Month: July 2014

Premier League Preview: Sunderland

There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Sunderland.

On the face of things, a 14th place finish in the Premier League and two decent cup runs looks like a successful season for the Black Cats. However, in reality they spent the majority of the season in the relegation zone in a miserable campaign until a late surge kept them afloat. Gus Poyet will be hoping for a much more comfortable year this time round.

The Manager
Gus Poyet has plenty of Premier League experience, having played for both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and is a highly rated up-and-coming manager. He enjoyed a very successful spell at the helm of Brighton and Hove Albion, although it ended sourly, and saved Sunderland from relegation as well as reaching the final of the League Cup.

Poyet is no stranger to the Premier League

Poyet is no stranger to the Premier League

Biggest Signing
Sunderland have made some decent additions to their squad so far, without spending too much money. Patrick van Aanholt has moved from Chelsea, having previously been out on loan, and should slot in at left-back. The Black Cats have also made three signings on three transfers: Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez. Of these, the biggest, both in terms of stature and reputation, is former Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon. The giant Romanian had a spell as Pellegrini’s number one keeper when Joe Hart suffered a dip in form and he performed admirably during his time between the sticks. He should prove to be a good addition for Gus Poyet.

Pantilimon will be a large presence in the Sunderland goal

Pantilimon will be a large presence in the Sunderland goal

Who is tipped to join them?
Poyet has expressed his concern at the lack of activity this window and the Black Cats haven’t been tipped to sign too many new faces. The main man believed to be on their radar is Fabio Borini from Liverpool, who was on loan to them last season, and they have agreed a fee of around £14 million to acquire his services. There has been a long wait to complete the transfer, however, and it is reported that Borini may prefer to stay on Merseyside.

It remains to be seen if Borini will move to Sunderland permanently

It remains to be seen if Borini will move to Sunderland permanently

Who should they sign?
The Black Cats look a little short in defence and will be keen to add some new recruits to bolster their squad. Poyet will be desperate for a new right-back in particular, especially having reportedly missed out on Carl Jenkinson, and Luis Pedro Cavanda is a potential option. Sunderland will also want competition at centre-back that Sebastian Bassong could provide.

Bassong would jump at the chance to return to top flight football

Bassong would jump at the chance to return to top flight football

Key Player
Adam Johnson. At points last season, there were calls for Adam Johnson to return to the England setup after several impressive displays, however, they did not come often enough. On his day, he is a tough proposition for any opposing fullback and if he can find his best form more consistently then Sunderland will have no trouble avoiding relegation.

Johnson would be a top player if he could consistently find form

Johnson would be a top player if he could consistently find form

Prediction
Sunderland appear to be building sensibly under Gus Poyet, who I believe is a good manager, and I think that we will see steady progress for the Black Cats over the next few seasons. I’m not expecting miracles by any stretch and think that they will actually finish a couple of places lower than last season but they should steer clear from relegation and have a more comfortable campaign. Expect Sunderland to finish 16th.

Premier League Preview: Stoke City

There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Stoke City.

Stoke ended their 7 year relationship with Tony Pulis at the beginning of last season. Having established themselves as a Premier League club, their aim was to push up the table as far as possible. During Mark Hughes’s first season at the helm, they finished 10th and will be hoping to improve on that this time round.

The Manager


Mark Hughes has had an inconsistent managerial career in England’s top flight. With difficult spells in charge of moneymen Man City and QPR, scattered amongst impressive ones at Blackburn and Fulham, most Premier League fans don’t know what to make of “Sparky” as a manager.

Having inherited a notoriously sturdy and robust Stoke squad with a playing style labeled ‘unattractive’, amongst other things, Hughes has successfully implemented a more attractive playing style at the Britannia. By adding exciting players, such as Arnautovic, Assaidi and eventually Odemwingie, Hughes created an intriguing mix of physical strength alongside pacey, more technically gifted stars.

