Premier League Preview: Part 1

Luis Suarez - the biggest story of the summer so far? Creative Commons - Wikipedia

Luis Suarez – the biggest story of the summer so far?
Creative Commons – Wikipedia

Hit Row Z co-editors Ben Harrison, James Bailey and Adam Widdrington have got together for a chat about the summer so far, and what the new season has in store for us.

We’ll be publishing other parts of their conversation in the coming weeks, so do check back for updates.

We are just about three weeks away from the start of the season. Lots can still happen before then, but which club do you think has had the best summer so far?

Ben Harrison: For me, it has to be Norwich City. They’ve managed to bring in a handful of players that come with strong reputations – Wolfswinkel, Fer, Hooper – that other, perhaps bigger, clubs have been interested in, which should improve their squad significantly. It does represent a risk for them – up to now in the Premier League we’ve seen them take a more incremental approach to recruiting new players. But Hughton has clearly identified that a lack of goals cost them last season, and has quietly gone about fixing that.

James Bailey: I agree with you, Ben. I’ve been incredibly impressed with Hughton’s signings so far this summer. It’s right to pick up on fixing the goal scoring problem, particularly as Holt failed to match his feats of his debut premier league season. It’s worth also mentioning that last year Hughton focused on strengthening the defence – Bassong was in my list of most impressive players last season. This approach to player recruitment could stand them in good stead, and slowly but surely this is a team which increasingly has Hughton’s mark on it.

At the top of the table, at the moment it has to be City. But that could all change if Arsenal find another couple of pounds to twist Liverpool’s arm into selling Suarez.

Adam Widdrington: Yes, teams like Norwich, Sunderland and Swansea have all made shrewd signings and Manchester City have recruited strongly. But for me Chelsea bringing Jose Mourinho back has to trump the lot. He’s a winner and his appointment is definitely a gamechanger.

And on the flipside, who has the most to do in the remainder of the break to be ready for the start of the season?

AW:  For me, Stoke have an incredibly steep mountain to climb. They were found wanting last season and with a shortage of firepower up front, have yet to add any creative bodies or clinical finishers to the squad. Can Mark Hughes get the most out of his existing strikers? I’m doubtful.

JB:  Newcastle have struggled so far, and it appears the Director of Football is going through a teething period that is testing fans’ patience. Man Utd and Chelsea are yet to really kick into action. But my main worry is for the promoted teams. I’ve not seen too much evidence that any of the three have seriously improved their squads – all need some work before the window closes.

BH: I share those concerns about Newcastle and the promoted sides, but I’d actually say Man Utd fans have the most to be concerned about at the moment. I’m a big David Moyes fan, but their pre-season transfer plans are, very publically, not progressing well. I’m sure the intention was to give Moyes a marquee signing to create a sense of momentum. But the back and forth on Fabregas, Thiago, Rooney etc. has created the opposite sense – of a club struggling to transition from one regime to another.

Of all of the new arrivals to the Premier League, who is getting you most excited about the prospect of seeing them play?

BH: Although not technically “new” signings, I’m keen to see the role that Chelsea’s young stars play this season – Lukaku and De Bruyne in particular seem set to play a bigger part for them. In terms of new recruits, Manchester City have spent big, and Negredo could be a real force. And I wonder how quickly Bony will find form, to take the pressure of Michu in a Swans side competing in Europe.

JB:  : Yes, I’m most excited by Negredo at City and van Wolfswinkel at Norwich. Both have impressive records, particualrly Negredo – he’ll probably end up in my fantasy team I suspect!

AW:  Another Manchester City signing for me – Jovetic without a doubt. There will be a lot of pressure on him to perform, but I think the diminutive Montenegrin will take to the Premier League like new teammate Sergio Aguero did when he first arrived.

And what for you has been the biggest story of the summer so far?

JB: There are so many. Man Utd’s uncharacteristically public failure to secure so many big names must be making United fans nervous. However story of the summer has to be Suarez. Will he or won’t he move? Will he stay in England despite citing his harsh treatment as a reason for wanting out of Liverpool? I think he’d be a good addition to Arsenal’s side, though think the overall stability of that club compared to its peers might be what tips the balance in any title hunt.

I do have a concern for Liverpool though. Not because they’ll be losing their star man – I actually think they’ve brought in some good players that can lessen the blow – but largely because despite this they’ll need to reinvest in the quality of the wider squad. As time drags on, other clubs may sense a desperation where Liverpool are involved, which may count against them as fees rise.

BH: Yep, unquestionably it’s the Suarez saga for me. It’s got everything as a story, and the negotiations between the clubs has been top quality box office. When one owner takes to twitter to accuse the other club of being high on drugs, well, what more can you ask for? It’s also potentially the most important story in both clubs’ recent history, and depending how it concludes, will say a lot about their realistic aspirations for the season ahead. If Arsenal get him, I think they can win the title.

AW:  For me it’s the sheer number of huge money signings across Europe and new managers in place make this a season to be really excited about. But, yes the fact Arsenal intend to finally flex their financial muscle, and have said so publicly, certainly makes them an entirely different prospect. If they can land a couple of big name players before the window shuts – they may once again become a force to be reckoned with.

Read Part Two of the Hit Row Z Premier League Preview here.


  1. […] For the first part of Hit Row Z’s Premier League Preview, click here. […]

  2. […] Premier League Preview Part 1 Premier League Preview Part 2 […]

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