Wilfried Bony

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 29th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got two out of five predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday    

Crystal Palace vs QPR (12:45)
Palace may have lost last weekend but welcoming QPR at home is arguably the easiest fixture in the league at present. Palace are eight points clear of the struggling London club and it’s hard to see Chris Ramsey’s side closing that gap here.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 QPR

Arsenal vs West Ham (15:00)
The Gunners’ league form has generally been very good and I am fairly certain that they will finish third this season. At worst, their top-four place should be guaranteed. West Ham’s season has drifted away and, remarkably, Sam Allardyce’s days look numbered so it’s hard to see them really putting up much of a fight. Hammers’ fans will hope that Arsene Wenger’s team will be too focused on their trip to Monaco on Tuesday but they should still have enough.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 West Ham

Leicester vs Hull (15:00)
Nigel Pearson’s team are in desperate need of three points to give themselves any hope of survival. If Hull can win this then they will all but guarantee safety and they have generally performed well against the teams around them recently. The Foxes may not be down and out just yet but this will be one of the games they will have pinpointed as a must-win match. Sadly for them, it looks unlikely.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Hull

Sunderland vs Aston Villa (15:00)
I would be happy to wager that this match will end up last on match of the day as both sides have real trouble in front of goal. The Black Cats haven’t scored in their last three matches and are really struggling for creativity. Villa do seem to have improved under Tim Sherwood but here they will know they can’t afford to lose. What Villa do have is a good recent record at the Stadium of Light as well as a real need to win this match given their upcoming fixtures so they may pile more misery onto Gus Poyet’s men.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Stoke (15:00)
The Baggies may have lost their two previous matches to Aston Villa but they have generally been in good form and are a tough side to beat. Stoke are on course to finish in the top ten but Tony Pulis will be keen to get one over on his former club and get West Brom back to winning ways.
Prediction: West Brom 2-1 Stoke

Burnley vs Man City (17:30)
The Claret’s previous home defeat to Swansea was a hard-hitting loss and it is unlikely that they will turn their poor form around here. City can’t afford another league loss even though they may have half an eye on their trip to Barcelona. If they were to drop points here and then go out of the Champions League then it would be hard to see  Manuel Pellegrini lasting much longer.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Man City

Sunday 



Chelsea vs Southampton (13:30)
It’s been a turbulent week at Stamford Bridge after their disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of ten-man Paris St Germain. Southampton got their top-four bid back on track with a win against Palace but they have already slipped to seventh and that’s where I think they will finish. This should be a Chelsea win.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Southampton

Everton vs Newcastle (16:00)
The Toffees’ excellent Europa League form continued on Thursday but they have endured a torrid season in the league and the threat of relegation continues to lurk in the shadows. Newcastle’s recent form has been rather sporadic and it’s difficult to predict what you’re likely to get with them. Everton rarely seem to win on the weekend after a European match so The Magpies could get a point here.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Newcastle

Man United vs Spurs (16:00)
United snuck another win in their last match after Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul inexplicably gave Ashley Young the simple task of stroking the ball into the open net but they have been anything but fluent recently. Tottenham sit only three points behind them and are certainly challenging for a top-four spot. Harry Kane will fancy his chances against United’s flimsy backline but Louis van Gaal’s team do seem to get decent results against the top teams and I think they will earn a draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Spurs

Monday

Swansea vs Liverpool (20:00)
The Swans recent form has taken a sudden upturn and they are starting to adapt to life without their former striker Wilfried Bony. Liverpool, meanwhile, have been in excellent form and have become most people’s favourites to finish in the Champions League spots. This game is more important for Liverpool to win and they should continue their march towards a top-four finish.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Liverpool

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 26th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Aston Villa vs Stoke (15:00)
A lot has changed at Villa Park since their defeat at Hull where they were utterly appalling. They have sacked Paul Lambert, hired Tim Sherwood and moved into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – a busy week or so. Stoke have conceded eight in their last two games and Mark Hughes will be expecting a reaction from his players. Sadly for Hughes, he might have picked the wrong weekend to play Villa and Sherwood may provide the spark for The Villans to get a much-needed win.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Stoke

Chelsea vs Burnley (15:00)
Jose Mourinho’s side continued their march towards the title with another victory over Everton and it would take a brave man to bet against them winning it now. It would perhaps take similar bravery for someone to back Burnley to stay up. They have battled hard all season but have had some poor recent results against some of their relegation rivals and it’s hard to see them getting anything at Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Burnley

