2007-2008 Premiership Predictions

August 1 2007

1st. Manchester United

Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson and (legal wrangle pending) Carlos Tevez will give United strength in depth and options in attack, both of which were missing last season. Ferguson’s biggest problem will be managing such a talented squad. Injury to Louis Saha will leave the team bereft of a traditional attacking spearhead, but United have too much quality in midfield to be denied.

2nd. Chelsea

The promised return of the counter-attacking 4-3-3 formation that brought Chelsea their first two Premiership titles could make goals, and subsequently victories, easier to come by. Much rests on the Stamford Bridge hierarchy avoiding the in-fighting and speculation that plagued them last season. New signings have added cover, but not much more, and the success of the 4-3-3 will depend largely on Joe Cole’s fitness, Florent Malouda’s ability to adapt to the Premiership and Andriy Shevchenko not kicking up too much of a fuss about sitting on the bench. Will suffer during the African Nations Cup.

3rd. Liverpool

If Fernando Torres hits the ground running, Liverpool could well prove unstoppable. If he struggles, important early-season momentum might be lost. Benitez has made some bold acquisitions, but he will have to get the balance of the team right quickly. Too much tinkering, and the Anfield faithful might be left ruing another false dawn.

4th. Tottenham Hotspur

Did well to recover from a slow start last time around. Ambitious signings show a commendable dedication to young talent. The signing of Darren Bent means they now possess the strongest set of strikers in the country, but they must stiffen up at the back if they are to force their way amongst the hallowed ‘big four’. Ledley King’s fitness and Paul Robinson’s confidence will be crucial.

5th. Arsenal

Last season’s glorious Carling Cup run suggested that Arsenal had the strongest squad in the league, but the departures of David Dein, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg have cast a cloud over that memory. The talent is undeniably there, but Arsenal’s youngsters will have to learn quickly if they want to avoid the ignominy of yielding the North London initiative to Spurs. Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie will feel the pressure of expectation more than most.

6th. Portsmouth

Have spent big and signed fairly well. There is no guarantee that David Nugent will score goals in the Premiership, but Harry Redknapp’s large squad boasts a wealth of striking options. Sylvain Distin and Sol Campbell looks like a formidable pairing at centre half. Last season’s 9th placed finish owed much to formidable home form, but Pompey will need to pick up more points on the road if they’re to sustain a serious European challenge.

7th. West Ham United

Another of the league’s big spenders. Although most fans would gleefully see them fall through the Championship trapdoor this season, one suspects it won’t happen. Curbishley has brought in some big names, and the Hammers now boast strength in every department, but he will have to learn how to soothe damaged egos if he wants his big names to achieve any kind of consistency.

8th. Everton

David Moyes has turned Everton into a well-drilled, hard-working outfit who play attractive football and know how to get results. But at the same time, the sole signing of Phil Jagielka is unlikely to propel them into the top five, and goals will be a real problem if Andy Johnson can’t find form. Players of the calibre of Lescott, Cahill and Arteta should ensure they keep their heads above mid-table.

9th. Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn will always be tough, and Ewood Park will always be a difficult place to play, but it’s hard to see Mark Hughes’s men flying up the table when the unproven Roque Santa Cruz is the only new signing of note that has been added to the squad. Solidity and hard work should see them through.

10th. Fulham

Lawrie Sanchez has worked industriously during the summer, and his signings blend youthful (predominantly Northern Irish) promise with Premiership experience. He’s trimmed the squad of deadwood, and if he can re-create the magic of his tenure as Northern Ireland manager, Fulham could be in for a memorable season. It will be interesting to see if David Healy can score as prolifically in the Premiership as he does on the international stage.

11th. Manchester City

Sven is hardly likely to turn City into a team of free-scoring entertainers, but clearly has a vision of what he wants to achieve, and the players he has already brought in look promising. However, the departures of Sylvain Distin and Joey Barton ripped the heart out of the team, and the squad looks bereft of leaders. Bianchi and Mpenza will have to start scoring quickly if City are to avoid a repeat of last season’s goal-shy drudgery.

