Glenn Whelan

2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, let’s take a look at the key numbers of 2014-15.

All week long here at PST, we’ve been taking a look back at the 2014-15 Premier League season — the season that was, if you will — but it’s not time to take an abbreviated look ahead to the 2015-16 season.

More specifically, the needs that must be addressed by each Premier League team in this summer’s transfer window before Aug. 8, the start of next season, arrives.

[ MORE: Top 10 goalkeepers | Defenders | MidfieldersForwards ]

Add one or two bodies to freshen things up Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Leicester City

Chelsea won the league by eight points this season, so wide, sweeping changes aren’t necessary at Stamford Bridge this summer. Instead, Jose Mourinho looks set to promote a handful of academy players to the first team, while probably adding just one or two big-money signings from elsewhere. The Blues’ No. 1 need: defensive midfield depth behind Nemanja Matic, who was a real difference maker this season, but can’t be relied upon to play upward of 35 games a season.

source: AP
Schweinsteiger — what the Arsenal midfield’s been missing?

Likewise, Arsenal are set up very nicely to carry over a strong second half of the season into 2015-16. Francis Coquelin may be the answer at the base of midfield, but he also might not be. A safer bet would be to sign Bastian Schweinsteiger, who seems to be on his way out at Bayern Munich, and really shore up the side’s biggest weakness the last few years.

Depending on who you ask, Man United will either challenge for the title next season, or they’ll finish around 10th and Louis van Gaal will be gone by December. Personally, I thought Van Gaal’s first season at Old Trafford was a huge success. When he’s recruiting players this summer, he’ll be doing so with the added promise of Champions League football. The quality of players his squad so desperately cries out for — someone to partner Michael Carrick and/or Ander Herrera deep in midfield — will be swayed by that. Paul Pogba? Arturo Vidal?

Tottenham finished fifth this season. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to their fans all season long, but they’re actually set up quite nicely to improve upon this season’s 64-point haul. Mauricio Pochettino was reunited with Paul Mitchell, his “head of recruitment” at Southampton, which should spell much-improved transfer dealings, compared to the debacle of two summers ago. For the first time in forever, a Spurs side isn’t crying out for a new starting center forward, thanks to Harry Kane.

Whoever takes over at West Ham will inherit a deep, talented squad. Winston Reid decided to stick around for the move to the Olympic Stadium — a development that will mean increased revenue and transfer budget — while last summer’s signings of Diafra Sahko, Enner Valencia and Aaron Cresswell worked out quite nicely. The big question: can they sign Alex Song permanently from Barcelona?

[ MORE: Top 10 newcomers to the Premier League | The best (and worst) transfers ]

In good shape, minor tweaks only — Southampton, Swansea City, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Bromwich Albion

source: Getty Images
Schneiderlin — will he stay or will her go?

Southampton were “supposed” to be relegated this season. Instead, first-year boss Ronald Koeman saw Saints to a seventh-place finish and has the South Coast club dreaming of another challenge for European qualification next season. Unless another mass exodus ensues this summer — Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne are constantly linked with moves away from St Mary’s — Southampton really only need reinforcements — depth signings — in the center of defense and an improvement upon Graziano Pelle’s feast-or-famine form of 2014-15.

There may not be a more stable, well-run club in all of England than Swansea. 9th, 12th and 9th: the Swans’ finishing positions at the end of the last three Premier League seasons. For a club of their history and respective standing in the game, that’s beyond a fantastic achievement. Out of respect to the wise folks running that club, I’m not going to even attempt to tell them what their squad needs, because I’m sure they’re already well aware themselves.

Mark Hughes’ second city at Stoke resulted in the club’s best-ever season (9th place, 54 points). Bojan Krkic proved to be an inspired signing last summer, while Mame Biram Diouf’s 11 goals (free transfer) turned out to be one of the best pieces of business done by anytime the last 12 months. This summer, the Potters could do well to re-work a somewhat aging defense, and add a bit of midfield depth to push Steven N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan in the center of midfield.

