Our return to the Premier League under the new Leadership of Drumaville with Roy Keane at the wheel has finally arrived. Are we heading for crash and burn again or will it be plain sailing this time?
They were odds on favourites this time last season having added Shevchenko and Ballack to their ranks, but it didn’t go according to plan. Mourinho seems intent on reverting back to the successful 4-3-3, which will help, and lets not forget they lost Terry and Cech for significant amounts of last season and they make a big difference. Crown to be regained.
2nd Man Utd
They were great to watch last season and deserved the title, but they seemed to have injury luck on their side for large parts. Scholes and Giggs are in their twilight years now, and we don’t know yet whether Nani and Anderson will be ready for it. Think Chelsea’ll pip them this time around though.
Talked up again as ready for a title challenge, but once again they are entering a season with questions about who will play where and in what formation as Benitez continues to meddle and seemingly not know which are the strongest partnerships for the long haul. Torres may need time to adapt and just where will Ryan Babble fit in? Third place again
Many people seem to be thinking that Spurs might oust their North London neighbours from the top 4 but not for me. Think Arsenal will improve and pressure Liverpool, but maybe fall short of 3rd place. Henry gone can help the likes of Van Persie (top goalscorer bet for bet) shine in the limelight and the younger players will continue to flourish.
The most hyped side out of the “Big Four” at present with all the questions about whether they are going to make it into the top four this season. Added some good players such as Darren Bent but you cannot play all of your strikers, and still think they are short of enough to break the monopoly so fifth again based on a solid home record again.
Sixth position looks very much like a place up for grabs to be honest with numerous sides having a good claim. I’ll plump for Pompey though (despite my dislike for them and Redknapp) as they have added quality in all the right areas and likely to continue there strong home form which includes a good recent record against the big four sides.
7th Blackburn Rovers
Probably the final UEFA Spot up for grabs and think it will be tight between around 4 or 5 clubs to be honest, but Mark Hughes has put together a very solid unit. They won’t entertain, but they’ll get points, especially with Benni McCarthy up front to get their goals, although an injury to him could be disastrous.
In a similar vein to Blackburn, David Moyes has build a tough side to beat with the odd sparkling of quality in Mikel Arteta along with the pace and finishing of Andy Johnson and Tim Cahill. It will be another solid season without startling anybody.
9th Barcode Filth
Can I really predict a top ten finish for this horrible lot?
Heart tells me they will fight relegation, but my head says that Fat Sam will get them solid and tough to beat like the above two as he did with Bolton. Hopefully it will be dull football though and will have the locals moaning about it.
10th West Ham
As much as I feel that they have thrown some crazy money and wages at certain players, the fact is Curbishley will have a good set of players to work with and they have pace in the side. Defence still doesn’t look the strength.
11th Man City
Similar to West Ham, I think Sven has thrown money like confetti at some players, and they are a side with the potential for it to go badly wrong if players don’t settle quickly. But for Sven’s England failings as England boss though he does know how to get results.
So at last here we are. Sitting “down in twelve” place. For me this would be more than enough in our first season back and a good stepping-stone to build on. Keane is building a good team with goals not being just the job of the front two (last season the top 3 goalscorers only counted for 37% of our goals – the third lowest % in the division). Home has to become a fortress, but think a few nice surprises on the road may also be seen with quick, incisive counter attacking on show.
13th Aston Villa
To be honest, I’ve toyed with placing Villa far lower than this. I’m just not convinced about the pedigree of Martin O’Neill sides. They lack the bit extra that is needed in the Premiership, but at the same time they could be matched with Blackburn and Everton in style. Carew has a history of injury problems and would be a big miss and defence still looks suspect. Could be a surprise relegation battling side.
Won’t crash and burn like some are predicting, but will struggle to match last season’s exploits I feel. They will still play well as a side and get some good results, but won’t do as well on the road this time around as teams won’t take them for granted this time.
I’m with plenty of others here in expecting Bolton to struggle with the loss of Fat Sam and being replaced with Podgy Sam. Pre season has seen them try a different formation and style, which could be their downfall plus an ageing back line.
The jury is still out on Lawrie Sanchez at the moment. He performed minor miracles with the Northern Ireland squad, which was limited, but it’s a different matter planning for games week in week out at Premiership level. Fulham flirted with relegation last season, and not convinced that the changes made are enough to prevent them flirting again.
Steve Bruce has been given the funds once again to try and bring some level of success to Birmingham, but the simple fact is he has shown in the past that he can still get them to struggle despite the money available and got them relegated with a lot of players with good reputations. Think Bruce is limited in his managerial abilities and hence they will struggle.
Gareth Southgate is already starting to remind me of Steve Bruce after only one season (tactically and charisma wise!). A team over reliant on the front two, one of which has gone and the other appears restless. When your third top goalscorer was only on 2 goals then there’s a problem for me. If they don’t get enough points early on then it’s going to be tough and I can see them being relegated.
I don’t expect Derby to be the rollover that many predict as Billy Davies certainly knows how to get sides fighting tooth and nail for every single point, and they won’t be stuck at the bottom all season long but come the end I think they’ll not have enough to stay up.
Paul Jewell worked wonders with Wigan and they have advanced significantly. They’ve appointed the number 2 though and he’s failed before following Jewell and with the likes of Bramble in defence they’re in for a long hard season surely? Relegation beckons.