Toon Army and Bodog Baggies look forward to season

TAGs: Newcastle United, Premier League, Soccer, West Bromwich Albion

Cheik Tiote

Cheik Tiote celebrates after scoring

Newcastle United (Last season 12th in Premier League)

The lowdown: It’s hard to know where to start with the Toon. The past eight months has seen the club lose their three best attacking players in Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. Performances could suffer irreparably as a result. Even though these players have left, Newcastle is one of those sides where supporters still expect success.

Manager Alan Pardew has managed to add French championship winner Yoann Cabaye from Lille and the free agent pick up of Demba Ba from West Ham should bolster the attack. Behind that in defence is where the problems may lie and if Jose Enrique departs they will have serious problems. It all adds up to there being a battle with relegation if they’re not careful.

Star man: Cheik Tiote (Midfielder) – Gives the midfield added bite and he’s been known to chip in with the odd goal.

One to watch: Hatem Ben-Arfa (Midfielder) – Injured for much of last season and will be like a new signing if he rediscovers his Marseille form

Line-up (4-4-1-1): Harper; Simpson, S. Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique; Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Marveaux; Ben Arfa; Ba.

Expected finish: By virtue of the fact that the rot has set in at plenty of other teams, Pardew’s side could find themselves still in the division. 15th.

WestBrom Bodog kit signings

Can this team outperform last years?

West Bromwich Albion (11th in Premier League)

The lowdown: If you told Baggies’ fans they’d be finishing the season in 11th with a new boss in charge at the beginning of last season then some may have fainted on the spot. That’s how it went down though and Roy Hodgson will find it hard to better that finish this term. Their new sponsorship deal with Bodog aside, there have been a number of other additions to the squad. Zoltan Gera returns to be reunited with Hodgson as well as the shrewd pick-ups of Ben Foster, Gareth McAuley and Billy Jones to strengthen the defensive side of the team. They will again rely on the goalscoring prowess of Peter Odemwingie who managed 15 goals in his first season and as such attracted plenty of interest this summer.

Star man: Peter Odemwingie (Striker) – It’s simple: if he scores West Brom may continue the success of last season and reach the top half.

One to watch: Billy Jones (Defender) – The versatile signing will look to show the Premier League the potential he has shown in the lower leagues.

Expected finish: It’s going to be hard to build on last term and may mean that they end up slipping a couple of spots. 13th.

Line-up (4-5-1): Foster; Jara, McAuley, Olsson, Scharner; Gera, Mulumbu, Brunt, Dorrans, Thomas; Odemwingie.


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