It’s that time of the year, where the banter amongst mates is proclamations of knowing the final positions of favourite clubs come next May, top signings during the transfer window and that nostalgic feeling when talking about the ups and downs of the previous year. Yes, it’s the start of a new Premier League season.
Each year we see previews of the 20 teams vying for the top spot in English football and where they may end up come the end of the season. Well, I decided to go a different route – the A-Z of what you need to know ahead of the Premier League kick-off on Saturday.
A is for Arsenal – Two pieces of silverware in 85 days, Alexis Sánchez and Mathieu Debuchy. Arsenal fans will hoping to be celebrating at the end of the season.
B is for Bolasie – The Crystal Palace midfielder was one of the stars in the incredible 3-3 draw with Liverpool at the end of last season. His performances on the wing last season put him in the top 5 dribblers. Should he repeat these performances, he’ll surely be one of Palace’s key men this season.
C is for Champions League – Arguably, the second biggest battle in the league after the title chase, there will be a handful of teams looking to break into that top four with Manchester United still reeling after last season. Time will tell who will make the challenge but nonetheless it will be great entertainment.
D is for Didier Drogba – The King has returned to Stamford Bridge. Drogba will be seen as adding vital experience and leadership to a squad that has lost some key veteran players. Having scored 28 goals in 64 competitive club games since leaving Chelsea, fans are hoping that he can recreate some of the magic that made him an icon.
E is for Enner Valencia – One of the key players in the Ecuadorian World Cup squad (and perhaps their best), Valencia will add desperately needed firepower to The Hammers, something that became evident during pre-season with the club only scoring four goals in six games.
F is for Fired – The sack race has already begun with Tony Pulis leaving Crystal Palace. The question is: Who’s next?
G is for Gerrard – The Liverpool captain will be looking to put a dreadful end to last season behind him and lead Liverpool to glory. A heartbreaking slip during a back pass meant that Liverpool’s title chances all but disappeared and an awful World Cup performance from England lead by Gerrard, followed.
H is for Heroes – Every season there are always players who stand out, heroes and villains that define a season. Whether it’s the youth player you’ve heard so much about breaking into the first team and becoming a wunderkind or if last season’s worst player is still going to ruin your club and questioning why the manager has stuck with him despite all the poor displays. These questions will remain from kick-off on Saturday until the final whistle in May.
I is for Ince – Tom Ince was in the news early in the summer as he exercised his right as a free agent to talk to other clubs. There were murmurs of Inter Milan and Monaco. A deal was allegedly offered to the former Blackpool player by Inter. A chance to follow his father’s footsteps in the San Siro. A dream to some. Not to Tom though, his dream was Yorkshire and Hull City.
J is for Joe Cole – Hoping to reignite his stalling career at Aston Villa, the 32 year old will be looking to help supply key man, Christian Benteke and help Villa obtain a reasonable position this season and steer away from the relegation battle, no easy task.
K is for Krkić – Probably one of the oddest transfers of the summer. Once regarded as one of the top emerging talents in Europe, Bojan Krkić has joined Stoke City from Barcelona. His career stalled after spells at Roma and Ajax and it will be interesting to see how he plays into Mark Hughes’ squad.
L is for Leicester City – It’s been a long 10 year wait but the Foxes are back in the big time. Nigel Pearson’s men secured automatic promotion from the Championship with six games to spare and then went on to win the title with two games left to play. The club will most likely be in the relegation mix but Pearson will be hoping his side can face the challenge of England’s top tier and survive.
M is for Magic Spray – One of the big talking points of this year’s World Cup in Brazil is coming to the Premier League. One can only suspect that the Premier League bosses will be looking to Gillette as a sponsor.
N is for Newcastle United – Plenty of changes at St.James Park but Alan Pardew will hope that it will help the club improve on last season’s 10th place finish. Also, with Joe Kinnear gone, Pardew has the freedom to purchase players that suit his needs.
O is for Odemwingie – It wouldn’t be Transfer Deadline Day without seeing Peter turn up at some random Premier League ground. Granted, it has only happened once but it will stick with him for the rest of his career no matter what he does on the pitch.
P is for Pochettino – The Tottenham manager is chairman Daniel Levy’s third manager in two years. However, should the Argentine be given the opportunity to apply his game plan he could well be a success with Spurs.
Q is for QPR – ‘Arry is back! And he has brought Glenn Hoddle with him. He has also made a few signings that will strengthen his side’s chances of surviving relegation. Rio Ferdinand is a key signing who has much experience and Steven Caulker is also a good signing and could form a solid partnership in defence with Ferdinand or Richard Dunne.
R is for Ross Barkley – The midfielder was one of the best players in Everton’s successful squad last term. Having signed a new contract in the summer he will be hoping to build on his boyhood club’s position last season and bring Champions League football back to Goodison Park.
S is for Southampton – What seems to be the feeder club to Liverpool these days, The Saints have lost a number of players but at least manager Ronald Koeman has seen the funny side. His tweet (below) at his first training session showed his funny side and won some fans. He will be hoping to keep those fans by proving that despite the loss of players, Southampton are still a force to be reckoned with.
T is for Transfers – There have been a host of names that have come and gone during the summer and this will more than likely last until 11pm on Monday, September 1st aka Transfer Deadline Day. Cue Harry Redknapp hanging out of his car door window.
U is for Underdogs – Some teams are always written off before a ball is kicked off (Think of Hull City in the 2008/09). Burnley have already been condemned to failure and return to the Championship at the end of the season. They will be hoping to look at the likes of Hull or even the 2009/10 Burnley squad lead by Owen Coyle, who performed well and seemed safe, until he left the club.
V is for Van Gaal – The man with the Golden Willy (well according to Arjen Robben anyway) comes to Old Trafford to clean up the mess left behind by David Moyes. He has already stamped his mark on the team, criticising the squad’s trip to America and telling new £30m signing, Luke Shaw that he needs to lose weight to make the team. It will be interesting to see how well the Van Gaal experiment works this season. Top four is the goal and it could well be achieved.
W is for Webb – The Premier League’s senior referee has retired to take up a position with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited where he will analyse controversial refereeing decisions. One assumes he will be defending all pro-Old Trafford decisions.
X is for X marks the spot – OK I’ll admit I’m getting desperate now! 1,052 goals scored in the 2013/14 season. Let’s hope this season matches that, if not betters it.
Y is for Yaya Touré – The Manchester City midfielder must have been given the cake he yearned for as he will be staying put at the Etihad Stadium. It will certainly be a relief to City fans who hope the Ivorian can, this season, replicate the form from last term that has made him so popular.
Z is for Zaha – One of the final acts of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successful career at Old Trafford was signing the highly rated Crystal Palace winger. After being kept in the dark last season by former manager David Moyes, he will be hoping to kick-start his career under Louis Van Gaal or move elsewhere.