DF Previews…

Luton Town Exile preview their upcoming season.

Luton Town

Manager: Graeme Jones

Last season: 1st (League One)   

key player 

There are two, Andrew Shinnie and James Collins. Andrew Shinnie is the team’s best footballer and crucial to the way we play the game. If he can settle and flourish at Championship level in the middle of the park, we have a good chance of continuing to play good winning football. James Collins is our main goal threat and if he can continue to score at the level above we will be well set.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

We have signed four players – Callum McManaman, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Brendan Galloway and Martin Cranie. All have experience at Championship level and above and all could be said to have something to prove. I’m looking forward to seeing what McManaman can bring to the team in terms of creativity, assists and goals. If he can get near to the form he has shown in the past we will have a player on our hands.

Who TO SIGN

The consensus among fans is that we need to sign a keeper with Championship or above experience, a proven Championship level striker, quality cover at centre half, a full back and CDM. They say you should never go back but i’d like to see us re-sign Christian Walton, Cameron Mcgeehan and Isaac Vassell. I think all three of those (injuries aside) will get better and better.

EXPECTED FINISH

I expect us to finish somewhere between 15th and 21st. Bearing in mind where we’ve been in the last 10 years I’d be over the moon if that happens.

EXCITING GAME

QPR away. It will be fantastic to go to Loftus Road again.

TROPHY?

No – not at all. A decent run in either cup competition would be very welcome though.

@LutonTownExile on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Alex previews his teams upcoming season.

Manchester United

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Last season: 6th   

key player 

Assuming that Pogba stays at the club for another season (which I personally think he will), he will undoubtedly be our key player for the coming campaign. You can see the difference in our play with him in the team as clear as night and day. He is the main creative force in our side and last season was our top scorer. Hopefully with a few more of the right additions around the rest of the team, we can begin to see greater consistency in his performances across the season and he can re-find the form he showed at the beginning of Ole’s reign. Pogba aside, this is a big season for both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom are entering their fifth campaign with the first team and it’s likely time we begin to see more big performances from the young forwards. Ole’s playing philosophy and emphasis and quick, young players means that everything seems set for these two, amongst others, to have their best campaigns yet.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

So far this summer we have seen the arrivals of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Swansea and Crystal Palace respectively. It also looks increasingly likely that a deal for Harry Maguire should be tied up before long reportedly for a record fee for a central defender. My personal favourite so far would have to be Wan-Bissaka, statistically the best full back in the league last season he is a clear upgrade on the veteran Ashley Young and fills a gap in our time which has been there for numerous seasons; a specialist right back ready to go straight into the XI and with bags of potential, I think we’ve got a great deal which will benefit us for years to come.

Who TO SIGN

Given that Maguire looks set to arrive at the club, my personal choice for the next signing would be Ruben Neves from Wolves. It baffles me that no top clubs have been reported to have interest in the Portuguese midfielder, he’d be a first class addition to the side who lack depth and quality in the midfield area and could help to free up Paul Pogba. Further up the pitch, I would love to see Jadon Sancho arrive to take up the spot on the right flank. Signing Wan-Bissaka has solved half of our problem don’t the right side of the team, and Sancho would be perfect to fill the long standing void on the right hand side of our attack. He’s young, quick, incredibly technically gifted and would light up Old Trafford whilst also taking some of the creative burden from Paul Pogba.

EXPECTED FINISH

Assuming we make the right additions to the team, I’d say we can hopefully expect a fourth place finish in the league. As United fans we need to be realistic and accept that for the next few seasons we may not be challenging for the top honours, but a return to the Champions League is essential if we are to continue to attract the top talents and keep the talent which we already have.

EXCITING GAME

I’m looking forward to the opening game of the season, despite the form we should at the end of the last campaign, I’m excited and intrigued to see our new players in action and see exactly what Ole and his team have been working on over the summer.

TROPHY?

I don’t expect us to win a trophy this season, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get to the latter stages of either of the domestic cups.

@daaawsonn on Twitter.

DF Previews…

George previews his teams upcoming season.

