Premier League: How will the new boys fare?

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

The new Premier League season kicks off on Friday when Manchester United take on Leicester City in the first match of the season.

And while all eyes will be on Manchester City to see whether they can repeat their dominance of last season, many fans will be watching the newly-promoted teams to see what they can bring to the league.

Will they thrive or will it be a quick return to the championship?

FOX Sports Asia takes a look at what to expect from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff and Fulham.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

The runaway winners of last season’s second tier, Wolves were often referred to as the ‘Man City of the Championship’ for their silky, fast-paced possession football that more often than not left observers, and opposition defenders for that matter, in awe. Their attacking trio of Diogo Jota, Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro proved too hot to handle for most defences as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side rattled in a league high 82 goals.

Key players:
Former Porto star Ruben Neves earned rave reviews for his performances and spectacular goals, while fellow Portuguese Jota hit 17 goals in his debut season in England. His pace, skill and movement proving crucial to Wolves’ attacking play. At the back Frenchman Willy Boly proved to be a rock, while also posing a big threat from set pieces.

Signings:
Wolves have invested wisely in the summer, with Portugal Euro 2014 winners Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio arriving to bolster the midfield and defence respectively, while Mexico forward Raul Jimenez will add strength in attack. Full-back Jonny on loan from Atletico Madrid and Adama Traore from Middlesbrough bring some extra quality to an already strong squad.

Verdict: Mid-table finish.
On paper Wolves look too strong to be relegated, although better quality attacks will provide a stern for a defence that lacks Premier League experience. Midfield and up front they will pose a threat, although the lack of an out-and-out goalscorer could prove a hindrance.

Cardiff City

Runners up to Wolves, Neil Warnock’s side earned few friends with their long-ball tactics and rough house football, but there was no denying that they deserved promotion after staying in the top few positions for the whole season. Experienced midfielders Aron Gunnarsson and Junior Hoilett added a touch of class to the Bluebirds’ play as Warnock inspired his charges to help him gain a record eighth promotion against all odds.

Key Players:
Defenders Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison were huge for Cardiff last season as the leaders of a tight-defensive group, while Filipino keeper Neil Etheridge also played a big part with a succession of impressive showings. In attack, big Dane Kenneth Zohore was used as the battering ram while widemen Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing also chipped in with some key strikes.

Signings:
Forwards Bobby Reid (Bristol City) and Josh Murphy (Norwich) have arrived to add some extra bite in attack, while keeper Alex Smithies has come in from Championship rivals QPR.

Verdict:Relegation
Cardiff exceeded all expectations by getting promoted, so staying in the Premier League is likely to prove a tough ask. Warnock prides himself on being able to make something out of nothing, and will rely on his ability to foster a great team-spirit rather than tactics in order to get results, but his record at this level does not inspire confidence. A a lack of top-flight experience in the squad means togetherness alone may not be enough to keep them up if results start to go against them.

Fulham

After a poor start to the season that left them in the bottom third, Fulham suddenly clicked and their entertaining, free-flowing, possession-based game saw them embarked upon a 23-match unbeaten run that ended up with them just missing out on automatic promotion, before Slavisa Jokanovic navigated his way past Aston Villa in the playoffs to clinch the third and final promotion spot.

 
Key players:
Young full-back turned wing-back Ryan Sessegnon received most of the plaudits as he grabbed 15 league goals, although it was the arrival of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in January that arguably helped them over the line, his 12 goals in 20 games proving vital during the final promotion push. Midfielders Tom Cairney, Kevin McDonald, defender Tim Ream and the now departed Ryan Fredericks were also key players for the Cottagers.   

Signings:
Like Wolves, Fulham have also spent big on players with experience in an attempt to secure their top-flight status. Notable arrivals include World Cup winner Andre Schurrle from Dortmund and Jean Michael Seri from Nice, while Alfie Mawson (Swansea) and Callum Chambers on loan from Arsenal have also been brought in as Jokanovic has sought to add steel and experience across the squad.

Verdict: 10th-15th placed finish.
With their attractive brand of football Fulham have been tipped to thrive in the top flight, but survival will depend on whether their existing talent can cut it amongst the world’s best, while their new arrivals need to settle quickly. Nevertheless, a strong core of players with the right kind of experience should see them survive.

Comments