Premier League 12/13 Season Previews

A constant feature of the 11/12 Premier League season was that of managers and teams stubbornly sticking to strongly held footballing principles, often in the face of fierce public pressure to the contrary.

New managers to the league had mixed success with familiar systems. Newly promoted Swansea impressed with Brendan Rodgers’ possession based style of play, while Paul Lambert continued his habit of tactical tinkering to comfortably guide Norwich to mid-table safety. In stark contrast, Andre Villas-Boas arrived at Chelsea with a prodigious reputation for high-tempo attacking football but failed to adapt to the squad he inherited and was dismissed in March.

The established managers in the league also faced questions. Despite dragging a poor Manchester United side to within seconds of the title, Sir Alex Ferguson never seemed to find the right balance in his preferred two-man central midfield and struggled against athletic sides such as Newcastle and Bilbao (no pun intended). Arsene Wenger continues to rely on the brilliance of Robin Van Persie at the head of his Arsenal side. At Tottenham Harry Redknapp’s commitment to attacking football resulted in a late season collapse that may have ultimately cost him his job. Even Roberto Mancini had to contend with accusations of conservatism as he led Manchester City to their first championship in forty-four years.

Ahead of the new campaign, many of these challenges continue as managers seek to strike the right balance between playing a desired style whilst adapting to the players at their disposal. New managerial appointments add a further level of intrigue. Will Villas-Boas have more success with Spurs than he did at Chelsea? Can Rodgers impose his style on a stagnant Liverpool team, and will his successor at Swansea, Michael Laudrup, look to continue with their patient, possession-based approach? What formation, if any, will Lambert settle on at Aston Villa?

So, perhaps more than ever before, the main questions ahead of the new Premier League season focus not on individual players, nor necessarily on who can challenge for honours, but how managers will get their teams to play. With that in mind, here are my club-by-club previews of the 12/13 season:

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