Date:Tuesday August 11 2009
The Football League may be under way but there's still a few days until the Premier League kicks off, Vital Hartlepool takes a look at what teams you should watch out for and who's set to struggle this season.
We take a look at the Premier League in the last in our series of in-depth previews. This edition takes a look at the teams from Arsenal to Hull.
In: Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax) £10 Million, Jamie Edge (Cheltenham Town) U
Out: Amaury Bischoff (Released), Rui Fonte (Sporting Lisbon) Free, Abu Ogogo (Dag and Red) Free, Paul Rodgers (Northampton Town) Free, Rene Steer (Oldham Athletic) Free, Havard Nordveit (Lillestrom) Loan, Anton Blackwood (Tottenham Hotspur) Free, Emmanuel Adebayor (Man City) £25 Million, Vincent Van Den Berg (Excelsior Maassluis) Free, Kolo Toure (Manchester City) £15 Million, James Dunne (Exeter City) Free
The is an air of discontent at the Emirates this summer with many of the Gunners big names criticising the clubs lack of ambition and silverware. Despite only losing six games all season, 7 away draws hindered any chance of competing for 3rd place.
Their routine of a 4th place finish may be in jeopardy this term but they still have the quality to finish there again. They need to acquire an out and out goalscorer to achieve bigger and better things with the departure of Adebayor allowing someone to be brought in.
Also the Gunners aren't as legendary at the back these days as proven with the 37 goals they conceded last season, which isn't bad but too high a number for Arsenal's standards. The departure of Kolo Toure may not help their defensive cause especially if new signing Thomas Vermaelen does not settle into English football.
The question that should be asked at the Emirates is; is it Arsene Wenger who won't spend money or is he under orders by the board?
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Andrei Arshavin
In: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) £12 Million, Courtney Cameron (Northampton Town) U, Fabian Delph (Leeds United) U, Habib Baye (Newcastle United) U
Out: Martin Laursen (Retired), Gareth Barry (Man City) £12 Million, Stuart Taylor (Man City) Free, Sam Williams (Yeovil Town) Free, Zat Knight (Bolton Wanderers) U
Despite having their best season in many a year a disappointing end to last season has left a sour taste in Villa's fans mouths with them dreaming of what might have been. On such a thin squad it could be right to say that this team has reached his peak and has overachieved.
They have some great young forwards to call upon but will miss Gareth Barry and to a larger extent Martin Laursen who was a colossal at the back. Improvement needs to be made at Villa Park, the Villains only managing 7 wins there last year, as they cannot rely on stunning away form of 10 away wins this term.
The sheer pace and power up front for Villa causes major problems for any team and could be the difference between a mid table and top half finish.
Manager: Martin O'Neil
Key Player: Ashley Young
In: Lee Bowyer (West Ham United) Free, Christian Benitez (Santos Laguna) £7 Million, Giovanni Espinosa (Barcelona Sporting Club) £385,000, Roger Johnson (Cardiff City) £5 Million, Scott Dann (Coventry City) £3.5 Million, Joe Hart (Man City) Loan, Barry Ferguson (Rangers) U, James O'Shea (Galway United) £70,000
Out: Radhi Jaidi (Released), Robin Shroot (Burton Albion) Loan, Stephen Kelly (Fulham) Free, Krystian Pearce (Peterborough) Loan, Mehdi Nafti (Aris Salonika) Free, Michael McKerr (Oldham Athletic) Free , Aaron Moses-Garvey (Worcester City) Free, James O'Brien (Bradford City) Free
Birmingham were unlucky to find themselves relegated to the Championship two seasons ago and will be looking to avoid the drop with more breathing space this time. The Blues certainly have the squad depth for the task and have a blend of youth and experience that will serve them well.
Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City could prove to be the difference maker if he has a good season and will go some way to keeping Birmingham up. Lack of effective firepower up front will limit what Birmingham can do this season although Alex McCleish has done well to focus on tightening his defence to give his team every chance of survival.
