Premier Previews: Newcastle, Norwich, QPR, Reading

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There's no getting away from it: the Premier League starts this weekend. We've asked knowledgeable onlookers about the participants' chances.

NEWCASTLE – Kristan Heneage
Last season in a tweet
Double Demba brings the goals as Hatem Ben Arfa sprinkles some magic and European qualification is achieved.

Positive changes
Thus far, it has to be Gael Bigirimana; described as ‘Tiote Lite’, he isn’t quite as combative as Mr T, but his distribution has looked calm and assured. Off the pitch he includes ‘reading his bible’ as a hobby – perhaps he could room with Nile Ranger and bring forth an intervention.

Negative changes
The lack of arrivals is a shame. Last summer much of the business was done by this point, so hopefully they can quickly rectify the situation and get some depth to the squad. Special mention to Leon Best & Peter Lovenkrands who both departed the club – both stand-up guys who helped the club when needed.

FFT's bet partners Coral have Newcastle 125/1 to win the league, 18/1 for a top-four finish 

Who to follow on Twitter
From a fan perspective, (@leazesterrace) – not just for ‘Blatter Watch’: it's a great website which does some fantastic tactical breakdowns of Newcastle fixtures. Seeing as Gazza and Jimmy Nail don’t have Twitter, I’ll go for the Football Ramble’s Pete Donaldson (@PeteDonaldson). A DJ by day and hilarious drunk by night, he'll make you laugh.

What to watch out for
Whoever the club sign, really. Still no movement, but I don’t expect that to be the same come September. Of the youngsters, I think Mehdi Abeid could have a bright season. A deep-lying midfielder, he’s looked really tidy in pre-season and he scored a few stunners for the reserves last season.
Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) is a freelance sports writer who writes for FFT and others. 
For webwide Newcastle news, check FourFourTwo's Newcastle news page

NORWICH – Holtamania
Last season in a tweet
A triumph, achieving more than the sum of our parts, led by the critic-confounding Holt and unheralded, written off lower-league stars.

Positive changes
Robert Snodgrass has finally joined, giving us three quarters of Leeds’ League One/Championship midfield from a couple of years ago. In fairness, Norwich does have some decent nightlife. He joins an exciting midfield with plenty of talent and technique. And while it is the opposite of change, keeping key players like Holt, Andrew Surman, Russell Martin and John Ruddy after Paul Lambert’s departure is pleasing – shows we are about more than one man.

Negative changes
The aforementioned departure of Sir Paul Lambert. The method may have left a sour taste for some but it was exactly how he joined us. He goes having left a hell of a legacy to live up to, and Chris Hughton will do well to get close to the sort of enigmatic, erudite press conferences to which we became so accustomed. Is yet to claim that the fans are brilliant, Holty’s brilliant, we’re all brilliant, or that the lads need a hand. Or to look at a journalist like he wants to crush his windpipe, so Stuart Jarrold will enjoy coming back. We’ve also let go a couple of defenders (Zak Whitbread to Leicester and Daniel Ayala on loan to Forest) that a lot of fans were keen on, even though they spent more time in plaster than green and yellow.

FFT's bet partners Coral have Norwich 5000/1 to win the league, 6/4 for relegation  

Who to follow on Twitter
Darren Huckerby (@hucks6dh6) is excellent – always honest, always ready to wind up opposition fans. Andrew Harrison's @SUTREcanaryblog is one of the more interesting ones out there, focusing on our history. For general news and insight, @BethnalYG is as good as they come. And me, obviously.

What to watch out for
Jonny Howson will be in the England squad by the end of the season. He’s not unheralded to anyone who’s watched Leeds lately or us at the end of last season, but he’s better than Joe Allen at a fraction of the price.
Matt Wallace is a full-time philosopher and part-time blogger, editing Norwich blog Holtamania. 
For webwide Norwich news, check FourFourTwo's Norwich news page

Last season in a tweet

A roller-coaster of a season, that was too close for comfort, but with a final day that will never be forgotten.