SALFORD CITY

Manager: Graham Alexander

Last season: 2nd (Promoted via Play-Offs)

key player 

Adam Rooney. Top scorer last season, Rooney has played at the top level in Scotland which should hopefully stand him in good stead for a season in League 2. His physicality and nack of being in the right place at the right time could be key.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Richie Towell, Dan Jones, Oscar Threlkeld, Kyle Letheren, Joey Jones. The signing of Towell is an exciting one. Towell was on loan at Rotherham in the Championship last year making over 30 appearances for them, so a drop down to League 2 should really make him one of the stand out players in the division.

Who TO SIGN

There’s been some talk of David Wheater coming in, which at league 2 level would be a brilliant signing. His mix of experience and presence at the back could be a really solid foundation to build the team on. Other than that full back cover should be a priority, as should a pacey winger and another striker.

EXPECTED FINISH

Play offs. Looking at the other teams in the league I don’t think there is too many stand out teams who could dominate. With 3 automatic promotion places and the 4 play off positions, a top 7 finish should really be the minimum expectation.

EXCITING GAME

Bradford City away is a huge game for a club like Salford. To come from where Salford have come to then be playing against an ex Premier League time like Bradford is an incredible journey. 

TROPHY?

The only trophy on offer is the Checkatrade trophy. Most teams don’t really care about the trophy, with poor attended games last season. This could give Salford a real chance to sneak in another appearance at Wembley.

@GeorgeBG123 on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Ryan talks about his teams upcoming season.

BIRMINGHAM CITY

Manager: Pep Clotet

Last season: 17th   

key player 

With 2 weeks until the season starts and 3 weeks until the end of the transfer window, the squad is around 5/6 players short with key players lost who have not been replaced. In my opinion, one player who has the potential to be key player this season for blues is Isaac Vassell. There are big shoes to fill with the loss of 22 goals from Che Adams. Juke and Adams partnership threw up nearly 40 goals between them last season and there is massive responsibility on Vassell’s shoulders, especially with the lack of transfer business. The £2 million striker showed bags of potential when he first came onto the scene under Redknapp and Cotterill and he will take part in his first pre-season at the club after a long spell on the side lines with injury. This could be a massive year for the striker.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

With three weeks until the transfer window shuts the new signings sit at a grand total of ONE. That is Gary Gardner. The Gardner deal had a mix response from the blues fans but for me the deal was a very good bit of business by the club, the only thing being if it is followed up with more deals. The deal included Jota going in the opposite direction and £4million also a part of the deal coming to blues, it was a good bit of business by blues in the fact that Jota flattered to deceive at the club and didn’t live up to his £6 million price tag. Also, Gardner played a very big part in last year’s side, so I was pleased to see him back in a blue shirt.

Who TO SIGN

How long have you got? First and foremost, the priority is the replacement of Che Adams and Michael Morrison. I would have liked to have seen Blues go out and sign Lyle Taylor from Charlton with him scoring 22 goals last season in League 1, but it is very unlikely that will happen. As for the replacement for Morrison, Kristian Bielik a lad that played for blues under that dreaded Zola rein seems to have came on leaps and bounds since leaving, he played last season on loan at Charlton from Arsenal and played for Poland at this Summers U21 European Championships. He could be worth a punt with Roberts already on the books also? Again, it is looking very worrying with only two weeks until the season, the lack of business the club has done, with 4/5 minimum still needed.

EXPECTED FINISH

As much as everybody is tipping Blues to fall to relegation, I really don’t think it will come to that (I hope). It all depends on the signings brought in in these next few weeks and whether Clotet can get them playing as to how well or badly we do this season, a good start is vitally important. My prediction would be a mid-table finish for blues around 12th position, challenging at which end is though is another question!

EXCITING GAME

There are a few new grounds for me to tick off in there this year, Luton, Charlton and Portsmouth are all grounds I have yet to go to, so they were ones that were looked out for on the calendar. Fulham’s always a good away day and the local ones in Stoke and Baggies.

TROPHY?

I’ll let you all answer this one, but you never know!

@rybcfc_ on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Dan previews his teams upcoming season.

Aston Villa

Manager: Dean Smith 

Last season: 5th (Promoted via Play-Offs

key player 

Jack Grealish – our captain, our best player and by far the most influential player on the pitch. He’s at the heart of everything that we do. 

