One Englishman out and another in that is kind of the way Villa works isn’t it? Watching Villa in preseason they look as if they are going to be a force this season, but to what scale that force will be is still the question. They have lost a few players and replaced the only one who had a normal role in the team with someone who is comparable in skill, but when the replacement will see the pitch after his injury has still yet to be answered.
Key Additions: Stewart Downing (Middlsbrough)
Key Losses: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Martin Laursen (retired), Zat Knight (Bolton), Stuart Taylor (Manchester City)
While Laursen and Knight will be missed in the Villains defense, O’Neill will find the answer as he so often does for Villa. Barry will be the bigger loss in the midfield for Villa as he was their captain on the pitch and in the midfield. Stewart Downing will be a great addition to replace Barry but he is still recovering from a foot injury sustained last season. O’Neill will do what needs to be done this season and in the end I see them finishing just short of Everton and Manchester City, getting into the all important 7th spot.
Starting out the empty table in the 7th spot this season I do not see Fulham dropping far. Although they have not made many changes this season, the squad looks as strong as last season and Roy should have them playing good football come the start of the season. They have not lost anyone in the offseason, though there were rumors of front man Bobby Zamora being sold to Hull City at one point. These talks have since stalled and Zamora looks to add to the attack going into the new term.
Key Additions: Bjorn Riise (Lillestrom), Stephen Kelly (Birmingham)
Adding depth this season looks to have been the key for Fulham ahead of their season. So adding a face with Riise in the midfield and Kelly in defense should work out well for Roy. With the lack of big names coming to Craven Cottage this summer, Fulham look steady, but do not have quite enough to move them up the table any. Roy has done a great job with this side, but just above the middle of the table is where I see them finishing without that big name to make the difference for them. Goals seem to be the difference when talking about Fulham, and without regular scoring from this bunch in the EPL they will not improve upon last years finish.