The 2015-16 English Premier League starts again this weekend and in this Premier League Preview we look at some of the favourites, the possible dark horses and teams that may struggle in this the 24th version of the league. We do this by focusing on each region of England, and Wales, where the teams are based. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above and can read the transcript of the report (below) where you will also find explanations of key vocabulary (in bold).
2015-16 Premier League Preview
Twenty teams are ready to kick off the 2015-2016 Premier League, and each team’s supporters will hoping they have bragging rights come the end of the season, especially over any local rivals. In this listening practice report we take a look at which regions the 20 teams play in and how they may perform.
London and the South East (6 teams)
First of all the capital city and the surrounding area. Six teams from this region, including most pundits favourites, Chelsea, who are the team to beat. Their only weakness seems to be a reliance on Diego Costa up front: without him firing on all cylinders they may be blunt in attack. Hoping to capitalise on last season’s FA Cup win and the victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield are Arsenal. They certainly look a complete team and may have got the signing of the season in Petr Cech. The Gunners look good for a top three finish. Crosstown rivals, Tottenham may need another season under boss Pochettino to really gel, especially with a focus on youth, and can expect a Europa League place. On the other hand West Ham, already out of this year’s Europa League qualifiers, could face a long and difficult season. Just north of London is Watford, and the newly promoted side, full of new signings, are one of the favourites to go straight back down a division.
The North West (4 teams)
Four clubs, two based on Merseyside, two in Manchester, will all be hoping to improve on last year’s showings. Of the four, Manchester City seem to have the best chance of mounting a title challenge, and will definitely finish in the Champions League places, but a lot will depend on how new signing Sterling links up with Aguero, and whether or not City’s other big stars, such as Yaya Toure and Kompany can up their game. Most intriguing are Manchester United. There are no more excuses for their manager Van Gaal, especially as the club have really splashed the cash on signings such as Depay, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, and Darmian. How these stars play as a unit remains to be seen, but United are strong contenders for a top four spot and should be an entertaining side to watch. The two Merseyside clubs will have different ambitions. Everton will just hope to avoid the disaster that was last season. Key to this will be holding on to their star defender, Stone, but Chelsea just might prise him away from the Toffees. Liverpool will have their eyes set again on trying to crack the top four, but on paper their squad doesn’t look strong enough to challenge the two teams from Manchester, Chelsea and Arsenal. Europa League again.
The Midlands (4 teams)
We’re including Stoke city in this region, and they, along with West Bromwich Albion, Leicester and Aston Villa make up the teams from the Midlands. Aston Villa may spend most of the season struggling to avoid relegation after losing important players, like front man Benteke, midfielder Cleverley, and captain Delph. West Brom, finished a respectable 13th last season, and with Tony Pulis in charge mid table safety looks the most likely outcome. Stoke City were impressive last season and Mark Hughes will hope they can push on further up the table and maybe have a decent cup run, too. Leicester, like Villa, may struggle and will be in the dog fight to avoid relegation come March and April.
The North East (2 teams)
Both Newcastle and Sunderland had bad seasons last year. The Black Cats, 16th last season, look the more solid of the two teams, and for Newcastle, a lot will depend on how Newcastle’s new manager, McClaren, handles the pressure at St. James’. Going forward they look good, with new signings Wijnaldumand and Mitrović. Verdict, both should be safe from relegation.
The Rest (4 teams)
Swansea, from the Welsh south coast, are an excellently run team and have made themselves a fixture in the league. Finishing eighth last season for a club this size was a real achievement. Similarly, Southampton have impressed over the last few seasons with their attractive play and ability to punch about their weight. neither will trouble the top four, but neither will fear relegation either. Newly promoted side Bournemouth, just down the coast from Southampton, are the League’s minnows, with a stadium capacity of just over 10,000 this small south coast club will be most neutrals second team. They could be dark horses for doing better than expected, and could avoid relegation. This may not be the case for Alex Neil’s Norwich, who look short on quality. They deserve their chance but a reliance on a young manager and the squad that got them promoted may not be enough. Relegated.
What are your predictions for the season? Let us know by posting below!
bragging rights: the right to talk with pride about your team, especially when compared with a rival
firing on all cylinders: playing 100%
to capitalise on: to build on; to improve on
to gel: to work well together; to play as a unit
mounting a title challenge: being in a position to win the title/league
to prise away: to take away from; to remove (with difficulty)
up their game: improve their play
dog fight: a desperate battle
The Black Cats: Sunderland’s nickname
punch about their weight: do better than expected; perform well with fewer resources than rivals
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