He is very much a comfortable player on the ball and has a good eye for a pass, meaning both Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle will have a lot of service next season.

Wolves are a metaphor for inconsistency, with some amazing results against the top teams one minute, then underachieving against teams around them the next. They do have a lot of team mentality which means that when the pressure is on, they can usually deliver. They need to ensure they beat teams around them though, and perhaps this will mould them into an established Premier League club, both on and off the pitch.

TSBV predicts: 16th

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