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (15:00)
Alan Pardew’s team earned another point at home to Newcastle in their bid for safety and now sit five points clear of the relegation zone. Arsenal, meanwhile, are one point off fourth but with Spurs, Liverpool and Southampton playing on Sunday, they have an opportunity to put pressure on their rivals and it’s hard to see them wasting that chance.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal

Hull vs QPR (15:00)
Hull climbed out of the relgation zone with a big win against relegation rivals Villa and Steve Bruce will be desperate for them to follow it up with another three points against fellow strugglers QPR. The R’s also pulled themselves out of trouble with victory over Sunderland, their first away win of the season, to keep the battle to avoid relegation wide open. This could prove a pivotal game in the hunt for survival but I’ll opt for Hull due to their home advantage.
Prediction: Hull 2-1 QPR

Sunderland vs West Brom (15:00)
Had Sunderland beaten QPR at home last time out I would have said they were all but guaranteed to beat the drop but they have allowed their rivals to draw closer to them and Gus Poyet’s position looks under threat, especially after being knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. The Baggies, on the other hand, are four points clear of the relegation zone and are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Tony Pulis has solidified West Brom since his arrival and may be happy to return from the Stadium of Light with a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-0 West Brom

Swansea vs Man United (15:00)
Swansea have generally struggled going forward without Wilfried Bony and they’ll be pleased that they acquired enough points with him as they may struggle to win matches without him. United have been heavily criticized for their playing style but they keep coming up with the results and they should pick up three more points here.
Prediction: Swansea 0-1 Man United

Man City vs Newcastle (17:30)
City welcome Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony into their matchday squad and that can only spell trouble for Newcastle. The Magpies have been very hit and miss in recent weeks and will need to be at the top of their game to get a result. City can’t afford to slip up again and need to go on a big winning streak to have a chance of lifting the title but they shouldn’t come up against too much resistance from Newcastle.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Newcastle

Sunday

Spurs vs West Ham (12:00)
Tottenham will have been disappointed with their Europa League result at home to Fiorentina and the arrival of West Ham will be a daunting prospect as they look to keep up their push for a Champions League spot. However, the Hammers haven’t had a straightforward week either. They signed Nene on a free transfer but a reported boardroom argument has erupted and there is a lot of speculation over the future of Sam Allardyce, whose contract is up at the end of the season. This could be a tight game but Spurs should have enough to get the win.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 West Ham

Everton vs Leicester (14:05)
The Toffees produced an excellent performance to dismantle BSC Young Boys and Romelu Lukaku’s return to form will offer great encouragement. Leicester, meanwhile, crashed out of the FA Cup last weekend, are still five points clear of safety and Nigel Pearson remains under pressure. The Foxes can hope that Everton will be jaded from their trip to Switzerland but Roberto Martinez’s team should claim victory.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 Leicester

Southampton vs Liverpool (16:15)
This is a very important game in the race for the Champions League spots and one that both teams could do with winning. The Saints are likely to be outside the top four by the time the match kicks off if Arsenal beat Crystal Palace and it remains to see how long their challenge to finish in the coveted Champions League spots can last. Liverpool managed to earn a win against Besiktas in the Europa League and if they lose here that may be their only route back into Europe’s elite competition. It will be interesting to see how much each side goes for this match but I suspect it will be a cagey affair and that neither side will be able to land a knockout blow.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Liverpool

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 24th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and zero correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Spurs vs Arsenal (12:45)
Both these sides are on a high after putting several goals past teams from the West Midlands last weekend. Spurs went to The Hawthorns to win 3-0 while Arsenal fired five past a hapless Aston Villa and both sides hang narrowly behind the top four spots. With both teams entering in such good form, it’s hard to split them but we should be in for an entertaining match and a high-scoring draw seems the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Spurs 2-2 Arsenal

Aston Villa vs Chelsea (15:00)
Where to start with Aston Villa? They got everything wrong they could possibly have imagined to have got wrong last weekend. The tactics were poor, the personnel selection was questionable and the effort levels were non-existent. Chelsea, meanwhile, will have been satisfied with their draw against main title rivals Manchester City and remain five points clear at the top. Villa are now only three points above the drop and have the worst goal difference in the league. Sadly for the Villans, it’s likely to get worse this weekend.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea

Leicester vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Both these sides were beaten last weekend by stronger opposition in the form of Manchester United and Everton and neither will want to lose this one. Alan Pardew has done an excellent job since taking over the Eagles and has put them six points above bottom side Leicester. Avoiding defeat will most probably be the mandate for Palace and they should succeed.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Crystal Palace

