Team Analysis For The Barclays Premier League Season 2014/2015




Jack Rodwell Sunderland

Sunderland pulled off a terrific relegation escape last season, Gus Poyet was appointed after Di Canio’s… peculiar time in charge. Poyet wasn’t outwardly confident of their chances which just made for a more dramatic escape at the end of the season, after a lapse midway through. Sunderland conceded 60 goals which was the fifth worst in the league, which isn’t promising for this season considering three of those five teams were relegated; while the strong points for promoted teams Leicester and Q.P.R are their defences.

In recent years, Sunderland have become something of a ‘bogey’ team with a reputation for giant-killing towards the end of the season for big clubs, with a draw at Manchester City and wins away against Chelsea and Manchester United providing three big results for the Black Cats. That’s sort of who Sunderland are though, they can be a side that just shut down the opposition and take advantage of their mistakes one week, but the next week they can lose by three goals to a team in the relegation zone. Hopefully, Poyet can provide some more reliable results for Sunderland fans because, on paper, they aren’t a team that should be dealing with relegation battles.

Sunderland have released or sold 13 players so far this window and the person balancing the books will be sighing with relief as their bloated squad gets a much needed slimming down. Meanwhile, coming into the club are some players with league experience in former Manchester City back-up goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, ex-wigan striker Jordi Gomez and released West Brom Albion defender Billy Jones who all arrived on free transfers.

Meanwhile, Dutch defender Patrick van Aanholt arrived from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee and the marquee signing was long suffering  Manchester City benchwarmer Jack Rodwell, who arrived for a fairly pricey £10,000,000. Rodwell may be pricey, but he was also a good player for Everton and should be able to provide some stability in possession for Sunderland. There have been a lot of defensive-minded signings for Sunderland, which is very good news and with star-striker Steven Fletcher back from injury, hopefully the goal difference will be looking a bit healthier for Sunderland this year.

I’d like to see Sunderland acquire a playmaker that can get the board to Fletcher upfront with some accuracy, with Adam Johnson having a tendency to have a shot himself. However, after having spent over £10,000,000 already this summer I can’t see a major playmaker signing for them, unless there’s a free transfer going underneath everyone else’s radar.

Sunderland shouldn’t be anywhere near the relegation zone this year and I think, with no Di Canio craziness to set them back at the start, that Poyet should guide them to the lower end of the mid-table. Any team that has the quality they do shouldn’t be near the relegation zone and after some good investments who all possess some level of experience in the Premier League (and I realise that is about the 50th time I’ve said that, but that’s how important that is).

I think they could and should have a far more consistent season this time. Steven Fletcher can hopefully bag a few goals for them while the new defensive signings should stabilise a backline that can look VERY shaky. Pantilimon, Rodwell, Fletcher and Johnson should be their important players this season and none of them can be classed as outstanding; but they will be reliable and the new signings Rodwell and Pantilimon are both young enough in their respective positions to get better.

Swansea City 


After the departure of Michael Laudrup in the February of this year, Swansea’s former captain and player Gary Monk became their manager. Monk did enough to guide Swansea out of their slump and into a 12th place finish, with three wins in the last five games of the season.

For their first couple of years in the top flight, they managed to impress with undervalued signings (Michu) and a loyal team that was new enough to the league to avoid other teams sniffing around. However, this will now be their third season in the Premier League and as such, the Welsh club can now be considered a regular team. This doesn’t mean that they’ll avoid going down again (see Fulham) but it does mean that other clubs will have an idea of what their players can do and how the team plays. Swansea have proven that they aren’t a flash in the pan, but now they have to deal with the fact that there are certain expectations from them.

The Swans have had their first real summer of speculation about the future of their players with teams interested in a lot of their defence. Leaving the numerous rumours about the future of Captain Ashley Williams aside, goalkeeper Michel Vorm and left-back Ben Davies have joined Tottenham in a swap deal for cash and Gylfi Sigurdsson, winger Pablo Hernandez and centre-back Chico have both moved to Qatar (different clubs) and the impressive (but injury prone) Michu has joined Napoli on a season long loan which will more than likely be made permanent if he can stay healthy.

