Premier League 2018-19 fans’ previews, part 1: Arsenal to Huddersfield | Football

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Premier League 2018-19 fans’ previews, part 1: Arsenal to Huddersfield | Football
Premier League 2018-19 fans’ previews, part 1: Arsenal to Huddersfield | Football


Arsenal

Gooner excitement levels are at fever pitch. Optimism abounds, since at the very least we know we’re in for a fascinating ride. Even if a title challenge proves beyond us, so long as we’re capable of competing with the best and Unai can achieve a more consistent, hungrier-looking Arsenal that can restore the natural order of things – a top-four finish above our noisy neighbours – our new leader will have more than sated the Gooner faithful.

Key men/weak links Can Torreira consistently reproduce the same garra charrua tenacity witnessed in Russia and, crucially, will Leno establish himself as our No 1? Losing Ramsey, after both Wilshere and Cazorla have made their exits, could leave us somewhat bereft of midfield creativity. Bellerín requires a galvanising kick up the backside.

Headline maker As a more traditional No 10, I pray our mercurial playmaker Özil can let his feet do all the talking.

First-choice XI (4-1-2-1-2) Leno; Bellerín, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira; Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Özil; Lacazette, Aubameyang.

Predictions: We will finish: 3rd. Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Arsenal 4. Man Utd. Bottom three: 18. Fulham 19. Huddersfield 20. Cardiff Promoted: Stoke, Middlesbrough, West Brom. First manager sacked: Claude Puel (Leicester). Bernard Azulay, GoonersDiary.co.uk, @GoonerN5

Bournemouth

I’m not confident the Cherries will improve on last season when we finished a respectable 12th. The team need to be able to produce more clean sheets and in buying just one new defender I’m not sure we’ll have tightened up enough in that area.

Key men/weak links Aké will again be the rock on which the defence is built and our hopes are that Lewis Cook has an even better season. We’ll hope to see more of Jack Simpson as well at centre-back, but he could be limited to cup games. A centre-back and a strong ball-winning central midfielder would be ideal additions and Colombia’s Jefferson Lerma is set to come in for a club record £25m from Levante.

Headline maker I expect all the focus will be on our new £10m signing Brooks, if he gets some starts. He is only 21 and he has been really impressive in pre-season, so we are hoping for big things from him.

First-choice XI (3-4-3): Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Aké; A Smith, L Cook, Gosling, Daniels; Brooks, King, Wilson.

Predictions: We will finish: 14th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Tottenham. Bottom three: 18. Newcastle 19. Huddersfield 20. Cardiff. Promoted: Derby County, Bristol City, Middlesbrough. First manager sacked: Javi Gracia (Watford). Peter Bell, afcbchimes.blogspot.co.uk, @CherryChimes

Bournemouth have splashed the cash on David Brooks



Bournemouth have splashed the cash on David Brooks. Photograph: AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Brighton

After an unbelievable summer in the transfer market another season in the Premier League is just so exciting with nine major signings. The battle with Leicester to land Jahanbakhsh, last season’s Eredivisie top scorer and our record signing, had the whole city on tenterhooks. Chris Hughton is just the manager to get the new players to gel.

Key men/weak links So many key players! Dunk and Duffy were monsters in defence last season and will surely be even stronger with our first Brazilian Bernado alongside them. Gröss will be a huge influence again with Stephens and Bissouma in a magical midfield. And we finally signed a top striker in Andone. A weak link? Southern Rail’s hopeless train service to the Amex.

Headline maker Our recruitment dept led by Paul Winstanley with the backing of Paul Barber and Tony Bloom – chairman, local hero and lifelong fan. They have done wonders this summer.

First-choice XI (4-4-2) Ryan; Schelotto, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo; Bissouma, Stephens, Gröss, Izquierdo; Jahanbakhsh, Andone.

Predictions: We will finish: 9th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal. Bottom three: 18. Crystal Palace 19. Watford 20. Cardiff Promoted: Aston Villa, West Brom and Brentford. First manager sacked: Mourinho (Man Utd). Steph Fincham, Observer reader

Burnley

Having enjoyed such a good 2017-18 season there is every cause for optimism looking ahead to the new season. We keep on improving season by season, although I suppose it will be difficult to get any higher than last season’s seventh place. A similar season with a really good cup run would be excellent, even more so if that cup run comes in the Europa League.