Man City vs Hull (15:00)
While City won’t have been delighted with the draw against Chelsea, it was important that they didn’t lose. Hull have now suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats and Steve Bruce’s position is looking very perilous. It would take a brave man to back The Tigers here.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Hull

QPR vs Southampton (15:00)
Harry Redknapp’s departure may not have come as a huge surprise, although his apparent reason for leaving is certainly one of the more bizarre reasons given for a managerial department. Southampton’s defeat at home to Swansea was a poor result and underlines the inevitable feeling that they will not finish in the top four this season. It remains to be seen who will end up in charge of QPR but points at home are vital for their survival and they could get one against The Saints.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Southampton

Swansea vs Sunderland (15:00)
Both these teams recorded excellent victories last weekend and The Swans demonstrated that life goes on without Wilfried Bony. Having said that, Sunderland are renowned for their ability to grind out a goalless draw and this match could easily follow suit.
Prediction: Swansea 0-0 Sunderland

Everton vs Liverpool (17:30)
Everton’s victory away to Crystal Palace was somewhat surprising given their form going into the match but it was an important win nonetheless. However, this fixture will be of more importance to their Merseyside rivals. Liverpool have gradually closed the gap on a top-four spot to only four points. With Arsenal and Spurs playing each other this weekend, there is no reason why they can’t throw themselves firmly back into the hunt for a Champions League Spot.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Liverpool

Sunday

Burnley vs West Brom (12:00)
Neither side will have enjoyed their result or performance last weekend and both will expect a response. The Baggies are hardly scoring freely under Tony Pulis and he may focus on returning to The Hawthorns with a clean sheet and a point.
Prediction: Burnley 0-0 West Brom

Newcastle vs Stoke (14:05)
The Magpies put Hull to the sword but Stoke should offer a different proposition after looking in good form in their dismantling of QPR. There are only two points between the two sides and they should both finish in mid-table. Hopefully they can provide an action-packed draw.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Stoke

West Ham vs Man United (16:15)
The Hammers will have been delighted to have only escaped with a fine over their fielding of Diafra Sakho in the FA Cup but they have steadily slipped down the table into a position that was realistically more achievable at the start of the season. United, meanwhile, negotiated their route into the fifth round of the FA Cup but their form has been largely uninspiring. It was surprising that they didn’t sign a world-class defender in January and they will hope that it doesn’t come back to bite them. The Hammers have been a bit up and down recently but are tough to beat at home.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Man United

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 23rd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Hull vs Newcastle (12:45)
Hull were appalling in their last league match where they were thumped by West Ham and their poor form this season continued. Newcastle, meanwhile, have announced that John Carver will stay on until the end of the season – despite not displaying great form under him. Neither side is in great form so a draw looks the most likely result.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Newcastle

Crystal Palace vs Everton (15:00)
Palace’s magical revival under Alan Pardew continued with an excellent FA Cup victory over Southampton. Everton have really struggled to find their feet so far this campaign but look more solidified at the back than earlier in the season and could return to Merseyside with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Everton

Liverpool vs West Ham (15:00)
The big headline ahead of this fixture is that Daniel Sturridge is due to return in some capacity. His teammates have started to pick up their form in recent weeks but The Hammers will not be easy opponents to beat. Sam Allardyce has turned his side into a well-oiled machine that plays attractive football and will provide a stern test. The Reds should scrape a win, though.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

Man United vs Leicester (15:00)
If the reverse fixture of this match is anything to go by then this should be an exciting contest. Leicester stunned Louis van Gaal’s men to win 5-3 at the King Power Stadium. United have struggled to put teams to the sword recently while Leicester have improved but The Red Devils should come out on top.
Prediction: Man United 2-0 Leicester

Stoke vs QPR (15:00)
The Potters marched on in the FA Cup by beating Rochdale and sit in the top half of the Premier League. QPR may be in the relegation zone but they are only one point away from safety. They are still yet to pick up a point on the road this season and it seems unlikely they’ll get one here.
Prediction: Stoke 2-0 QPR

Sunderland vs Burnley (15:00)
Gus Poyet has been criticized recently for Sunderland’s style of play and their lack of goals but he will be hoping that the acquisition of Jermain Defoe can help to change that. Burnley have battled for every point this season and there is every chance that they will fight for another one here.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Burnley