Fans hailing from the Welsh second city will also be hoping that the rumours surrounding top scorer Wilfried Bony (who bagged 16 last season) saying he’s being transferred to any one of about 6 different teams won’t be accurate. It hasn’t been a one way street though and Swansea have managed to bring in a few good players on the cheap: playmaker Sigurdsson in a swap; Arsenal backup goalie Fabianksi and Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis arrive on free transfers while Blackburn left-back Raheem Hanley and Middlesbrough striker Marvin Emnes arrive for undisclosed fees. Swansea have replaced the players that left and probably made a healthy profit in the meantime. A concern I would have though is their defence, particularly if they are going to be using Lukasz “Flappy-hands-ski” regularly in goal; he is NO Michel Vorm.

Overall, I would expect Swansea to be around where they finished last season, at the lower end of the mid-table, with their current line-up. I like Gary Monk, he’s done well so far, seems like a likeable guy and it’s always a nice story when the whole “player turned manager” thing goes well. They have a strong attacking force that many more historically successful teams would be envious of, their strikers in particular are going to dominate defences that aren’t physically strong; but I just hope that  the defence that Gary Monk used to run himself doesn’t ironically let him down.

Tottenham Hotspur 

Pochettino Spurs

I’m going to start off by saying this: I’m a Tottenham fan; they were my dad’s team and now they’re my team. I feel confident in telling you this because, believe me, there is nothing you could say to me on this subject that will hurt any more than being predicted to get Champions League football EVERY BLOODY YEAR before something inevitably goes wrong.

Take the last few years: in 2011/2012 after Tottenham finished fourth, Chelsea won the Champions League meaning they qualified instead, 2012/2013 saw the rise of Gareth Bale and a fifth place finish, 2013/2014 saw the sale of Gareth Bale and a virtually an entire team was bought for the go through managers like a stoner goes through munchies.

Mauricio Pochettino, who worked wonders at Southampton, is the latest man to take the job at White Hart Lane and will hopefully be granted more time to prove himself than his predecessors have. Ex-reserve manager turned first team manager last season Tim Sherwood made it publicly clear that there were players at Tottenham who needed to work harder and Pochettino will ensure they do.  Last season Tottenham didn’t manage to score enough (55) to get into the top four and conceded far too many (51) to even justify the sixth place finish got. In the last few days various papers have decided that Pochettino wants rid of 11 players, I don’t know how they know this or if it’s true but I can’t blame him for wanting to trim down a VERY bloated and unbalanced squad.

This transfer window is going to see Ben Davies, Michel Vorm and Eric Dier join up with the club to help with the defence that underperformed last season.  Pochettino has already said that it’s not going to be a summer with lots of incoming transfers for Tottenham, which is probably a good thing considering the trouble that bringing in an entirely new team of players caused last season. Besides, if the Argentine manager can get the players to start playing the sort of football that they have done at previous clubs then that’s pretty much the same as new transfer business in itself.

Tottenham’s defence woes have resulted in the need for a dominant centre-back to partner Vertonghen, with Kaboul frequently injured, an unproven Vlad Chirches and Michael Dawson far too slow to play in a high-line defence. As far as strikers go Soldado is one of the 11 players who are supposedly going to be shown the door, Harry Kane is an exciting prospect but is not yet of top team quality and Emmanuel Adebayor is a player who should be dominant but often lets his mood dictate his performances. Last season Adebayor was kept out of the first team for months by one manager, before the replacement manager gave him a chance and the Togo terror repaid the favour by scoring 11 goals. A reliable/proven league goal scorer and a solid centre-back should be at the top of Tottenham’s wishlist.

I’d love to say that Tottenham Hotspur will get a top four finish this year but I think they’ll have a struggle on their hands because there are so many factors to consider; the other ‘big six’ members in the division: Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea (Everton also finished higher than them last season). Can Pochettino getting the best out of this team and finally getting them to play as everyone seems to know they can do?

Will Soldado/Adebayor actually be in consistent good form? Will wonderkid Erik Lamela actually play more than a handful of matches? Who’s going to be leaving in the window? To be honest I think Spurs are looking at another ‘near-miss’ scenario; but part of me knows I’m only saying that in the hope that I don’t jinx it this year as well.

West Bromwich Albion

brown ideye west brom

Between Nicolas Anelka being as unprofessional and obnoxious as a player could be (surprise, surprise) and Shane Long’s departure in January it wasn’t an easy season for Baggies fans.  They scraped through in 17th place at the end of the season, with under half the number of wins than they had draws or losses. Victor Anichebe being your main striking option isn’t going to help either, Luis Suarez scored more this season than Anichebe has in his entire Premier League career.