Though you could argue it is now Wesley Moraes, because our new record signing looks to have become burdened with being our primary goal threat this season.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Wesley: £22m

Tyrone Mings: £20m

 Matt Targett: £17m

 Ezri Konsa: £12m

 Anwar El Ghazi: £8m

 Jota: £4m

 Kortney Hause: £3m

 Total: £86m 

Imminent: 

 Douglas Luiz: £15m

 Bjorn Engels: £7m

I, personally, would say that the best piece of business we’ve conducted is Man City’s Douglas Luiz. Though, at the time of writing, the transfer has not been finalised, to sign Brazil’s U-23 captain, the golden ball winner at the recent Toulon Tournament and a player Pep Guardiola wanted in his squad for last season (but for a failed work permit) is a huge coup for just £15M.

Who TO SIGN

We seem to be in the market for a new goalkeeper, but a new, yet proven and well-established right-winger is essential in my eyes. Though El Ghazi and Wesley are both very capable players, they are both very young and inexperienced at Premier League level. To have another player in that front three that we can rely on would be ideal.

We were linked with Pablo Fornals before West Ham signed him. Somebody of that stature is what I have in mind.

EXPECTED FINISH

For any newly-promoted side, survival is the obvious and immediate target. But I truly believe in this squad, the coaching staff and the board, which combined with the fact we look set to spend almost £125M this window, means I think we could place very respectably this year.

EXCITING GAME

We’re back in the big time, after a three-year absence, so I can’t wait to see us square up against the top six once again. Going away to Spurs on the opening weekend is a perfect way to kick-off our campaign.

TROPHY?

No, not just yet. Though if we can guarantee survival early on, a nice run in the FA Cup wouldn’t go amiss.

@_DJMW on Twitter.

DF PREVIEWS…

Luke previews his teams upcoming season.

BLACKBURN ROVERS

Manager: Tony Mowbray 

Last season: 15th   

key player 

Bradley Dack – The mans a magician when the balls at his feet. Takes players on with ease. He links defence to attack and to say he’s an attacking midfielder he scores plenty of goals. When he plays well we’re superb and if he has an off day we seem to struggle as a team.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

So far we’ve signed Stewart Downing, Bradley Johnson and Sam Gallagher as well as a couple of young lads for our under 23’s. If I had to pick a favourite I’d say Sam Gallagher, we’ve had him before on loan and he was superb for us in a poor team which seen us get relegated. He’s only 23 so has bags of potential and he’s a big, strong, pacy striker who can also play on the wings. He’s a real presence and a physical nuisance. 6ft 4” inch and he’s pretty quick.

Who TO SIGN

Since we’ve sold our no.1 goalkeeper (David Raya) to Brentford we’re in desperate need of a new one. There’s not many out there who are available but we’ve been linked with Joe Hart and I’d be delighted with that. Even though he currently plays for our fierce rivals in Burnley he’s a very experienced goalkeeper who’s played at the highest level for both club and country. I believe he’d be a coop if we could get him and arguably the best keeper in the championship.

EXPECTED FINISH

Top 10 has to be our aim, to play-offs at a push. We played excellent last season bar from a 2 month bad spell in February and March which seen us drop from just outside the play-offs to just above the relegation zone. With this being our second season back in the championship we have a real opportunity to push on with a young squad.

EXCITING GAME

Preston at home for me. They’re our biggest rivals in the championship and they always bring a good following. They’ve had the better of us in recent history and it will be great to get one back over on them.

TROPHY?

Absolutely not and if we did there would be scenes. Think it’s nigh on impossible for a championship club to win the FA Cup or Carabao Cup at the moment. If we were to win a trophy the most realistic would be the play-off final but that’s the aim for all the other clubs in the league too.

@Luke_Bradderz on Twitter.

DF Previews…

DF previews Arsenal with George.

ARSENAL

Manager: Unai Emery

Last season: 5th  

key player

Alexandre Lacazette. Last years fans player of the season was an integral part of all things attacking, although Aubameyang scored more goals, Lacazette was great at holding the ball up and bringing others into attacks. If he can add another 5 or so goals to his tally this year things will be looking in much better shape.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Gabriel Martinelli. Only very early days but he scored on his debut in pre season which bodes well, with him being only 18 I can’t imagine him having too much of an input this season though.

