With the 2015a��16 English Premier League season set to begin this week, wea��re previewing all 20 teams. Herea��s what we expect this year, starting with the leaguea��s three newly promoted teams.
If you spoke to a Bournemouth supporter on this day seven years ago, he or she may tell you about the uncertainty surrounding the club. If you speak to a Bournemouth supporter today, he or she may give off strong feelings of hope and optimism.
The once lowly AFC Bournemouth, a club with exactly zero Premier League matches under their belt, are about to feel what it is like to play in the top flight. Ita��s hard to forget the most recent past but new memories and experiences may do well to erase those nightmares. A team on the brink of liquidation has now become a Premier League football team.
The cluba��s board and manager Eddie Howe, now in his seventh year at the helm, took incredible steps to reverse the Cherriesa�� fortunes, and it all came together last season. In 46 league matches, they scored 98 goals and a led the league with a +53 goal differential. Callum Wilson, in his first season on the south coast, accounted for 20 of those. He has scored a goal every other match (41 goals in 82 league appearances) across two divisions over the last two seasons.
Demand for young Englishmen is high, naturally. Clubs need to meet homegrown quotas and it seems Wilson is destined for bigger things. However, Bournemouth have to keep hold of him if they are to continue their own rise through the English ranks.
A win on the final match day of the season coupled with a 90th-minute equalizer by Atdhe Nuhiu of Sheffield Wednesday ensured the Cherries won the league over runners-up Watford. It almost seems like a fitting end to this fairy tale.
Bournemouth have bolstered their squad this summer by filling needs with both experienced Premier League players and talented youth looking to make a name for themselves. Artur Boruc spent his last season under contract at Southampton on loan to their south coast neighbors and moved to the club permanently after the season. Sylvain Distin saw his first-team status at Everton undermined by a combination of poor play and the emergence of John Stones; the Frenchman moved on a free transfer at seasona��s end. Distin may have lost that spring in his step but his experience will prove to be invaluable.
Bournemouth also signed Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici who joins on a free transfer following 10 seasons with Reading, Norwegian winger Joshua King for A?1 million from Blackburn Rovers, and highly rated English left back Tyrone Mings from Ipswich Town for A?8 million. Ghanian international Christian Atsu comes in on loan from Chelsea and will look to make an impact and get on JosA� Mourinhoa��s radar. Italian U-20 international left back Filippo Costa also makes the temporary move to Englanda��s south coast hoping to cement his name in Chievo Veronaa��s plans.
On their way out of the club are several bit players, as well as center forward Brett Pitman. Pitman scored 105 goals in 268 league appearances across three divisions over two separate stints with the club. His role decreased over the last two years before being transferred to Ipswich Town.
Staying in the top flight will take a whole lot of resilience and a little bit of luck, but it would be unlike Howe and his squad to not be equal to the task.
Ita��s hard to not like Bournemouth. They are simply yet profoundly the best thing to happen to English soccer. In an age where only the best-branded clubs win trophies, it is reassuring that there is a club like the Cherries that do it the honest way.
Predictions: EPL, 16th; Capital One Cup, third round; FA Cup, fourth round.
Watford secured 48 out of a possible 69 points in the second half of the season to make the leap from the promotion playoffs and secure automatic promotion. Forwards Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo, and MatA�j Vydra combined for 57 of their 91 goals. Former Tottenham keeper and Brazilian international Gomes used his experience to lead the club back to the Premier League for the first time since 2006a��07.
The difference between winning the Championship by one point and losing it by the same value was conceding a 90th-minute equalizer against Sheffield Wednesday. However, a runners-up place achieved by the club and then-manager SlaviA?a JokanoviA� is very decent for a club with loads of internal strife.
Watford hide their secrets very well. In fact, when they face Everton to open the season, Quique Flores will be the cluba��s fifth manager in 11 months after JokanoviA�a��s contract expired and no new agreement was reached.
The Hornets are going to all lengths to make sure their stay in the Premier League is longer than one year. Theya��ve acquired no less than 11 players this summer, including A�tienne Capoue, Steven Berghuis, Valon Behram, JosA� Holebas, and Vydra (who was on loan from Udinese last season). Ita��s safe to say the club filled their positions of need and then some. Ita��s worthy to note that many of these new players have international experience with their respective nations, but only two of these playersa��Capuoe and Vydraa��have Premier League experience.
On paper, Watford seem very strong for a promoted team; they have the potential to pip Premier League veterans like Sunderland and Aston Villa to safety. The last several clubs to expand their ranks in the summer have disappointed the following season. Maybe Watford will buck the trend, but dona��t bet too much money on that.
Predictions: EPL, 19th; Capital One Cup, fourth round; FA Cup: third round.
Norwich were relegated from the glitz and glamor of the EPL following a disastrous 2013a��14 season. One season on and one Football League Championship playoff victory puts the Canaries right back in, and ita��s not farfetched to say that theya��ll fare better this time.
In their ultimately unsuccessful relegation season, Norwich had little to go by. Manager Chris Hughton had lost the plot, club-record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel had not performed, and the club itself had largely failed to show up to matches away from home. Five points out of a possible 33 over the final 11 matches was the final nod to a dismal campaign.
This gave the Canaries a chance to regroup under new manager Neil Adams. Adams had Norwich performing well for the first two months of the season, but a poor run of form in October and November sunk the East Englanders. A rebound in December swung the momentum in the favor of Norwich only to be interrupted by the shock resignation of Adams in early January. He was replaced by Alex Neil, who was in charge of Scottish side Hamilton at the time. Norwich lost only three matches during the second half under Neil, climbing into the qualification playoff with a chance to return to the top flight on their first attempt.
A matchup against fellow East Englanders Ipswich Town ended in a 4a��2 advantage for the Canaries. The week following, Norwich was awarded the prize of promotion to the Premier League after defeating Middlesbrough 2a��0 in the playoff final.
Trinidadian international Cameron Jerome arrived from Stoke City before the season and powered the Canaries with 21 goals in all competitions. Perhaps none were more important than the first goal against Boro. Having a similar impact, albeit in a different area of the pitch, was midfielder Graham Dorrans. The experienced Scot was initially loaned-in from West Brom for one month which extended until the end of the season.
Ahead of the 2015a��16 season, Norwich has completed four signings and returned several players from loan. Dorrans signed permanently with Norwich following seasona��s end, and Yousef Mulumbu joined from West Brom. They will be joined by Irish international Robbie Brady from recently relegated Hull City and Jake Kean, formerly of Blackburn Rovers. The club most recently completed a loan signing for Liverpoola��s Andre Wisdom as well. All players on the way outa��including Lucciano Becchio, Mark Bunn, and former Arsenal youth product Ignasi Miquela��are leaving at the expiration of their contracts.
Norwich managed to retain their core of players following relegation, which is one of the bigger reasons why they achieved promotion instantly. An experienced goalkeeper in John Ruddy should be a major asset to the club. They are loaded at the striker position with Jerome, Gary Hooper, and van Wolfswinkel, among others. The defense and midfield remain relatively unchanged, and it seems the club is moving in a positive direction under Neil. Expect Norwich to stay in the Premier League.
Predictions: EPL, 14th; Capital One Cup, third round; FA Cup, third round.