EPL Preview: The New Boys & The Just About Safes

As the final week of build up to the 2011/12 English Premier League Season, Wednesday – Saturday will see four previews as we build to the new season. I will set teams goals at different stages of the season and then mark them against these goals too. In our preview I have set goals for the opening 5 fixtures.

First off lets look at the teams newly promoted to the Premier League:


Manager: Brendan Rodgers

Last Year: Championship Playoff winners

Ins: Danny Graham (£3.5m from Watford), Jose Moreira (£500,000 from Benfica), Steven Caulker (loan from Tottenham), Leroy Lita (£1.75m from Middlesbrough), Wayne Routledge (£2m from Newcastle).

Outs: Scott Donnelly (loan to Wycombe), Dorus De Vries (free to Wolves), Darren Pratley (free to Bolton), Albert Serrán (free to AEK Larnaca), Kerry Morgan (free to Neath), Cedric van der Gun, Gorka Pintado and Jamie Grimes (released).

Feelings: Swansea will surely be excited at the prospect of being in the Premier League. For years Cardiff City have just missed out, but they were beaten by their Welsh compatriots to the esteemed place in the highest Leagues. This is the first time Wales will be represented in the Premier League (barring Giggs, Ramsey and Speed). They play an exciting brand of Football and much like Blackpool last year, will have many well wishers, but ultimately I wonder if it wont be a straight trip back to Championship football

Opening 5 fixtures and expectations:

Away against Man City – Likelihood that they will get nothing here

Home against Wigan – This is a must win game early on, 3 points please

Home against Sunderland – They must try and get a point here

Away against Arsenal – Enjoy the visit to the brilliant Emirates Stadiums and take lots of pictures, because you wont be taking points

Home against West Brom – They could win this game

That would give them 7 points after 5 games, a points haul that would be greatly appreciated. They also get rid of two of the Champions League teams in the opening 5 games. Should be an interesting start!

Queens Park Rangers

Manager: Neil Warnock (Yes that poor sod!)

Last Year: Won the Championship

Ins: Jay Bothroyd (free from Cardiff City), Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon (free from West Ham), DJ Campbell (undiscl. from Blackpool).

Outs: Mikele Leigertwood (free to Reading), Georgias Tofas (free to Anagennisi Derynia), Lee Brown (free to Bristol Rovers), Joe Oastler (free to Torquay United), Angelo Balanta (loan to MK Dons), Max Ehmer (loan to Yeovil), Peter Ramage (loan to Crystal Palace), Pascal Chimbonda, Gavin Mahon, Josh Parker, Elliott Cox and Romone Rose (all released).

Feelings: Neil Warnock has been here before, but then so have QPR. Both ended badly last time they were here. There is extreme discontent at QPR at the present time, which seems somewhat strange considering they won the Championship and are back in the big leagues.  The discontent arises around the drama of the run in, in which QPR were almost docked points for fielding a player (Faurlin) who wasn’t properly sanctioned. This too with fears that their best player would leave on the cheap left a bad feeling at QPR. They dont play one of the top 6 until October and so should really get off to a fantastic flying start. I do like the DJ Campbell signing though, he was fantastic for Blackpool last year.

Opening 5 Fixtures and Expectations:

Home against Bolton – A great start to the season for a newly promoted club. 3 points a must here

Away against Everton – This will be tough and if they get anything out of it that would be good. That being said Everton are notoriously slow starters. So a goal of 1 point seems fair.

Away against Wigan – If you are going to stay up, you need some away points against your rivals. This is one of those games. 3 points please.

Home against Newcastle – A draw in this one wouldn’t be bad

Away against Wolves – Molineaux is not easy to go to, but 1 point her please.

So a target of 9 points from the opening 5 seems fair. They need to get off to a good start as come October they will have a few tough games in close succession. A bad start could be catastrophic.

Norwich City

Manager: Paul Lambert

Last Season: 2nd place in the Championship

Ins: James Vaughan (£2m from Everton), Steve Morison (£2.5m from Millwall), Elliott Bennett (£1.5m from Brighton), Bradley Johnson (free from Leeds), Anthony Pilkington (£2m from Huddersfield Town), Ritchie de Laet (loan from Manchester United), Kyle Naughton (loan from Tottenham).

