The Premier League begins this Saturday with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City kicking off the 2010/11 season at White Hart Lane. My previews for each club are now completed; here is my overall preview for the new term.
|Martinez: Under pressure|
The teams that were promoted last season could find it very difficult in the top flight this season. Blackpool have barely strengthened their squad and the players that they have signed are not of Premier League quality. West Brom are the yo-yo club of current times; their squad, like Blackpool, lacks real quality and if Roberto Di Matteo is determined to stick with the policy of ‘nice football’ then Albion will go down. Wigan struggled last season and it will be no different this term. Roberto Martinez is my tip to be the next manager to leave his post as chairman Dave Whelan may not have a lot of patience with the Spaniard if Wigan are struggling. Wigan will go down, although it will probably go down to the wire with them, West Brom and Newcastle, and Martinez will be gone by the end of November.
The top four in the Premier League was finally breached last season as Tottenham secured the fourth spot. This season, Manchester United and Chelsea look streaks ahead and the so-called ‘big-four’ has become the ‘big-two’. Arsenal and Liverpool will struggle to make it into the Champions League this season while Manchester City and Tottenham should be looking towards the top, with Manchester City, who spent nearly £100 million in the summer, surely going for the title. City won’t challenge for the title this season, though, as a squad with such big egos and so many players that play in the same position can only be negative. City will get third with Tottenham pipping Arsenal and Liverpool, while Chelsea will win the league. United, though, will not be giving up that easily.
|Tevez is sure to bag the goals
Carlos Tevez was superb for Manchester City last season and will, no-doubt, be looking to improve on his twenty-three goals from 2009/10. The Argentinean striker is fully fit for the start of the new season and should score lots of goals with all the creativity that is spewing about in the blue side of Manchester; Tevez is my tip to be the top goal scorer this season. Manchester City, as a team, will not score the most goals though; that will be Chelsea. Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and co. will be firing on all cylinders this season.
The best signing this summer has been Joe Cole. The midfielder joined Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool after he was released by Chelsea and the England man can look forward to lots of first team action in his favoured attacking midfield position. His link-up play with Steven Gerrard will be a delight to see from an England perspective and, if Cole can get a good run in the side and get some form, the former West Ham midfielder will be firmly in Fabio Capello’s mind.
|Wilshere & Vela:
The future of Arsenal
The new “home grown”, 25-man squad rule that has been implemented into the Premier League this season means that fans are sure to see an influx of youth this term. They may not be English (Cesc Fabregas is home grown according to the League’s ruling) but there are some exciting youth players to watch this season. Arsenal are full of youth and many are tipping them to finally end their trophy-drought this season. Youngsters such as Carlos Vela, Jack Wilshere and Keiran Gibbs can all look forward to some first team action, with Gibbs impressing on his first England appearance at senior level and Wilshere also getting his chance under Capello. Mexican striker Vela is quick, agile and a born finisher of the ball; he could be the perfect player for Arsenal this season as they need a goal scorer. Their rivals, Manchester United, are not exactly lacking in youth either. Sir Alex Ferguson’s determination to leave the club in good stead when he retires means that the youth system at the club has become very impressive. Tom Cleverley is certainly one to watch this season as the midfielder has been told by Ferguson that he is staying with the first team this term instead of going out on loan. Another promising youth player on Manchester United’s books is Javier Hernandez. The young forward may not be English but he is certainly exciting with his speed, quality on the ball and his finishing ability all making him a great player. Hernandez went to the World Cup with Mexico and scored two goals. If Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen are all misfiring, which is possible, it could be down to Hernandez to score the goals.
Liverpool also have some good youngsters coming through the ranks and Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly are good examples of this. Spearing is a central midfielder with good passing ability and can hold the midfield together when needed; he could be the perfect partner for Gerrard in the middle as Spearing would allow the England captain to push forward and attack at will. Martin Kelly looks like an excellent prospect; the centre-back may find it difficult to break in to the first team with Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel in front of him in the pecking order, but the English defender could play at left-back, where Liverpool are relatively weak. Kelly played at left-back against Rabotnicki FK in the Europa League recently and looked comfortable and assured in a position that probably wasn’t that well-known to the defender.
Aston Villa’s Nathan Delfouneso has been trying to break into the first team and this season could be the one. The striker has a decent record, scoring six goals in twenty-four appearances. Delfouneso is certainly one to look out for this season, as is Blackburn defender Phil Jones. The centre-back made a couple of appearances at the back end of last season and looked strong and powerful in the air. Jones could find himself thrust into his first full Premier League season as Rovers are not strong in the defensive areas. Although West Brom are sure to go down as they are weak in most positions, they do possess a promising talent. Joe Mattock signed from Leicester last season and played a key part in Albion’s promotion push. The left-back may struggle to adapt to the Premier League but the English defender will certainly show promise in a side that lacks quality.
|Fabregas is key
As well as the young players the Premier League can look forward to lots of quality from it’s well known stars. Francesc Fabregas has finally committed to Arsenal after a season of on-going rumours about the Spaniard moving to Barcelona. Fabregas is going to be key to Arsenal’s push for the Champions League this season as his creativity and sheer class in the middle of the park will be of huge importance. Liverpool’s Cole will be the main man for Hodgson’s side this season, as well as the ever-present Gerrard, as the Reds look to put last season’s debacle behind them. Cole could be the creative, skilful player that they are looking for. Ben Foster’s move to Birmingham is a great signing for Alex McLeish’s side as the goalkeeper looks to try and get back into the England squad. Foster will stop a lot of goals for the Brum this season and is sure to save them points as well. Bobby Zamora, fresh after his impressive debut for England recently, is sure to score goals for Fulham this season as the big striker will be looking to improve on last season’s goal tally of twenty-one. Alan Smith is going to be important to Newcastle this season, much in the same way as Lee Cattermole is for Sunderland. Both players operate in the middle of the pitch, breaking up play and linking the defence and attack. The strength, power and passion will be key to both sides this season. The three players that are going to set the League alight, though, are Tevez, Cole and Foster. Another Premier League season begins on Saturday, and not a moment too soon.
My predicted Premier League table come the end of the season looks like this: