The Potters have long been a source of amusement for opposition fans, who have derided them for resorting to long-ball football and more physical aspect of their game, typified by Charlie Adam. However, since the arrival of Mark Hughes a lot has changed at the Britannia Stadium and they have become a team that play a far more attractive version of the game and have done considerably while well doing so as their ninth-place league finish from last season testifies. This season, the arrivals of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Affellay and Joselu amongst others are expected to give their game a whole new dimension.
Under Nigel Perason’s management, the Foxes earned promotion to the Premier League for the 2014/15 campaign and gave resilient performances all through the course of their campaign, although they were not rewarded with points and found themselves fighting for survival until the final few games of the season. Pearson’s rallied his forces for a survival mission which his troops succeeded in. The burly manager may have gone since, but under Claudio Ranieri they are still unbeaten in their first four games this season.
After gaining promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2012/13 season, the London club survived miraculously following the appointment of Tony Pulis towards the fag end of the season. They appeared headed towards a drop in the subsequent season under Neil Warnock – who had replaced Pulis, but the appointment of Alan Pardew completely turned the tables for the Eagles and they ended up in tenth spot. This summer, they have signed Yohan Cabaye amongst others and will be eyeing a European spot if things go according to plan as they did during their recent visit to Stamford Bridge (a 2-1 win).
Watching Southampton play these days it is hard to imagine that they were scrapping in the third division of the English league a mere five years ago. They have grown leaps and bounds since their League One days in the 2010/11 season and this term they played in the qualifying stage of the Europa League. Although their campaign in the second tier of European competition has come to an end, under the management of the irrepressible Dutchman Ronald Koeman another strong league campaign can’t be ruled out.
Since their promotion to the top flight in the 2011/12 season, the Welsh outfit have shown consistent progress under Brendan Rodgers, then Michael Laudrup and now Garry Monk. This summer, they have made some astute purchases, especially that of Andre Ayew, who has shown his class in the four matches they have played so far. The Ghana international has three goals against his name and was remarkable in the Swans’ 2-1 win over Manchester United in their last fixture as he scored one goal and set up Bafetimbi Gomis’ winner to seal all three points for his side. Swansea will surely be eying a spot in Europe this season.