Team Analysis For The Barclays Premier League Season 2014/2015




Everton Lukaku

Another team no-one expected to do as well as they did. For years people had convinced themselves that David Moyes (a subject I’ll be going nowhere near in this section) was doing a fantastic job in keeping a club with little money at the level they were.

Then in one season the smiling Spanish strategist that is Roberto Martinez managed to wipe his arse with that. Everton finished fifth, in style, last season and went so close to getting a Champions League place. The football they played was a far cry from the defensive and restrained football under the Moyes administration; they were a fluid attacking force who punished the defences of other teams while keeping their own defence in check, entertaining football at its finest. I

don’t think anyone doubted Roberto Martinez’s abilities as a manager (except maybe Daniel Levy) but, personally speaking, pre-Martinez I had Everton down as a good team…just not a great team. I was so wrong I could have worked for the BBC in the 80’s, and I’m glad I was wrong because Mr Martinez got the best out of his players and made the Toffees’ matches a spectacle to watch.

Ross Barkley has got to get a mention as well (Neil Warnock, how silly do you feel?) for being the latest to be burdened with the ‘future England great’ title but it’s hard not to become excited because he’s a quick English midfielder who can dribble the ball AND SHOOT! Martinez also managed to keep hold of and get the best out of prized asset and fan-favourite Leighton Baines after making a healthy profit on Fellaini (again, the less said about him the better) and also made opposition teams legitimately worried about the talents of Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy. Out-bloody-standing.

Everton have been busy this summer, firstly tying down Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman with lengthy contracts, bringing in the flexible midfielder former loanee Gareth Barry on a free transfer and 21 year old Muhamed BeÅ¡ić in to increase the defensive options in midfield. Then, the big news: buying Chelsea young-gun striker Romelu Lukaku for £28million. For all his talents, Mourinho isn’t the most patient man and may have sold Lukaku due to his inconsistent form, but Martinez will surely turn him into the goal scoring machine he is in rough.

That transfer says it all, £28million is a lot of money for any club, especially a club without the resources of the more well backed clubs; but that transfer is a statement. Gone are the days of ‘being a good team’ and keeping the club at the level it is. Now they’re a club with ambition and fire.

Last season Everton were right up there fighting with the top four places for a Champions League place. This season I predict they’ll be right up there again, somewhere round 4th.  Unfortunately, their final place will depend a lot on how much other clubs can spend on bringing in talent. However, I also think they’re going to surprise a lot of people in the Europa League — I’m thinking semi-finals at least. They have a style of play that is just fantastic to watch and I’m not an Everton supporter but I certainly hope they do well


tom ince hull

After getting promoted in the 2012/2013 season, nobody expected Hull to do as well as they did and I’m not quite sure why. They had a sensible transfer window and made a number of good signings to strengthen the quality of their team, with ex-Tottenham player Tom Huddlestone proving to be a valuable asset who impressed all season with consistent performances and accurate passing.

Manager Steve Bruce was quoted as saying that “you are only as good as your strikers” after their victory against Fulham last season and by signing proven Premier League goalscorers Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic in January he was able to ensure that the poor scoring rates will improve. A leaky defence and a poor finish to the season saw Hull drop a few places towards the end to 16th in the table in a tightly fought lower table battle but for their sake I hope that was just down to a general lack of experience in the Premier League.

Hull so far have had a good transfer window, especially for a club of their status (no offence intended). Starting with the fairly predictable signing of Jake Livermore from Tottenham, who spent the last season on loan at the club and further bolstering their attacking options Steve Bruce has also acquired former Leeds and Norwich winger Robert Snodgrass, who plays on the right naturally but can also play on the left. Furthermore, young Scottish left-back Andrew Robertson joined from Dundee and (perhaps surprisingly, considering rumoured ‘Inter-est’) Tom Ince also signed for the club.

Ince in particular is a great signing for the club and the young winger seems to have a promising future ahead of him. While these are good signings Hull are still lacking in defence and while signing young Harry Maguire from Sheffield United is a good start, neither him nor Robertson are experienced at this level. For Hull to put a cork in their leaky defence I would have thought an older centre-back with Premier League experience would/should be high up on their shopping list this summer.