Mark Hughes has impressed Stoke fans thus far

Mark Hughes has impressed Stoke fans thus far

Biggest Signing


Stoke have already added Premier League experience to their ranks. Both Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell were standout performers last season for Sunderland and Fulham respectively. To get both on a free is somewhat of a coup for Hughes.In Mame Diouf they have a player who had a decent spell in the top flight with Blackburn Rovers, on loan from Man United, but has since proved himself abroad with Hannover 96, bagging almost a goal every two games for the Bundesliga outfit.

Their marquee signing, however, has to be Bojan Krkic. The former Barcelona man was once hailed as the next Lionel Messi and made over 100 appearances at Camp Nou between the ages of 17 and 20. Since then, Bojan has had three fairly average seasons on loan at Roma, A.C Milan and Ajax. The Spaniard insists that his lack of form is a result of being played too often on the right wing instead of in his favoured role as a striker. It will therefore be interesting to see how Mark Hughes deploys this ambitious signing. I am sure that we are all hoping to see a player who promises so much fulfill his potential for Stoke this season.

Bojan was once tipped for great things but has lost his way. Can he rediscover his best form at Stoke?

Bojan was once tipped for great things but has lost his way. Can he rediscover his best form at Stoke?

Who is tipped to join them?
Having seen wide-men Kightly, Etherington and Pennant depart from the Britannia, Mark Hughes will surely be looking to strengthen his options on both wings. Oussama Assaidi looks set to return permanently, after a good spell on loan last season, providing a fee can be met with Liverpool. Further to this, there is reported interest in Norwich’s young English prospect Nathan Redmond, who would surely be keen to join The Potters after suffering relegation last season.

Redmond is keen to make a quick return to the Premier League

Redmond is keen to make a quick return to the Premier League

Who should they sign?
Stoke fans must be delighted with their business so far; having signed a good balance of Premier League experience and exciting flair players, whilst retaining their key men from last season. With good strength in depth, there is only the aforementioned need for a couple of wingers to complete a strong-looking squad. Two players who could be available, either on loan or on the cheap, are Victor Moses and Scott Sinclair, both capable of contributing to Mark Hughes’s side.

Victor Moses would be a useful loan signing

Victor Moses would be a useful loan signing

Key Player
Apart from big name signing Bojan, who could prove a crucial figure for The Potters, Marko Arnautovic is a player who should have a big say in City’s fortunes this coming season. He found his feet very quickly in the Premier League and showed his pace, power and excellent technical ability in what was a very impressive debut campaign for the tall Austrian international. He was one of the key players in helping Mark Hughes achieve his goal of transforming the rugged Stoke of Tony Pulis’ era into a more aesthetically pleasing outfit. Expect to see this man continue to flourish next season as he links up with Stoke’s exciting new signings.

Arnautovic has settled well into life in the Premier League

Arnautovic has settled well into life in the Premier League

Prediction
When a side achieves its highest ever league finish, there is always a worry that, from this position, the only way is down. Stoke fans, however, should have no such fears. With an ambitious manager making ambitious signings and with no key players set to leave, it appears that The Potters will continue into next season in much the same vein as the last, consolidating their place as a top-half team. I’m expecting Hughes’s men to go one better this year and grab themselves an 8th place finish.

Premier League Preview: Southampton

There are only 3 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Southampton.

Southampton enjoyed a very successful last season under manager Mauricio Pochettino and finished 8th in the Premier League. All looked well at St Mary’s until this summer when a mass exodus took place. Pochettino has departed, joining Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and key players Lallana, Shaw, Lovren and Lambert followed him out of the door with Rodriguez and Schneiderlin set to leave the club too. Bright prospect Calum Chambers has also left for Arsenal. Suddenly, Southampton look like a side in free-fall and will be battling for relegation rather than pushing for a place in Europe.

