Premier League 2017/18 Preview – Newcastle United



Newcastle were expected to walk the Championship last season, but stuttered on their way to the title, only just edging out Brighton. Credit must go to Rafa Benitez for sticking with the club in the Championship, and if he stays, which is not a certainty at the moment, he will be the reason that Newcastle won’t go down this season. Christian Atsu has made his loan move permanent, and £6.2m could prove a bargain. The Magpies’ strength is out wide, with Atsu joining the hugely influential Matt Richie, who impressed in his previous Premier League season with Bournemouth, and another new signing Jacob Murphy. Murphy was a key player for Norwich last season, netting nine goals and providing six assists. Florian Lejeune has joined from Eibar, and will likely partner Ciaran Clark at centre-back. Javier Manquillo, who spent last season on loan at rivals Sunderland, will also bolster the defence, as Benitez has looked to strengthen the best defence in the Championship last season. It’s been a frustrating summer for Magpies fans, as the club have missed out on a number of transfer targets and owner Mike Ashley appears to have gone back on his promise that boss Rafa Benitez would be given the money to strengthen his squad. Newcastle have the squad to avoid a relegation scrap and push for mid-table, but ultimately where they finish will depend on whether Benitez stays.

Key Player: Matt Ritchie. The Scottish winger has one of the best left foots in the division, and was a key player in the Magpies’ promotion season. He chipped in with 12 goals, making him Newcastle’s second top scorer, and this goal threat will be vital to support Dwight Gayle, who does not guarantee goals in the top division. Almost half of Ritchie’s assists last season were to Gayle, so this partnership could again bear fruit.

One to Watch: Freddie Woodman. The goalkeeping position is a competitive one for Newcastle this season, but Woodman has proved that he has the ability to step up to the plate. Like Jordan Pickford did last season, Woodman has the chance to assert himself as a potential first choice ‘keeper, as the club has no stand-out number one. Despite never playing for Newcastle, Woodman has experience of playing under pressure, winning the 2014 Under-17 European Championship and the 2017 Under-20 World Cup with England, winning the golden glove and saving a penalty in the final of the latter.

Last Season: 1st (Championship)

Predicted Finish: 15th

Premier League 2016/17 Preview – Bournemouth


Jordon Ibe arrives at Bournemouth as their record signing. Image:

Given their injury crisis last season, Eddie Howe’s side did incredibly well to finish 16th. The aim for this season has to be to consolidate their position as a Premier League side and to push on after last season’s success. A fully fit Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings will make a huge difference for the Cherries, as their marquee signings from last summer will look to prove themselves after an injury hit first season. Gradel and new signing Jordon Ibe will have to hit the ground running after the departure of Matt Ritchie to Newcastle. Bournemouth’s defence was their downfall last year, so Liverpool’s Brad Smith has been brought in, whilst highly rated Lewis Cook will sit in front of the back four. October will be a key month for Bournemouth as they face Watford, Hull and Middlesbrough, who will all be aiming to avoid relegation this season.

Key Man: Jordon Ibe. Coming in as Bournemouth’s record signing at over £15m, Ibe will be expected to hit the ground running. Matt Richie’s departure will be sorely felt by the Cherries, but the former Liverpool winger could ease the pain if he delivers on his obvious potential. Ibe has delivered two goals in pre-season for his new club, including the winner against Cardiff, so the early signs are promising.

One to Watch: Lewis Cook. Winner of last season’s Football League Young Player of the Year, Cook’s performances for Leeds have earned him a move to the Premier League. The 19 year old has two seasons of Championship football already under his belt, and could prove the anchor needed to protect one of the league’s more fragile defences.

Last Season: 16th  

Prediction: 15th

Premier League 2015/16 Preview – Bournemouth

afcbBournemouth gained plaudits across the board for their easy-on-the-eye style which took them to the Championship title last season. Manager Eddie Howe has vowed to keep true to this philosophy, which has been reinforced by the signings of Christian Atsu and Josh King. Striker Callum Wilson has ended speculation by signing a new deal, and will look forward to testing himself at the highest level alongside fellow stars Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie. Goals weren’t Bournemouth’s problem last season, and they have also added to the Championship’s second best defence with youngster Tyrone Mings and the experienced Sylvain Distin and Artur Boruc will add Premier League experience to a squad which is lacking it. It will be difficult for Bournemouth to survive, but they look in better shape than Burnley last season to survive and thrive as a favourite for the neutrals.

Key Player: Matt Ritchie

One to Watch: Callum Wilson

Prediction: 16th