Premier League 2015-16 season preview

PHOTOS: Take a tour through the 20 venues of the Premier League

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With the Premier League season beginning in just two days, we’ve been having a little fun over at ProSoccerTalk.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL season previews

Over the last few weeks we have been churning out season previews — you can find them all here at PST Preview central — and we took some time to predict how the PL standings will look on May 15, 2016 after the final games of the 2015-16 season have been played.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra

But where will the matches be played? Here.

Take a tour through the 20 venues which will host the critical matches of the 2015-16 Premier League

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

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Arsenal
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Name: Emirates Stadium
Capacity: 60,432
Year built: 2006
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Aston Villa
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Name: Villa Park
Capacity: 42,785
Year built: 1897
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Bournemouth
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Name: Vitality Stadium
Capacity: 12,000
Year built: 1910
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Chelsea
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Thomas Vilhelm/Cover/Getty Images)
Name: Stamford Bridge
Capacity: 41,623
Year built: 1905
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Crystal Palace
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Name: Selhurst Park
Capacity: 26,309
Year built: 1924
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Everton
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Name: Goodison Park
Capacity: 40,569
Year built: 1892
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Leicester City
source: Getty Images
AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT
Name: King Power Stadium
Capacity: 32,500
Year built: 2002
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Liverpool
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Name: Anfield
Capacity: 45,362
Year built: 1884
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Manchester City
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Name: Etihad Stadium
Capacity: 48,000
Year built: 2002
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Manchester United
source: Getty Images
(Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)
Name: Old Trafford
Capacity: 76,100
Year built: 1910
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Newcastle United
source:
Stu Forster /Allsport
Name: St. James Park
Capacity: 52,401
Year built: 1892
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Norwich City
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Name: Carrow Road
Capacity: 27,220
Year built: 1935
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Southampton
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Name: St Mary’s
Capacity: 32,521
Year built: 2001
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Stoke City
source: Getty Images
(photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Images)
Name: Britannia Stadium
Capacity: 28,383
Year built: 1997
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Sunderland
source:
Name: Stadium of Light
Capacity: 49,000
Year built: 1997
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Swansea City
source: Getty Images
(Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Name: Liberty Stadium
Capacity: 20,814
Year built: 2005
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Tottenham Hotspur
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Name: White Hart Lane
Capacity: 36,274
Year built: 1900
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Watford
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Name: Vicarage Road
Capacity: 20,877
Year built: 1922
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West Bromwich Albion
source:
Jamie McDonald /Allsport
Name: The Hawthorns
Capacity: 26,500
Year built: 1900
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West Ham United
source: Getty Images
(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Name: Boleyn Ground
Capacity: 35,333
Year built: 1904

Premier League midfielders preview: Who’s in the top five? Who just missed out?

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As the 2015-16 Premier League season gets ready to spread its wings this weekend, Pro Soccer Talk is getting you ready with a week full of projections, lists, news and views.

If offense wins games and defense wins championships — as the old adage goes — then what about the men in the middle of the park, the midfielders making the lives of both the forwards and defenders so much easier?

[ MORE: Season previews of all 20 PL teams ]

Without those midfield technicians, the sport of soccer would essentially boil down to big, ogre-ish defenders lumping long balls forward to equally big, but slightly more skilled forwards to smash powerful shot after powerful shot in hopes that eventually one might beat the goalkeeper.

Whatever your team needs most on any given day — tracking back to win the ball, slipping the perfect through ball for a vital scoring chance, or man-marking your opponent’s creative genius out of the game — you can count on a midfielder to do the job.

[ MORE: Predicting the final league table | Top 5 goalkeepers | Defenders | Forwards ] 

In case you can’t tell, here at PST we love us some midfielders, so who’s in our top five Premier League midfielders?