The Manager
Ronald Koeman enjoyed a glittering playing career for the likes of Barcelona and Ajax, scoring over 200 goals which is remarkable for a defender. He has since turned his attention to management and has had spells with Ajax, Benfica and Valencia, to name but a few. He has been relatively successful in his time as a manager, winning the Eredivisie on several occasions and the Copa Del Rey. The Premier League represents a new challenge for the Dutchman.

Koeman enjoyed a stunning playing career

Koeman enjoyed a stunning playing career

Biggest Signing
This summer, Southampton have brought in two new faces; Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord and Dusan Tadic from FC Twente in deals worth a combined £20 million. Pelle will arguably be viewed as the bigger signing by Saints fans as he played under Koeman at Feyenoord for the past two seasons and scored 50 goals. They will hope that he can at least match the goal-scoring contributions of Rickie Lambert.

Can Pelle be an instant hit in the Premier League?

Can Pelle be an instant hit in the Premier League?

Who is tipped to join them?
Koeman has declared his interest in Villa captain Ron Vlaar as a potential replacement for the departing Dejan Lovren. Southampton are also rumoured to hold an interest in Danny Ings, Fraser Forster and Argentine full-back Marcos Rojo.

Koeman has expressed his desire to bring Vlaar to Southampton

Koeman has expressed his desire to bring Vlaar to Southampton

Who should they sign?
With so many key players departing, Koeman is in desperate need of several quality recruits. Vlaar would be a good replacement for Lovren and it may be possible to prise him away from the West Midlands club as he is entering the final year of his contract. If he is unavailable, however, then a move for Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson could be an option as a makeweight in the Schneiderlin deal. Schneiderlin is tougher to replace. A move for Cardiff’s Gary Medel would be smart, although they would have to fend off interest from the likes of Inter Milan.

Medel would be a great capture for the Saints

Medel would be a great capture for the Saints

Key Player
James Ward-Prowse. Remarkably, the Southampton academy product has already made around 50 appearances for the Saints despite being only 19. He is a player with a very bright future ahead of him and this could be the season for him to step up to the plate, especially with so many of their key players departing.

This could be a big season for Southampton's academy product

This could be a big season for Southampton’s academy product

Prediction
Southampton have lost so many players that it’s hard to see them enjoying a season similar to the last campaign. Koeman has no Premier League experience and will undoubtedly take time to adjust to the rigorous demands. So too will his signings so far and the quicker they adapt to life in English football the better. I see this being a season of struggle for the Saints but believe they are able to survive, although it will be close. Expect Southampton to finish 17th.

Premier League Preview: Queens Park Rangers

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Queens Park Rangers.

Big-spending QPR are desperate to become Premier League mainstays and are willing to spend what ever it takes to remain in the League. When QPR were relegated from the Premier League the season before last, Tony Fernandes said that he had learnt plenty of lessons concerning what had gone wrong and would not make the same mistakes again. They were, however, disappointing in the Championship last season and only managed promotion through the playoffs when, in truth, they really should have been promoted automatically.

The Manager
Harry Redknapp is an experienced Premier League boss and has previously managed West Ham, Portsmouth, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur in the top flight. He is also the last English manager to win a major trophy, the FA cup with Portsmouth in 2008. The R’s will be confident, under Harry Redknapp’s stewardship, that they can establish themselves as a mid-table Premier League side and then look to build from there.

Redknapp is an experienced Premier League boss

Redknapp is an experienced Premier League boss

Biggest Signing
Redknapp has been unusually quiet in the transfer window so far but the two signings he has made have been strong. Rio Ferdinand has joined QPR on a free transfer having been at Manchester United since 2002. Ferdinand has enjoyed a glittering career and still has plenty to offer for the Hoops. Steven Caulker has also been drafted in from Cardiff City and will most likely partner Ferdinand at the heart of the defence.

Ferdinand brings a wealth of experience with him from Manchester United

Ferdinand brings a wealth of experience with him from Manchester United

Who is tipped to join them?
A deal for Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson has reportedly been agreed but news concerning the transfer has gone quiet in the past few days. The R’s were also keen on Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar but will probably cool their interest now that they have signed Caulker and Ferdinand.

