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With the new Premier League season set to get underway,

It is time to look at the teams taking part and gauge their chances for the season ahead.

Premier League 2014/15 Preview - Part 3Thus, we bring you a four-part preview of every team in the top division of English football, from new boys QPR all the way up to reigning champions Manchester City.

10. Newcastle United

Improvement is of utmost importance for Alan Pardew and his men.

No man’s land. That is exactly where Newcastle United found themselves last season. Safe from relegation, but also not posing any threat to the teams ahead of them, the Magpies finished smack-bang in mid-table. The pressure on manager Alan Pardew has increased exponentially over the past year, with on the field performances and sideline antics being unacceptable. Pressure is building on the English manager, with patience wearing thin ahead of what could be the defining season in his reign as Newcastle United manager.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of Hatem Ben Arfa is distracting for many fans, with the mercurial Frenchman having seemingly been made scapegoat for numerous shortcomings within the squad. However, the signings of Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere have been a statement of intent to finally replace long-departed stars such as Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye, and with more deals in the pipeline fans feel that Mike Ashley and company have finally heeded the calls of the St James’ Park faithful.

Regardless, the expectation for Newcastle United this season is that they will once again finish safe from relegation, but far away from any significant top table finish. A few more summers of rebuilding might be needed before the next step can legitimately be taken.

9. Stoke City

The likes of Marko Arnautovic have added some flair to the Potters.

For his first season in charge, Mark Hughes did not do badly at all with his Stoke City side. One could clearly see the attempts to stray away from the physical, aerial style of play that the Potters had been ridiculed and criticised for over the past decade. Players such as Marko Arnautovic and later Peter Odemwingie added a more refined approach, with a touch of flair, while the uncompromising steel and determination remained within the likes of Ryan Shawcross and Charlie Adam. All in all, a top table finish was a fantastic result for the club, and the onus will now surely be on even further development.

The signing of Bojan from Barcelona is a huge coup, for the Spaniard is still an immensely talented player despite all his recent struggles, and could have finally found a home where he will be adored by fans. Mame Biram Diouf is also a born goal scorer, while Steve Sidwell and Phil Bardsley will add some well needed strength depth. All in all, it has been a very impressive transfer window, and Stoke City fans have much to be confident about.

There is no reason why Stoke City cannot replicate their success of last season, and they could well end up being the surprise package of this Premier League season. However, they should guard against complacency, because the league will punish any sort of second-season syndrome.

8. Southampton

A mass exodus of epic proportions took place at St. Mary’s Stadium.

In a nutshell, things change so, so quickly in football. Southampton had an impressive core of talent last season, who had rose together through adversity to guide the Saints to a fantastic eight place finish in the Premier League. Manager Mauricio Pochettino had given the team an identity and clearly defined style of play, and they thrived with the likes of young Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers showing maturity beyond their years alongside more experienced campaigners such as Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.

However, the sale of these players, along with Dejan Lovren and now potentially Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin, has gutted Southampton. To add insult to injury, Mauricio Pochettino himself was the first to jump ship when Tottenham Hotspur came calling. The question now is whether new signings Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle and Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand can begin to fill the void left by departed stars. Surely new manager Ronald Koeman will venture into the transfer window more before the season starts?

Southampton could surprise us, but it is doubtful. Having to build a new starting line-up almost from scratch is a very tough ask, and we could even see the Saints battle relegation.

7. Manchester United

Will David Moyes’ failures be remedied under Louis van Gaal?

Everything that possibly could go wrong did go wrong last season for Manchester United. After the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes was entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the Red Devils competitive. As we well know, the Scotsman failed miserably, leaving the club in disarray. The arrival of Louis van Gaal has shown promising improvements in pre-season thus-far, but it remains to be seen how this squad will deal with a season of transition

The arrivals of left-back Luke Shaw and midfielder Ander Herrera will surely add depth and strength to weak areas in the team, and improve the overall quality of the squad. However, it remains to be seen whether these additions will be enough to return Manchester United to the top of the table, with Louis van Gaal having indicated that he is in no significant rush to purchase a whole host of new players, instead aiming to progress as far as possible with what he has at this juncture in time.

The goal this season is doubtlessly to get back into the top four, with a title challenge being an unrealistic ask of a manager having to take over a squad which finished seventh the previous season. What we can be completely sure of, however, is that it will be an incredibly intriguing season at Old Trafford.

6. Tottenham Hotspur

Will we be seeing more celebration this season at White Hart Lane?

Like the team just before them, last season was a disaster, with both Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood being unable to get their numerous new signings to gel. This, of course, was a result of the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, which lead to the ill-fated purchases of the likes of Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and even more. Hammerings at the hands of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea didn’t help morale at all, and this season is a chance for redemption.

New manager Mauricio Pochettino worked wonders at Southampton, and his calmness and tactical nous could be instrumental in Tottenham Hotspur having a successful season. The signings of Michel Vorm and Ben Davies are not only necessary purchases, but smart ones at that. One can see that the club does not want to repeat the mistakes of last season, and smart value for money moves are definitely the way forward. There could yet be some more action in the transfer window before the season gets underway, but don’t expect any more club-record signings anytime soon.

The long-term goal at Tottenham Hotspur is surely to get back into the Champions League, but the fact of the matter is that a decent finish which at least is an improvement on last season would be adequate for the fans, at least. Whether it would be enough for Chairman Daniel Levy is another question entirely…

More Premier League 2014-15 previews in the series
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Originally published at inthestandsport.com

Post written by Marco Conradie, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10
for InTheStandSport, Blog: inthestandsport.com, Twitter: @InTheStandSport

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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