Category: Premier League team previews


Premier League 2014-15 preview: Queens Park Rangers

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A surprise relegation squad in 2013, big money QPR found it harder to make it back to the Premier League than many expected. But the playoffs earned them their top flight status thanks to a late Bobby Zamora goal, and QPR looks to do this PL thing right this time around.

Adding more veteran depth at the back and a young wild card (Jordon Mutch) in attack, sealing a deal for Juventus’ Mauricio Isla is key to their 2014/15 campaign. Can QPR finally deliver on the expectations set forth by chairman Tony Fernandes?

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City), Mauricio Isla (Juventus)

Transfers Out: Stephane Mbia, Yossi Benayoun (Maccabi Haifa)

Full PL schedule | Watch QPR live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: QPR earned instant promotion back to the Premier League after advancing via the Championship playoffs. They looked like a league-winner before fading down the stretch.

source: Getty Images

Star player: Loic Remy

Assuming he stays — which is a wild assumption considering a failed medical is what kept him from leaving for Liverpool — the French forward will provide QPR with a chance to finish any opportunity. The 26-year-old scored 14 goals for Newcastle last season despite missing part of the season, and the forward depth drops off behind him and Charlie Austin (who has zero Premier League experience but certainly has faced new challenges well).

Coaches’ Corner: Harry Redknapp

The combustible manager oversaw both QPR’s relegation in 2013 and their promotion last season, but the jury’s out on whether he’s the right man for the job. For one, QPR’s rich owners bankrolled a very talented — if too veteran — squad for the Championship run and Redknapp still needed the playoffs to advance.

PST predicts: QPR fights to stay alive all season long, but has enough momentum from some midseason fixes to keep itself out of the relegation zone. Redknapp is canned before it’s said and done, and the club finishes 14th.

Premier League 2014-15 preview: Newcastle United


Magpies fans must simply be baffled in a good way after this summer. Owner Mike Ashley spent a pair of years doing very little besides selling off key assets — Andy Carroll, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba were all sold for big money — and then used this summer to smartly and quietly build up a team that could again challenge for Europe.

Beleaguered boss Alan Pardew had a European contender last year before the club’s sale of Cabaye and his head butting of a Hull City player sent Newcastle into a tailspin that dropped them into tenth place. Now, he’s picked up incredible depth in the attack and offset to sale of Mathieu Debuchy with younger, cheaper Dutch star Daryl Janmaat. Life could be good on Tyneside.

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Remy Cabella (Montpellier), Emmanuel Riviere (Monaco), Siem de Jong (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Ayoze Perez (Tenerife), Jack Colback (Sunderland), Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Transfers Out: Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal), Dan Gosling (Bournemouth), Sylvain Marveaux (Guingamp), Shola Ameobi, Romain Amalfitano (Dijon)

Full PL schedule | Watch Newcastle United live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: As stated, the Magpies were cruising through December, even picking up their first Old Trafford win in decades when Cabaye keyed the team past Manchester United. But Pardew’s head butt of David Meyler kicked a massive losing streak into gear, and many fans were started-at-best and crushed-at-worst when the manager kept his job in the summer.

source: Getty ImagesStar player: Tim Krul

Yes, the same nutcase who famously became Holland’s hero with his penalty kick antics to best Costa Rica. If you have been paying attention to Newcastle, you’ll know that Krul is among the most under appreciated goalkeepers in the Premier League. His million-save performance against Tottenham last year keyed his run to PL goalkeeper of the month, and his injury late in the year is one of the things that crippled the season. If Newcastle keeps Krul through the transfer window, the sky will be the limit.

Coaches’ Corner: Alan Pardew

The second-longest tenured manager in the Premier League is a tempestuous boss capable of sublime tactics but also questionable substitution patterns and an over-reliance on in-game tricks that worked once “so why wouldn’t they work 100 times?” Pardew knows how to set up his team for a game, but the rest almost seems up to chance. Get in his doghouse — cough, Hatem ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux — and no amount of fan posturing will get you out. Will be on a short leash after all the money Ashley spent this summer.

PST predicts: A top-half finish at a minimum, with the possibility for more. Newcastle’s attack will be as strong as its been in a long time, and if they could challenge for Europe if they get the defensive performances of last season from Cheick Tiote and Mike Williamson to go with a healthy Fabricio Coloccini. Still, it may not be enough this year, as the Magpies finish a strong 8th.

Premier League 2014-15 preview: Manchester United


Where to begin? Manchester United looks to rebound off its most disappointing season in decades with a new manager in Dutch genius Louis van Gaal. The man who watched over a third place Netherlands finish at the World Cup has quite the resume and reputation, having led Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich.

How much difference can one man make? We may find out, as van Gaal will be cooking with a lot of the same ingredients as his predecessor David Moyes. The Red Devils continue to be linked with a bevy of big names, but so far the major acquisitions have been Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. That means LVG will be focusing on Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie… just like the sacked Moyes.

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Luke Shaw (Southampton), Ander Herrera (Bilbao)

Transfers Out: Ryan Giggs, Alexander Buttner (Dynamo Moscow), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Federico Macheda (Cardiff City), Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan), Rio Ferdinand (Queens Park Rangers), Bebe (Benfica)

Full PL schedule | Watch Manchester United live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: United’s disappointment was a relative one, as the Red Devils finished just five points out of Europe, scored the fifth-most goals in the Premier League and allowed the fifth-fewest. Where the club really failed was allowing Old Trafford to be far less than a fortress, as West Brom, Everton and Newcastle were teams to snap historic winless skids in the building. In fact, United posted seven of its 12 losses at home. That’s no good.