A deal for Kolbeinn Sigthorsson seems to be dragging on

A deal for Kolbeinn Sigthorsson seems to be dragging on

Who should they sign?
QPR will believe that they already have a squad capable of staying in the Premier League and they aren’t too far away from being right. One area they do seem to be a little short is up front. Remy is expected to depart imminently so another option should be pursued with the funds raised. Sigthorsson should be a decent signing but it may take him time to settle so a more proven goalscorer at this level may need to be brought in. Samuel Eto’o has been mentioned as a possible target on a free transfer and would be a very capable addition to their side.

Signing former Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Eto'o would be a smart piece of business for QPR

Signing former Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Eto’o would be a smart piece of business for QPR

Key Player
Joey Barton. Regardless of what you think of the controversial midfielder, he is a good footballer and definitely good enough to be playing in the Premier League. If he can let his football do the talking, rather than his mouth or often-senseless actions, then he will be a key component in keeping QPR in top-flight football.

Barton may have a history of bad behaviour but is an important figure for QPR

Barton may have a history of bad behaviour but is an important figure for QPR

Prediction
The Hoops have got an experienced manager, a good playing squad and money to spend – a good combination to keep you in the Premier League. I’m expecting a couple more quality signings from Redknapp before the window shuts and a mid-table finish; a good achievement considering they’ve just been promoted. Expect QPR to finish 13th.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Newcastle United.

Newcastle are a side with problems behind the scenes and the Geordie faithful have made it clear that they want owner Mike Ashley to sell the club. A 10th place finish may appear good on the face of it but Newcastle were flying high in the first half of the season before winning only 5 matches in the second half. They even only managed 1 draw so managed to lose 13 out of 19 matches, which is a terrible record. Pardew will be desperate for Newcastle to rediscover their best form and return to the top half of the table.

The Manager
Alan Pardew has been in charge of Newcastle since December 2010 and is the second longest-serving manager in the League. Pardew’s spell in charge of the Magpies has not been short of controversy. He has pushed an official, been involved in a verbal spat with Manuel Pellegrini and most recently head-butted David Meyler.

Alan Pardew has been at the centre of plenty of controversy in his time at St James' Park

Alan Pardew has been at the centre of plenty of controversy in his time at St James’ Park

Biggest Signing
Pardew has been quick to draft in reinforcements this summer in order to replace creative influence Yohan Cabaye, who departed for PSG in January, and top goal scorer Loic Remy whose loan spell has ended. Newcastle have brought in six new faces. The biggest signing of those is Remy Cabella who they have been pursuing from Montpellier the last few transfer windows. They were finally successful this time around and have paid a reported £12 million to land the attacking-midfielder. Jack Colback has been pinched from bitter rivals Sunderland on a free transfer, much to the fury of the Black Cats. Right-back Daryl Janmaat has been drafted in to replace Mathieu Debuchy who has moved to Arsenal, midfielder Siem De Jong has been signed from Ajax and strikers Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez have moved to Tyneside from Monaco and Tenerife respectively.

Remy Cabella is an exciting signing

Remy Cabella is an exciting signing

Who is tipped to join them?
The Magpies have been heavily linked with a move for Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and are reported to be interested in Burnley striker Danny Ings. Andy Carroll has also been tipped to return to his home club from West Ham in a £12 million deal.

Will Andy Carroll return to Newcastle?

Will Andy Carroll return to Newcastle?

Who should they sign?
Newcastle have generally moved pretty well in the transfer window and I’ll be surprised if there are too many more faces through the door. It seems they are still keen on bringing in at least one more striker as Loic Remy is set to move to Liverpool. Carroll would be a good signing, if he can remain fit, and would probably be keen on a return to his hometown.

