Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPremier League preview: Profiling the promoted teams - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Premier League preview: Profiling the promoted teams - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Premier League preview: Profiling the promoted teams

With a few days to go until the new season of Premier League football, the self- titled best league in Europe, there is a sense of anticipation that this will be most exciting, open title races in years, with the big teams all spending big money and strengthening to land the biggest prize. There is also some significance at the other end, where QPR return to the top flight after a fifteen year absence and Swansea become the first Welsh team to compete in the 1st tier since its rebranding in 1992. One of the clubs who were there from the start, Norwich, also return, armed with a bright, young manager and a vibrant squad.

As with all teams coming up from the Championship, the jury is out on how they will adapt to the Premier League as the step up becomes increasingly difficult, you have to go back to 2002 to find the last time all three stayed up, while Blackpool still ended up falling through the trapdoor in May despite playing some excellent football and pulling off some wonderful results. As their optimistic fans prepare for a year where trips to Old Trafford and Anfield await, this page will take a look at the three newcomers and analyse how well their squads shape up.

Brendan Rogers’ Swansea are favourites with most bookmaker’s to go back down, but like Blackpool last year, they have the potential to cause some big upsets. Similarly to their preceding play-off final winners, they play open, attacking football with a lot of width provided by quick, skill-full wingers. Scott Sinclair will be grateful for the chance to play regularly in the Premier League after spending the majority of his time on loan while Wayne Routledge also has a point to prove after hinting he could finally crack it at this level before Newcastle leant him to QPR in January. Nathan Dyer will also provide pace and trickery in a midfield energetically marshalled by Ferrie Bodde, the archetypal box-to-box midfielder, who is also capable of a goal or two. Their midfield follows a theme of diminutive, high energy, attacking players which will ensure that Darren Prately’s departure will have little reverb. Furthermore, such policy will be refreshing in a division that has seen a trend in five man, defensively minded set-ups.

Despite the tendency to openly attack, they also have a very strong defence. Ashley Williams, Alan Tate and Gary Monk provide the back bone of a back four that yielded the fourth, second and second best defence once again, in their three consecutive years in the Championship. Steven Caulker has also joined from Spurs to provide cover, a bright prospect who has been involved with England’s youth set-up. Rogers is an expert at spotting young talent after managing the youth team at Chelsea in the era of Jose Mourinho and Neil Taylor, the highly rated 22 year old, will play at left-back with the extremely consistent Angel Rangel at right-back. Michael Vorm will provide an experienced figure behind them, the 27 year old goalkeeper rated highly enough he went to South Africa with the Netherlands last summer.

With no obvious source of goals, there may be question marks over their ability to score enough to stay up. Danny Graham, scorer of 24 goals for Watford in last season’s championship, has made a £3.5 million move to the Liberty Stadium, but has never played at this level before. He will have to cope with the pressure of the price tag, as well as being inexperienced and it may backfire. The other new forward signing, Leroy Lita, has been here before, but has struggled for a regular place since his Reading first season in the Premier League in 2007. He has enjoyed a resurgence with Middlesbrough of late and has unfinished business in the top tier following his £1.75 million move from the Riverside. The Swans’ also have Stephen Dobbie, Luke Moore and Craig Beattie, but one may question their ability to step-up after spending most of their careers at a lower level.

Unlike Swansea, QPR have an experienced manager in Neil Warnock who has a massive point to make at this level after managing Sheffield United to relegation in the midst of the Carlos Tevez controversy. The 62 year old will set his team out to be well organised and workmanlike in his image and they will be a tough unit to break down. There are doubts over his signings in the summer; Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer were both acquired from West Ham, with Gabbidon having struggled for consistency and form in recent years, and Dyer having huge fitness issues, the 32 year old mustering barely 30 games for West Ham in a spell which lasted four years. However, Warnock has added well with Jay Bothroyd, whose 18 goals for Cardiff earned him a place on the fringes of the England squad last season, and DJ Campbell who was one of the stars in Blackpool’s entertaining campaign, scoring 13 goals. With the tricky livewire Adel Taarabt providing from the wings, they should have no problem scoring goals and Jamie Mackie will also return from his horrific injury to add more firepower.

QPR are the complete opposite of Swansea in terms of the style of the squad assembled, they are big and aggressive, embodied by vice-captain Shaun Derry who is an influential figure in a combative midfield. Fitz Hall and Danny Shittu are both in excess of 6ft at the back and both have valuable experience of playing at this level, although a potential weakness may be exposed in their pace. Bradley Orr and Clint Hill possess professionalism and quality at full back and Paddy Kenny, who kept goal for Warnock in his season in the Premier League, is back following his redemption for a ban for an illegal substance. Together they form a defence that shipped just 32 goals in the march towards the Championship title last season. Warnock has quietly assembled a solid looking outfit that also has flair and creativity in Tommy Smith, Alejandro Faurlin and Taarabt. There are issues over the standard of depth however, with the squad having a lot of sub-standard excess; Garry Barrowdale, Leon Clarke, Rowan Vine and Lee Cook to name a few, still remain despite being well short of Premier League standard.

Of the three promoted sides, it is Norwich who have the best chance of staying up. Lead by the excellent Paul Lambert, who has led the canaries to two consecutive promotions by playing some intricate passing football, they have a young, fresh squad who will be eager to impress. They possess a lot of creative threat and this has been boosted by the signings of Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington, who are both lively wide players coming up from League 1. Belief and confidence will be installed into them by the impeccable motivator Lambert, who resembles the presence of Martin O’Neill in the dugout and they will add to the flair already in place.

 Andrew Surman and Andrew Crofts are both impressive passers of the ball in the centre of the field, while Wes Hoolahan is a pacey winger. In being joined by Bennett and Pilkington, there is of course, a lot of threat from wide areas which will be essential to the success of Grant Holt. Holt will be the main source of goals at Carrow Road and his physical build and strength make him a prime candidate to do well. He will be backed up by Steve Morison, scorer of 17 goals for Millwall last time out and Simeon Jackson, who provides good foil for Holt with pace and movement. Jackson and Holt were the strike force when Norwich were top scorers in the league last year, but did concede a big 58 goals. Zak Whitbread and Leon Barnett are commanding CH’s and Barnett’s return from injury will give Norwich the luxury of being able to field a consistent partnership after being forced to use eight different combinations last season. The loan of Richie De Laet is a very astute signing, the Belgian youngster has impressed a lot in the Manchester United reserves and can play anywhere across the back four, and will give an extra dimension to the back line with his versatility. Right- Back Kyle Naughton has also been loaned in after the Spurs man was successful with a spell at Leicester last season suggesting that Lambert seems to have addressed a possible weak area and solidified the base of his team.

All three of the newcomers have assembled good squads with contrasting styles of play, and while Swansea and Norwich might be the neutral’s favourites of the trio, QPR also have flair and excitement in their squad. Plus, with Mr. Warnock, there is never a dull moment whereas Rogers and Lambert are both young, vigorous individuals. The three managers are exciting characters who will give an air of refreshment to the Premier League with their teams’ eager and desperate to prove they can make the step up and be successful at the highest level. Just like the top, the bottom promises to be very exciting indeed.

Adam Gray @MonkeyLunch21

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