Friday, 12 August 2011
The Premier League season 2011/12 is upon us!
First up is a discussion on the new Premier League season.
Manchester United are the defending champions but their closest rivals; Manchester City, will be pushing the Red Devils all the way. I wouldn't be surprised to them both finish in the top two spots. Nothing short of a title win will please the Citizen's owners after all the cash they have spent on the squad but I don't know if they have the consistency that Manchester United enjoy to win a Premier League title yet.
So what are my predictions for this upcoming season?
1. Manchester United - I think you would be crazy not to bet on the Red Devils retaining the title this year. They were the most consistent team last year and they got stronger over the summer with quality additions in Ashley Young and Phil Jones. You can't imagine that Wayne Rooney will have as bad a year as he did last season so he should be upping his goal tally this year. 'Chicharito' Hernandez had a breakout year and looked very impressive and when you have the Premier League's 2010/11 top goalscorer warming the bench (Berbatov), you know you have plenty of goals in the team.
2. Manchester City - The Citizens will be fighting with their Manchester rivals all season for the title. They do have a real shot at winning it too. However, with players such as Balotelli in the team (what a bitch he is), consistency will be hard to find. Their best player, Carlos Tevez, also wants to leave which doesn't help the situation up front. To remedy the situation, Mancini brought in Sergio Aguero who looks like a fantastic talent but he will need to hit the ground running if City are to get the better of Fergie's men.
3. Chelsea - Chelsea are getting old and I think that will show this season. They have a talented squad but I don't think they have the legs to win consistently over a full season that involves two domestic cups and the Champions' League as well. If Torres could put the ball in the net, they might have a shot at upsetting the Manchester clubs, but I don't see that happening.
4. Liverpool - Liverpool improved so much over the last two transfer windows and when they attack I don't think there is a better team in the Premier League. However at the back Liverpool are still quite weak. Carragher is 34 and will not be able to match the pace of the Premier League all season and Glen Johnson is a liability when defending. I can see 'goals condeded' being the achilles heel of this Liverpool squad although I do see them finding their way back into the top four at Arsenal's expense.
5. Arsenal - It is the same old issue for Arsenal. They need to spend money improving the squad but Wenger won't. He is an admirable man, sticking to principles that served him well in the past but with his EPL rivals spending upwards of 30 million on the odd player, Wenger needs to realise that the game has changed and, if he wants to win any titles again, he must flash the cash too. Gervinho looks a decent signing but has every chance of going the way of Chamakh and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is far too young to carry this Arsenal team to a trophy. They need a brand new defence and a goalkeeper ideally. I can see Arsenal finishing outside the top four for the first time in many years and a possible sacking for Wenger.
6. Tottenham Hotspur - Spurs did not strengthen enough over the summer and still lack a world class striker. Rafael Van Der Vaart will need to produce a special season and steer clear of injury if Tottenham are to find their way back into the Champions' League spots this year. This is the best chance Spurs have had in a long time to finish ahead of Arsenal but a lack of goals could cost them.
7. Everton - David Moyes is the best manager in the League after Ferguson and Wenger. He has kept Everton competitive on a budget that matches most of the teams that get promoted from the Championship. His side is well drilled and disciplined. If he had a bit of cash and a larger squad, we would see Everton fight for a Champions' League spot every year. If they could get off to a better start than usual then Everton could do better than 7th.
8. Aston Villa - Villa lost two of their best players in Young and Downing. However, they have a great player in Marc Albrighton coming through the youth system and they just signed talented winger Charles N'Zogbia from Wigan. With goalscoring machine Darren Bent up front and Shay Given in net, I think Villa will do fine this year.
9. Sunderland - Sunderland have made some fine purchases over the summer but Steve Bruce changes his squad too much by bringing in so many new players all the time. I think they have the potential to get a European spot but they lack the necessary consistency.
10. Bolton Wanderers - Bolton did well to get to the semi-final of the FA Cup last year and many thought they would outclass Stoke. While they did not manage a Cup Final appearance, Owen Coyle has managed to transform his side from a route one team to a much better footballing side. Although the team does still revolve around the physical play of Kevin Davies, they are a much more attractive side to watch these days.
11. West Bromwich Albion - Hodgson came into West Brom mid-way through last season and turned the Baggies' fortunes around. He shored up the leaky defence and kept West Brom playing the attractive football that makes them such a fun team to watch. If Odemwingie can repeat his goalscoring heroics of last year and Hodgson can keep his defence disciplined then I think we will be surprised at how well West Brom will do.
12. Fulham - Martin Jol has plenty of Premier League experience and Fulham have a decent team. They don't have enough going forward to challenge for a European spot but they are solid enough at the back to keep most Premier League teams quiet. Their home form has always been great and, if they could sort out their abysmal away form, Fulham could find themselves much higher than 12th.
13. Stoke City - I have never made it any secret that I do not like this team. They are an ugly team to watch and they look better suited to the Rugby pitch than a football one. However, Tony Pulis has managed to create a physical team that can beat anyone on their day, they just lack the quality to do it all the time. I would love to see them in the relegation spots this year but they will most likely bully their way to a mid-table finish once again.
14. Newcastle United - Last season was such a positive one for the Newcastle. They had a good team and a huge prospect in Andy Carroll. However, once again the internal issues at Newcastle have cost the team and angered the fans. In short Newcastle have sold off all their best players and been left with an average and largley unproven squad. If they stay up it will be a successful season for Pardew and the Toon Army.
15. Queens Park Rangers - QPR have finally made their return to the Premier League and I think they will do fairly well. They have a good squad and plenty of financial backing. If they manage to stay up this year, we could see QPR become a regular team in the EPL for many years. Taarabt is their main man and they will be looking to him to continue the excellent form that got QPR promoted.
16. Wolverhampton Wanderers - Wolves, like Wigan, pulled of a 'great escape' last year. However, in contrast to Wigna, Wolves went out and improved their squad. They should have enough to stay up but that doesn't mean it won't be a long and hard season for Mick McCarthy's men.
17. Norwich City - Norwich were going to be my choice ahead of Wigan to get relegated this season but then I realised that the newly promoted sides often run on a 'nothing to lose' kind of adrenaline that established EPL teams do not. I think that will be the only reason that Norwich stay up. In fact, I will predict right now that if they survive this year, they will be relegated next year.
18. Wigan Athletic - Wigan survived the drop last year, pulling off a 'great escape' but they didn't get any better over the summer. With the loss of N'Zogbia to Aston Villa, that could be the final nail in the Latics' coffin.
19. Swansea City - I like Swansea because they play football the right way. However, to survive in the Premier League you need more than just pretty football, you need a competitive and large squad and the Swans simply do not have that. The first Welsh team in the top flight of English football shouldn't be up their too long.
20. Blackburn Rovers - Blackburn have not strengthened enough over the summer to avoid a relegation battle this year. They nearly fell from the top flight last season and, after losing Phil Jones to Man Utd and possibly losing Chris Samba in the coming weeks, I think Blackburn will be relegated this year.
One more day then it all kicks off, I cannot wait!