Overall Premier League 2010/11 Season Preview

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
this season
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
to Arsenal
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:

Premier League Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers

In my final Premier League preview I focus on Wolverhampton Wanderers. After last season’s impressive 15th place finish manager Mick McCarthy will be looking to make the club into a stabilised Premier League side.

An impressive summer for Wolves has come after a notable 2009/10 season. McCarthy has strengthened his squad with players that have Premier League experience and a few that are going to want to prove themselves in the top flight of English football. Steven Fletcher scored eight goals for Burnley last season in the Turf Moor side’s relegation battle and the Scottish striker will be looking to have a more enjoyable time this term after joining for six and a half million pounds. After Hull were relegated last season Stephen Hunt decided that he wanted to stay in the Premier League and joined Wolves for £3 million. The winger’s pace, quality of crossing and assurance on the ball will be a great asset to McCarthy’s side. Hunt’s teammate at Hull, Steven Mouyokolo, has also signed for Wolves in a deal worth £2.5 million. The centre-back struggled to show his quality last season but Wolves will be hoping that the French defender can stand up to the plate this season. Also joining the club are Jelle van Damme, Adlene Guedioura and Geoffrey Mujangi Bia. Van Damme made 110 appearances for Anderlecht and the Belgian defender, who briefly played for Southampton between 2004 and 2006, will be looking to establish himself as a first team player. Algeria midfielder Guerdioura, who is one of many Algerian internationals who are actually French-born, spent the second half of last season on loan at Wolves, where he played fourteen times, scoring one goal. The central midfielder will be hoping to have an extended run in the first team this season. Mujangi Bia also spent the second half of last season on loan with Wolves and has now rejoined the side on loan for this season. The Belgian right-sided midfielder adds more width to the squad, as well as his  strength going forward.
Wolves could struggle at the back this season. Jody Craddock, Ronald Zubar and Mouyokolo are all decent defenders but can be inconsistent; they could struggle to keep most teams at bay this season. Greg Halford and George Elokobi have not proven themselves at the top level and so, again, could struggle, while Christophe Berra is feeble in defence. Van Damme could add some much needed strength to the back-line but this may not be enough; Wolves could do with another defender who is proven in the Premier League.
The side are a little stronger in midfield with Nenad Milijas and Hunt the main men. Milijas impressed last season after his move from Red Star Belgrade in June 2009. The Serbian midfielder has a powerful shot and links up well with the defence and attack. Young English winger Michael Kightly could use this season to propel himself into the England spotlight but will find it difficult to hold down a first team place. As with the defence Wolves could do with some more experienced midfielders as there seems to be very little quality in their squad.
Goals are going to be hard to come by for Wolves this season, although the fact that Kevin Doyle is now fully fit and raring to go is a huge boost for them. The Republic of Ireland international struggled with injury last season but still managed to score nine goals. Doyle and Fletcher could possibly form a partnership, while Sylvain Ebanks-Blake still fails to live up to the hype created by his Manchester United youth team days. Wolves will stay up like last season and will probably finish above the 15th place mark, but the lack of quality in the squad is going to make it another gruelling season for this squad.
Where will they finish?: 14th
Official relegation odds: 2/1 (Bet365)
Star man: Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle
One to watch: Michael Kightly
Main weakness: They have a sever lack of Premier League experience 

Premier League Preview: Wigan Athletic

My Premier League previews continue with Wigan now in the spotlight. After a difficult first season under Roberto Martinez, can the Spaniard turn the fortunes of the club around?

