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SAFC Season Preview: Part Four

SAFC Season Preview: Part Four
Here's the final instalment of the Vital Sunderland 2012-13 season preview...

Swansea City:

The 2011-12 season was a glorious one for the Swans, finishing 11th in the Premier League in their first season since returning under Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers was the big off-season news for the Swans, departing for Liverpool following the sacking of Kenny Dalglish.

In Rodgers' place arrives former Denmark international Michael Laudrup. The 48 year-old has enjoyed spells with Brondby, Getafe, Spartak Moscow & Mallorca.

The other big news was the loss of talismanic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic playmaker looked set for a move to south Wales before Rodgers departed and the former Hoffenheim man signed for Tottneham Hotspur.

On top of that blow, the Swans lost their own playmaker in Joe Allen, following his ex-boss to Liverpool in a 15m deal.

In: Jonathan de Guzman (Villarreal) loan, Chico (Genoa) 2m & Michu (Rayo Vallecano) 2m.

Out: Ferrie Bodde, Joe Walsh, Casey Thomas, Jordan Smith (all released), Scott Donnelly (mutual consent), Joe Allen (Liverpool) 15m.

Verdict: 13th.

Tottenham Hotspur:

Another club that has undergone enormous summer change with Harry Redknapp departing to be replaced by Andre Villas-Boas.

The Portuguese of course failed spectacularly at Chelsea, in the eyes of Roman Abramovic at least, and was sacked earlier in the year. With an impressive pedigree in Portgual, Daniel Levy might just have made one of the appointments of the summer for nothing.

A number of senior players have moved on including the now-retired Ledley King, loanees Emmanuel Adebayor and in the near future, Luka Modric. All big losses for Spurs who are left with just one senior striker at present in Jermain Defoe.

In: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Hoffenheim) 8m & Jan Vertonghen (Ajax) 8m.

Out: Ben Alnwick, Oscar Jansson, Ryan Nelsen, Louis Saha, Mirko Ranieri, Jesse Waller-Lassen, Kudos Oyenuga (all released), Ledley King (retired), Lee Angol (Wycombe Wanderers) undisc, Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moskow) 5.5m, Niko Kranjcar (Dynamo Kiev) 5.5m, Steven Pienaar (Everton) 4.5m, Luka Modric (Real Madrid) 25m, Bongani Khumalo (AEK Athens) loan, Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes) loan, Massimo Luongo (Ipswich Town) loan & Ryan Fredericks (Brentford) loan.

Verdict: 5th.

West Bromwich Albion:

Yet another club who have changed manager this summer, West Brom at least had the advantage of knowing that previous head coach Roy Hodgson would be departing before the end of the season.

The highly-respect Steve Clarke stepped into the breach left by the new England boss, taking his first head coach role after carving out a coaching career with Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool.

Experienced striker Peter Odemwingie has moved onto pastures new along with Austrian international Paul Scharner.

However, arriving at the Hawthorns have been some good additions. Goalkeeper Ben Foster turned his loan spell into a permanent move whilst strikers Markus Rosenberg & Romelu Lukaku have signed permanently and on-loan respectively.

In: Ben Foster (Birmingham City) 4m, Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea) loan, Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen) undisc & Yassine El Ghanassy (KA Gent) loan.

Out: Somen Tychoi, Nicky Shorey, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Paul Downing, Keith Andrews, Marton Fulop, Paul Scharner, Jamie Edge (all released), Joe Mattock (Sheffield Wednesday) free & Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest) undisc.

Verdict: 18th.

West Ham United:

Whilst achieving promotion via the drama of a Play-Off final victory over Blackpool might have been considered an under achievement in some quarters, the Hammers are at least back in the big time.

And, in classic Big Sam fashion, Sam Allardyce has been busy wheeling and dealing in the transfer market. Eight have arrived at Upton Park with a further 10 departing the east London outfit.

It will almost never be pretty under the former Blackburn, Newcastle and Bolton manager, but Allardyce does at least know how to keep a side in the Premier League.

In: Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth) undisc, Jussi Jaakelainen (Bolton Wanderers) free, Mohamed Diame (Wigan Athletic) free, George McCartney (Sunderland) free, Modibo Maiga (FC Sochaux) undisc, Raphael Spiegel (Grasshopper Zurich) undisc, James Collins (Aston Villa) undisc & Alou Diarra (Marseille) undisc.

Out: Peter Kurucz, John Carew, Abdoulaye Faye, Julian Faubert, Papa Bouba Diop, Frank Nouble, Olly Lee, Robert Green, Freddie Sears, Marek Stech (all released).

Verdict: 17th.

Wigan Athletic:

Wigan Athletic did their usual trick last season, playing like relegation fodder for much of the season before turning it on when it really mattered to avoid the drop.

The acclaim which Roberto Martinez took for his sides miraculous escape was richly-deserved, particularly as they did it playing superb football. However, you have to wonder how hot a property Martinez would be if the Latics ever kicked on.

Perhaps this season will be about that?

Martinez appeared to be in the frame for the Liverpool job, according to Dave Whelan sports news at least, but to the delight of the Lancashire club, Martinez remains at the DW Stadium - for now.

In: Fraser Fyvie (Aberdeen) undisc, Ivan Ramis (Mallorca) undisc, Ryo Myiachi (Arsenal) loan & Arouna Kone (Levante) undisc.

Out: Chris Kirkland, Mohammed Diame, Steve Gohouri, Henry Thomas & Hugo Rodellega (all released).

Verdict: 16th.
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Date:Thursday August 16 2012
Time: 9:30PM

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League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
C Leicester City 36 22 11 3 77 30
2 Spurs 36 19 13 4 70 39
3 Arsenal 36 19 10 7 67 25
4 Man City 36 19 7 10 64 30
5 Man Utd 35 17 9 9 60 12
6 West Ham 35 15 14 6 59 17
7 Southampton 36 16 9 11 57 14
8 Liverpool 35 15 10 10 55 11
9 Chelsea 35 12 12 11 48 7
10 Stoke 36 13 9 14 48 -14
11 Everton 35 10 14 11 44 6
12 Watford 35 12 8 15 44 -6
13 Swansea 36 11 10 15 43 -13
14 WBA 36 10 11 15 41 -14
15 AFC Bournemouth 36 11 8 17 41 -20
16 Crystal Palace 36 10 9 17 39 -10
17 Newcastle 36 8 9 19 33 -25
18 Sunderland 35 7 11 17 32 -18
19 Norwich 35 8 7 20 31 -26
R Aston Villa 36 3 7 26 16 -45
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