The Aviva Premiership 2012/13 – Ten of the best summer signings

The start of the new Aviva Premiership season is almost upon us and it barely seems any time at all since Harlequins were lifting the trophy at Twickenham to be crowned the new champions of England. The controversy over promotion and relegation involving London Welsh has taken the edge off pre-season somewhat, although everything has been resolved now in favour of the newly promoted club.

With the first round of fixtures approaching fast, fans of the respective 12 teams can start to form their expectations for the season and dream of what is to come. Quins proved last season it’s possible to break through the stranglehold the big teams enjoy on the competition and with some quality additions, you’d expect a few challenges from elsewhere across the league. We take a look at ten summer signings by Premiership sides that should take the division by storm:

Andrew Strauss – The best 10 moments

England’s rise in Test cricket has been a fantastic team effort all around, with many players playing a massive part in achieving the number one status before the South Africans cruelly deposed them of their title on home turf. The writing was on the wall for captain Andrew Strauss after the 2-0 defeat to the Proteas following a run of poor form and the incident regarding Kevin Pietersen and this ultimately persuaded the skipper it was time to go.

Strauss has led England to some great victories during his time in charge and marched his team out on 50 occasions of his 100 hundred tests. Winning 24 of those games in charge, he is second only to Michael Vaughan as England’s most successful captain and thanks to his 7,037 runs at an average of 40.91, Strauss will be remembered as one of the best servants English cricket has ever seen. The captaincy will now pass to Alistair Cook and to remember his predecessor, we take a look back at ten of Straussy’s greatest England moments:

The Satirical Premier League Season…August

How the first month of the Premier League should have gone…

August

  •  Having sold Robin Van Persie to Manchester United, Arsenal have announced an official end to their partnership with Manchester City as their official feeder club. City’s demand for first refusal on all the Gunners’ players was rejected after Arsenal were only offered a picture of the Premier League trophy to remind them what it looks like.
  •  Meanwhile, the Gunners had to undergo a hasty rebranding of the club’s identity after Van Persie’s exit. They had planned to rename the team ‘The Robin Van Persie XI’ following his one-man efforts last season. Although Arsene Wenger stopped short of admitting that Arsenal would have only taken to the pitch with Van Persie on the pitch for the new season, he did admit his departure left him with 11 holes to fill in the team.
  •  Despite Manchester City winning the Community Shield against Chelsea by three goals to two, John Terry is spotted wrestling the trophy off skipper Vincent Kompany in full City kit, including shin pads. As Kompany goes to raise the trophy aloft, Terry nips in, grabs it out of his hands and raises it triumphantly to the whole stadium before embarking on a lap of honour with all the City players chasing him.
  •  Wigan manager Roberto Martinez reunites former England front pair Michael Owen and Emile Heskey in his desperation for new signings. The move works well in the first game against Chelsea as Owen grabs a double from two Heskey knock downs, but Big Emile sets a few unwanted Premiership records having been caught offside a record 46 times and hit the corner flag with 7 stray shots.
  • Everton manager David Moyes gets annoyed with the press after his team remain unbeaten during August thanks to Moyes deploying the 4-6-0 formation that Spain used in the Euros. After newspapers congratulated the Scot on copying Vicente Del Bosque’s tactics, Moyes loses his temper, replying that he hasn’t played or even bought a capable striker for the best part of six years now and no one ever gave him any recognition for that.
  •  Chelsea have had to refund their fans who watched their first home game of the season with Reading. Boss Roberto Di Matteo forgot that in the Premier League, the game is decided after 90 minutes and not on penalties. This meant his tactic of placing all 11 men on the line and allowing Reading to have the ball all game didn’t work and the Blues were booed off by a disgruntled Stamford Bridge crowd.
  • Luis Suarez is in trouble with the FA again after running up to the referee and yelling ‘Bellend’ in his face 15 times. Suarez pleaded his innocence when questioned by the authorities, explaining that in Uruguay, ‘bellenda’ was a slang term they used for corner and that he thought Liverpool had won a corner. However, he couldn’t explain the jerking movements he made with his hand in the nether regions of his waist, simply starting to say ‘In my country, it means…’ before stopping and accepting his punishment.

The Coin Toss Premier League Predictions – Results

The second weekend of Premier League football brought more goals and drama, unless you were watching Arsenal’s £38m signings fail to get off the mark. Everton surprised everyone with their victory over Man United in their opening game, especially given their reputation as perennial slow-starters, but it is clear that David Moyes’ decision to begin pre-season training early is paying dividends, as the Toffees cruised to a 3-1 win at Villa Park. Southampton failed to show the same fight that they did against Man City last week as they slumped to defeat at home to Wigan, and the postponement of the Sunderland-Reading game had the media blaming Sunderland’s management while the rest of us were bemoaning another woeful English summer. Tony Parr will be sticking to the day job after picking up a meagre four points this week, but Tom Mordey will be soldiering on despite racking up just five points. Finally, Matt Birchall reached eight points, bringing our two in-house pundits level on average after two weeks.