After a 16th place finish Wigan will be looking to steer clear of relegation again this season. The Latics have established themselves over the years to be able to bring in foreign players and turn them into good Premier League players. Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios, now of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, are strong examples of this. Martinez has chosen to spend relatively big this summer, with Mauro Boselli joining from Estudiantes for £6 million. The Argentinean striker thirty-two goals in fifty-seven games for Estudiantes and, at the age of twenty-five the former Boca Juniors player has only managed two appearances for the Argentinean national side, although he has had Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito. Ronnie Stam (no relation to Jaap) has been brought in from Dutch side FC Twente and, at £3 million, could turn into a solid right-back for Wigan. James McArthur has also been recruited from Hamilton Academicals for a fee of £500,000. The midfielder 168 games for the Scottish side, which is incredible as he is only twenty-two years of age. Antolin Alcarez and Ali Al Habsi have signed from Club Brugge and Bolton Wanderers respectively. Defender Alcarez has signed without a transfer fee and the twenty-eight-year-old may well look forward to first team action this season. Goalkeeper Al Habsi will most likely be a second-choice ‘keeper. These signings, though, may not be enough for Wigan.
The Latics look quite poor at the back. Former England hopeful Chris Kirkland is solid in goal but the defence in front of him is weak and inconsistent. Paul Scharner is a great attacking force and will no-doubt score a goal or two this season, but the Austrian defender looks feeble in defence. Gary Caldwell made the move from the Scottish Premier League to the English version last season and struggled to cope with the pace at times. The defender is experienced, though, and, if he can get to grips with the speed of the game, the Scottish centre-back would be an asset to Wigan. Mario Melchiot and Erik Edman were not the players they once were but Maynor Figueroa is an important player for Wigan. The Honduran defender made headlines last season when he scored from the half-way line against Stoke City. The attacking flair and strength when defending, as well as his speed and eagerness to receive the ball, will be of big benefit to Wigan this season.
Martinez’ side do have some good midfielders on their books. Hendry Thomas looked to be following in the footsteps of Wilson Palacios; the twenty-five-year-old is a strong midfielder and his ball retention skills will be needed this season. Ben Watson looks to be a good English player while Mohamed Diame seems to be a solid midfielder. It is Charles N’Zogbia, though, who is the main man. The former Newcastle midfielder scored seven goals lasts season and will probably need to better that this season if Wigan are to survive. The creativity, speed and potency of N’Zogbia will be essential to Wigan this season. The Frenchman, though, could struggle in a side that lacks so much creativity and strength, and so could leave in January.
Another man that could leave the team before the end of the season is Martinez. Wigan are going to struggle this season and, if they are in a poor position by Christmas, chairman Dave Whelan could decide to sack Martinez. The Spaniard could be gone by the end of November if Wigan struggling.
One to watch next season is Victor Moses. Although the forward became a star at former club Crystal Palace Moses has struggled for playing time at Wigan in the Premier League. The Englishman scored one goal in thirteen appearances last season and will be looking to get on the pitch more this season. Whilst at Palace Moses scored eleven goals in sixty-nine appearances, making six assists. Moses’ creativity and willingness to have the ball will give Wigan something a little bit different this season.
Up front Wigan look mediocre. Last season’s hero Hugo Rodallega will need to repeat his feat of scoring thirteen goals if Wigan are to stay up. Jason Scotland is clearly a Championship player and cannot handle the Premier League, although Boselli could provide more goals. If Wigan are to survive this season, though, they need to invest in some quality players before the transfer window shuts.
Where will they finish?: 19th
Official relegation odds: 9/4 (Bet365)
Star man: Charles N’Zogbia
One to watch: Victor Moses
Main weakness: The team lacks strength all over the park and an inexperienced manager may not be able to cope with this.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United

My Premier League previews continue with Avram Grant’s West Ham United now in the spotlight. After the shambles that occurred last season the Hammers will be looking to improve immensely this term.

Gianfranco Zola’s unfortunately poor time at West Ham meant that Grant was made manager after the 2009/10 season. The decent signings that the former Chelsea manager has made, though, may not be enough to move the side up the table.
Pablo Barrera has joined from UNAM Pumas for £4 million. The winger scored eighteen goals in eighty-five appearances for the Mexican giants. The twenty-three-year-old has already played twenty-four times for Mexico and appeared three times in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. West Ham have also recruited three players with Premier League experience. Thomas Hitzelberger enjoyed nearly four seasons at Aston Villa while Tal Ben Haim has been in the Premier League for six seasons now, playing for Chelsea, Sunderland and Bolton. Frederic Piquionne has also signed for the club, joining for £1 million from Lyon. The striker played on loan at Portsmouth last season where he scored eleven goals in forty-five appearances. The majority of the squad has been kept by Grant, although rumours suggest that Scott Parker could be on his way out of the club.
Parker will be the main man for West Ham this season. He played thirty-one games last season, creating goals and holding the midfield together. The English central-midfielder uses his vast knowledge of the game and his awareness on the ball to carve out chances for the East London side. Parker will be key to West Ham’s success this season.
The middle of midfield is quite a strong area for West Ham. Mark Noble has established himself as a fine attacking midfielder after four strong seasons in the Premier League. Jack Collison is definitely a prospect for the future; after coming out of West Ham’s famous academy Collison played twenty-four times for the Hammers last season and will be looking to establish himself in the side this season. West Ham also have the experience of Radoslav Kovac on their books. The midfielder can sit in-between the defence and forward lines, linking the team together.  
The wings of West Ham are not so brilliant. Valon Behrami endured injury after injury last season and only managed to play twenty-seven games. The former Lazio star will be looking to stay fit this season as his accuracy when passing and quality on the ball will be important to the Hammers. Junior Stanislas is another one to look out for next season. The left winger has played thirty-five times for West Ham and four times at England youth level.  West Ham could do with a little more pace on the wings, which could help in feeding the strikers.
Carlton Cole looks to be staying with the club after a summer of rumours involving his place in the team. Manchester United, Stoke City and Aston Villa were among the sides being linked with a move for the English striker. After scoring ten goals last season Cole is imperative to West Ham as they have little else up front. Benni McCarthy is not what he used to be and Freddie Sears isn’t ready for the Premier League. Zavon Hines is a good young striker but he may not be ready for this season, while Piquionne, on the basis of last season, isn’t good enough. If West Ham are to succeed this season they should buy another striker, with Nice striker Loic Remy currently being linked with the club.
West Ham do look relatively strong at the back although the right-back position is a problem. Matthew Upson is back from South Africa after an unsuccessful England World Cup campaign, while Danny Gabbidon, Manuel Da Costa or Ben Haim are likely to partner him in the centre of defence. James Tomkins is another impressive young player at West Ham and could feature a lot this season. Herita Ilunga has impressed in the Premier League and looks to be a solid left-back but on the opposite side they have very little; they may end up playing one of the centre-backs there. West Ham will survive this season but it promises to be another unbearable term for the West Ham faithful.
Where will they finish?: 15th
Official relegation odds: 9/2 (Bet365)
Star man: Scott Parker
Ones to watch: Jack Collison, Zavon Hines and James Tomkins
Main weakness: Lack of goal scoring prowess and no pace down the flanks

Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion

My Premier League previews continue with yo-yo club West Brom now the team to focus on. After last season’s impressive promotion campaign, will West Brom stick with their policy of playing attractive football, sacrificing the winning of matches?

Some good transfers and an already good squad might not be enough for West Brom this season. Their main rivals staying clear of relegation this season are going to be Newcastle and Bolton, who look to have stronger squads. Albion, though, certainly have some quality.
Former Leeds and Liverpool, and at one time England, goalkeeper remained with West Brom when they were relegated to the Championship after signing for the Baggies in 2008. West Brom have got a decent set of goalkeepers with vastly experienced Dean Kiely and new recruit Boaz Myhill ready to battle it out for the number two spot. The defence in front of them, however, is not so impressive. Gianni Zuiverloon and Marek Cech may be promising names in their own countries, Holland and Slovakia respectively, but they are yet to show any signs of being ready for the pace of the Premier League. Nicky Shorey has recently signed from Aston Villa and the left-back gives the side some much needed Premier League experience. Abdoulaye Meite may have been a strong centre-back in the Premier League for Bolton but the Ivory Coast international looks less than stable in defence. West Brom look very weak at the back.
One to look out for next season is Joe Mattock. The former Leicester left-back played twenty-seven times for Albion last season and can look forward to a decent run in the team this time round. Mattock, though, could find it difficult in the Premier League, especially in a defence that is already very vulnerable.
The midfield of the team isn’t exactly solid either. Chris Brunt is a fine winger and his creativity will be important to the Baggies this season, as will the eagerness and determination of Giles Barnes. The former Derby midfielder joined West Brom in January this year but only managed to play eight times in the Championship. Graham Dorrans has been the subject of transfer speculation during the summer but now looks to be ready to slog out the season with Robert Di Matteo’s team. The fact that West Brom have an inexperienced manager could also count against them; the forty-year-old gained his only managerial experience at MK Dons prior to signing for West Brom in 2009. James Morrison is another creative player but that creativity could all go to waste due to the lack of prominent strikers at West Brom.
Roman Bednar, Luke Moore and Ishmael Miller are the only notable strikers on Di Matteo’s squad. Between them they have scored 101 goals in 420 club appearances. This is simply not good enough and the club really need to find a striker that can score them goals. West Brom desperately need to divulge in the transfer market if they are to get anywhere near to staying up this season.
Where will they finish?: 17th
Official relegation odds: 5/6 (Bet365)
Star man: Chris Brunt
One to watch: Joe Mattock
Main weakness: The sheer lack of Premier League quality and severe lack of decent strikers means that West Brom are going to seriously struggle this season.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur

My Premier League previews continue with Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham now the team in focus. After finally breaching the top four last season Spurs will be looking to retain their place.