Positive changes
The change for the club as a whole going into this season is staggering, and hugely positive. A year ago, Neil Warnock was shopping in the basement basket thanks to Flavio Briatore's reluctance to release funds. It meant we were left with players such as Danny Gabbidon and Bruno Perone and preparng for a Premier League campaign with a tour of Cornwall. Twelve months on, Mark Hughes' summer shopping has included Ji Sung Park, Fabio and Junior Hoilett and we are expanding the 'brand' across Asia in our own plane named after a legendary captain. Never has optimism been higher going into a season; the majority of fans think a top half-finish is well within the club's grasp.

Negative changes
For once at Loftus Road, we head into a new season with very little negativity surrounding the club. Season tickets prices have been frozen (although remain high due to the ground's low capacity), fans are happy with the manager and owners, and the flurry of new signings have included some of the biggest names seen in W12 for many a decade. Some of the buys are a tad on the older side, and there is still concern that the team lack a real leader at the back to help out Clint Hill, but Loftus Road has generally been a happy place this summer. The elephant in the room remains Joey Barton – talking of whom...

FFT's bet partners Coral have QPR 1500/1 to win the league, Adel Taarabt 6/1 to be QPR's top scorer   

Who to follow on Twitter
The easy answer is @Joey7Barton. Like him or not – and among QPR fans the feeling is probably more negative – he's hard to ignore, especially on his favourite medium of Twitter. If you prefer to follow someone who doesn't hashtag the word helmet, chairman @tonyfernandes is very accessible, even announcing via Twitter that Jamie Mackie isn't for sale. For news @Westlondonsport is handy, while views from @LoftforWords are always worth a look.

What to watch out for
Samba Diakite. On loan last season, he looked the roughest of diamonds and his tackling was little short of kamikaze. However, he matured as the season went on and although he's far from the finished product, expect him to be in the running for the club's player of the season now he's signed permanently. Watch out for his short shorts too – the 1980s revisited.
Ash Rose (@Ashrose83) is editor of @KiCKmagazine and author of The QPR Miscellany
For webwide QPR news, check FourFourTwo's QPR news page

READING – Alistair Hendrie
Last season in a tweet

The Royals struggled initially but clinched the title thanks to emphatic victories over West Ham and Southampton late on.

Positive changes
Jem Karacan’s return to full training will serve as a huge boost to the Berkshire club. The engine at the heart of Reading’s midfield, Karacan dazzled with his boundless energy and tenacity before breaking his ankle against Leeds in April. He then wrote himself into Reading folklore by blubbing uncontrollably in front of journalists after missing his side’s crucial promotion run-in. In terms of summer business, Mathieu Manset’s move to Swiss side FC Sion is a step in the right direction for both parties.

Negative changes
Promotion, coupled with sizable Russian investment, could provide very rosy prospects indeed. However, the negative side of seven new signings thus far could be a deteriorating level of balance to the squad. The likes of Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie and Chris Gunter are promising signings, of course, but Reading’s squad is starting to look increasingly bloated. Ominously, Reading have a history of expensive yet ultimately disappointing signings – and don’t even mention Greg Halford’s time in the hoops.

FFT's bet partners Coral have Reading 5000/1 to win the league, 21/10 to finish above Southampton & West Ham    

Who to follow on Twitter
Jason Roberts (@JasonRoberts30). Personable, insightful, and generous with fans, Roberts is one of the club’s most active and engaging tweeters. “One of the worst things about Football is Teammates leaving so frequently...we can always remember what we achieved together #Champions”

Who to watch out for
Super-sub Adam Le Fondre. Miraculously enough, Le Fondre netted nine times last season after coming off of the bench. Indeed, the Royals have made a habit of somehow snatching victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to late goals from substitutes. Le Fondre, a goalscorer of astronomical proportions at lower-league level, has enjoyed a dizzying rise to the Premier League after slamming home 54 goals in 96 games for Rotherham. 
Alistair Hendrie (@allyh84) is a sports journalist for FFT and others.
For webwide Reading news, check FourFourTwo's Reading 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