West Brom vs Spurs (15:00)
Tony Pulis appears to have instilled belief back into this West Brom team and they won’t fear anyone. Spurs booked a trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in the League Cup final but their midweek match may have taken it out of them. The Baggies could well earn another vital point towards safety.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Spurs

Chelsea vs Man City (17:30)
This is the big match of the weekend and one that City will be desperate not to lose. City have slipped to five points behind the leaders in recent weeks and won’t fancy chasing an eight-point deficit. Jose Mourinho’s side are without Diego Costa through suspension and are likely to be without Cesc Fabregas too. City may just feel they have the edge to win but Mourinho knows how to set his sides up against the top teams and they should get a point.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Man City

Sunday

Arsenal vs Aston Villa (13:30)
Arsenal are in excellent form at the moment and are only one point shy of fourth spot. Villa have made some astute signings this window and Carles Gil looks as if he could be the creative spark that they may need. Having said that, they are playing The Gunners at the wrong time and there will only be one result in this one.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa

Southampton vs Swansea (16:00)
The Saints crashed out of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace, which now has added a little bit of pressure on them to finish in the top four. I said a few weeks ago that Swansea looked slightly fatigued and the sale of Wilfried Bony leaves them looking less effective in attack. Southampton should come out on top.
Prediction: Southampton 2-0 Swansea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 22nd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Aston Villa vs Liverpool (15:00)
Villa are in a real mess at the moment and were fortunate to not lose to Leicester by five or six last weekend. Liverpool, meanwhile, performed well in the first half of their victory over Sunderland with Lazar Markovic finally beginning to demonstrate why they forked out £20m for him. Villa fans are due to launch a protest this weekend over how the club is being run which will only add to the already toxic atmosphere at Villa Park. Another defeat without scoring could really add to Paul Lambert’s woes but it’s hard to see any other outcome.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

Burnley vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Burnley will have been disappointed in the manner of their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur to be knocked out of the FA cup but realistically The Clarets will be better served focusing on survival. Crystal Palace’s new boss Alan Pardew got off to the best possible start with their win over Spurs last weekend but this is a more important game in terms of doing damage to their rivals. Burnley are generally strong at home and the honeymoon period may end swiftly for Pardew this weekend.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Crystal Palace

Leicester vs Stoke (15:00)
The Foxes are on a decent run of form at the minute but their big problem is their inability to take chances. David Nugent could have scored a hat-trick last weekend against Villa but wasted all his opportunities. Stoke were very poor against Arsenal last weekend but it’s not often they perform poorly in two consecutive games and they can come away from The King Power Stadium with a point.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Stoke

QPR vs Man United (15:00)
There has been a lot of talk surrounding Harry Redknapp’s position at QPR but I still believe he’ll keep them in the Premier League this season, largely due to their home form. United have hit a sticky patch in their season and have slipped to fourth place following their defeat to Southampton. Due to QPR’s strength at home they are well placed to earn a draw.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Man United

Swansea vs Chelsea (15:00)
The Swans have lost Wilfried Bony and it will be interesting to see how many goals they score without him. I suspect their outlay will decrease significantly. Chelsea are having no such problem and extended their lead at the top to two points – a lead they will be in no mood to relinquish here.
Prediction: Swansea 0-2 Chelsea

Spurs vs Sunderland (15:00)
It was typical of Spurs to beat Chelsea and then lose to Crystal Palace in the following match – they lack consistency. Sunderland performed admirably in the second half when they were down to ten men but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. Jermain Defoe should add firepower to their attack but it’s hard to see him doing any damage against his former club here.
Prediction: Spurs 2-0 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Southampton (17:30)
Newcastle are another team who lack consistency and their lack of manager is hardly ideal. Southampton, however, keep marching on and will hope to maintain their push for a top-four spot. I’m still not convinced that they’ll get it but they should win this one.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Southampton

Sunday

West Ham vs Hull (13:30)
The Hammers have slipped to seventh in recent weeks but are still enjoying an excellent season and should finish inside the top ten. Hull continue to struggle and the supporters have accepted that this relegation battle could last to the end of the season. It’s hard to see anything but a home win.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Hull

Man City vs Arsenal (16:00)
This is the game of the weekend. City dropped points last weekend to Everton and won’t want to give Chelsea any more impetus in the title race, while Arsenal played as well as they have done for a while as they dismantled Stoke. If they can play like that at The Etihad then they will certainly have a chance but City could call upon Sergio Aguero from the start this weekend, which makes a huge difference. This should be an entertaining game but City will most probably come out on top.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Arsenal

Monday

Everton vs West Brom (20:00)
The Toffees stopped their slide with a good draw against Man City but they have struggled for form all season and Tony Pulis’ side are no pushovers. It was no surprise to see The Baggies win their first match under Pulis and they will be tough to beat under his stewardship. It could be another frustrating evening for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Brom

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 21st round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Sunderland vs Liverpool (12:45)
Sunderland are continually proving themselves to be difficult to beat, although they don’t win enough games. Liverpool slipped up against Leicester in their last match and were very lucky to even get a draw after earning some very dubious penalties. Sunderland have enough about them to get a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Liverpool

Burnley vs QPR (15:00)
This is a big game for both these teams. A win will do great damage to their relegation rivals and allow the other breathing space. Burnley fought hard for a point against Newcastle while QPR dropped two points against 10-man Swansea. The R’s are yet to pick up a point on the road this season but they will know how important it is not to lose this match and I think they can get a draw.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 QPR

Chelsea vs Newcastle (15:00)
Chelsea’s remarkable loss to Spurs was completely unexpected and nobody would have thought that they would concede five goals in a single match this season. Newcastle were also involved in a goal fest against Burnley and will have confidence coming into this game having beaten Chelsea earlier in the season. Having said that, Chelsea rarely lose two league matches in a row and normally make a statement to their rivals after defeat. A comfortable home win.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle

Everton vs Man City (15:00)
Everton are close to scooping the prize for most disappointing team of the season and if they continue this form, they could get relegated. I’ve been expecting them to turn things around for a while but they look shot of confidence and are really struggling. City, on the other hand, pulled level with Chelsea at the top of the table and will believe they can regain their title. Everton’s misery will go on.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Man City

Leicester vs Aston Villa (15:00)
This is another big game at the bottom of the table. Leicester have clawed their way back into contention after appearing dead and buried a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Villa may be sitting in 12th but they are struggling in front of goal and face a tough run of fixtures against three of last seasons top four in their next three matches. Paul Lambert is coming under increasing pressure from the fans and will be desperate for all three points here. They might be playing Leicester at the wrong time, though, and The Foxes are good value for at least a draw.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Aston Villa

Swansea vs West Ham (15:00)
The Swans have lost top scorer Wilfried Bony to international duty and that will prove a huge miss. There’s a good chance that he has played his last game for Garry Monk’s side and will join Man City in this transfer window. West Ham dropped two points in what should have been a comfortable win against West Brom but they have enough to get a point from this one.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 West Ham

West Brom vs Hull (15:00)
This is another huge relegation matchup this weekend between two struggling sides. Hull pulled off a good victory against Everton in their last league match, while The Baggies fought hard for a point away at West Ham. Only a point separates the two teams but West Brom have Tony Pulis in charge now who oversaw a comfortable FA Cup victory last weekend and he has a knack of earning good results.
Prediction: West Brom 3-2 Hull

Crystal Palace vs Spurs (17:30)
Alan Pardew takes charge of his first league game against London rivals Spurs who demolished Chelsea in their last match. The Eagles will be up for this game and Selhurst Park should be rocking and I fancy Palace to nick a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Spurs

Sunday

Arsenal vs Stoke (13:30)
The Gunners were very poor in their last fixture against Southampton and Wojciech Szczesny is under pressure following a very poor performance and for being fined for smoking in the team’s showers. The Potters did well against Man United and beat Arsenal earlier in the season. Stoke will be confident of attacking Arsenal’s defence but Arsenal are generally strong at home and should have too much for them.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke

Man United vs Southampton (16:00)
This is a battle between two sides who believe that a top-four spot is achievable this season. United have dropped points in recent weeks and the gap between them and their rivals has shrunk. Southampton, on the other hand, have battled back into contention after a poor run of form and Ronald Koeman is confident that they will be fighting at the top of the table for the rest of the season. This could go either way and should be an entertaining game but I’ll sit on the fence and predict a draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Southampton

Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion

There are only 2 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 West Brom.

Last year was a difficult season for the Baggies as they finished in 17th place and only 3 points above the relegation zone. A lack of goals was a major concern and their top scorers, Saido Berahino and Stephen Sessegnon, ended the season on a measly 5 league goals. Manager Steve Clarke was sacked after a poor start to the season and Pepe Mel replaced him. Mel kept West Brom in the Premier League but left the club, by mutual consent, at the end of the season. The Baggies have since hired Alan Irvine and will hope that he can turn their fortunes around.

The Manager
Alan Irvine is an unknown entity in Premier League management so it is difficult to know how he will adapt to his new surroundings. He has previously managed Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and, most recently, Everton’s youth team. He was sacked at both Preston and Wednesday after poor runs of form at each club so Irvine’s appointment represents a gamble on Chairman Jeremy Peace’s part.

This is Alan Irvine's first job as a Premier League manager

This is Alan Irvine’s first job as a Premier League manager

Biggest Signing
The Baggies have been busy in the market so far and drafted in 6 new recruits. Albion’s biggest signing, in money terms, is Brown Ideye who joined from Dynamo Kiev for £10 million, a club record. Remarkably, Irvine admitted that he had never seen Ideye play before splashing the cash on him, which is bizarre given the large fee involved. However, the transfer that will excite the Albion fans more is the arrival of Joleon Lescott from Manchester City. Lescott is an experienced defender who the Midlands club will be delighted to have landed on a free.

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Who is tipped to join them?
Alan Irvine will be keen to add reinforcements to what, on paper, looks like a side that will struggle to score goals. The main player currently linked with a move to the Midlands is Jonathan Biabiany from Parma. Biabiany is a French Winger who was a product of Inter Milan’s youth system and is likely to cost around £5 million.

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Who should they sign?
As mentioned previously, the Baggies are a team who are short of goals and will, therefore, be looking to add to their attacking options. Brown Ideye is an unknown entity and if he fails to meet expectations then West Brom’s season could become disastrous. Berahino has great potential but they won’t want to rely solely upon him for goals and Victor Anichebe, frankly, does not look good enough to lead a potent attack. Albion should bring in a more experienced Premier League attacker to bolster their options. Unfortunately, Jeremy Peace runs a tight ship and Irvine will have to operate on a strict budget. A loan move for Victor Moses would make sense for both player and club.

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Key Player
Ben Foster. One position that West Brom is not lacking in quality is in goal and keeper Ben Foster is a safe pair of hands for them to rely on. He has recently returned to the England set up and the Baggies will need him to maintain his excellent form in order for them to survive.

Foster is vital to West Brom's survival plans

Foster is vital to West Brom’s survival plans

Prediction
The Midlands side were perilously close to the drop last season and I haven’t seen enough improvement to their squad to suggest that they will pull away from a relegation battle this season. Of course, Irvine could prove to be a masterful manager and Brown Ideye could turn out to be a player of the quality of Benteke or Bony to fire them up the table but I just don’t see it. West Brom are notoriously a yoyo club who bounced between the Premier League and the Championship and I think that they will return to England’s second division after this campaign. Expect West Brom to finish 19th.

Premier League Preview: Swansea

There are only 2 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 Swansea.

Halfway through last season Swansea looked to be in trouble. The squad was apparently divided as they found themselves scrapping against relegation as well as, reportedly, with one another. The board decided to sack Michael Laudrup, one of the highest rated young managers in Europe, and gave player/coach, Garry Monk, the task of bringing calm to the club and avoiding the drop. They finished in a respectable 12th place but this was somewhat flattering considering how much they struggled and the Swans will be disappointed to have dropped three places from the previous season.

The Manager
Monk did a decent job of steadying the ship and keeping Swansea in the top flight, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first full season as a manager. Needless to say he’s been dropped in at the deep-end and some believe that the task will prove too much for him at such an early stage of his managerial career.

Will Gary Monk be able to continue the good work he did with Swansea last season?

Will Garry Monk be able to continue the good work he did with Swansea last season?

Biggest Signing
Despite a disappointing and injury plagued last season, Michu needed replacing after moving to Napoli. Gylfi Sigurðsson has returned to The Liberty Stadium, a man who showed promise on loan two years ago but chose a permanent move to Tottenham over Swansea. He failed to find his feet in north London, but there is hope that the Icelandic midfielder can fulfill his potential this season and could be an astute transfer by Monk. Furthermore, Jefferson Montero is a player of real quality and showed his class at the World Cup with Ecuador. Signing such a player is a real statement of intent from Monk, as Montero has the ability to cause defences all sort of problems.

Gylfi Sigurdsson won Premier League Player of The Month during his spell brief with Swansea

Gylfi Sigurdsson won Premier League Player of The Month during his spell brief with Swansea

Who is tipped to join them?
Kyle Naughton has been tipped to link up with Monk’s men as defensive cover and has shown himself to be an able full-back on either side. Apart from this the rumour mill surrounding Swansea is rather quiet as they have already made some solid acquisitions.

Who should they sign?
Getting Naughton would be a good signing, but Swansea will certainly need at least one extra defender to bolster their ranks. A bid for relegated Norwich’s versatile Martin Olsson could be a good move for Monk and it wouldn’t be too expensive, either. Moreover, they have replaced goalkeeper Michel Vorm with Arsenal’s number 2 stopper Fabianski. The Pole has show himself to be a good shot-stopper but has also had a few moments of calamity which raise question marks over his ability to be Swansea’s first choice. Regardless, people are even less convinced by their other keeper Gerhard Tremmel, and therefore another goalkeeping addition would not be a bad idea.

Obviously holding on to Wilfried Bony will be the most important bit of business for Swansea. Losing their star striker would be a huge blow for their bid to push further up the table this season. He is a superb all-rounder who has shown that he can win the club points almost on his own. Though if the Ivorian does leave, they will certainly need to replace him with a similarly big signing. Relying solely on new signing Gomis to lead their front line would be too much of a gamble for The Swans.

Gomis might not have the quality to replace Bony on his own.

Gomis might not have the quality to replace Bony on his own.

Key Player
Bony’s 16 goals last season were crucial in helping Swansea beat the drop, and he is clearly the most important player in their squad. He is incredible in the air, very strong as well as being quick and possessing great technical ability. He would get into most teams in the league, even in the top four, and Swansea will have to fight hard to keep hold of him. If they can achieve that and providing he can maintain the same great form of last season, he would make a huge difference to Swansea’s fortunes.

Bony is a wanted man across Europe after a superb debut season with Swansea

Bony is a wanted man across Europe after a superb debut season with Swansea

 Prediction
With a shaky looking defence there is a real worry that Swansea will simply concede too many goals this season. However, they have an attack full of pace and trickery, which should be enough to keep them in the league. That said, if Bony does stay at The Liberty, and their defence is strengthened, they could easily push further up the table. Expect Swansea to finish 15th.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur

There are only 2 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 Tottenham Hotspur.

Last season was bitterly disappointing for Spurs fans. Their star man Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee and the money was splashed on players who seriously underperformed. Andre Villas Boas was sacked halfway through the season and Tim Sherwood took the reins before guiding Tottenham to a sixth place finish. He was subsequently fired and now Pochettino has been tasked with the job to lead Spurs back to Champions League football.

The Manager
Mauricio Pochettino is quickly becoming one of the hottest properties in football management after an extremely successful spell at Southampton. If he can mastermind a return to the Champions League places for Spurs this season then he will be heralded as a hero. Southampton played attractive possession-based football under Pochettino and he will be expected to bring such a style with him to White Hart Lane.

Pochettino is a very highly rated manager

Pochettino is a very highly rated manager

Biggest Signing
Spurs haven’t been very busy in the window so far and have only brought in two players. Goalkeeper Michel Vorm has signed from Swansea and will provide backup to Hugo Lloris. Tottenham’s more eye-catching signing was that of Vorm’s Swansea teammate Ben Davies. Davies is a talented young fullback, a far superior option to Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton, and the move will allow Pochettino to move Jan Vertonghen to his favoured centre-back position.

Ben Davies is a smart addition to White Hart Lane

Ben Davies is a smart addition to White Hart Lane

Who is tipped to join them?
Pochettino is reported to be keen to raid his former club, Southampton, and bring in Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez. Schneiderlin has handed in a transfer request, although Southampton’s board insist that the duo will not be sold. It is believed that Pochettino’s brief is to bring the best out of the players he has already got rather than completely overhaul the squad and, therefore, he may not make too many more signings this summer.

Schneiderlin is desperate to move on

Schneiderlin is desperate to move on

Who should they sign?
Pochettino will have analysed his squad and realised that he is in need of one more forward. Emmanuel Adebayor is notoriously temperamental and if he doesn’t get off on the right foot with Pochettino then he may cause problems. It remains to be seen whether Roberto Soldado will settle and rediscover the form he is capable of and Harry Kane is inexperienced at the top level. Spurs could continue their raid of Swansea and bring in Wilfried Bony who has attracted plenty of interest this summer. Bony may prove an expensive option so if Spurs can conclude a deal for Jay Rodriguez then that could bring an end to their summer spending.

Powerful forward Wilfried Bony would be a good, but expensive, addition to their front line

Powerful forward Wilfried Bony would be a good, but expensive, addition to their front line

Key Player
Christian Eriksen was possibly the only player drafted in last summer that provided the level of performance that a top club requires. The attacking midfielder is a wonderful passer of the ball and has terrific vision and creativity. He will be key to Tottenham’s hopes to reach the Champions League this season.

Eriksen will be a key part of Pochettino's plans

Eriksen will be a key part of Pochettino’s plans

Prediction
Tottenham have got a squad capable of challenging for Champions League places and Pochettino could unlock the potential of their misfiring stars. I think we will see an improved side this season but, unfortunately, all the teams who finished ahead of them them are stronger than they were last season and it seems unlikely that Spurs can climb above them. What is, perhaps, more worrying is Manchester United’s new look and approach under van Gaal and I would be surprised if they didn’t finish above Tottenham too. Expect Spurs to finish 7th.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea

There is only a month 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 Chelsea.

Chelsea were reunited with outspoken manager Jose Mourinho last season and finished 3rd in what was generally a disappointing campaign. Mourinho insisted that his young side was a work in progress so this is the season they will expect to be judged. Their major opposition for Premier League glory comes from fellow big-spenders Manchester City but Chelsea will be confident of pushing them all the way.

The Manager
Does Mourinho need an introduction? He is one of the most successful bosses in football history and is still at a young enough age to establish himself as the greatest manager of all time. When Mourinho originally arrived at Chelsea he heralded himself as “the Special One” and proceeded to win them their first Premier League title. He presided over the most successful period in the club’s history before falling out with Roman Abramovich, the owner, and moving on. He has since managed Inter Milan and Real Madrid before returning in an attempt to guide Chelsea to further glory.

Can Mourinho guide Chelsea to Premier League glory?

Can Mourinho guide Chelsea to Premier League glory?

Biggest Signing
Chelsea have already been busy this transfer window and have made some major signings. So big, in fact, that it difficult to determine which one is the biggest. It’s largely a tossup between the signings of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas who both cost around £30 million. Mourinho has also splashed big money on left-back Filipe Luis who will cost roughly £20 million. Although not officially a new signing, Thibault Courtois has also returned from loan and is another boost to Chelsea’s already talented squad.

Can Diego Costa justify his hefty price tag?

Can Diego Costa justify his hefty price tag?

Who is tipped to join them?
Chelsea are linked with hundreds of players every window due to Abramovich’s vast fortune so it is difficult to sift through genuine rumours. Names that are continuously linked are the likes of Sami Khedira, Edison Cavani and Paul Pogba. Interestingly, Champions League hero Didier Drogba has also been linked with a move back to the club as a back up striker for Diego Costa combined with a coaching role.

Will Drogba return to Chelsea this summer?

Will Drogba return to Chelsea this summer?

Who should they sign?
Chelsea are in the very comfortable position of not really needing to sign anyone. Having said that, Mourinho is not keen on the striking options available to him, Diego Costa aside, and he will be looking to bring in a secondary option. He is trying to rid himself of the likes of Torres and Ba and, with Eto’o having already been released, it is likely he will want one more forward. Drogba has been mentioned but may be past his best to be seriously challenging for first team football. The most sensible option would be to allow Romelu Lukaku the opportunity to stake his claim at the club but should Mourinho remain undecided on him, Wilfried Bony could be an option.

It remains to be seen whether Mourinho will give Lukaku an opportunity to shine at Stamford Bridge

It remains to be seen whether Mourinho will give Lukaku an opportunity to shine at Stamford Bridge

Key Player
Eden Hazard. He enjoyed a wonderful campaign last season and will be fully expected to do the same again this time. Often he was looking to inspire an unbalanced side with a lack of cutting edge but this season, with the improved quality up front, he should be part of a more menacing attack. Hazard is one of the most skilful players in the league and a fullback’s worst nightmare when he’s running at them.

Eden Hazard was Chelsea's top performer last season

Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s top performer last season

Prediction
Make no mistake about it; this is a very strong Chelsea side and one that will most likely win the league this season. They have added wisely to their squad early and will therefore get a long preseason behind them with all their playing staff together. Mourinho seems prepared and to have a best team in mind, which wasn’t always the case last season. Players like Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are useful to offer cover anywhere across the back four and there are quality options throughout the squad. Although Manchester City will be a force to be reckoned with, I think Chelsea have enough about them to emerge victorious this season. Expect Chelsea to finish 1st.