The 2011-12 season of the English Premier League will be saying goodbye to relegated teams Birmingham City, Blackpool, & West Ham United, and will welcome promoted teams Queen Park Rangers, Norwich City, & Swansea City.
Of course, defending champions Manchester United will be seeking their 20th Premier League title. Last season’s top scorer Dimitar Berbatov and leader in assists Luis Nani will look to maintain their form along with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez. New talents Phil Jones and Ashley Young will hope to add depth while keeper David de Gea will have big shoes to fill as Edwin Van der Saar retired along with Paul Scholes.
Runner-ups Chelsea will look to regain the Championship form that won them their 3rd Premier League title in the 2009-10 season under new manager Andre Villas-Boas. There weren’t many changes to their first team roster. Chelsea gave up a few fringe players and signed Brazilian midfielder Lucas Piazon. With rumours ongoing about their pursuit of Luka Modric and their failed attempt to sign Javier Pastore, it’s clear they are still in the market for a creative midfielder.
FA Cup winners Manchester City had their best result last year as a club and will certainly look to improve. League top scorer Carlos Tevez (tied on 20 goals with Berbatov) is stuck at Manchester City, but that could change with several clubs interested in his services. Patrick Vieira retired and Jerome Boateng was transferred, while significant additions include Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid, Gael Clichy and Stefan Saavic.
Arsenal completed the top four of last season, and will maintain most of their squad except for the release of Gael Clichy, signing of Gervinho and the rumors of a possible transfer of captain Cesc Fabregas to FC Barcelona. With many of their fans impatient for a trophy, this season could be one that defines Arsene Wengers tenure at the club.
Tottenham Hostpur finished 5th, and will participate in their first ever UEFA Europa League because of that finish. So far, they have been quiet in the transfer market, picking up only the 40 year old Brad Friedel and a couple of highly rated youngsters, one of those is the top scorer from the under 17 World Cup, Souleymane Coulibaly. With Tottenham expected to keep trying for a new striker and also in the market for a new defender, there is still expectation that additions will be made to their squad.
Liverpool finished sixth, and will be disappointed that they didn’t make it to their regular spot among the top four. It was the first time Liverpool failed to qualify for any European competition since 2000. Kenny Dalglish has worked hard alongside Damien Comolli to bring in several new players with a couple more expected to join as well. With a couple of players leaving the club, they’ve lightened the wage bill a little and if Joe Cole makes an expected move back to London (QPR are rumoured to be interested), that could get a lot lighter.
Everton maintain much of their squad that helped them finish seventh last season and will hope to maintain that position at the very least, with manager David Moyes looking to bring in a striker it’s clear their summer of work isn’t over yet. 8th placed Fulham will hope to improve with new manager Martin Jol and new transfer John Arne Riise, Jol’s old charge from Tottenham, Robbie Keane is understood to be eager to play under his old boss once more.
9th placed Aston Villa will also look to improve under new manager Alex McLeish, but will have to do so without the likes of Robert Pires, Nigel Reo-Coker and John Carew who were released. 10th placed Sunderland made some big transfers including the signing of Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Sebastian Larsson and Craig Gardner.
Meanwhile, those in the bottom half of the Premier League like West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers will certainly also look to improve their season.
The new additions to the Premier League are expected to struggle, QPR manager Neil Warnock has complained of a tight budget and with Adel Taarabts move to PSG falling through, the expected funds from that transfer are sorely missed.
Highly rated Norwich City manager Paul Lambert pulled off a miracle to get Norwich a second promotion in a row, he’s going to need another miracle to keep them in the top division, with only a small number of signings made so far, it’s clear that Lambert trusts the players who got them into this position in the first place and is willing to give them a chance to keep them there.
Brendan Rodgers has brought in several new signings, including Wayne Routledge from Newcastle and Leroy Lita from Middlesbrough, with those signings, it’s clear he’s looking to add extra pace to a team already full of technical quality. With highly rated Spurs youngster Steven Caulker coming in on loan and Rodgers still in the market for a new goalkeeper, an interesting season awaits the Swansea fans.