Key men/weak links It’s always a team game at Burnley but, as always, it’s goals that win games and so our strikers will be key players. I wrote a year ago that we were a central defender down and we still are. I’d like a new central defender, a wide player and a forward.

Headline maker We don’t do controversies, rows and bust-ups, certainly not publicly. It’s a well run club where the headlines come from the performances. Sean Dyche, as ever, will get plenty of attention and his press conferences get better and better.

First-choice XI (4-4-1-1): Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Lennon, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson; Hendrick; Wood.

Predictions: We will finish: 10th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Man Utd. Bottom three: 18. Brighton 19. Watford 20. Cardiff Promoted: Stoke, Middlesbrough, West Brom. First manager sacked: Neil Warnock (Cardiff). Tony Scholes, UpTheClarets.com, @UTCdotcom

Cardiff

After the disastrous Premier League adventure in 2013-14 I’m expecting a much more united front. With Warnock in charge you know your team is going to give plenty of effort and with the fans fully back on board I’m confident we can avoid the bottom three.

Key men/weak links Cardiff have signed two exciting attacking players. Murphy and Reid. They will enhance the club but I think the key players are going to be defenders Morrison and Bamba. Both were heroes during promotion. They could be the difference as we will rely on not conceding goals as much as scoring them. We lack proper Premier League experience in midfield and attack.

Headline maker Warnock will be in his element in front of the press and won’t disappoint in interviews. He had a run-in with the Wolves manager last season and is never short of a word or two if he feels things are not going his way.

First-choice XI (4-4-2): Etheridge; Richards, Bamba, Morrison, Bennett; Murphy, Ralls, Gunnarsson, Hoilett; Reid, Zohore.

Predictions: We will finish: 15th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal. Bottom three: 18. Southampton 19. Watford 20 Huddersfield. Promoted: Stoke, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest. First manager sacked: Javi Gracia (Watford). Michael Morris, cardiffcity-mad.co.uk, @cardiffcitymad

Neil Warnock is likely to make headlines



Neil Warnock is likely to make headlines. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Chelsea

In short – who knows? We’re told the chain-smoking ex-banker will deliver beautiful expansive football. We’ll apparently see mesmeric super-fast one-touch football – whether the likes of Victor Moses are capable of such wizardry is yet to be established. In all seriousness, it’s always difficult to really make much out of pre-season exploits but the team do seem to be picking up the Sarriball ethos pretty quickly.

Key men/weak links As long as he is at Chelsea, Hazard will continue to be the jewel in our crown. Weaknesses? Do I have to say it again? Victor Moses. We also need a striker, probably two given Morata seems to prefer Instagram to playing football. And if Courtois goes then the goalkeeping pool is not looking healthy, not healthy at all

Headline maker Sarri does have previous for this sort of thing. He’s not really one who watches what he says or how he says it.

First-choice XI (4-3-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Alonso; Fábregas, Kanté, Jorginho; Pedro, Morata, Hazard.

Predictions: We will finish: 3rd. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man Utd. Bottom three: 18. Cardiff 19. Huddersfield 20 Newcastle. Promoted: West Brom, Stoke, Derby. First manager sacked: Benítez (Newcastle). Trizia Fiorellino, ChelseaSupportersGroup.net

Crystal Palace

A decent start to the season would be nice for a change! We appear to have replaced Cabaye and Loftus-Cheek and strengthened in key areas. I see no reason, barring injuries, why a top-half finish isn’t achievable

Key men/weak links Keeping hold of Zaha has, of course, been key. Tomkins and Sakho formed a formidable partnership in the centre of defence and much will be expected of them. The signing of Meyer is intriguing; can he deliver on the hype? Benteke needs to hit form again this campaign or we will once again be weak up front.

Headline maker Zaha will obviously be linked to every top club every single week; I think we will have him for one more season before we will need to let him achieve greater things. I suspect there will be a lot of talk about potential new owners at the club too as the season unfolds.