But remember, the team also advanced deep into the UEFA Champions League without a cup-tied Mata. Bayern Munich needed the second leg at home to pick up a win. Could LVG have made a difference simply in selection in preparation? Absolutely.

source: Getty ImagesStar player: Wayne Rooney

Hard to choose between Rooney and van Persie, but England’s bulldog led the Red Devils with 17 goals last season. RVP’s strike rate was slightly better, but Rooney makes more of a difference at both ends of the park (something that infuriates some fans). Rooney also requires the freedom to freelance, and that could become a problem with van Gaal if the wins aren’t coming and the freelancing has left gaps in the formation.

Coaches’ Corner: Louis van Gaal

As mentioned earlier, we’ll learn a lot about how much of a difference a manager can make from van Gaal’s first year in charge. The fact remains that players are far more important than a boss, but LVG won all five of his friendlies on U.S. soil and will have the full backing of van Persie as he looks to rebuild the United brand.

PST predicts: Manchester United returns to battle for a Top Four spot and needs January additions to push itself into the championship discussion. The late moves don’t come in time to push them above Chelsea or Manchester City, leaving the club to duke it out with Arsenal and Liverpool for 3rd and 4th place. Do they make it? Not as currently constructed. United finish fifth and LVG uses the summer of 2015 to build his title contender.

Premier League 2014-15 preview: Leicester City

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Leicester is back after a decade away, and have enlisted a pair of players with PL experience in Matthew Upson and Marc Albrighton to help calm the team’s nerves, while adding Brighton’s potent striker Leonardo Ulloa to help in the fight to stay in the flight. Can Nigel Pearson keep his club up in the Premier League?

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton), Matthew Upson (Brighton), Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa)

Transfers Out: Zak Whitbread (Derby County)

Full PL schedule | Watch Leicester City live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: Leicester won the Championship by nine points to secure promotion with relative ease, but the Foxes face plenty of challenges in replicating their 83-goal success in the Premier League. Leicester posted a plus-40 goal differential and lost just six games in England’s second tier.

Star player: Kasper Schmeichel

The goalkeeper is important to any survival push, and Schmeichel is a good one. Four times capped for the Danish international team, Peter’s son is athletic and capable. Kasper has signed an extension with the Foxes through 2018 after his performances in the Championship earned him plenty of transfer rumors. Manchester United and AC Milan were among those rumored to pursue his services in January, but his future’s in Leicester.

He also scored this wild stoppage time headed goal to help in the promotion push.

Coaches’ Corner: Nigel Pearson

Pearson has plenty of experience with clubs now in the Premier League — he was boss at Southampton and Hull City — but this will be his first time as a full-time boss in the top flight. Also a former caretaker boss at Newcastle and the English U-21 team, Pearson is an adequate manager who will get the chance to take his profile to the next level. The Championship’s manager of the year, Pearson enjoyed a 17-year playing career between Shrewsbury Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.

PST predicts: Leicester will face a season-long fight to stay in the PL, and it will take nearly every trick in the book to stay up. Pearson is well-suited to the task, and uses his hard-nosed mentality, to keep the Foxes in the hunt. With a couple key January transfers to aid in the fight, big money Leicester tips enough games to go into the Survival Sunday with a chance… and emerges with its top flight status in tact.

Premier League 2014-15 preview: Hull City

New Hull City Club Crest
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Hull City is in Europe (at least for a few more hours). The Tigers advanced to the UEFA Europa League by virtue of their trip to the FA Cup final last season, and host a home leg against FC Trencin on Thursday after a scoreless draw in Slovakia (that included this brutal penalty miss from Tom Huddlestone).

The first ever European run in Hull history is a cool story line, but the focus will be on two things:

1) Will controversial owner Assem Allam win over the fans with his purchases despite his continuing fight to rebrand the club?

2) Can manager Steve Bruce direct the club to safety and a mid-table finish?

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Tom Ince (Blackpool), Jake Livermore (Tottenham), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United), Andrew Robertson (Dundee)

Transfers Out: Matty Fryatt (Nottingham Forest), Abdoulaye Faye, Robert Koren

Full PL schedule | Watch Hull City live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: Hull survived scoring the fourth-fewest goals in the Premier League last season, while allowing a respectable 53 marks. The story of their season was a run to the FA Cup final — where they lost to Arsenal in a thriller — that included wins over, well, no one really. The Tigers blessed run up to the Gunners saw wins over just one Premier League team: Sunderland. See how they graded out in last season’s review.

Star player: Curtis Davies

Only Ahmed Elmohamady made more appearances for the Tigers last year than Davies, who is the leader of the club. At 29, Davies has found a home as Hull’s reliable center back (and may have deserved a look for the England team at the World Cup). His three goals in the run to the FA Cup final further cement his place in Hull lore, and Davies will be counted on the help shepherd young bucks Maguire and Robertson into the fold.

source: Getty ImagesCoaches’ Corner: Steve Bruce

At just over 2 years on the job, Bruce is the seventh-longest serving manager in the “win now” world of the Premier League. The rough-and-tumble former Manchester United mainstay as a player has become a well-traveled and vocal personality in the managing world. He may look like a guy you’d see at the pub, either looking for a fight or mowing down a plate of fries. But Bruce has done respected duty at a number of English spots, and is now managing his 29-year-old son Alex.

PST predicts: The Tigers simply must find a way to score more goals than the 38 they scored en route to a 16th place finish in 2013/14. And while Snodgrass and Ince are promising signings, Hull needs to find consistency from at least one of a number of strikers to stay alive in the Premier League. Can it be Shane Long? Nikica Jelavic? Sone Aluko? Something tells me we’ll be asking this question in January’s transfer window, too.