It has been 96 days since the final whistle blew a close to the 2011-12 EPL season – not that we are counting. More importantly, it is less than 1 day till the commencement of the 2012-13 season – the 21st since the establishment of the Premier League. And like the lead up to a massive 21st birthday bash anticipation is high and speculation rife.
Thankfully The Blog FC is here to give you a comprehensive guide to each of the teams competing in this seasons Premier League, covering all the transfer news, strategic analysis and final predictions. Have a read, give us your thoughts and impress your friends with more interesting EPL facts than you can poke a stick at.
Man U |
West Ham |
2011/2012 Result: 14th
Manager: Tony Pulis
Ins: Jaime Ness (Rangers)
Outs: Ryan Brunt (Leyton Orient – Loan), Florent Cuvelier (Walsall FC – Loan), Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough FC), Andrew Davies (Bradford City), Mamady Sidibe (Free), Matthew Lund (Free), Ricardo Fuller (Free), Salif Diao (Free), Michael Tonge (Free)
To say that Stoke have been quiet this transfer period would be an understatement. Asides from the recruitment of Jaime Ness from Rangers on a free transfer, the only other new addition will likely be Geoff Cameron from the Houston Dynamos – due to be finalised once the player completes his medical late this week.
Having spent around £20 million to bring Cameron Jerome, Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios to the Britannia Stadium on the final day of last summer’s window, Chairman Peter Coates has already made it clear that in order for the Potters to have any impact on the transfer market, they will need to sell before they buy, saying: “Are we going to spend like we did last year? We can’t afford to, and neither can any other club our size.”
In other words, Tony Pulis will need to make do with what he already has. Out go some ageing stars in the form of Woodgate, Fuller and Diao – freeing up some game time for some of the bit-part players to step up and make more of an impact.
Britannia Stadium. Rather than any one individual, the most important aspect of Stoke’s campaign this year will be maintaining the fortress-like stronghold that is Britannia Stadium. It is hard not to resort to the clichéd “supporters make it feel like there is a 12th man on the pitch”, but if the Britannia can continue to have that aura of hostility, results at home will go a long way to ensuring safety – especially early in the season. If Stoke drop too many points at home before Christmas, expect a long, cold winter for the Potters.
THE ROAD AHEAD
It will be business as usual for Stoke this year – long throws, long balls, set pieces. With Crouch, Jones, Huth and Shawcross providing the tall timber, and Palacios being the brawler in the midfield, Stoke will rely on Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant to inject some craft and guile into their game.
Some loan signings may need to be brought in to a side that looks a little short on quality – Pulis could do worse than putting in a call to AVB and seeing if he could borrow any one of his surplus midfielders! – but as mentioned, this seems unlikely.
The Blog FC’s prediction: 18th. Relegation is a real possibility this year for Pulis and his men.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - Begovic – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Wilkinson – - Shawcross – - Huth – - Wilson
Pennant – Palacios – - Whelan – Etherington
- – - – - – - – Crouch – - – - Walters – - – - – - – -
Late in 2009, Tony Pulis was involved in a dressing room bust-up with star striker James Beattie. Which usually is nothing out of the ordinary. Altercations with players and management happen all the time, in all sports.
However, this was not your usual dispute. Pulis had just emerged from the showers, and the argument began whilst he was wearing only a towel. The ensuing melee caused his towel to fall to the floor, and he allegedly launched a headbutt at Beattie whilst being totally starkers.
Give me the Alex Ferguson hair-dryer treatment any day!