12th. Aston Villa

Villa’s streamlined squad will need to avoid injuries if it is to build on last season’s progress. The first eleven picks itself, with Agbonlahor and Ashley Young supporting John Carew up front, Reo-Coker, Barry and Petrov manning the pumps in midfield, and Laursen and Mellberg holding the fort at the back. The team has a pleasing shape, but Martin O’Neill will count himself a lucky man indeed if he’s able to field the same eleven every week.

13th. Newcastle United

Big Sam has had the whole summer to prepare his squad for the new season, but he’s still not happy with the players he’s got. Newcastle should be a little tighter at the back now that Titus ‘Calamity’ Bramble has been shipped off to Wigan, but Joey Barton’s injury leaves them looking light in midfield, and Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins have had very little time to work on developing their partnership up front. Need new blood if they are to escape the mid-table quagmire.

14th. Bolton Wanderers

Poor Sammy Lee. The season hasn’t even begun, and critics are already grimly forecasting Bolton’s post-Allardyce demise. Christian Wilhelmsson is an exciting acquisition, but the other new players hardly set the pulse racing, and Lee’s ready admission that Nicolas Anelka is free to join any Champions League club that meets his asking price is hardly a statement of intent.

15th. Middlesbrough

It’s been a fairly uneventful summer at the Riverside. Jeremie Aliadiere looks a poor replacement for Mark Viduka, but Luke Young is a good signing, and with the club’s academy continuing to churn out impressive home-grown talent, Boro fans can look forward to another season of characteristic trundling along at the Riverside.

16th. Wigan Athletic

Chris Hutchings is relishing his first season in charge, and he has invested in tough, proven players who won’t be afraid to get their hands dirty. It won’t be pretty, but it should be reasonably effective. Jason Koumas has a big opportunity to prove his previous reputation as The Best Player Outside the Premiership, and the JJB Stadium is a sufficiently inauspicious location to allow him to go about his business diligently.

17th. Reading

Ah, that tricky second season. As Paul Jewell found out last season, that Premiership first-season mentality is a difficult thing to stretch out over two years. Key man Steve Sidwell has hot-footed it to the Stamford Bridge subs’ bench, and with only the unheralded Kalifa Cisse brought in over the summer, it’s hard to see them repeating last season’s heroics.

18th. Birmingham City

It seems unfair to consign all three promoted teams to relegation, but even with the money they’ve spent they will struggle. Steve Bruce has done better than most in the transfer market, but a lot of his signings are risky, and there’s no guarantee the whole will equal the sum of its parts.

19th. Sunderland

Roy Keane has spent a lot of money, but most of his new players were signed on potential alone. If Michael Chopra can’t adapt quickly enough they will struggle to score goals, and there’s no guarantee last season’s Championship heroes will be able to step up to the plate. Having said that, Keane’s first season in management was such a spectacular success that he might just surprise us all over again. He’ll certainly make sure his team plays the football he wants to see.

20th. Derby County

A predictable prediction, but it’s hard to see anything but a long hard struggle ahead for Billy Davies and Derby. Robert Earnshaw can be relied upon for goals, but it might all be a bit too much for what is a recently assembled and largely inexperienced squad.


3 Responses to “2007-2008 Premiership Predictions”

  1. This has got to be a wind up!
    Fulham 10th? Newcastle 13th with the players theyve signed?

    Stop, no really, I am bereft of ribs.

  2. Tom Williams Says:

    “Newcastle 13th with the players theyve signed?”

    Mark Viduka, Joey Barton (injured), David Rozenhal and Geremi were the only players Newcastle had signed when I wrote this.

    Of these, only Barton is a genuinely impressive signing, and I can’t see Alan Smith and Claudio Capaca selling any extra season tickets either.

  3. With respect, Cacapa is a quality Brazilian centre half, while Enrique is a bright up and coming Spanish full back. Defence has always been their Achilles heel. Agree with most of your summaries though I think Fulham will struggle and I cant see Sunderland going down under Keane.

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