Premier Previews: Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United

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FULHAM – Thomas McIlroy
Last season in a tweet
Clint Dempsey took centre stage after Zamora fell out with Jol. Fulham played attractive football and only GD separated them from Liverpool.

Positive changes
Mladen Petric could be one of the signings of the season. Fulham’s new striker has scored in every pre-season game. He looks like he has a lot more quality than the now departed Pavel Pogrebnyak, who faded after a bright start. The change in kit is also a welcome change, with the return of the traditional black shorts, after a season wearing all white. The lack of change of manager will also be positive after starting the previous three seasons with a new manager.

Negative changes
Danny Murphy leaving is a huge blow. He was hugely influential as a captain, and made the team tick with his passing. It was obvious Martin Jol wanted to try out options without him last year, but Fulham always looked a better player with him in the team. He also took nearly every set piece, and was probably the best penalty taker in the Premier League. If Fulham are to replicate their top-10 finish, Murphy’s replacement will need to be as good as him.

FFT's bet partners Coral have Fulham 1000/1 to win the league, 7/4 for a top 10 finish

Who to follow on Twitter
Sister of actress Frances Barber, Sarah Brookes (@sarahbrookes1) is the Communications Director at Craven Cottage. Usually the first to post the starting lineup on matchdays, she verifies whether or not Twitter player accounts are real, leading a notable crusade against a fake Damien Duff account. Her views on Made in Chelsea are spot on too: “If I accidentally stumble across Made in Chelsea, I get an overwhelming urge to drive down the Kings Road with catapult and bag of conkers.”

What to watch out for
Fulham have got a Category One youth academy, so expect a few more players to become involved in the first team before the end of the season, following Kerim Frei, Matthew Briggs and Alex Kacaniklic who all made the breakthrough last season. The biggest hope is Buomesca Tue Na Banga, better known as Mesca. Born in Guinea-Bissau but capped by Portugal at U17 level, the ex-Chelsea youngster has featured heavily for the first-team in pre-season, grabbing himself a couple of goals.
Thomas McIlroy (@thomasmcilroy) is a football writer and Craven Cottage season ticket holder
For webwide Fulham news, check FourFourTwo's Fulham news page

LIVERPOOL – Andy Murray
Last season in a tweet
The King is dead. Long live the King! It may have been doomed to failure, but /– Evragate aside – it was great while it lasted.

Positive changes
There’s nothing like a managerial change to prompt expectation reassessment. Without coming over all West Ham, new coach Brendan Rodgers’ possession obsession should see a return to ‘the Anfield Way’, albeit minus a John Barnes rap. Though the football was often good under Dalglish, Reds fans will hope the lack of cutting edge will be fixed by the signing of the brilliantly bearded Fabio Borini from Roma. It's also a major boost to see a new contract signed by Luis Suarez – Liverpool’s only world-class player now that Steven Gerrard's body precludes his totemic swashbuckling.

Negative change
Warrior Sports replacing Adidas’ efficient design on the players’ backs. It’s difficult to say which is worse: having a kit made by a company whose other clients include Major League Lacrosse side the Rochester Rattlers, the third strip’s sleeves being decked with gangsta tribal tattoos or a training top so orange it could be a product of a nuclear holocaust.

FFT's bet partners Coral have Liverpool 25/1 to win the league, 2/1 for a top-4 finish 

Who to follow on Twitter
Fully recharged after apparently suckling heavily from the Olympic t(w)eet, Scouse comedian John Bishop (@JohnBishop100) is worth a follow for Jamie Carragher news (they’re BFFs) and the odd spot of Manc-bashing. Such as, during the Olympics opening ceremony: “So many people in tracksuits – it’s like the Arndale Centre on Saturday afternoon.”