5. Nemanja Matic, Chelsea — Given the way that Jose Mourinho demands his side plays — pragmatic as could be — Matic proved last season he’s as important to his team as any player in the PL. The 27-year-old Serbian makes not only his fellow midfielders infinitely better, but the defenders behind him as well.

source:  4. Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea — Yes, this list is going to be Chelsea-heavy, but considering they won last year’s title by eight points and their midfield was the main reason for doing so, why wouldn’t it be? 18 assists in 2014-15 meant the 28-year-old Spaniard topped the charts by miles and miles (11 was the next closest).

3. David Silva, Manchester City — The 29-year-old Spaniard bounced back in a big way last season — after a subpar 2013-14 campaign led to questions about his long-term future at the Etihad Stadium, Silva followed that up with seven goals and 11 assists in league play. Even with the arrival of Raheem Sterling this summer, Silva remains the creative hub behind Sergio Aguero’s barrage of goals.

2. Morgan Schneiderlin, Manchester United — An absolute workhorse in the midfield and a sensational passer of the ball, the 25-year-old Frenchman is exactly what the Man United midfield has been missing for years now. On the big stage at United, he’ll prove worth every last bit of the $42 million paid to Southampton this summer.

1. Eden Hazard, Chelsea — The reigning PL Player of the Year is said — by his own manager — to be in the same stratosphere as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. While he’s probably still got a ways to go before that’s true, the 24-year-old is, frighteningly, still far from the finished article.

Honorable mention: Santi Cazorla, and Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Yohan Cabaye and Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Jordy Clasie (Southampton), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Petr Cech’s Arsenal arrival — the final piece for a real Premier League title challenge?

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As the 2015-16 Premier League season gets ready to spread its wings this weekend, Pro Soccer Talk is getting you ready with a week full of projections, lists, news and views.

Yet again, this year’s Premier League title figures to be a four-horse race featuring all the usual suspects from the top of the table year after year — Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, in a totally alphabetical, non-preferential order.

[ MORE: Season previews of all 20 PL teams

For a number of years, the narrative surrounding Arsenal was that they play beautiful football — perhaps too beautiful — and lacked the necessary experience, guile and defensive nuance to grind out ugly, tight games against the league’s other top teams.

The summer arrival of longtime Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech does two things for Arsene Wenger’s side ahead of the 2015-16 season: 1) gives the Gunners one of best — still — veteran goalkeepers in the league (13 major trophies won in 11 seasons at Chelsea), a position which has been in constant flux since Jens Lehmann’s first departure in 2008; and 2) automatically guarantees a more organized defensive unit capable of making in-game adjustments on the fly without the directives of Wenger.

[ MORE: Best possible starting lineups for all 20 PL teams | Top 5 PL goalkeepers

Recent history shows that to win the PL, a team must possess an elite defensive unit capable of conceding far fewer than a goal per game, or a lethal attack capable of averaging close to or more than two goals per game. Arsenal’s best hope of winning the league this season is with the former (36 goals conceded in 2014-15 — four off the pace of league winners Chelsea — while scoring just 71 — 12 off the pace of high-scoring Man City).

Of the last 13 Premier League-winning sides, all 13 won the title on the back the league’s stingiest defense and/or highest scoring attack. Of the 13, four possessed both a league-leading defense and attack (Arsenal – 2004; Chelsea – 2006; Man United – 2008; Man City – 2012), while four (Man United – 2003, 2009; Chelsea – 2005, 2015) possessed just the league’s best defense, and the other five (Man United – 2007, 2011, 2013; Chelsea – 2010; Man City – 2014) the most potent attack.

[ MORE: Predicting the final league standings — Who wins? CL places? Relegation? ]

source: Getty Images
Petr Cech, 2011-12 Champions League winner

Since winning their last league title in 2004, Arsenal have topped the charts in any of the above categories just once — the 2004-05 season when they outscored the next highest-scoring team, Chelsea, by 15 goals, but finished second to the Blues, 12 points off the title.

While his most basic duty a Arsenal net-minder will be to save the shots and command his 18-yard box in a way that Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina, Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Almunia were unable to do for the Gunners, Cech’s biggest impact on the current Arsenal team will be found in the confidence and acumen passed down to Arsenal current crop of promising young defenders, like Calum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista, Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin.

