Evertonians all: Mark Taylor, holding his boy Sonny, is also pictured with, on the right, his dad Robert “Tate” Taylor and, in the center, Liverpool native and Sunnyside resident John Sweeney.
Arsenal Scott Silver, Los Angeles native, Belfast resident
Arsenal were the best team the second half of last season. They kept the throttle down, easily winning the FA Cup, and breezing through their pre-season campaign, including winning against Chelsea to win the Community Shield. Everybody is healthy and ready to make a serious run for the League title. The only thing stopping them will be dropped points in the first month of the season. If they take the points they deserve, they should be in contention next spring.
Everton Mark Taylor, painter, originally from the city of Liverpool (and married to a Connemara native)
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To say last year was a disappointment is a huge understatement. The whole season was a damp squid as far as Everton were concerned.
If we can keep the same team and add a few new players, with no distractions (Thursday-night Europa games last season) and a settled pre-season.I think we could have a pretty good year. That is a big if considering the transfer window is open for the first few weeks of the season. In the first eight games we play most of the top teams, as well as a game against Liverpool so a good start is essential. A bad start and the pressure will really be on Martinez.
Huge year for Barkley — he needs to really kick on this season. John Stones will be a huge asset if he is still there. I would think anywhere above 8th a success, given the amount of money other teams have spent.
Liverpool again have spent huge money, yet I don’t see them finishing any higher than last year. I think Rodgers scouts his players from the back of the Daily Mail or buys whoever Southampton has available. The top four will be the same, while there isn’t much difference between the rest – so it will be exciting. Chelsea look good for the title, but Arsenal could be the team to challenge them.
Liverpool Stephen Boland, Longford native, UPS worker
Brendan Rodgers is under a lot of pressure. He has until Christmas, but a lot will be decided in the first few difficult games. The players he’s brought in – Christian Benteke from Aston Villa and the Brazilian Robert Firmino – they’re good buys. He’s gotten his wish-list. The team looks good on paper, but it looked good on paper last season and it didn’t work out as planned [6th place]. It all depends on how these guys gel together. But I do believe we’ll be in contention for a top-four place and a CL place in 2016/17. There are five big teams and four into five doesn’t go.
Manchester United Ray O’Hanlon: editor, Irish Echo, a United fan since 1965
Old Trafford in the last few weeks has more resembled a bus or train station with all the comings and goings. Top teams like United are both blessed and cursed with the means to radically alter a team in the off season, and the way things are shaping up it looks like the United of the 2015-16 season will be sporting a very new look.
So what will be the result? Obviously the expectation is that under Louis Van Gaal – now in his second season – the Red Devils will be challenging for the Premiership and at least competing for a top four slot and entry again to the European Championship. This is a reasonable expectation, but given what has occurred in recent years – that being big buys not living up to the hype – we won’t really know what United are capable of until the season is at least three or four games old. So caution optimism is order of the day. Hardly a war cry but perhaps the wiser one
Newcastle United John Spinks: visual artist, born in County Clare and raised in Newcastle
Season-ticket purchases have been slow. Life-long ticket holders are not renewing. There’s a massive gulf between the club ownership and the passionate culture that is North East football. But Steve McClaren’s resume shows him to be a pragmatic manager.
“We would be happy with a 10th place finish and perhaps a good Cup run” said Ray Finnigan, ex-player and lifelong fan said, and he speaks for many.
A ripple of optimism at the new duo from Anderlecht, Geri Wijnaldum, Dutch midfielder and 20-year old Serbian Alek Mitrovic. The latter wants to be the new Shearer. He’s a swashbuckler (a “warrior” McClaren calls him ) with a Duncan Ferguson approach.
I’m hoping Sissoko doesn’t get lured away, although last season he tended to play his best games when he was in the transfer shop window. Questionable allegiance but great ability when he’s in the mood. We need to beat Sunderland twice to restore credibility.
If it was all about tattoos and haircuts we’d be in the top six!
Tottenham Hotspur Rosie Schaap, a native New Yorker, writes the “Drinks” column for the New York Times Magazine
Who are these people? They look familiar, but spectral, like not-quite-fully-formed figures in a fairly dull dream. Wait: I didn’t mean you, Harry Kane. Nor you, Christian Eriksen. And most certainly not you, Hugo Lloris. You three, I recognize. And I give thanks that you’ve not yet abandoned ship. Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Dembele, you’re coming into focus. Alright, you’ve had your moments.
So really: Who are you, anyway, Tottenham Hotspur? That’s the big existential question on my mind as the season begins. You’ve got some real talent, but it just didn’t quite cohere last season. Excitement and joy were in short supply. Except, you know, that time you thrashed Chelsea.
Farewell, Capoue and Holtby, Kaboul and Paulinho. Vlad, we hardly knew ye.
Alderweireld, welcome; can I please call you Toby?
I can’t quite figure out exactly what this team is about, but it’s not keeping me awake at night. I’ve felt gloomier at the beginning of seasons past. At least our manager hasn’t been sacked. I’m not worried (except about Lloris’s wrist). In truth, I feel a somewhat liberating sense of equanimity. What will happen, will happen. I just have no idea what that might be. Zen. That’s what I’m feeling here. I’m okay, Spurs, and so are you. Just be. Let things take their course. And if you feel like scoring some goals, that’d be terrific. Top four finish, for sure.
West Ham United Joe Hurley, a New York-based singer-songwriter originally from London.
We’ve got an historic and emotionally charged year ahead of us at West Ham – our last ever season at the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park, our home, heart and soul, of more than a century. We need to honor our hallowed turf and history with a proper East End send-off – one worthy of all the great West Ham legends and sparkling football that have graced Upton Park down the years. At a sold-out Boleyn with the fans in full-song, an electric, intimidating atmosphere harking back to the ‘70s heyday would be fantastic. With the players inspired to lift their game and turn on the style, I expect us to win most of our home matches. Certainly the ones against Chelsea, Spurs, and Arsenal. That’ll do.
With new manager Slaven Bilic, an ex-Hammer well-versed in the “West Ham way,” we’re looking again to our rich tradition of free-flowing, attacking football. Some quality new signings look superb, particularly Dimitri Payet, who’s all flair and vision. Bringing back West Ham legend Julian Dicks, as first team coach, was a brilliant decision.
I reckon were looking at a fairly comfortable mid-table finish, at least. Challenging for European spot, hopefully.
And the FA Cup… I’ve got a very good feeling. Sadly, I always do.
West Ham’s last ever match at Upton Park is May 7 vs. Swansea. We’ll all be singing “Bubbles” for the final time — the last ringing choruses will echo and chime round the stadium, forever in our hearts, round the East End… and on to Stratford.
“6 foot 2, Eyes of blue, Billy Bonds is after you, ahlalala lalalala la….”
Edited by Peter McDermott