Outs: Matt Gill (free to Bristol Rovers), Jens Berthel Askou and Sam Habergham (all released), Luke Daley (undiscl. to Plymouth), Owain Tudur Jones (free to Inverness Cal. Thistle)., Jed Steer (loan to Yeovil Town).

Feelings: Even Norwich were shocked when Norwich got promoted. Last time they were in the Premier League they bombed out spectacularly with a 6-0 loss on the final day when it was in their own hands. They were almost relegated from the Championship two years ago, but Paul Lambert is a Champions League winner (With Dortmund as a player) and knows a thing 0r 2 about the good old game of football. They were terrible travellers last time they were in the premiership, but that will have to change if they are to stay up!

First 5 Fixtures and Expectations:

Away against Wigan – As I said for the previous two, Wigan is a must win game at the bottom. So 3 points please

Home against Stoke – I hate Stoke, but they do what they have to. 1 point will be good

Away against Chelsea – Um. Thanks for coming?

Home against West Brom – I set this as another win for the Canaries.

Away aganist Bolton – 1 point should be the goal.

Expectation of 8 points would build good momentum and would have them well placed to go on.

Wigan Athletic

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Last Season: 16th in the Premier League

Ins: Ali Al-Habsi (£4m from Bolton), David Jones (free from Wolves).

Outs: Steven Caldwell (free to Birmingham City), Daniel De Ridder (free to Grasshopper Club Zürich), Antonio Amaya (£250,000 to Real Betis), Joseph Holt, Jason Koumas, Thomas Lambert, Thomas Oakes, Francis Pollitt, Abian Serrano Davila (all released), Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5 million to Astion Villa), Mauro Boselli (loan to Estudiantes).

Feelings: I think they are going down. They save their best football for the when their backs are against the wall. But in selling Charles N’Zogbia, Wigan have undoubtedly lost their best player. A huge amount of pressure will be on Hugo Rodallega, but Roberto Martinez obviously saw something worth staying for as he turned down the offer to join Aston Villa. They haven’t made any significant signing except making last years loan of Al-Habsi permanent. Wow, its gonna be a tough year for them. They play the three promoted sides in the first three games and will need to get off to a good start.

First 5 Fixtures and Expectations:

Home against Norwich – 3 points is a must

Away against Swansea – Its Martinez old club, 3 points for your manager!

Home against QPR – It could be a dog fight for survival between these two, get the head start now. 3 points.

Away against Man City – Hope for Balottelli to go on a killing spree against his team mates

Away against Everton – Maybe they could sneak a point here

10 pts after 5 games would put them in a top 4 position over the season, but also 10 points closer to safety.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manager: Still Mick McCarthy

Last year:  17th staying up by the skin of their teeths

Ins: Jamie O’Hara (£5m from Tottenham), Dorus De Vries (free from Swansea), Roger Johnson (£7m from Birmingham).

Outs: Greg Halford (£1m to Portsmouth), Steven Mouyokolo (loan to Sochaux), Scott Malone (loan to Bournemouth), David Jones (free to Wigan), Carl Ikeme (loan to Middlesbrough), Adriano Basso (free to Hull), Nathan Rooney (free to Telford), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (loan to Sheffield United), John Dunleavy, Marcus Hahnemann.

Feelings: Wolves escaped relegation last year. Just. They have finally formalised the transfer of Jamie O’Hara which is a great signing for them. They also have made a good purchase in Roger Johnson. Wolves will want to keep that home form from last season and build on that. They were the first team to beat United last year and will look for more giant killings of the same sort this season. I think they will stay up, but just again!

First 5 Fixtures and Expectations

Away against Blackburn – It would be good to get something out of this game so 1 point is the target

Home against Fulham – They need to win this one.

Away against Aston Villa – Now that Mcleish is there, get a point, come on.

Home against Tottenham – Got to try and get something fr0m this one. 1 pt a requirement

Home against QPR – if you want to stay up, 3 points.

8 points is the goal. Lets see what they can do.

Tomorrow we will look at Blackburn, Aston Villa, Stoke City, Sunderland and Bolton