With Cech in goal, you almost have to believe that Arsenal are capable of defending opposition sides at an unparalleled level and finishing the 2015-16 season right back where they find themselves now, at the very top, albeit only by virtue of alphabetical order.

PST’s writers predict the final 2015-16 Premier League standings – Do you agree?

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With the Premier League season beginning in just threedays, we’ve been having a little fun over at ProSoccerTalk.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL season previews

Over the last few weeks we have been churning out season previews — you can find them all here at PST Preview central — and we took some time to predict how the PL standings will look on May 15, 2016 after the final games of the 2015-16 season have been played.

As always, it’s tricky to stick our necks out on the line, and I’m sure you will let us have it in the comments section, but here it goes…

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra

Predictions from our five writers show Chelsea are the favorites among the PST crew, with everyone picking Jose Mourinho’s men to retain their crown. As for newly promoted Watford and Norwich, it’s not looking good.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

Below you can see who we think will win the league, who will qualify for the Champions League (top four) and who will be relegated to the Championship (bottom three). Plus this season we have also added the predicted points tally of each team, on the right. Bonus: Click on the teams and it will take you to their 2015-16 season preview.

Feel free to let us know your final PL standings in the comments below. Anyway, here’s our predictions:

ProSoccerTalk’s Prediction

JPW Nick Mendola Kyle Bonn Andy Edwards Kyle Lynch
1. Chelsea: 86  1. Chelsea: 85  1. Chelsea: 82  1. Chelsea: 84  1. Chelsea: 85
2. Man Utd: 82  2. Man Utd: 82  2. Arsenal: 80  2. Man Utd: 81  2. Arsenal: 82
3. Man City: 80  3. Arsenal: 77  3. Man Utd: 77  3. Arsenal: 79  3. Man Utd: 80
4. Arsenal: 78  4. Liverpool: 77  4. Liverpool: 73  4. Man City: 78  4. Man City: 79
—————– —————– —————– —————– —————–
5. Liverpool: 71  5. Man City: 70  5. Spurs: 71  5. Liverpool: 71  5. Liverpool: 72
6. Spurs: 68  6. Spurs: 62  6. Man City: 70  6. Spurs: 69  6. Spurs: 69
7. Saints: 61  7. Saints: 61  7. Saints: 65  7. Stoke: 66  7. Palace: 60
8. Palace: 59  8. Everton: 57  8. W. Ham: 61  8. Swansea: 60  8. Everton: 59
9. Everton: 55 9. Swansea: 57  9. Palace: 60  9. Everton: 57  9. Stoke: 58
10. Stoke: 52  10. Stoke: 56  10. Everton: 55  10. Palace: 54  10. Saints: 57
11. W. Ham: 50  11. Palace: 50  11. Swansea: 50  11. Saints: 52  11. Swansea: 52
12. Swansea: 48  12. N’castle: 48  12. Stoke: 48  12. W. Ham: 47  12. W. Ham: 50
13. N’castle: 47  13. W. Ham: 40  13. B’mouth: 44  13. WBA: 47  13. N’castle: 44
14. WBA: 45  14. WBA: 37  14. S’land: 41  14. Villa: 44  14. WBA: 42
15. Villa: 43  15. B’mouth: 35  15. Leic’er: 40  15. N’castle: 42  15. Villa: 40
16. B’mouth: 40  16. Villa: 35  16. N’castle: 38  16. W’ford: 41  16. W’ford: 38
17. S’land: 39  17. Leic’er: 33  17. Villa: 37  17. Norwich: 40  17. S’land: 37
—————– —————– —————– —————– —————–
18. Leic’er: 36  18. Norwich: 33  18. W’ford: 34 18. S’land: 37  18. Leic’er: 35
19. Norwich: 35  19. S’land: 32  19. WBA: 33  19. Leic’er: 34  19. B’mouth: 34
20. W’ford: 32  20. W’ford: 30  20. Norwich: 28  20. B’mouth: 31  20. Norwich: 32

VIDEO: Previewing all 20 Premier League teams ahead of the new season

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With the new Premier League season just a few days away, ProSoccerTalk’s Lead Writer and Editor Joe Prince-Wright has put together 20 videos to preview the long-old slog ahead for every PL club.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL season previews ]

Below you can get a primer on everyone, from the title candidates to the relegation fodder.