Remy is expected to snub Newcastle in favour of Liverpool

Remy is expected to snub Newcastle in favour of Liverpool

Key Player
Fabricio Coloccini. Newcastle are in desperate need for their leaders on the pitch to steer them away from their terrible run of form at the end of last season. Coloccini is a big figure in the dressing room, an imposing character on the pitch and will be key to turning Newcastle’s fortunes around.

Coloccini is a big presence in the Newcastle dressing room

Coloccini is a big presence in the Newcastle dressing room

Prediction
This is a side that definitely won’t go down but they look a little lost without leading lights Cabaye and Remy in the picture. It remains to be seen how quickly they return to the form they are capable of and I think they will struggle to finish in the top half again this season. They should avoid a relegation battle, though. Expect Newcastle to finish 12th.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Manchester United.

The last year has seen turbulent times for the red half of Manchester. Alex Ferguson departed and was replaced by the so called “Chosen One” David Moyes who endured one of United’s worst seasons in living memory. Moyes has since been sacked and replaced by Louis van Gaal who has just guided the Netherlands to third place in the World Cup. United fans are expecting a big response to last season’s failings and a top 4 place will be the minimum expectation.

The Manager
Louis van Gaal is a very experienced, well-respected and outspoken coach who has won league titles in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany. He is no stranger to managing a club having been in charge of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he looks far more comfortable in this environment than David Moyes ever was.

Louis van Gaal is expected to be an instant his at Old Trafford

Louis van Gaal is expected to be an instant his at Old Trafford

Biggest Signing
United have already spent £56 million on two major signings: Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. Herrera has been signed from Athletic Bilbao and will be a much-needed new option in the centre of the United midfield. Shaw has moved from Southampton and will replace Patrice Evra, who has completed a move to Juventus, as United’s first choice left-back.

Shaw has joined United for around £27 million

Shaw has joined United for around £27 million

Who is tipped to join them?
The list of players that are linked with United is probably longer than any other Premier Club this summer due to the huge shakeup expected under new management and the numerous weak spots in United’s squad. High profile midfielders such as Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba have been continually linked throughout the summer as the centre of the park has been highlighted as one of their weakest areas. United are also believed to be linked with winger Juan Cuadrado but face a battle with Bayern Munich and Barcelona to secure his services. Finally, Dutch centre-backs Ron Vlaar and Stefan de Vrij have been touted as possible replacements for the departed Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Vidal has been heavily linked with United all summer

Vidal has been heavily linked with United all summer

Who should they sign?
Ed Woodward has claimed that United have a large amount of money to be spent on new players this summer and van Gaal will most probably need it all. Replacements for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand must be near the top of van Gaal’s priority list, as the heart of United’s defence looks particularly weak with their departures. Another area that they appear short of quality is in the centre of midfield so it’s no surprise to see them linked with Vidal and Pogba. In reality, United are 5 players away from challenging for the title: two centre-backs, cover at left-back, a centre-midfielder and a winger. If they can complete the signings of all the players they are linked with, then they will be in a very strong position coming in to the new season.

van Gaal should make replacing Vidic his priority

van Gaal should make replacing Vidic his priority

Key Player
Robin van Persie. Van Persie endured a tough season in Manchester last time around, suffering through injury and loss of form. However, under van Gaal, who named van Persie his Dutch captain, he has felt much more at ease. United will be hopeful he can transfer the form he has shown at international level to club level and return to being one of the world’s deadliest strikers.

United fans will be desperate for van Persie to return to his best form

United fans will be desperate for van Persie to return to his best form

Prediction
I am expecting van Gaal to bring in several new players and to inspire United towards the summit of the table once more. There are many other strong sides at the top end of the table that should still finish above the Red Devils but a fourth place finish would represent good progress and a much desired return to the Champions League. Expect United to finish 4th.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Manchester City.

