Top Goalscorers –Riviere (3), De Jong, Cabella (2)
Clean Sheets – 4 from a possible 8
Newcastle have had a solid preseason with only a couple of losses and joy in the transfer market. Unfortunately for The Toon new signing Siem de Jong got injured against Wellington at the end of July and is yet to feature since after a promising start to his Newcastle career. In his absence another new signing, Remy Cabella, has played in the number 10 role and has had joy there, also scoring two goals. Pardew has strengthened his squad significantly as they slumped across the finish line last season and added much needed enthusiasm, creativity and drive going forward, particularly in the centre of the park. A few good wins and a much needed summer break, plus the aforementioned squad additions, has renewed hope on Tyneside for this coming season.
With Man City at home (GW1) the only ‘difficult’ fixture in the first 8 games, Newcastle have a fairly favourable run of opening fixtures. Don’t let their opening fixture against City put you off investing in Newcastle players.
Form player Emmanuel Riviere - £7m
With three goals in preseason and some favourable fixtures, Riviere looks like a good option as a mid-priced forward. Having outscored Falcao at Monaco last year with 10 league goals, Riviere looks set to fill the gap left by Remy and will hope to reach double figures once again.
One to watch - Remy Cabella - £7.5m
Cabella will be given the number 10 role whilst de Jong is injured and will hope to create plenty of opportunities for those around him with some intricate passing and deft touches. At Montpellier Cabella scored 28 goals and created a further 18 which equated to being involved in a goal every 2.5 games, which may be a little too infrequent for his current pricetag. However, if he clicks with his new teammates we could see this ration improve, at least until de Jong is back in the reckoning.
De Jong - £7m
As mentioned above, nailed on as the new ‘number 10’, trying to replace Cabaye, de Jong has a fantastic pedigree and is very reasonably priced considering his ability. Keep an eye on him as he returns to fitness.
Coloccini - £4.5m If Newcastle can strengthen their defence this season, it will be dependent on this man: their mainstay and captain.
Top Goalscorers – Austin (4), Hoilett (3)
Clean Sheets – 4 from a possible 7
After bouncing back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, QPR will be hoping they can put up more of a fight this year to stay in the division than two years ago where they threw money at the squad but went down without a whimper. With mixed results in preseason, QPR have been unable to build any real momentum despite not playing any top teams with their most recent opponents PAOK being their most challenging game: they lost 1-0. Redknapp is another manager to try out the Premier League’s new favourite formation of 3-5-2 with Hoilett playing either in the number 10 role or as Austin’s strike partner. Expect Mutch to play in the hole behind two of Austin, Hoilett and Remy now he’s completed his transfer from Cardiff.
With Spurs (A), Man United (A) and Liverpol (H) in their first 8 games, QPR have a mixed bag of opening fixtures. With some easier home games in between the harder ones, QPR defenders may be good rotation options.
Form player - Charlie Austin - £6m
With four goals in preseason and a lack of other options going forward (depending on Remy’s constantly changing situation) Austin will be the main goal threat this season. He’s a proven goalscorer in lower divisions and will be hoping to prove he’s able to step up to the top level.
One to watch - Steven Caulker - £5m
Playing alongside Rio Ferdinand, QPR’s central defence partnership should be a strong one. Caulker has an advantage over his rivals in that he is always a threat at set pieces, as he proved last season with 5 goals, racking up an impressive 122 points, including 19 bonus points, at relegated Cardiff.
Jordan Mutch - £5.5m Another player who shone at relegated Cardiff last season, Mutch will be hoping to build on his good season last time round but add a little more consistency to his game.
Loic Remy - £7.5m A proven Premier League goalscorer with an uncertain future. Will score goals no matter who he plays for.
Top Goalscorers – Pelle, S Davies (2)
Clean Sheets – 4 from a possible 6
Ronald Koeman has come into Southampton and seen many of last season’s key players leave the club in what has been a well documented exodus. With a reputation for playing similar football to how Pochettino set the Saints up last season, with a tight defence and attractive free-flowing football going forward, the ethos of the club shouldn’t change too much under the new management. The Saints have had a very strong preseason with only one loss (1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen) and some convincing wins on top of a solid defence. Koeman appears to be a fan of the 4-3-3 system and is likely to deploy it for the majority of the season
Apart from their opening fixture against last season’s Saints squad, Liverpool (A) the opening run of games has been kind to Southampton. With Spurs (A) in GW7 their only other ‘difficult’ fixture in the opening nine games, Southampton could start the season on the right footing.
Form player - Graziano Pelle - £7.5m
With two goals in preseason, Pelle is likely to be the spearhead of Southampton’s attack this year and will hope to be on the end of the final ball often enough to get into double figures for this season. Unproven in the Premier League, he’ll be given a few games to establish himself and with Southampton’s favourable home games, could find himself on the scoresheet early on.
One to watch
Dusan Tadic - £7.5m
The new man in midfield, Tadic comes with a great reputation as a creative midfielder who can get forward to score goals. Has hit 12 goals in each of the past two seasons and will become Southampton’s main driving force going forward.
James Ward-Prowse - £5m
The young midfielder will undoubtedly break into the first team this season and has all the attributes to play for England in the future.
Gaston Ramirez - £5.5m
Never really shown his true potential in the Premier League but under a new manager, playing in a slightly different role, may flourish.
Lloyd Isgrove - £4.5m
The young Welsh winger could be given his opportunity to shine this season flanking the main striker up top.
Top Goalscorers –Bojan (3)
Clean Sheets – 2 from a possible 7
With only one victory in seven, Stoke have struggled a little in preseason and will be hoping to significantly improve both results and performances when the season kicks off this weekend. The starting XI remains unsure as Mark Hughes has mixed things up over the preseason games, predominantly deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation with new signing Diouf battling with Crouch for the main striker’s role. A team with a new look about it this season, Stoke will be somewhat dark horses to finish higher than expected and kick on from Hughes’ steady first campaign last season.
Another team with favourable opening fixtures since they play just one of last season’s top 8 in their first 8 fixtures: Man City away in gameweek 3.
Bojan Krkic - £5.5m
How did Bojan end up at Stoke? Once playing alongside Messi and Iniesta, Bojan has failed to live up to the very high expectations placed upon him as he graduated from ‘La Masia’. However, the young striker has flourished in preseason with 3 goals to put him top of Stoke’s scoring charts and will be hoping to carry that form into the new season.
One to watch
Marko Arnoutovic - £6.5m
A top performer for Stoke last season with 4 goals and 10 assists, Arnoutovic will be hoping to push on this season and become Stoke’s main playmaker. He finished last season strongly with attacking returns in 6 of his last 9 games, giving hope that he can replicate and build on his solid first season in the Premier League
Ryan Shawcross - £5.5m
The strongest, most reliable defender in the Stoke defence. Clean sheets at home are always a possibility with this man playing.
Mame Biran Diouf - £6.5m
The ex-Man Utd striker has a solid goalscoring record in the Bundesliga since leaving Old Trafford and will be hoping to replicate that in the Premier League this season.