After performing well for a majority of last season and with another year of experience at this level under their belts, I would expect for Hull to finish at the lower end of the mid-table this year. I like the business that Hull have done this year (buying British is always nice) and the only drawback to their summer is that their owner has had to shell out a considerable amount of cash for Steve Bruce over the last 12 months.

As such I don’t see him remaining patient with Mr Bruce if his team are battered and bruised every week at the bottom of the league. I like Hull, not least because just over a decade ago they were in the Sky Bet League 2. Theirs is a story of success that football rarely gets to enjoy. 

Leicester City 

Ulloa Leicester

The deserved winners of the Championship last season and it’s easy to see why: they scored the second most goals in the league, conceded the third fewest and overall won 31 games out of a possible 46.

Kasper Schmeichel, son of the ‘Great Dane’, kept his fair share of clean sheets and Jamaican centre-back Wes Morgan was dominant in tackles and the air. David Nugent and Jamie Vardy proved themselves to be dangerous threats upfront, with Nugent in particular contributing a number of goals and assists for the team. Meanwhile, Danny Drinkwater who failed to make a single first-team appearance in the PL for Manchester United provided stability and accurate passing for the Foxes. Leicester have a chairman who is clearly not afraid so splash some cash where necessary and their manager Nigel Pearson (currently in his second spell in charge of the club) has proven himself to be a quality coach and motivator by achieving promotion in a league who looked far more likely to gain it initially.

Leicester City have signed a number of players on free transfers: beardy Ben Hamer a goalkeeper (presumably to play back up Schmeichel), young Jack Barmby a wide midfielder from Manchester United, a former England international defender in Matthew Upson and ex-Aston Villa player Marc Albrighton. The only player brought in for a fee so far has been Leonardo Ulloa, a forward from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Ulloa has been signed for £7,000,000 and for a with club nowhere near the spending power of most Premier League teams, that can be considered a huge fee and one that will place significant pressure on the shoulders of the Argentinian, who at 28 years old is also nearing the end of his peak days as a forward. Just ask Ricky van Wolfswinkel how it feels to have most of your clubs budget spent on you, as a forward with no Premier League experience.

Leicester City’s biggest problem is that a majority of their team has no experience at the top English level and while Upson and Albrighton started games for their clubs, neither were exactly top performers and with Upson at the age of 35 now, you have to wonder how long he has left in the game.

Leicester are one of my predictions to be going down again, I can’t see them getting out of the lower end of the table and ‘doing a Crystal Palace’, but then again I didn’t see Crystal Palace ‘doing a Crystal Palace’ last year either. The reasoning behind this prediction is that I don’t think that, as it stands, Leicester’s summer business has been strong enough to keep them up and the determination and solid defence they showed last year just isn’t going to hold out against Premier League standard teams.

However, if (worst case scenario) they get relegated to the Championship again then that may not be such a bad thing; it’s an opportunity to strengthen themselves and get solid results as opposed to becoming  the whipping boys who scrape by in the big league. 


Lallana Liverpool

If Liverpool had just been a little less unlucky and held their composure towards the end of the season, then they would have won the league; and with it being the season which overlapped with the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster then it would have been an emotional victory for the Anfield crowd. Liverpool’s attacking force last season was something to be reckoned with, they had the two top scorers in the division and always looked dangerous while running towards the opposition at speed.

However, one of the most notable changes from previous Liverpool teams is strengths of the Liverpool team is the three man midfield which managed to provide uncompromising tackles, accurate passing and an engine to drive the ball forwards. However, the loss of “the Biting one” cannot be overlooked; he scored 31 goals last season, was awarded the ‘European Golden Shoe’ and won more ‘Player of the Year’ awards then most top players do in their entire careers. Brendan Rogers has done a fantastic job in renovating a Liverpool team that had under-performed for years and for the sake of the reds of Merseyside, while Suarez will be an obvious loss, hopefully it is another case where the Northern Irishman can encourage the best out of players like Daniel Sturridge.