City enjoyed a successful first season under new boss Manuel Pellegrini and won both the Premier League title and the League Cup. Pellegrini had the strongest squad at his disposal so victory in the league was no real surprise, despite Liverpool pushing them close. The bigger challenge will be retaining the title with Chelsea, city rivals Manchester United and Arsenal all strengthening well.

The Manager
Manuel Pellegrini spent most of his early managerial career working in South America where he won plenty of silverware. He moved to Europe to manage Spanish sides Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga and although he was deemed to be a success he had yet to win a trophy in Europe. There were fears that he would struggle to bring titles required to keep city’s mega-rich owners happy. However, winning two trophies in his first season quickly set those fears aside. Not only did he bring home silverware but he brought together a squad largely divided under former manager Roberto Mancini and developed a far more attractive style of play than his predecessor.

Pellegrini guided City to Premier League glory in his first season as boss

Pellegrini guided City to Premier League glory in his first season as boss

Biggest Signing
City have been fairly quiet in the transfer window thus far, possibly due to their massive financial fair play fine from UEFA, and have signed 3 players to date. Bacary Sagna has joined on a free transfer from Arsenal and will offer competition to Pablo Zabaleta. Goalkeeper Willy Caballero has also been drafted in from Malaga in a deal believed to be worth around £4 million and he will offer fierce competition to Joe Hart having been Pellegrini’s number 1 in his time at Malaga. City’s biggest signing, however, has been completing the transfer of Fernando from Porto. Fernando is a powerful and hardworking defensive midfielder who will add extra bite to the city midfield. Pellegrini may opt to field both Fernando and Fernandinho along with Yaya Toure in the midfield to allow the Ivorian more freedom to get forward.

The much coveted Fernando is a good buy for Pellegrini

The much coveted Fernando is a good buy for Pellegrini

Who is tipped to join them?
Eliaquim Mangala is widely expected to complete a move to Manchester in the coming days for a fee believed to be around £32 million. Ross Barkley is also believed to be on their radar, should Yaya Toure decide to move elsewhere. Finally Paul Pogba has been tipped to be on the move this summer and City are one of the few clubs who could afford him. Pogba used to play for bitter rivals Manchester United so that would be a devastating blow for United fans if it were to come to fruition.

United fans would not be impressed if their rivals City were able to sign Pogba from Juventus

United fans would not be impressed if their rivals City were able to sign Pogba from Juventus

Who should they sign?
Pellegrini has a very strong squad available to him and does not really require too many reinforcements. He has correctly identified centre-back as his weakest position, Vincent Kompany aside, but the signing of Mangala will significantly strengthen them in that regard. Once Mangala arrives, City seem to have strong options and back up in every position and we shouldn’t expect too many more faces through the door.

Mangala is expected to partner Kompany at the heart of City's defence next season

Mangala is expected to partner Kompany at the heart of City’s defence next season

Key Player
Yaya Toure. On his day, Toure is unstoppable. His ability to make powerful, marauding runs across the whole length of the pitch is second to none. He scored 20 league goals last season and, with Fernando added to the midfield to allow him more freedom, it would be no surprise to see him match that feat again this campaign.

Yaya Toure is one of the best players in the Premier League

Yaya Toure is one of the best players in the Premier League

Prediction
Manchester City have one of the strongest squads in the league and they will be expecting to challenge on four fronts this season. They will be in the title race right till the end but I think they will fall just short of Mourinho’s Chelsea this season. Expect City to finish 2nd.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Liverpool.

Liverpool were within touching distance of the title last season but fell just short. Since then, star man Luis Suarez has jetted off to Barcelona for a fee of £75 million and there will now be question marks around Liverpool’s title chances without their main attacking influence. There will be a greater concern as to whether they can even remain in the top 4 this season with Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all strengthening and Liverpool having to play more fixtures due to their involvement in the Champions League. The battle for the top four has never been more intriguing and Liverpool will be at the heart of it.