Likewise, Alan Pardew has a great thing going at Palace, where the players so obviously believe in his vision. Now that he’ll have an actual transfer budget to work with, look for Pardiola to push Palace onward and upward, toward another top-half finish next season.

[ MORE: 2014-15 Premier League season by the numbers ]

Complete overhauls needed — Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Sunderland

Manuel Pellegrini may not be going anywhere — maybe, but who knows? — but it seems as though half of Man City’s current squad will be moving on this summer. Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetic have long been rumored to be leaving the club this summer, setting the stage for a hugely important transfer window in the City Football Group’s plans for world domination. Pogba seems like the obvious answer, though it’ll take a lot more than the brilliant French midfielder and the $100 million price tag he’ll carry.

source: Getty Images
Markovic — in for a better second season, or a speedy Anfield exit?

Liverpool, oh Liverpool. You did a Tottenham, you know that, right? The combination of Champions League and Luis Suarez money spent last summer ($180 million) was…how can I put this nicely?…a complete disaster. The Reds spent a combined $110 million on Dejan Lovren, Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli, Alberto Moreno and Rickie Lambert. They can either ride out the storm and hope more than just Emre Can and Adam Lallana ($54 million combined) come good, or scrap last summer’s missteps and rebuild, again, this time without the allure of Champions League football.

As for Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland, the 2014-15 season nearly spelled relegation, and all three sides changed managers mid-season, while the latter two are expected to endure further managerial turnover this summer as well. God bless Tim Sherwood as he attempts to build his first team; best wishes to John Carver or whoever replaces him at Newcastle, working on a shoestring budget; and good luck to whoever fills the vacancy at Sunderland, getting a completely apathetic, disinterested group of players to suddenly care.

Charlie Adam facing FA charge for allegedly stomping on Olivier Giroud

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Charlie Adam could be facing disciplinary action from the FA after allegedly raking his foot over the leg of Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud.

The Stoke man was part of his team’s 1-0 defeat of the Gunners, and the foul was not seen during the game. Video has surfaced of the incident, however, which has the FA looking into the matter.

Stoke released a statement of surprise:

“Charlie and the club are surprised and disappointed to learn of this and will appeal vigorously against the decision.”

There’s a Zapruder-like film making its way around the Internet that would not seem to favor any claims of innocence. Perhaps worse: it may be the second most egregious stamp a Stoke player put on Giroud during the match, as Glenn Whelan put his foot squarely on a down Giroud’s leg.

Stoke City, Southampton hit out at referees after big decisions go against them

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We all know the underlying notion in soccer: the big teams have all the decision go their way, while the little guys suffer in silence.

However two of those so called ‘smaller’ teams have had enough after recent injustices have cost them points over the busy festive period in the Premier League.

Stoke City had two-men sent off against Newcastle on Boxing Day, and were denied “clear cut penalties” in their 3-0 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday according to Chairman Peter Coates. While Southampton’s manager Mauricio Pochettino argues that his side should’ve had two penalties in Saints’ defeat to Everton and according to the PA’s Simon Peach, his side has suffered all season because he has “young, friendly players.”

Do Stoke and Southampton have a point?

In their individual cases, perhaps they do. But it’s far more complex to assess whether or not the smaller teams in the PL are officiated differently than the big clubs. Many will argue that’s exactly the case but whether or not such feelings are present, we have to say that referees seem impartial and often give only the decisions that they’re 100 percent certain of. Whether that’s against Manchester United or West Brom, Arsenal or Hull.

(MORE: Tottenham 3-0 Stoke City)

But I understand the complaints of both Stoke and Southampton. On Boxing Day the Potters were reduced to 9-men in two minutes as first Glenn Whelan was shown a harsh second yellow by Martin Atkinson and then Marc Wilson was adjudged to have taken out Loic Remy as last man, even though Newcastle’s French striker looked to already be falling over. Then against Spurs Jonathan Walters was taken own when clean through on goal but no red card was issued by Kevin Friend. Rubbing salt into the wound, Ossama Assaidi was scythed down by Michael Dawson but play was waved on and within seconds handball was given against Ryan Shawcross as Tottenham’s first goal came from the penalty spot. The Potters can feel hard done by, watch below and see what you think.