West Brom managed to score 43 goals last year, none from any source that could be considered “regular”, while they conceded 59. Neither statistic was close to being worst in the division, but losing 4 of your last 5 games isn’t going to help. Overall, last season will be one to forget for Albion as a team previously renowned for their grinding consistency both on and off the pitch sacked proven manager Steve Clarke, to appoint Pepe Mel who has since been fired himself for Alan Irvine.

West Brom have seen a number of players leave in apparent response to the mess that their club dragged them through last season; this has left their squad looking a little on the thin side. However, Alan Irvine’s additions this summer have been greeted with pleasant optimism as sturdy centre-back Joleon Lescott should help to settle worries at the back along with other defensive minded additions: Australian Jason Davidson, Italian Sebastien Pocognoli, Northern Ireland’s Chris Baird and the flexible Costa-Rican Cristian Gamboa (who can play in defence or midfield).

Craig Gardner joins on a free transfer from Sunderland to pad out the midfield while the marquee signing has to be Brown Ideye who was signed from Dynamo Kiev for £10,000,000. That kind of money can’t have been easy to part with for Albion, especially for a player who was considered inconsistent in his last league. Albion have supplemented their defence but need some attacking options, maybe not another striker, though an attacking midfielder or a decent winger would provide more opportunities and another goal-scoring threat to Albion who desperately need to put the ball in the back of the net more this season.

West Bromwich Albion is a team that I can see struggling to keep their heads above water again. They should have a more settled back-line then we’ve seen previously, but their lack of proven threats upfront can’t be ignored. I’d imagine they’ll spend at least part of the season in the relegation zone, it’s just a question of if they can get out of it again. I’m relatively confident that if they only win 6 matches again this year, they’ll be down in the Championship next season.

West Ham

West Ham

I feel sorry for Big Sam Allardyce. I can’t believe I’m saying that but part of me does feel bad. He was appointed manager when everyone KNEW he liked to play an unattractive long-ball game and he’s since been criticised for it. He wanted Ravel Morrison gone because of his attitude, the board refused and now Morrison’s looking at a court case for double assault and harassment.

One of the owners of West Ham recently let out a tweet suggesting  that he might sack “BFS” (“Big Fat Sam”) and all in all he’s not actually done badly with a 13th place finish in the league. West Ham scored 40 goals and conceded 51 last year, so there’s clearly still work to be done but it’s by far not their worst season ever.

Big Sam doesn’t play attractive football; he batters the opposition team and uses a big target-man up front to score goals: simple. The problems come when your big target-man (Andy Carroll) is injured for months and you struggle to score as a result of that. West Ham have also shown themselves to be vulnerable down the line, with wingers tearing their full-backs apart last season. They aren’t the fastest of teams in and the amount of times that was exposed should be worrying for Hammers fans.

This transfer window has seen Big Sam actually buy a short, fast paced and tricky forward in Argentine Mauro Zarate. Apart from taking the pressure off Andy Carroll this also adds another dimension to West Ham’s play and means that just MAYBE there could be some entertaining moments for them this season. That being said, this whole ‘West Ham buy an Argentine for great value’ thing feels like it hasn’t worked out before.

Another new attacking option has also joined for £12,000,000 in the highly rated/impressive Ecuadorian Enner Valencia (who’s Wikipedia page informs he’s nicknamed “The Superman” — so he could just be good in print). Valencia won’t be available for the first two games of the season but after that he should definitely be one to watch. The arrival of Anderlecht’s monster centre-back Cheikhou Kouyate for a reported £7,000,000 should also solve any defensive problems because…well just look at him! Seriously, just Google him now quickly, he’s bloody enormous!

Other additions include top Charlton’s Championship performer Diego Poyet, Aaron Cresswell from Ipswich and Carl Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal. That isn’t a bad transfer window; in fact, it should lead to some much better performances.

I think that West Ham should be around the mid-table again this season. They’ll definitely score more with those new additions and the work-rate around the midfield area should increase with Diego Poyet, who seems like a quality player. At best I can see West Ham lurking around Europa League and at worst I think they’ll drop a couple of places in what looks like it’s going to be a very tight and interesting Premier League this season.



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