What to watch out for
Keen Darwinians take note, Liverpool is the place to go to witness evolution in action. Putting folicly challenged midfield scuttler Jay Spearing, vowel-phobe Mrtn Skrtl and Jar Jar Binks lookalike Andy Carroll in a line renders obsolete the wait for 24 November and The Guardian’s commemorative poster of the 154th anniversary of The Origin of Species. More seriously, this is a big season for Anfield’s wide players. Stewart Downing was poor last season and young Raheem Sterling has talent as big as his tongue is loose. Time for both to step up.
Andy Murray is a staff writer for Champions magazine
For webwide Liverpool news, check FourFourTwo's Liverpool news page

MANCHESTER CITY – James Bandenburg
Last season in a tweet
6-1 at Old Trafford, incredible football all season long and THAT goal. We could win the next 20 titles but nothing will ever top last season.

Positive changes
Mancini’s five-year contract is far more important than any additions to the playing squad. After breaking a 44-year losing streak the one thing we need is consistency and even though Chelsea will get closer this season, there’s enough hunger and strong leaders like Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Joe Hart to rein in the more eccentric characters in the dressing room.

Fans are up in arms over the lack of new signings but the owners have just committed £200m to the Etihad Campus. This project could usher in a period of global domination at a fraction of the cost of our fast-tracked success. That said, the new “zinfandel” away kit is worth a mention – it’s a beauty.

Negative changes
He justifiably became a figure of fun, but Garry Cook moving on at the end of 2011 left a huge gap that is yet to be filled at the club. Cook almost single-handedly shifted the counter-productive “typical City” conversation that held back the club and radiated enthusiasm and the big-club mentality required to challenge for silverware in today’s game. The title is as much down to him as anyone.

FFT's bet partners Coral have City 13/10 to win the league, 11/1 to also win the Champions League 

Who to follow on Twitter
@viewfromablue – not one of your Twitter comedians but a young City blogger who speaks an awful lot of sense. Eg: "David Pizarro has joined Fiorentina. Did his job for us. His cameo against Sunderland in the 3-3 is often overlooked, but changed that game."

What to watch out for
Toss-up between Denis Suarez and Marcos Lopes. Both have impressed in training and pre-season matches. Suarez is probably ready to be blooded into matches against the lesser sides in the Premier League and in the cups to give David Silva a rest. Lopes is probably another season away from featuring at all for the first team but is arguably the most exciting prospect currently in the youth set-up.
For webwide Man City news, check FourFourTwo's Man City news page

Last season in a tweet
Our worst squad in years up against City's best and yet it came to goal difference. Sucker punch but it was about time they won something.

Positive changes
Shinji Kagawa comes with a decent reputation and has looked exciting in pre-season, so hopefully he will inject a bit of attacking intent and class through the middle. Hopefully Danny Welbeck will keep improving and turn in to a homegrown hero and it would be nice to see Dimitar Berbatov actually get a few games if he's still at the club come September.

Negative changes
Off the pitch the situation has gone from bad to worse. The Glazers' ownership continues to cost us a fortune in interest and debt payments – and news that the IPO won't even pay off much of the debt but will instead see them pocket more money is predictable but depressing. We've flattered to deceive in the transfer market for a club that claims to be the biggest and richest in the world, with still no proper midfielder and a lack of cover in various positions.

FFT's bet partners Coral have United 11/5 to win the league, 11/10 to finish above Man City  

Who to follow on Twitter
If you want to know how much money we could be spending on a new Brazilian buffet section of the canteen for Anderson instead of on the debt – in addition to the odd well-timed gag – then @andersred is your man: “Six Glazers will each get $25m from #MUFC IPO.”

What to watch out for
Look for Fergie wheeling out the tombola for team selections and probably a new coloured protest scarf when they announce they're changing the name of Old Trafford to the Chevy Bowl. On the pitch, we will probably be there or thereabouts again – if we're not, look out for Nani, Wayne Rooney and more making noises about shuffling out the door.
Joe Cox (@TheRealJoeCox) is news editor for What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision magazine and
For webwide Man United news, check FourFourTwo's Man United news page

Arsenal, Villa, Chelsea & Everton
Fulham, Liverpool, Man City & Man United
Newcastle, Norwich, QPR & Reading

Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland & Swansea
Tottenham, West Brom, West Ham & Wigan

Championship • League One • League Two