Thursday, 11 August 2011

TSBV Feature: Premier League preview (Part 3)

With 10 clubs having been previewed, we look at the last 10 teams with only 3 days left to go before the start of the season. Today, we'll preview the chances of Newcastle United, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City and Sunderland

Newcastle United
It's been a typical pre season for Newcastle to be honest. Mike Ashley has certainly not gained any fans, that's for sure. His wayward decisions with transfer policy has meant that many people, including us at TSBV, doubt Newcastle's chances of even staying in the Premier League this season. Losing their captain in Kevin Nolan was a really big blow to the club, especially considering he went to nPower Championship club West Ham United. Perhaps this proves the doubt that surrounds Newcastle at the moment, and many players are possibly becoming alienated.

"Goodbye Joey" Ashley rubs his hands
as he tightens his grip on Newcastle
Another two players who are rumoured to be all but gone are Jose Enrique (who is having a medical at Liverpool and is expected to sign today) and Joey Barton, another two key cogs in the Newcastle team of last season. The ludicrous decision to transfer list Barton on a free transfer is genuinely shocking. I don't think anyone saw that coming after the season Joey had, and we at TSBV feel sorry for him. For Newcastle's sake, you have to hope that other key players like Jonas Gutierrez stay at the club if they are to maintain their status next season.

The incoming players have also been intriguing as well, with Pardew opting to sign the like of Gabriel Obertan and Demba Ba, who have been average to say the least in their Premier League appearances. They have also brought in a few French players. Two of them were bought on free transfers (Sylvain Marveaux and Mehdi Abeid) whilst they spent £4.8m to prize Yohan Cabaye from current French champions Lille. Whether these bunch of players will deliver is yet to be seen, but we at TSBV predict a difficult season for Newcastle, and one which will see them get relegated, if Barton departs.

TSBV predicts: 18th

Norwich City
After losing 7-1 to Colchester United around this time 2 years ago, the fortunes of Norwich City have changed considerably. The person who managed that Colchester side, moved to Norwich just a week later, and has led the Canaries to two successive promotions to get them to the promised land for the first time in 6 years.

And nobody can deny them this joy. After scoring the most goals in the nPower Championship last season, they finished just 4 points behind eventual winners QPR and lost just 8 games, showing a steel that is needed to compete in the Premier League. Even though they have strengthened their side with no fewer than 8 players, it is a very big ask for a club who have just achieved back to back promotion to handle the majority of sides in this league. If they are to play well, club captain Grant Holt will need to produce consistently good performances for his side. 21 goals and 14 assists last season proved how vital he was to Norwich City's attack, and manager Paul Lambert will be praying he doesn't pick up any knocks throughout the season.

We at TSBV think it's a big step to take in such a short space of time for Norwich, and they'd probably have been better suited having a couple more years in the Championship

TSBV predicts: 20th

Queens Park Rangers
Last seasons Championship winners come into the Premier League on the back of a few worrying months for the club. Prior to winning the Championship, their place was under threat when they were investigated over the transfer of Alejandro Faurlin. They were found guilty of breaching third party ownership rules, but escaped a points deduction.

Captain Fantastic! Taarabt needs to
have another good season
Despite that scare, QPR were a very good side last year, and deservedly came into the Premier League. Backed by wealthy owners, you'd expect the West London outfit to do quite well this season and if they perform to their maximum potential, should stay up. We think that keeping captain Adel Taarabt from the hands of PSG was a real bonus for them though, and Neil Warnock will be praying that the Moroccan can continue impressing after being deservedly awarded Football League Player of the Year last season. The Hoops have also brought in some good signings as well, with a mixture of Premier League experience and real quality. Kieron Dyer, Danny Gabbidon and Jay Bothroyd have all joined them on free transfers, but Warnock will be hoping the first two can stay injury free at Loftus Road. There's also the addition of DJ-Campbell, who was a real revelation for Blackpool last season. The question on everyone's lips will be whether he can do it in a different team, one which will not be as attack minded as Blackpool, you'd imagine.

We do think, considering the financial clout behind them, QPR should have strengthened much more than what they actually did, and this could potentially cost them when going into the final few furlongs of the season.

TSBV predicts: 17th

Stoke City
After reaching the FA Cup Final last season, Stoke got the reward of playing in Europe for only the third time in the clubs history. However, their achievements could prove to be an unnecessary distraction in the coming months, and victory against FC Thun will mean that they will have to play 10 European games before Christmas. It could prove to be a great thorn in their side, and you have the feeling that Tony Pulis will have to bring in a few extra faces if they are to be competitive in both competitions.

Relegation shouldn't be a worry though for the Potters, especially with their amazing home form at the Britannia. The place certainly is a fortress every season for them, and if they carry on this home form, they should do well in both the Premier League and Europe. The key players for them this season will prove to be their wingers, in Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington. They both added a different dimension to Stoke's game last season, and have started to help to move them away from being a "long throw" team dependent on Rory Delap. However, we think that Stoke will achieve a comfortable mid table finish like last season

TSBV predicts: 12th

The Mackems have been the busiest side in the league during pre season, bringing in an astonishing 10 players! You can understand why they've brought in some many though, considering the injuries they faced last season, manager Steve Bruce wants to err on the side of caution. Sunderland are quite a strange side though. Victories against Manchester City and Chelsea proved they have the quality to finish in the top half, but they often let themselves down when playing sides around their position. A run of 9 games without a win meant they slumped into the bottom half of the table, but they certainly can improve upon that.

The feeder club of Manchester United - as some refer to them nowadays, added some much needed steel to their defence with the purchases of Wes Brown and John o'Shea from Manchester United. There have also been some good signings to strengthen the midfield, bringing in David Vaughan, Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson from Blackpool and Birmingham respectively. All three will turn out to be good signings, to be honest, with David Vaughan being a intriguing one in particular. He had a pass success rate of 87% last season, and will be someone who can help get the ball forward to new strikers Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham. Both are decent signings, who despite their age, have a habit of finding the net and will probably add some goals to a side that struggled for them last season.

TSBV predicts: 11th

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