Manager: Alex McCleish
Key Player: Joe Hart
In: Gael Givet (Marseille) £3.5 Million, Steven N'Zonzi (Amiens) £400,000, Elrio Van Heerden (Club Brugge) Free, Lars Jacobsen (Everton) Free, Nikos Giannakopoulos (Asteras Tripolis) £52,000, Besnik Rustermaj (Malmo) Free, Fillip Pivkovski (Malmo) Free, Franco Di Santo (Chelsea) Loan, Nikola Kalinic (Hajduk Split) £6 Million
Out: Josh O'Keefe (Walsall) Free, Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City) £17 Million, Matt Derbyshire (Olympiakos) £3 Million, Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth) Free, Andre Ooijer (PSV) Free, Tony Kane (Carlisle United) Free, Tugay (Retired), Andreas Arestidou (Shrewsbury Town) Free, Bjorn Bussman (1860 Munich) Free, Bryan Hodge (Partick Thistle) Free, Dean Winnard (Accrington Stanley) Free, Keith Treacy (Sheffield United) Loan, Jonathan Bateson (Bradford City) Free, Mark Bunn (Sheffield United) Loan, Alan Judge (Plymouth Argyle) Loan, Gavin Gunning (Tranmere Rovers) Loan, Alex Marrow (Oldham Athletic) Loan
Big Sam bailed out a struggling Rovers side last season ravaged by Paul Ince, only 6 home games won and 11 away defeats last term for Rovers, and should be looking to go from strength to strength this season.
Getting rid of Roque Santa Cruz may be a good thing for the Lancashire side allowing them the finance to strengthen their squad, knowing that a top half finish is not out of the equation for Rovers if they buy well. Christopher Samba has become a vital equation for Rovers playing as a rock in defence and is surprisingly useful when deployed up front causing defenders physical trauma.
Morten Gamst Pederson had a quiet season last year as did Blackburn, if he is on form the team tend to do better as he creates a lot of chances from the left wing. A return to the top ten is on the cards if Rovers can find an outlet for goals.
Manager: Sam Allardyce
Key Player: Christopher Samba
In: Sean Davis (Portsmouth) Free, Paul Robinson (West Bromwich Albion) Loan, Zat Knight (Aston Villa) U, Sam Ricketts (Hull City) U
Out: Blerim Dzemaili (Torino) £1.6 Million, James Sinclair (Released), Robert Sissons (Released), Nathan Woolfe (Released)
Gary Megson answered his critics last season by steering Bolton to a comfortable and safe finish. Major changes are not expected to be made as Megson is near to compiling a team that will be his own, changed from the Allardyce era.
Despite big Sam trying to come in for frontman Kevin Davies he remains a Bolton player, a key one at that as the current player of the year will be looking to build on the 12 goals he scored last season which was the second highest tally scored in the top flight by an English striker.
Another comfortable finish should be achievable this term for the Trotters although the Wanderers fans are still not convinced by Megson and his approach to match tactics.
Manager: Gary Megson
Key Man: Kevin Davies
In: Richard Eckersley (Manchester United) U, Brian Easton (Hamilton) £350,000, Tyrone Mears (Derby County) U, Steven Fletcher (Hibernian) £3 Million, David Edgar (Newcastle United) Free, Fernando Guerrero (Independiente) Loan
Out: Alex MacDonald (Falkirk) Loan, Alan Mahon (Tranmere Rovers) Free, Gabor Kiraly (1860 Munich) Free, Steve Jones (Walsall) Free
The smallest town to ever compete to in the Premier League are expected to be this seasons whipping boys and will be touted to be the worst ever team to grace the elite division, although in reality Burnley will be very tough opponents.
What they lack in skill they will substitute for grit and some keys signings including Tyrone Mears who impressed with Marseille last season and Scottish prodigy Steven Fletcher may swing the tide towards the Lancashire club in some fixtures along with Martin Paterson who has proved that he can score goals out of nothing.
Graham Alexander despite his age will be one of the fittest players on any pitch across the country and will lead by example and manager Owen Coyle may be relatively new to management but is tactically aware, a future top echelon mainstay.
The Clarets fans will enjoy the ride and any finish above 18th would be a bonus although they will lack the squad numbers and overall quality level to do so.
Manager: Owen Coyle
Key Player: Graham Alexander
In: Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow) £18 Million, Daniel Sturridge (Manchester City) £5 Million, Ross Turnbull (Middlesbrough) Free
Out: Lee Sawyer (Southend United) Loan, Jimmy Smith (Leyton Orient) Free, Tom Taiwo (Carlisle United) Loan, Ben Sahar (Espanyol) £800,000, Slobodan Rajkovic (FC Twente) Loan, Ryan Bertrand (Reading) Free, Mineiro (Released), Frank Nouble (West Ham United) Free, Morten Neilsen (AZ Alkmaar) Free, Sergio Tejera (Real Mallorca) Free, Franco Di Santo (Blackburn Rovers) Loan, Scott Sinclair (Wigan Athletic) Loan, Patrick Van Aanholt (Coventry City) Loan
The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti is a predicted one as Roman Abramovic seemingly wants the best reputations that money can buy although in reality it is a big gamble as Ancelotti is inexperienced outside his native Italy and pretty much out of Milan.
The team may struggle in the early stages of the season with Ancelotti's tactics and approach and may be enough, as last season, to cost them an effective title challenge. Pressure will be on to prove their intent and on Ancelotti's understanding of the English game early in the season.
