The 2014-2015 English Premier League season will begin Saturday, August 16, marking the first time the teams set foot on the pitch since Manchester City won their second title in three years on May 11. To prepare for the season, here is an overview of every Premier League team, in addition to a ranking of the five best players in the Premier League.
Top Five Players:
5: Robin Van Persie- Striker, Manchester United
Manchester United had a disappointing seventh place finish last year, yet will surely be climbing right back to the top this year, behind the veteran leadership of Van Persie among others. Van Persie posted a solid 12 goals last season, but coming off that slump, should be expected to produce many more this season, as well as many more assists to Wayne Rooney, who should definitely have a great year.
4: Eden Hazard- Midfielder, Chelsea
Coming off of his stellar showing in the World Cup for Belgium, Hazard is ready to bring Chelsea right back to the very top of the Premier League. While Hazard put up a great 14 goals and 7 assists last season, he has really improved, and can be expected to produce even more of the Chelsea offense, and really ascend to the very top of the league.
3: Sergio Aguero- Striker, Manchester City
The key to Manchester City’s success is that they have so many great players who can handle the ball and do the unthinkable, and Aguero is right at the top of this list. When he gets the ball, he makes magic happen, and he made this very clear last season with his 17 goals and 6 assists. Expect Aguero to really explode in this dangerous offense this season.
2: Yaya Toure- Midfielder, Manchester City
Toure played a massive role in Manchester City’s dominant first place finish last season, leading the team in both goals with 20, and in assists with 9. Manchester City is likely to repeat their great success again this year, and a huge part of that success will be based on Toure’s performance. And it is not lacking, Toure plays amazing soccer and will surely have an incredible season.
1: Wayne Rooney- Forward, Manchester United
No surprises here, Rooney is the face of British soccer, and rightly so, as he finished last season with a fantastic showing of 17 goals and 10 assists. While Manchester United had a disappointing finish last season, expect them to rely heavily on Rooney. Rooney has the talent and the skills, and he should put up and even better performance this season. Rooney has also just been named captain of Manchester United, and has a lot to live up to, but he can back it up with his play.
Team by Team Overview:
Arsenal: Arsenal definitely had a solid finish last season, ending up in fourth place. The main reason for this sudden drop at the end of the season was a lack of depth, something that was solved by veteran manager Arsene Wenger. Wenger signed Alexis Sanchez, a talented forward, who will play well with Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud to round out a fantastic offense that will lead Arsenal to a top three finish this year.
Aston Villa: Aston Villa barely avoided relegation last season, ending up in fifteenth place. Aston Villa is always a decent squad, yet they have added nothing special this offseason. If they hope to avoid relegation this year, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke will really need to step up their offensive production. Expect another bottom finish from Aston Villa, and a possible relegation.
Burnley: This is Burnley’s first season back in the Premier League, after earning a promotion last year, and expectations should be low. The only upside to Burnley is that they signed some players who all have experience in the Premier League, something that they will be able to help the younger members of Burnley’s side with. Expect Burnley to get relegated this season.
Chelsea: Chelsea will win the Premier League this year, it’s as simple as that. They were excellent in their third place finish last year, and just two more wins could have won them the title. They have always been a stacked team, but legendary manager, Jose Mourinho, made some fantastic signings in Cesc Fabregas, Didier Drogba and Diego Costa. Bet on Chelsea to win it all.
Crystal Palace: Crystal Palace should be having a better year this season, than they did last season. The team will be solid, and will be led once again by Dwight Gayle in the scoring department. Expect Crystal Palace to have a solid, middle-of-the-pack season, something that their fans will be looking forward to, as the team won’t have to worry about relegation.
Everton: Everton will be coming back with a vengeance this season, as they barely missed a Champions League berth last season. Everton was already a star-studded squad, but the signing of Romelu Lukaku will be a huge benefit to their team. Tim Howard will still be their goalie, and coming off of his jaw-dropping World Cup performance, he should be ready to dominate, and lead Everton to a Champions League berth.
Hull City: While Hull City has only been back in the Premier League for one season, they have enough knowledge and experience to maintain a decent performance this season. The signing of Robert Snodgrass was huge, and should be enough to help them move up from sixteenth if he plays well.
Leicester City: Though newly promoted teams normally don’t do very well in their first season at the top, Leicester City’s amazingly dominant performance in the Championship last season should give them the confidence to play well. Additionally, the signing of Leonardo Ulloa should help them avoid relegation this season.
Liverpool: There is no doubt that Liverpool will still be one of the best squads in the Premier League this season, but they will feel a noticeable drop in performance this season with the absence of Luis Suarez, who lead the Premier League with 31 goals and 12 assists. However, the team made some good new signings, and should be looking at at top five, or top seven finish.
Manchester City: Manchester City will be defending its title this season, and will surely have a difficult task ahead of them. Chelsea is looking very good this season, but Manchester City has added Fernando, who will increase the defensive depth of this squad. If Manchester City hopes to repeat as champions, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero need to have even better seasons than last year.
Manchester United: It is no secret that Manchester United had a terrible season by their expectations last season, but new manager Louis van Gaal should be able to lead them back to a Champions League berth if Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney can step it up this season.
Newcastle: Newcastle finished tenth last season, and should be proud of that, yet also be expecting a better performance this season. The additions of Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong are huge for them, and could help them incrementally increase their ranking this season.
Queens Park Rangers: QPR is yet another decent Premier League team. They are back after being promoted from the Championship, and should be ready for a lower-tier finish, yet should not be worried about relegation. Expect them to regain their confidence, gain more experience, and be ready in the future to compete even harder.
Southampton: Southampton had a surprisingly strong eighth place finish last season, yet they should not expect much this season. They lost several key players and their manager, and essentially need to start from scratch. Expect a noticeable drop in the standings for Southampton.
Stoke City: After a stellar ninth place finish for Stoke last season, they have become a more enticing team for free agents, and they have signed several new players. Expect them to keep climbing in the top half of the Premier League with a solid finish.
Sunderland: By a miracle, Sunderland barely avoided relegation last season. They are a solid squad, and the signings of Jack Rodwell and Billy Jones will no doubt help them. Expect Sunderland to have a low-level finish, but not have to worry about relegation.
Swansea City: Wilfried Bony and Pablo played huge roles in the moderate success of Swansea last season. They need to play even better this season if they want to avoid relegation. Unfortunately, this will most likely be the result of this season for Swansea.
Tottenham Hotspur: The Spurs will surely have another solid performance this season compared to the Premier League as a whole, but a disappointing one by their standards. They will not make the Champions League, but they will still have a solid season overall.
West Bromwich Albion: Although there have been a few new signings by West Brom, they will not be able to avoid relegation like they did last season. Their new manager is solid, yet inexperience, much like their players. Don’t bet on West Brom to have a good showing this season.
West Ham United: West Ham had a solid finish last season, and they didn’t have to worry about relegation. They shouldn’t have to worry about relegation this season either, because of their solid defense. The team does need goals, so the signing of Enner Valencia definitely made sense. Expect West Ham to have a solid mid-level finish again this season.