First-choice XI (4-1-3-2): Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Sakho, Tomkins, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic; Meyer, McArthur, Townsend; Zaha, Benteke.

Predictions: We will finish: 10th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea. Bottom three: 18. Brighton 19. Cardiff 20. Huddersfield Promoted: West Brom, Derby, Middlesbrough. First manager sacked: Mourinho (Man Utd). Chris Waters, PalaceTrust.org.uk, @Clapham_Grand

Everton

I’m always optimistic. With a new manager, Marco Silva, a new set-up, a few new players, hopefully we’ll get off to a good start. I think we’ll score goals but I’m a little worried about the centre of our defence.

Key men/weak links The key players in what is likely to be Silva’s 4-3-3 are definitely going to be Richarlison and Tosun up front. So much depends on those two for goals. Kieran Dowell, who spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, is the youngster who needs to impress – he’s got the skill, he just needs to perform on the pitch. But the central defence needs fixing. Keane is slow to react and Jags is no spring chicken.

Headline maker I think Tom Davies has all the tools – he was seen playing football in the street late at night with his mates. The young midfielder has also been known to ride his skateboard in the city centre.

First-choice XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Digne; Gueye, Dowell, Sigurdsson; Walcott, Tosun, Richarlison.

Predictions: We will finish: 7th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Arsenal 3. Man Utd 4. Chelsea. Bottom three: 18. Newcastle 19. Watford 20. Cardiff. Promoted: Stoke, West Brom, Blackburn. First manager sacked: Javi Gracia (Watford) Steve Jones, @BlueKippercom

Will Richarlison prove a sound investment for Everton?



Will Richarlison prove a sound investment for Everton? Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

Fulham

We’re back! And hoping to do more than just make up the numbers. Thanks, Slav, for masterminding our return to the top flight. If we’re not overawed, and can tap into the confidence gained from going 23 matches unbeaten plus the uplift from our play-off exploits, our possession-based football might surprise a few teams.

Key men/weak links Seems the powers-that-be have woken up to the fact that the season starts in August, not midwinter. After two campaigns of playing catch-up, we’ve bolstered the squad early: Fabri, Le Marchand, Mawson, Seri, Schürrle and the returning Mitrovic are the done deals with one or two others still bubbling under.

Headline maker Mitro’s comments on signing a five-year contract suggest he’s determined to carry on from where he left off as a loanee: “This is a big club and last year we made history. We want to keep making big things.”

First-choice XI (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Christie, Ream, Mawson, Le Marchand; Seri, McDonald, Cairney; Schürrle, Mitrovic, Sessegnon.

Predictions: We will finish: 12th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Man Utd Bottom three: 18. Huddersfield 19. Watford 20 Cardiff. Promoted: West Brom, Middlesbrough, Derby. First manager sacked: Neil Warnock (Cardiff). David Lloyd, toofif.co.uk

Huddersfield

The last two years under David Wagner – promotion followed by survival – have given us Huddersfield Town fans every reason to be optimistic, no matter the odds. However, I have a feeling this year is going to be very tough …

Key men/weak links The permanent signing of Kongolo from Monaco was something of a coup for us – he was a rock during his six-month loan spell and I’m surprised no one usurped the deal. If Pritchard can fulfil his potential, he will have a real impact. In terms of weaknesses, I was hoping we’d bring in a more dynamic striker to freshen our options up top.

Headline maker Wagner is well liked by the press and is always good value for a soundbite. Zanka is a real character, as seen by his generous buying of pints for all away fans travelling to St Mary’s last Christmas.

First-choice XI (4-2-3-1): Lössl; Hadergjonaj, Schindler, Zanka, Kongolo; Hogg, Mooy; Diakhaby, Pritchard, Sobhi; Mounié.

Predictions: We will finish: 18th. Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man Utd. Bottom three: 18. Huddersfield 19. Watford 20. Cardiff Promoted: Stoke, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa. First manager sacked: Javi Gracia (Watford). Alex Taylor, @AlexJT27





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