Despite being top scorer last season Nicholas Anelka's inclusion in the team is not a necessity for the Blues but in reality he should be utilised in the manner and grace that Didier Drogba is as last seasons top scorer is more deadly in front of goal than his Ivorian counterpart. Frank Lampard's contribution to the team is immeasurable and is the most consistent central midfielder in the league.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Key Man: Frank Lampard
In: Anton Peterlin (Ventura County Fusion) Free, Jo (Manchester City) Loan, Luke Garbutt (Leeds United) Free, Shkodran Mustafi (Hamburg) Free
Out: Lars Jacobson (Blackburn Rovers) Free, Thomas McCready (Hibernian) Free, Nuno Valente (Retired), John Irving (Released), Eunan O'Kane (Released), Cory Sinnott (Ferencvaros) Free, John Paul Kissock (Released), Andy Van Der Meyde (Released), Scott Spencer (Released), John Ruddy (Motherwell) Loan
Everton's key to breaking the top four lies at Goodison Park, last term they only managed 8 victories there compared to 9 away from home. If their home form is slightly improved this season they will be directly in a position to challenge for a Champions League spot once again.
Injuries laid waste to any challenge they could have made last season and will welcome back Yakubu and midfield maestro Mikel Arteta who seems to improve with every season that goes by.
In Jo and Louis Saha they have capable partners and competition for Yakubu who has been isolated up front by himself in recent seasons. The Toffees should be hovering in upper mid table come the end of the season.
Manager: David Moyes
Key Man: Mikel Arteta
In: Stephen Kelly (Birmingham City) Free, Bjorn Helge Riise (Lillestrom) U
Out: Collins John (Roeselare) Free, Moritz Volz (Released), Karim Laribi (Released), Leon Andreasen (Hannover 96) Free, Julian Gray (Released)
Roy Hodgson's guidance of Fulham into Europe last year is proof that he is one of the most underrated managers of all time; he performed a similar feat with Blackburn a decade ago and turned Finland into a credible international side.
Fulham conceded the least goals outside of the top three in the league on their way to their best ever season in the Premier League, only 3 away wins were counterweighted with 11 home wins. The Cottagers defence will need to remain strong to consolidate their position a task that may be too difficult this time around.
Brede Hangeland had an immense season at the back along with the ever reliable Mark Schwarzer although it is Danny Murphy's inspiring performances from midfield that catch the eye. European competition may be too much of a distraction for the Cottagers to make a better league challenge.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Key Man: Danny Murphy
In: Steven Mouyokolo (Boulogne) £2 Million, Seyi Olofinjana (Stoke City) £3 Million, Jozy Altidore (Villarreal) Loan
Out: Michael Bridges (Released), Dean Windass (Darlington) Free, Ryan France (Sheffield United) Free, John Welsh (Tranmere Rovers) Free, Wayne Brown (Leicester City) Free, Jason Bennett (Darlington) Free, Matt Plummer (Darlington) Free, Joe Lamplough (Released), Tom Woodhead (Darlington) Free, Nicky McNamara (Rushden and Diamonds) Free, Sam Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers) U
An unexpected successful start to last season saved Hull from the drop as they fell apart from December onwards in spectacular fashion. Second season syndrome should be feared at the KC Stadium as Hull have struggled to sign many of their transfer targets which is a stigma from the dreadful finish they suffered.
The Tigers need to keep hold of their most notable players such as Michael Turner and Geovanni to stand any chance of survival. Phil Brown will be hoping to conduct some more business before the transfer window closes although a poor start to the season may cost him a chance to even do that, Brown must turn things around at the KC Stadium a task that seems to be unachievable at this time.
Manager: Phil Brown
Key Man: Geovanni
Click here to read the second part of the Premier League season preview.
Date:Tuesday August 11 2009
Colin Cooper Appointed Hartlepool Boss (Friday May 24 2013)
John Hughes and Micky Barron Sacked (Thursday May 9 2013)
Evan Horwood Heads Hartlepool Exit List (Tuesday May 7 2013)
Hartlepool End Season With Crawley Draw (Saturday April 27 2013)
Solid Draw In Hartlepool's Final Home Game (Saturday April 20 2013)
Hartlepool Record Shock Away Win (Saturday April 13 2013)
Monkhouse Double Lifts Pools Off The Bottom (Saturday April 6 2013)
Not So Good Friday For Hartlepool (Friday March 29 2013)
Another Blank Leaves Hartlepool Rock Bottom (Saturday March 23 2013)
Limp Defeat Leaves Pools Facing League 2 (Tuesday March 19 2013)
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