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Premier League Preview Part 2: Can McClaren Turn Things Around in Newcastle?

With the Premier League season kicking off next weekend, it’s high time to take a look at the teams and what could be in store for them in the 2015/2016 campaign. We’ll continue our preview by looking at the teams that finished 11 to 15th.

Newcastle United FC (15th, 39 points)

Newcastle fell off the map completely in the last third off the season, falling from the 11th spot down to 17th ahead of the final game of the season against West Ham. The Magpies lost eight straight games between Matchday 28 to 35, and only won one game in the last 11 games of the season. That win came in the final day of the season, where they managed to get a 2-0 win over West Ham at home.

Newcastle has a new manager in former England national team coach Steve McClaren. McClaren spent the past two seasons as manager for Derby County. He coached the English national team between May 2006 and December 2007. He then spent time in the Netherlands and Germany before doing a short stint with Nottingham Forest before heading back to the Netherlands. It remains to be seen if McClaren is the man to turn things around at St. James’ Park.

Three new signings have been made so far this summer, with the club bringing in Anderlecht duo Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba along with Georginio Wijnaldum from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven. Mitrovic is one of the hottest young strikers in Europe, so Newcastle fans will be eager to see what he can do in the Premier League.

Mbemba is a young defender that has been impressive during his three years with Anderlecht in the Belgian league. There has been some questions about his actual age, but he’s listed as being born in 1994. He’s made 17 appearances for DR Congo. Wijnaldum has been a prolific player in the Dutch league for some time, and the creative midfielder will be a welcomed addition as Newcastle struggled to create chances in the latter part of last season.

Leicester City (14th, 41 points)

Leicester were sort of the opposite of Newcastle last season. After a really poor showing for major parts of the season, Leicester spent half the season (19 games) at the bottom of the table. But after seven wins in the last nine games of the season, the Foxes managed to avoid relegation and finished 14th.

Former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri has taken over the reigns from Nigel Pearson who was let go in late June. The club has made three signings in the offseason, with Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth and Shinji Okazaki joining the team. The only big loss for the team is that Esteban Cambiasso left the club, and the team is looking for a replacement. All three new players are veteran guys. Huth, 30, has played over 250 games in the Premier League for Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Leicester. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Leicester and now the deal has been made permanent.

Ranieri was the manager that signed Huth while in charge at Chelsea. Fuchs, 29, is an Austrian international that has a lot of experience from his time with Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga. He has 67 caps for the Austrian national team and will be a good addition on the left-back position. Okazaki, 29, spent the last four years in Germany with Stuttgart and Mainz. The Japanese striker scored 14 goals in 35 games last season for Mainz. He has 43 goals in 93 caps for the Japanese national team.

As long as they avoid a bad start and can add a replacement for Cambiasso, Leicester should be able to avoid the battle at the bottom of the table this season.

West Bromwich Albion (13th, 44 points)

West Bromwich were a middle team for pretty much the whole season. It’s a team that is a little too good to get drawn into the relegation battle, but not good enough to challenge for a spot in Europe. WBA has an ace up their sleeve in young striker Saido Berahino, 21, who scored 14 league goals last season.

Berahino will get a new playmate in form of Rickie Lambert. The veteran forward joins WBA after a disappointing season with Liverpool. Lambert, 33, is sort of a cult hero and WBA fans will be hoping that he can regain the form he showed with Southampton prior to joining Liverpool. WBA has also signed central defender James Chester from Hull City and winger James McClean from Wigan Athletic. Chester, 26, is a former Manchester United youth player that has spent the last for years with Hull City. McClean, 26, spent the last two seasons with Wigan in the Championship, but the Irish international has experience from the Premier League from his time at Sunderland.

Chester is a good pick up, especially when Jonas Olsson, 32, is starting to show signs of slowing down. WBA will most likely have another season where they finish between 10th and 15th as long as they keep Berahino.

West Ham United (12th, 47 points)

The Hammers got a spot in the Europa League qualifications despite finishing 12th in the league. The team was given a spot in the first qualifying round as a result of topping the Premier League’s Fair Play table. West Ham is through to the third qualification round after knocking out FC Lusitans from Portugal and Birkirkara FC from Malta. The first meeting with Romanian side Astra Giurgiu in the third round ended in a 2-2 draw, with the return leg in Romania being played on Aug. 6.

Croatian manager Slaven Bilic has taken over the Hammers, replacing Sam Allardyce. Bilic was the coach of the Croatian national team between 2006 – 2012 and is a very eccentric character on the sidelines during games. He recently left his job as manager of Turkish side Besiktas. Carl Jenkinson is returning for another loan spell from Arsenal, and the team has also signed two high-profile players in winger Dimitri Payet from Marseille and defender Angelo Ogbonna from Juventus. The team is rumored to be on the hunt for a striker after Enner Valencia is out with an injury.

Everton FC (11th, 47 points)

Before the start of last season, Everton were considered to be one of the teams competing for an Europa League spot. After finishing in 5th place in the 2013/2014 season, expectations were high on Everton, but they failed to cope with playing in the Premier League, the domestic cups and the Europa League.

The team has stayed fairly intact since last season, with central midfielder Tom Cleverley joining from Manchester United on a free transfer and winger Gerard Deulofeu joining from Barcelona for a fee of around $9 million. Deulofeu spent the 2013/2014 season on loan at Everton and fans will be delighted to see him back with the Toffees. Cleverley spent last season on loan at Aston Villa, and is a great pickup for free.

A lot of Everton’s success rests on the wide shoulders of striker Romelu Lukaku. The 22-year-old Belgian international joined Everton on a permanent deal before the start of last season after spending the previous season on loan at the club from Chelsea. He only managed to score 10 league goals last season compared to 15 goals the previous campaign, and if Everton is going to be able to get back in contention for a Europa League spot, Lukaku will have to score at least 15 goals this season.

Manager Roberto Martinez is entering his third season in charge at Goodison Park.
Check back tomorrow for Part 3 of the Premier League preview as we take a look at the teams that finished 10th to 6th.

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