(MORE: Everton 2-1 Southampton)

As for the Saints, twice they looked to have great shouts for a penalty in the second half as the strongest call came when Antolin Alcaraz clearly blocked Adam Lallana’s cross with his raised right-hand by Mark Clattenburg waved play on. In the first half Rickie Lambert and Lallana both went clean through on goal but were pulled back for offside, even though it was clear they weren’t as Saints’ captain Lallana was booked for dissent as he protested against Clattenburg’s decisions.

An angry Pochettino had the following to say afterwards:

“We don’t want to be judged by the young, handsome players that we have. We don’t want to be judged in that sense. We want to be judged in the same manner, being judged by the same rigor, in the same way that all other clubs are. We just want it to be fair and we want the same treatment as all other clubs. Nothing better, nothing worse – just the same.”

Is the officiating fair in the Premier League? Or does bias exist towards the top clubs?

Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City (Lineups and Discuss)

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Tottenham’s new manager Tim Sherwood takes on a battered Stoke City squad looking to maintain his unbeaten record at the helm.

The two teams will kick off from White Hart Lane at 11am ET live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Mark Hughes’ lineup remains relatively unchanged following their 5-1 demolition at the hands of Newcastle Thursday.  Geoff Cameron may play a more central role in defense, with Erik Pieters roaming the outside of defense.

Hughes is without the suspended pair of Glenn Whelan and Mark Wilson, who were both sent off Thursday, leaving their manager incensed at the refereeing decisions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Sherwood has also left his team mostly the same, as Christian Eriksen slowly adapts to Premier League life on the wing in support of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado paired at the top.

It’s an interesting lineup, going with two strikers instead of the extra midfielder given the strong and physical Stoke City midfield.  A main reason could be the absence of both Andros Townsend and Sandro due to injury.

LINEUPS:

Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Chiriches, Fryers; Lennon, Paulinho, Dembele, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado.
Bench – Friedel, Fredericks, Veljkovic, Capoue, Bentaleb, Chadli, Lamela.

Stoke City Sorensen; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Cameron, Pieters; Walters, Palacios, Nzonzi, Ireland, Assaidi; Crouch.
Bench – Butland, Muniesa, Pennant, Jones, Ness, Adam, Etherington.

A rough Boxing Day for Americans in Premier League

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Upon seeing a screw-up from one of his players, a coach I once knew and liked would say, “The devil got inside him or something!”

Tim Howard, the devil got inside you. Or something.

It wasn’t just a goof or even a double goof from Howard, a longtime U.S. international who is usually solid as the Rocky Mountains. I mean ,the guy may give up a questionable goal here or there through imprecise footwork or positioning that is just a step or so off kilter. But this thing Thursday was something else.

First came a goal kick into a bad spot, putting his defender under antagonizing pressure. Then came the flailing kick-out that led to a penalty kick. And, worst of all, the subsequent red card left his team playing a man down for a big portion of Boxing Day. The resulting spot shot was the only goal as Everton, so tantalizingly close to the top, was unable to recover and dropped three big points at home.

So, to borrow from Christmas Story, it was the dreaded triple-dog goof.

(MORE: Watch Tim Howard’s mistake and subsequent ejection)

Howard wasn’t the only American in the Premier League to have a rough day. His U.S. backup, Brad Guzan, couldn’t reach Dwight Gayle’s curler in stoppage time as Aston Villa also fell at home.

Geoff Cameron was a victim of his Stoke City teammates’ imprudent ways. The American defender was one of nine men left to deal with Newcastle, which took full advantage of the two red cards in a 5-1 romp. There is this, at least: Cameron got his chance to play at center back for Stoke – and haven’t so many U.S. fans wanted a look at this, although perhaps under different circumstances – as one of the ejections went to starting central defender Glenn Whelan

Then again, at least he was somewhere to be found; American international Brek Shea, once again, was out of the 18-man game day roster altogether.