Didn’t manage to get my second post up in time yesterday, so here’s a bumper run down of my predictions for the top 9 clubs this coming season in the Premier League. The names here probably won’t surprise – they’re the big dogs of English football, for most of which European qualification in some for or another is a minimum requirement. With the spuds kicking off the league in little over an hour, the excitement is mounting – let the footie commence!
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Alex McLeish
Birmingham were incredibly consistent last season, and a great run of form put them easily into the top half of the table. A fair deal of that was down to excellent performances from the defence, particularly Hart in goal. With England’s new #1 replaced by Ben Foster, you might think they’d leak a few more this season – I’m as yet unconvinced by him. The beanpole of Zigic up front should bring a few goals, and I think with the stability and nous that McLeish brings they’ll be safely midtable again.
8. Aston Villa
Last Season: 6th
Way to hit the self-destruct button Villa. O’Neill certainly had his faults, not least controlling the club’s spiralling wages – but for him to leave just days before the start of the season will damage the club’s chances significantly. Couple that to the fact that about to lose James Milner, one of Villa’s (and England’s) most consistent performers over the last 12 months and I see them slipping down the table and missing out on a Europa League spot. When Milner’s millions hit the bank account the new manager will have to act fast to cover what is already a fairly small squad. And who will that manager be? I’d like to see Alan Curbishley have another crack but I have a feeling Lerner might go patriotic and appoint Bob Bradley.
Last Season: 8th
Manager: David Moyes
Moving up a spot from last year, and into the Europa League placings are Everton. There’s been little change in their squad for 2010/2011 and that’s not through our lack of trying! Moyes is an astute man, and his squad has real quality in most areas of the pitch. Jermaine Beckford adds cover to a frontline that sometimes goes missing, but with Cahill, Pienaar, Arteta and Fellaini behind them all contributing they’ll get some strong results this year.
Last Season: 4th
Manager: Harry ‘Got A Twitch’ Redknapp
Ah. Our greatest rivals. I’m predicting them to go down two notches, and saying to the Spuds – enjoy your Champions League football – it may be the last you see of it for a while. Most of the rumours around transfers have been for ex-Gooners (Gallas, Hleb etc) and they’ve just been outspent by clubs all around them this summer. They’ve still got a strong side, and on their day they can, and probably will, get amongst the bigger teams and get some good results. Probably against us. Bastards.
Last Season: 7th
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Can Liverpool be any worse than last season? An abject term has seen the club definitely lose it’s ‘Big 4’ status, although to whom is another matter. With Benitez gone the amiable Roy Hodgson has come in, bringing with him Christian Poulsen to replace the Milan-bound Mascherano, and also Joe Cole who I’d have dearly loved to see grace the hallowed shirt of Arsenal instead. Two bigger coups for Hodgson are the re-commitment of Torres and Gerrard and with those two fit and on form, Liverpool will climb back up the table a bit, and probably hand out some hidings to teams who embarrassed them last time. Not quite enough for Champions League football though.
4. The Shit
Last Season: 2nd
Manager: Alex Ferguson
As you can see, I can’t type or say the name of this club. My youth was spent surrounded by shit fans, the club dominating English football at the time has left an indelible hatred. However, trying to look at their chances objectively I think they’ll go backwards this year. Although Hernandez looks a useful signing, they’ve not done enough to bolster that ageing midfield, and with Ferdinand out their defence is threadbare too. Upfront they obviously have the mercurial Rooney but at times last season he just didn’t get the support. Nani and Valencia are good, but not great,and don’t contribute enough goals. What’ll hurt shit fans the most though is to see the next team above them.
3. Manchester Citeh
Last Season: 5th
Manager: Roberto Mancini
The nouveau riche are coming! Manchester Citeh have spent this summer like money is going out of fashion. The players they have bought are very good; Yaya Toure, David Silva and new in today Mario Balotelli in particular grab your attention. With all these players inevitably comes problems – how do you make them gel, play together like a cohesive unit and stop them routinely chucking their toys out of the pram? I don’t think Mancini will be able to do it in time to make the team genuine title contenders this season, but with them taking more points of the big clubs with their big game players – it’ll make the top much closer. Comfortable Champions League qualification this season, with hopefully two gubbings of the Shit… who knows next season.
Last Season: 3rd
Manager: Arsene Wenger
So here we are. One step up the podium, yet just shy of the top prize. Why? I think we all know the reasons – we need a new keeper and some more bodies in the centre of our defence. Reasons to be cheerful – we look incredible going forward, goals will not be a problem yet again, Chamakh looks excellent and we’ve got Cesc Fabregas. Reasons we won’t hit the heights – same as always, we can’t defend set pieces, our players are physically a bit slight and prone to injuries, do we have the bottle for Bolton away on a wet February night? For me we’re better than last season – the players have one year more experience, Arshavin, Nasri and Van Persie are verging on world class and we’ve got some of the most exciting English youngsters out there. We have a real chance to do something special this year, and no-one’s really looking our way. Rise to the challenge Gooners – prove me wrong, make it the top step.
Last Season: 1st
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Still the team to beat. The one worrying aspect of the summer for Chelski fans was allowing Carvalho to leave, which leaves them short of some technique at the back. Cech isn’t the same keeper he was, Terry’s a little short of pace. However you look a bit further forward and that’s where Chelsea’s real damage lies. A superb midfield, bolstered by the return of Essien will again provide plenty of ammunition for the League’s best striker (and yes, that includes Rooney) in Drogba. If we can beat them at home and take points of them away, that could decide it. However, the last few seasons haven’t gone that way. The chinks are starting to show though, the team were cack in pre-season and were well beaten by the Shit in the Charity Shield. It’s going to be intense.
So there we have it. My predictions for the league this year. Agree? Want to shout at me for putting the Gooners second? Then fire away – the comments section is below.