[ MORE: Transfer news | Full schedules ]

Enjoy. The new season is almost here and it’s starting to feel a little bit like Christmas Eve, isn’t it?

Arsenal 

Arsenal’s free flowing and creative game plans with continue under Arsene Wenger, but with weaknesses on defense, the addition of Peter Cech in net will prove to be useful when The Gunners are once again in the title hunt.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa may struggle through the 2015-16 campaign as Tim Sherwood will have to figure out how to properly integrate a bunch of new players.

Bournemouth

Competing in their first-ever season in the Premier League,  the Cherries will look to emulate a team like Swansea who had immediate success after being promoted. Lots of new players but they have a bright young manager in Eddie Howe.

Chelsea

Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea doesn’t boast many weakness heading into the 2015-16 campaign, as Jose Mourinho’s club sports a relentless attack across every position on the pitch.

Crystal Palace

The Eagles’ stacked mid-field could put them in the top eight, as Yohan Cabaye’s arrival this summer will be crucial for Alan Pardew’s side to improve on their top 10 finish from last season.

Everton 

Everton’s possession-based style and ability to spray the ball around pitch will continue this season, but with a barren defense, will another mid-table place finish be enough for Roberto Martinez to keep his position?

Leicester City

With new manager Claudio Ranieri on board, not much else will change for Leicester City as they look to make waves in the Premier League focusing on defensive solidity, discipline and team spirit.

Liverpool

The Reds will need to reach the top four if Brendan Rodgers is going to keep his job, but he will have plenty of help with new signings Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino increasing their attacking options.

Manchester City

City enter the new campaign again seeking a finish near the top, but need a big performance from disappointing captain Vincent Kompany and also Raheem Sterling to live up to his historically pricey transfer fee.

Manchester United

The Red Devils have spent big once again this summer but there will be a lot of expectation as Louis van Gaal’s side must challenge for the title. However, they could be in trouble if Wayne Rooney goes down with an injury.

Newcastle United 

New head coach Steve McClaren could be in for some problems during his first campaign, but he has been allowed to strengthen the spine of his side this summer with over $60 million spent on new players. A top 10 finish would be a great season for the Magpies.

Norwich City

The Canaries haven’t added too many players this summer and young manager Alex Neil will have to use all of his nous to keep them up. Continuity should help as they have plenty of PL experience in the ranks but Norwich will be relegation candidates.

Southampton

Ronald Koeman guided Southampton to seventh place a year ago, their best-ever Premier League finish, and with an offense capable of terrorizing opposing defenses every match, they’ll aim to climb higher on the table.

Stoke City

Stoke City hopes to continue their defensive dominance during the 2015-16 campaign, but midfield questions linger as The Potters vie for another top 10 finish.

Sunderland

The biggest offseason positive for Sunderland is the return of manager Dick Advocaat, whom saved the club when he took office last season. With a lack of goals a growing concern, The Black Cats hope their fortune turns.

Swansea City

Swansea’s additions of Andre Ayew and Eder will greatly improve their striking options and a top six finish isn’t out of the question for the Swans.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur managed a fifth place finish in the 2014-15 campaign on the back of forward Harry Kane, but this season he’ll get more help from the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, plus a stout defense.

Watford

Watford’s outlook heading into the 2015-16 season is all about survival and with a new manager and a host of new players, expect the unexpected as they fight against relegation.

West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies will look to maintain their stability at the back from a season ago and Tony Pulis on the sideline will ensure that continuity will remain steady as they attempt to fight for a spot in the top 10.

West Ham United

A top eight finish is needed for Slaven Bilić’s term to be a success and although he has plenty of options in midfield, scoring goals may once again be a problem for the Hammers in their final season at Upton Park.