Who TO SIGN

The Kieran Tierney transfer looks as though it will rumble on for a couple more weeks but he is someone we desperately need. With Monreal the wrong side of 30 and Kolasinac not impressing defensively, Tierney is a player we desperately need. His track record as a leader for Celtic is something Arsenal are in dire need of. There are other massive musts in the squad that have to be addressed, as always, a commanding centre back is a massive priority. Another central midfielder would be good and of course the other huge problem in the team is wingers. The talk was of Zaha, it would really show some ambition if Arsenal could go and get there man, but with the issues surrounding the wage budget it does seem unlikely.

EXPECTED FINISH

If we don’t address the needs above, 6thor 7th. With the current squad I can see a struggle on our hands this season. The top 4 looks well out of reach at the moment, Manchester United will be stronger next season, I think Chelsea will be rejuvenated under Lampard and we should be worried about teams behind us closing the gap. Wolves will improve if they can beat the teams at the bottom of the league, Everton aren’t shy in the transfer market and Leicester bagged themselves a very good manager in Rodgers.

EXCITING GAME

The game that could be pivotal in the season will be the first game at Tottenhams new stadium. Get a positive result there and it could really put some optimism back into the club, lose there and the gap between the two clubs will only increase.

TROPHY?

I can see the top 2 Manchester City and Liverpool cleaning up domestically. So all eggs are really in the Europa League basket. There are a couple of tough teams, particularly Manchester United,  in there and it all depends on who drops in from the Champions League, but this is the one Emery has to go for to get the club back into the Champions League.

@GeorgeBG123 on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Adam Humphreys previews his teams upcoming season.

SWANSEA

Manager: Steve Cooper

Last season: 10th  

key player

For me personally it’s Oli McBurnie! Scored 22 league goals last season and helped us a lot with our results.  

SIGNINGS SO FAR

So far we only signed 1 player and that’s Jake Bidwell. A good LB who’s had over 200 appearances in The Championship and could do well for us.  

Who TO SIGN

I’m hoping we sign Kasey Palmer on loan because he will contribute a lot in the team whether it’s scoring goals, making key passes or defending.  

EXPECTED FINISH

In my opinion 9th because we got a good team but we still need to sign players that could get us in the top 6 plus will be a lot of competition for the new season.  

EXCITING GAME

Easily Cardiff because it’s the South Wales derby! Swans would love to win the double over Cardiff.  

TROPHY?

Sadly not I’m afraid but would be great for Swans to be at Wembley and win the FA Cup trophy.

@AdamAce1066 of @Swanseabeat on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Sean Landin previews his teams upcoming season.

Liverpool

Manager: Jurgen Klopp 

Last season: 2nd

KEY PLAYER

Oxlade Chamberlain – Offers a different dimension to Liverpool’s point of attack for the Liverpool Midfield. If we can get him firing I think it will benefit our counter pressing style of play to a T. 

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Van Der Berg – Not seen anything of him and is only 17 so don’t expect much from him this season! 

WHO TO SIGN

Ryan Sessignon – Left Back/Forward player. Would be ideal cover and rotation player for Andy Robertson. He is entering his last year of his contract at Fulham whom were relegated so I feel this could improve our squad and challenge Robbo. 

EXPECTED FINISH

1st

Klopp now has the team playing the brand of football he wants and has the players he wants to fulfil this and it’s shown with the performances of last season. Winning the Champions League last season was massive for Klopp and the club but with being bitterly close to the Premier League Title last season, it’s crucial he goes and wins it. I think with the squad we have a really strong opportunity, Lallana, The OX and Brewster are like new signings for us, but I think if we can keep hold of Harry Wilson he can play a vital part in securing us the Premier League.

EXCITING GAME

Man United at Anfield – Absolutely despise the club! The one team I want Liverpool to batter every season and hopefully this happens at home! 

TROPHY?

Premier League – I think this will be the main focus for the team especially coming so close last season! Retaining the Champions League would be class but I think the club has its eyes set on removing City from their podium. 

@seanlandin11 on Twitter.