The summer window has been busy for Liverpool and while the departure of Suarez is a clear loss to the side, it has provided a lot of money to spend: £75million for a player who is banned for a decent stretch of time (four months as I’m typing this) isn’t a bad price and that money has been put to good use. Firstly, the Southampton buys: Striker Rickie Lambert at £4,000,000 may not be seen as great value for a 32 year old but Liverpool have the cash and he can score goals at this level; attacking midfielder Adam Lallana may have failed to impress during the World Cup, however he has played well for Southampton but again can be seen as expensive at £25,000,000; the final buy from Southampton was Dejan Lovren at £20,000,000, again over-priced for a player who has spent one season at the Premier League after signing for £8,500,000, but he showed himself to be a reliable defender last season — something Liverpool were lacking.

Moving on from the south coast, Liverpool raided mainland Europe to sign 20 year old defensive midfielder Emre Can from Leverkusen for £8,000,000, teenager Divock Origi from Lille at a whopping £10,000,000 and 20-year old forward Lazar Markovic (great name) for £20,000,000.Those are some huge prices for players who can’t even drink yet in some American states and may not get consistent playing time at Anfield. Liverpool also acquired Tottenham youth prospect Kevin Stewart on a free and right-back Javi Manquillo on a loan from Athletico, with the option to make the deal permanent.

Liverpool have strengthened every aspect of their team in the space of about 12 months and so I can’t pick any area that I’d say needs supplementing. The only word of caution I would say, if I HAD to say something, is that a lot of these new signings are incredibly over the odds for what they’re getting and literally half of their signings have never played a minute in the Premier League, look where that got Tottenham.

Liverpool were so close last season, but Luis Suarez was an enormous part of that effort and unless they can have a stand-out player again this season and the new signings integrate themselves quickly it’s going to be difficult to get to the point they were last time, a lot is resting on the shoulders of players like Lallana, Markovic and Lovren. Liverpool should be qualifying for the Champions League and to go beyond that their defence needs to be improved, because it’s difficult to mount a title challenge after conceding 50 goals.

Manchester City

Manuel Peelegrini

Manchester City won a closely fought league last season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini (who also became the first non-European manager to win the Premier League). They conceded 37 goals and scored 102, only Chelsea conceded less and nobody scored more, so it’s pretty easy to see how they won, despite the two point difference between them and second placed Liverpool.

Manchester City are a team that tends to have hiccups in a ride that should be largely comfortable; they can be outstanding one week against a top team, then fail to beat Sunderland the next. They suffered from injuries last year to important players like Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero which could have contributed to the inconsistent performances. Team captain Kompany in particular seems to have an effect on the squad, they play far better in the games that he is involved in.

However, the key to the Citizen’s success in recent years has been their dangerous forward line:  Edin Džeko looked lethal in front of goal last season, Stevan Jovetic is a dangerous threat (who’s also surprisingly young at 24) and if Sergio Aguero can stay fit then they’ll be difficult to stop to say the least. Alvaro Negredo struggled last season but hopefully for the Citizens will settle a bit more in his second season. The drama with “Mr Birthday” Yaya Toure seems to have passed which means City can maintain their solid midfield and their defence is looking a lot more solid than it did last year.

After getting hit heavily by the Financial Fair Play regulations – rumoured to consist of a fine of £49million and a transfer cap of the same amount – nobody expected the Sky Blues to have another big spending summer; that being said they have signed both defensive midfielder Fernando (weirdly nicknamed “the octopus” because he apparently runs so much it looks like he has more legs) and central defender Eliaquim Mangala from Porto for a combined fee of around £45,000,000.

On top of this, goalkeeper Willy Caballero has been signed for an undisclosed fee from Pellegrini’s old club Malaga as well as Frank Lampard joining on loan from Man City affiliated club New York City. Overall, it’s hardly comparable to the City spending sprees from previous years but still a large sum of money, even if you subtract the £10,000,000 they got from selling long-suffering Jack Rodwell. Manchester City really shouldn’t need any more first team players, especially after this summer, and so I’m not really sure what areas they can improve on.

It’s going to be another tight season at the top and there’s always the danger that City will throw their chances away on a couple of silly draws and/or losses but overall they surely have to be in the top two. The money invested on that squad could probably buy the full team of…well…pretty much any three or four clubs at the lower end of the table to be honest. That alone should mean they should be mounting a title challenge – just as long as the clubs admin staff remembers when everyone’s birthday is and they all get a slice of cake in their party bag at the end.



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