The Manager
Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has really made a name for himself in English football. He earned promotion with Swansea to the Premier League and wowed people with their possession based and stylish attacking football as he kept them in the league. After such success with Swansea he was handed the task to turn Liverpool back in to title contenders after years in the wilderness and came desperately close to achieving his brief last season.

Rodgers is a young manager with an excellent reputation

Rodgers is a young manager with an excellent reputation

Biggest Signing
Liverpool have already been busy in spending the £75 million they received for Luis Suarez and have made some big signings. They brought in both Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana from Premier League rivals Southampton for £4 million and £25 million respectively. German Under-21 midfielder Emre Can moved from Bayer Leverkusen in a £10 million deal. However, the most exciting signing for Liverpool fans will be that of Lazar Markovic, the former Benfica wide man, who they have spent £20 million on.

Markovic is an extremely talented young prospect

Markovic is an extremely talented young prospect

Who is tipped to join them?
Rodgers may have already spent big but with Suarez’s huge move bringing in lots of money, he still has plenty to play with. They have agreed an £8.5 million deal to sign Loic Remy from Queens Park Rangers and that transfer is expected to take place sooner rather than later. Dejan Lovren is another major summer transfer target for Liverpool but Southampton are demanding a large fee for a move to take place. Finally, Divock Origi, who impressed for Belgium in the World Cup, is likely to complete a move to Anfield in the near future.

Loic Remy is set to join from QPR

Loic Remy is set to join from QPR

Who should they sign?
Liverpool, for all their attacking prowess, were defensively weak last season and Rodgers will be keen to sure that up. Dejan Lovren would be a good signing to strengthen their central defence but they could also do with a left-back as Aly Cissokho’s loan spell has finished. Ben Davies from Swansea is an option.

Dejan Lovren could prove an expensive signging

Dejan Lovren could prove an expensive signging

Key Player
Daniel Sturridge. After Suarez’s departure, the weight of expectation to provide the goals for Liverpool will be England’s main front man Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge has an eye for goal, a fierce left foot strike and makes intelligent runs that are a nightmare for defenders to keep track of.

Sturridge will be expected to bang in the goals to ease the pain of Suarez's departure

Sturridge will be expected to bang in the goals to ease the pain of Suarez’s departure

Prediction
The loss of Suarez is a big blow to Liverpool and it’s difficult to tell how they will cope with it. Some players are irreplaceable and Suarez definitely fits in to that category. The problem for Liverpool is that whilst they have been significantly weakened with the loss of their star striker, other teams around them have really strengthened. Furthermore, they will be playing significantly more fixtures this season due to their Champions League involvement, which will put more strain on their squad. Liverpool will be in and around the Champions League places but I see them falling just short. Expect Liverpool to finish 5th.

A First Time Footballer

So, the World Cup has come to an end in Brazil. After one thrilling semi-final and a second, far less thrilling one, it was Germany and Argentina that met in the final of this worldwide spectacle. From what I’ve seen of the Germans, they thoroughly deserved to win the competition and it probably helped ease the pain of the Brazilian population – the team that, quite frankly, destroyed them, came out victorious.

I have to say, I was a little bit nervous about the reaction to the Brazil vs. Germany semi-final. It’s safe to say that nothing like it has ever happened before and the final score (Germany 7 – 1 Brazil) means that it will be going down in history as one of the most shocking games of all time. I am sure that we are all aware that Brazil has it’s fair share of problems and the amount of money thrown into creating this year’s World Cup was very controversial. It all seemed to be going swimmingly and, as long as Brazil remained in the competition, the population appeared to push aside the aforementioned issues and enjoy the event. After the humiliating semi-final, I felt like the world was holding it’s breath to see the fallout. However, the Brazilians were remarkably gracious and the Germans knew that they ought to celebrate respectfully. In fact, the majority of Brazil went on to support Germany in the final!! I think the nation of Brazil accepted the defeat knowing that it was one that will forever be remembered and they can be safe in the knowledge that their World Cup was one of the most exciting and surprising ever.

But now what…?