Predictions

Result

Tony Parr

Tom Mordey

Matt Birchall

Swansea v West Ham

3-0

3-1

1-1

2-0

Aston Villa v Everton

1-3

0-1

0-0

1-1

Man United v Fulham

3-2

3-1

3-1

3-0

Norwich v QPR

1-1

2-2

2-0

0-0

Southampton v Wigan

0-2

2-0

2-2

2-1

Sunderland v Reading

P-P

1-1

2-0

0-1

Tottenham v West Brom

1-1

2-1

2-1

1-0

Chelsea v Newcastle

2-0

2-2

2-0

3-1

Stoke v Arsenal

0-0

1-2

1-1

0-1

Liverpool v Man City

2-2

1-3

1-3

2-2

A correct result is worth ONE point, a correct score is worth THREE points.

Predictor Score
Tom Mordey 6.5*
Matt Birchall 6.5*
Tony Parr 4

*Tom Mordey and Matt Birchall’s scores are averages for the season.

Ten Things the Premier League taught us this week…

We bring you the ten things the Premier League taught us this week as round two gets underway:

1. Arsenal desperately need a goal scorer. Two 0-0 draws in a row isn’t exactly a crisis, but the murmurs of discontent are slowly starting to come to the surface again at the Emirates.

2. Their North London rivals aren’t faring too much better either. AVB needs to draw a line under the Luka Modric saga, invest in his Tottenham side and get their campaign underway.

3. Eden Hazard is proving those doubters wrong pretty quickly. Looked superb again against Newcastle and seems like he might be the man to get the best out of Fernando Torres as well.

4. Leaving Wayne Rooney on the bench was a big statement of intent from Sir Alex Ferguson. Now he’s injured, the talisman needs to work hard and prove he’s still number one at Old Trafford.

5. For such traditionally bad starters, David Moyes’s men seemed to have discovered a new brand of Weetabix. Sensational from the Toffees and in Marouane Fellaini, they have the star performer of the season so far.

6. Michael Laudrup’s boys are certainly raising a few eyebrows at the top of the Premier League. His brand of football is even more eye-catching than Brendan Rodgers.

7. Arise Raheem Sterling. Liverpool have unleashed their new superstar on the Premier League and to what effect! The hype surrounding the 17-year-old will be enormous now, but Rodgers needs to manage him effectively to help him develop.

8. Manchester City are seemingly incapable of playing out a boring game. The defence is at sixes and sevens and Mancini needs to strengthen his squad before the deadline shuts. Carlos Tevez looks back on his game though.

9. Wigan have made a bright start to the season and for once in their history, two of their strikers scored in the same game! Perhaps Martinez and his men could avoid the perennial ‘must win all our games in the last three months to survive’ routine this time around.

10. Norwich are looking likely candidates for the second syndrome award under Chris Hughton. Short on quality, this year could be a long haul for them.

The Coin Toss Premier League Predictions

This week Tom Mordey and I are joined by Blackpool’s maverick matchday announcer Tony Parr in a three-way battle to be crowned The Coin Toss football expert of the week. Tony Parr is Blackpool born and bred and is the perfect foil to a side managed by Ian Holloway. At the Championship play-off Final back in May 2010, Tony thoughtfully took the time in his pre-match announcements to give a “big thanks to Billy Davies for getting his Nottingham Forest team to roll over and let us tickle their tummies four times this season” in reference to Blackpool’s 100% record against the Reds that season, including a 6-4 aggregate victory in the playoff semi-final.

Anyone who welcomes Norwich City fans to Bloomfield Road with Delia’s own cry of “let’s be having you” is alright in our book, but whether he can master the noble art of predicting football results remains to be seen.

Predictions

Tony Parr

Tom Mordey

Matt Birchall

Swansea v West Ham

3-1

1-1

2-0

Aston Villa v Everton

0-1

0-0

1-1

Man United v Fulham

3-1

3-1

3-0

Norwich v QPR

2-2

2-0

0-0

Southampton v Wigan

2-0

2-2

2-1

Sunderland v Reading

1-1

2-0

0-1

Tottenham v West Brom

2-1

2-1

1-0

Chelsea v Newcastle

2-2

2-0

3-1

Stoke v Arsenal

1-2

1-1

0-1

Liverpool v Man City

1-3

1-3

2-2

A correct result is worth ONE point, a correct score is worth THREE points.

The Magnificent Seven – Arsenal to Barcelona

We talk about Arsenal being Manchester City’s feeder club having sold them Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor in recent years, but Barcelona are the real vultures that hover over the Emirates. After signing Alex Song for £15 million, the Catalan giants have now purchased seven players off the Gunners since Arsene Wenger’s arrival at the club back in 1996.

That statement suggests two things. One, it’s a testament to Wenger’s transfer policy in bringing in young, unproven players and converting them into superstars during their time with the club before he sells them on at the right price. Two, it suggests that Arsenal have never been big enough to compete with Europe’s best and once a genuine quality player does appear on the scene, the Gunners are unable to fend off interest from bigger clubs. We take a look at the seven players who made the switch to the Nou Camp and see how they fared: