Premier League: Terry Venables’ club-by-club guide


ANOTHER season, another big-name star is heading out of the Emirates. I
believe the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United could spell
the end of the Gunners’ top-four hopes this campaign.

Mind you, even if Arsenal had made him see out the final year of his contract,
I don’t believe it would have done either party any good.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has brought in Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and
Santi Cazorla.

But it is difficult to imagine any of those three will do as well as
big-scoring RVP.


VILLA avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season as they
finished 16th under Alex McLeish.

They will be hoping for a better season with new boss Paul Lambert, who had
done such a magnificent job at Norwich City in the previous three seasons.

He took them from the foot of League One to 12th in the Premier League last

Expectations will be high at Villa Park but, with no big-name additions to the
squad, I can see them struggling again.


I’M not sure whether it was Chelsea’s Euro triumph or fifth-placed Prem finish
that made Roman Abramovich realise he needed to splash the cash again.

Fresh faces were definitely required but I feel the captures of Oscar, Eden
Hazard and Marko Marin are not enough to recapture their league crown.

And following the departures of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose
Bosingwa, Roberto Di Matteo’s men could even face a fight to finish in the
top four.

But their experience should just about see them through come next May.


I WAS surprised to see Tim Cahill quit Goodison Park last month as I still
thought he had a couple of more years left in him at this level.

The good news is that by selling him to New York Red Bulls there is no chance
of the Aussie returning to haunt Everton this term.

The Toffees may have lost Cahill — but at least they still have boss David
Moyes after a summer when a couple of top jobs were available.

Moyes has pulled off a masterstroke by re-signing Steven Pienaar from Spurs.


I AM getting quite worried about the Cottagers’ chances this term.

After allowing both Danny Murphy and Andrew Johnson to leave in the summer,
they then failed to nail a permanent swoop for Pavel Pogrebynak, who starred
on loan for them last season.

But I do like their signing of Hugo Rodallega following his departure from

And it is important that boss Martin Jol keeps hold of talisman Clint Dempsey
— or else Fulham could be in deep trouble.


A FEW eyebrows were raised when Brendan Rodgers replaced Kenny Dalglish as
Liverpool manager this summer.

But the genial Northern Irishman will have no trouble winning over the Kop if
he can get the players performing the same way he did at Swansea.

He has raided his old club for Team GB midfielder Joe Allen, who should give
Steven Gerrard a licence to bomb forward.

And the signing of Italian striker Fabio Borini will keep Andy Carroll and
Luis Suarez on their toes.


IT is difficult to see anybody stopping the champions from retaining the title
they won in such dramatic fashion in May.

They say the first league title is always the hardest to win.

Now City have done that, they can look to win it again, safe in the knowledge
they have what it takes to succeed.

They will still be on such a high after bagging their first Prem title and
giving rivals United a kicking to boot.

Boss Roberto Mancini has added only Jack Rodwell to his squad so far.

Missing out on Robin van Persie is a blow and seeing him going to United is
another big blow.


ALEX FERGUSON will probably still be seething after City’s title success in

The United boss has shown this week just how determined he is to win back the
Premier League crown.

Earlier in the summer he brought in last season’s Bundesliga Player of the
Year Shinjni Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.

Then Fergie and his Red Devils really laid down a marker by leaving City in
their slipstream as they snapped up Robin van Persie for £22million from

So the boss has done his buying — now RVP and Roo it’s over to you.


ALAN PARDEW exceeded all expectations last season by guiding the Toon to fifth.

And I believe he will show it was no fluke by making another assault on the
top six this time.

In Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba they have arguably the most naturally gifted and
dangerous strike partnership in the division. While Cheick Tiote is now a
target for several top teams.

Pardew has quietly added to his midfield with Romain Amaltiafano and Gael

If they are anywhere near as good as his recent signings then the rest of the
Prem had better watch out.


THE loss of boss Paul Lambert to Aston Villa was bad news for Norwich.

The good news, though, is they managed to replace him with successful former
Birmingham manager Chris Hughton, who looks a ready-made fit for the
friendly Norfolk club.

And the best news of all is the new boss has managed to persuade star striker
Grant Holt (below) to ignore Villa’s advances and stay.

His goals will be crucial if the Canaries are to survive this term, which was
always going to be tougher than last as second-season syndrome kicks in.

QPR — 14

MARK HUGHES’ Hoops avoided the drop on the final day last season, despite
losing 3-2 at eventual champions Manchester City.

They will probably be looking over their shoulders again, although I expect
them to have their safety sewn up much earlier this time.

Sparky has made some decent signings in goalkeeper Robert Green from West Ham
and midfielders Ji-Sung Park and Samba Diakite Also, in Andrew Johnson, they
have an experienced striker to provide competition for Bobby Zamora and
Djibril Cisse.


THE ROYALS stormed to the Championship title last season and I believe that
momentum will see them finish the highest of all the newly-promoted clubs.

Boss Brian McDermott has the money to spend following the arrival of new
owners and he has already pulled off a minor transfer coup by snatching
Pavel Pogrebnyak from under Fulham’s noses.

The Russian striker impressed me when he spent the second half of last season
on loan with the Cottagers.

If he can continue in that superb goalscoring form, Reading will surely have
no trouble staying up.


NIGEL ADKINS has done a tremendous job getting Saints promoted from League One
to the Premier League in two successive seasons.

Having emulated Norwich’s path back into the top flight all eyes will be on
them to see if they can also avoid the drop, just like the Canaries managed.

I am looking forward to seeing how the likes of midfielder Adam Lallana and
free-scoring striker Rickie Lambert adapt to life at the highest level. But
I must admit I do fear this may be a step too far for the South Coast club.


TONY PULIS’ Potters finished 14th last season — despite a gruelling Europa
League run that undoubtedly affected their Prem placing.

With their Thursday nights free this term, I can see them sealing a spot in
the top 10.

It has been a relatively quiet summer at the Britannia with not many comings
or goings.

Ricardo Fuller and Jonathan Woodgate have been the only big names shown the
door, while Michael Kightly has arrived from Wolves.

And, if the winger can rediscover the form he showed before his bad luck with
injury, then Stoke should progress.


THE Black Cats had a rollercoaster campaign last season, as they began on a
low under Steve Bruce and soared in mid-season under Martin O’Neill before
dipping again in the run-in.

O’Neill will be looking for more consistency on Wearside. He has hardly
ventured into the transfer market this window, clearly believing he has the
players capable of improving on last season’s 13th place.

That should be within their grasp provided injuries do not decimate their
wafer-thin strikeforce.


THE Swans had an amazing first season in the Premier League as they
entertained and enthralled us with their Barcelona brand of football.

But the warning signs were there in the second half of the campaign as
opponents seemed to suss them out.

And I think the close-season departures of boss Brendan Rodgers and midfielder
Joe Allen and the failure to make Gylfi Sigurdsson’s loan permanent, will
hit them hard.

I predict a difficult season ahead under new manager Michael Laudrup — but at
least they should still be easy on the eye.


SPURS head into a new era at White Hart Lane under boss Andre Villas-Boas, who
will be relishing the chance to banish memories of his troubled short spell
in charge of Chelsea last season.

The north Londoners have made a couple of decent additions in former Swansea
midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen.

If AVB can land the striker he is after and manage to keep Luka Modric out of
Real Madrid’s clutches then there is no reason why their new manager cannot
finish the season above his old club.


WE all know what a good coach Steve Clarke is — now we will get to see what a
good manager he is.

The former Chelsea and Liverpool No 2 took over at the Hawthorns in the summer
and will be hoping to carry on the good work of his predecessor Roy Hodgson.

The Baggies finished 10th last season and should end up there or thereabouts
again this time.

The only thing that concerns me is their lack of firepower.

Clarke will be hoping the loan of Chelsea’s Romelu Lakuku will help address
that problem.


THE HAMMERS are back in the top flight after their play-off final win over
Blackpool at Wembley in May.

Boss Sam Allardyce has made some solid signings in James Collins and Mohamed
Diame. Keeper Robert Green may have left for QPR but Big Sam has signed a
more than adequate replacement in Jussi Jaaskelainen.

I know some West Ham fans are sceptical about their chances but I reckon they
will survive due to their Prem pedigree and the fact there looks to be at
least three poorer teams.

WIGAN — 19

HOW Wigan are still in the Premier League, heaven only knows.

Chairman Dave Whelan and manager Roberto Martinez have performed miracles to
keep the little Lancashire club in the top flight.

They appeared doomed last term until an incredible end-of-season run lifted
them up the table.

But even Houdini could not win them all.

And with star men Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame having departed, I fear the
Latics’ rollercoaster ride is about to come to an abrupt end.

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