As I have mentioned before, the World Cup is infinitely easier for a football newbie to understand and follow – people playing for their own country just makes sense. If you have a little look at the blog’s most recent posts, you will see that we are preparing our followers for the upcoming Premier League season. With detailed previews of all the teams, @0riginalfooty are brimming with knowledge for you all. I have read all the posts so far and, to be perfectly honest, I still feel woefully clueless… I suppose we’ll just have to see how I get on!

If you have any questions that you need answering or if you need any of the football jargon translated get in touch @0riginalfooty and we’ll try our best to help out!

FINALLY – After pointing out the impracticality of Belgian Fellaini’s mass of hair, he went a shaved it off! Coincidence? I think not…

Fellaini old hair

Premier League Preview: Leicester City

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Leicester.

Leicester cruised to victory in the Championship last season, finishing 9 points clear of Burnley and only losing 6 matches. They are a side backed by wealthy Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprbha who has promised great riches to be spent on the Midlands side but they are yet to make any great waves in the transfer market.

The Manager
Nigel Pearson returned for his second spell in charge of Leicester City in 2011 having fallen out of favour with then owner Milan Mandaric in his previous time in charge. In his first full season as boss he guided them to the playoffs and last year he masterminded a relatively comfortable title victory. He is yet to have been a fulltime manager in the Premier League so this is a new challenge for him.

Pearson is new to Premier League management

Pearson is new to Premier League management

Biggest Signing
Leicester are yet to really make a big splash in the transfer market and have only brought in new faces on free transfers thus far. Matthew Upson, the former England international, has been drafted in from Brighton, goalkeeper Ben Hamer from Charlton and Jack Barmby from Manchester United. Their biggest signing to date has been that of Marc Albrighton from Aston Villa. Albrighton enjoyed an impressive return to the Villa side, having struggled with injury in previous seasons, and it was a surprise to see the side from the West Midlands let him go. Their loss will be Leicester’s gain and they will be looking forward to seeing the tricky winger in action.

Marc Albrighton could be a handy addition to Leicester's squad

Marc Albrighton will be a handy addition to Leicester’s squad

Who is tipped to join them?
Leicester are set to break their transfer record by signing Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa for around £7 million. A fee has been agreed so Leicester fans can expect to see his arrival in the coming days. The Foxes are also battling it out with Queens Park Rangers to sign Steven Caulker and Fraizer Campbell from relegated Cardiff City. Finally, Nick Powell has been mentioned as a possible target to join from Manchester United on loan.

Leonardo Ulloa will become Leicester's record signing

Leonardo Ulloa will become Leicester’s record signing

Who should they sign?
Nigel Pearson has been keen to stress that he believes his squad is good enough to survive in the Premier League as it is but there is very little top-flight experience amongst his players and that must be a concern. Matthew Upson and Paul Konchesky are experienced defenders but both are long past their best and don’t inspire confidence at this level so another proven defender could be an option such as Brede Hangeland. In addition to this, Leicester’s strikers are inexperienced in Premier League football and the step up can often prove to be too much. Fraizer Campbell is a sensible pursuit in that regard.

Hangeland could be a good addition for the Foxes

Hangeland would offer good experience to their defence

Key Player
Kasper Schmeichel. The son of the great Peter Schmeichel was impressive when he first burst on to the scene for Manchester City and was unfortunate to be replaced in the side by Joe Hart. Schmeichel has since plied his trade in the lower leagues but will be prepared for his Premier League return. He could be the difference as to whether the Foxes survive or are relegated.

Schmeichel is a very capable goalkeeper

Schmeichel is a very capable goalkeeper

Prediction
Nigel Pearson may be convinced his side can survive in the league this season without reinforcements but I’m not. Unless Leicester can add some real quality to their squad they will almost certainly return to the Championship at the end of the season. I feel they are likely to miss out on a number of their targets due to interest from QPR and relegation beckons. Expect Leicester to finish 18th.