Champions League football will be coming to White Hart Lane this season and Redknapp has chosen to not ring the changes and buy players but instead to keep his squad. Sandro Raniere is the only acquisition, although Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Young and Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi are being linked with the club.  Brazilian Sandro is a defensive midfielder who is well known for his ball retention and quality of passing. Tottenham could find their squad stretched this season with the extra games thanks to the Champions League but they have, pretty much, got two quality players in each position. Spurs have managed to retain all their players after last season’s success; stability has finally arrived at Tottenham after the debacles that were endured under the reigns of Juande Ramos and Jacques Santini.
Redknapp has assembled a good defensive line since he was appointed manager in 2008. Ledley King and Michael Dawson have both returned from an unsuccessful England World Cup campaign in South Africa and could form a partnership this season if King can sort out the injury that has ruined the career of such a talented player. Another injury-prone English star, Jonathan Woodgate, could be on his way out of the club as the new Premier League ruling of a 25-man squad means that Redknapp needs to cut down the sixe of his side. The fact that the former Leeds defender is injured means that he could be shown the door if there is no other option. Sebastian Bassong and Younes Kaboul can also play at centre-back, while, on the right and left respectively, Spurs have the solid Vedran Corluka and the now-Premier League-experienced and attacking force that is Gareth Bale. This season is a big one for the Welshman; last season Bale played 34 times for Spurs and will be looking to improve on that this season. Tottenham ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes seems to have settled into the English game after some comical moments at the start of his Tottenham career; Spurs are going to be tough to beat this season.
The midfield of Tottenham is also extremely strong with Tom Huddlestone the player that pulls all the strings. His calmness on the pitch, quality on the ball and shooting force makes him of big importance to Tottenham. Jermaine Jenas, Wilson Palacios and Jamie O’Hara can all play in the middle and link the attack and defence, while the speed of Aaron Lennon and the quality of crossing of David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar give Spurs more width. Luka Modric is another key player for Spurs. The Croatian star plays in the attacking midfield role and not only scores goals but provides them also. His creativity and excellence on the ball will help Spurs to unlock defences next season.
One to watch in the Spurs side next season is Danny Rose. With so many quality midfield players in the Tottenham squad the former Leeds youngster could find it difficult to break into the first team. The twenty–year-old, though, has a bright future ahead of him. After making his debut for the club last season Rose scored a thunderous volley from 30 yards. Rose definitely has the talent to succeed in the top flight.
Tottenham also look strong up front with England goal scorer Jermain Defoe looking forward to another season at White Hart Lane. The former Portsmouth midfielder scored 24 in 43 games last season and will be looking to improve on that this season. Robbie Keane has returned from his “dream” move to Celtic. The striker went on loan to the Scottish giants last season and scored 16 goals in 19 games. Keane, though, will be looking to prove his worth in the top flight English football once again. Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch give Tottenham another option up front, with Crouch’s sublime height and ability to bring other players into the game, and Pavlyuchenko’s goal scoring expertise. The Tottenham squad looks solid in every position; their only weakness could be the tiredness that will come with more games. It will be very interesting to see how Tottenham get on in their first game of the season (Manchester City at home) as the game pitches two sides that are aiming for a top-four finish. One side has spent £100 million-plus, while the other has remained quite conservative in their spending.
Where will they finish?: 4th
Official top four finish odds: 11/4 (Bet365)
Star man: Gareth Bale
One to watch: Danny Rose
Main weakness: Squad could be stretched with Champions League providing extra matches to their season

Premier League Preview: Sunderland

My Premier League previews continue with Sunderland now in the spotlight. After a decent season under Steve Bruce last season, with the Black Cats finishing in 13th position, the Stadium Of Light club will be looking to break into the top half of the table.

Manager Bruce has strengthened his squad somewhat with Paraguay World Cup star Christian Riveros joining from Cruz Azul. The midfielder shone in the recent World Cup, scoring the second Paraguay goal against Slovakia. Bruce has also brought in Titus Bramble who, after being mocked at the start of his career for his clumsy style of play, seems to have got his act together and now looks relatively solid at the back. The former Wigan and Newcastle player gives Sunderland a strong set of central defenders.
           
Michael Turner and Anton Ferdinand will be likely first choices for the centre of defence but Bruce also has Matthew Killgallon and Bramble, who are more than able to fill any gap. Sunderland may not be very strong at right-back, though, with Phil Bardsley still yet to prove that he is a Premier League player after coming through the ranks at Manchester United. At left-back, though, they have George McCartney who is experienced at this level and will cause no concerns for Sunderland. The fact that Craig Gordon is out for the start of the season has prompted Bruce to Simon Mignolet from Sint-Truidense for £2 million. The goalkeeper, who has made four under-21 appearances for Benlgium, will be making his first appearances in the Premier League if he is picked ahead of Sunderland youngster Trevor Carson, which could cause problems for Sunderland at the back.
In midfield, though, creativity is the key. Steed Malbranque will roam in midfield as the Frenchman prepares for another top flight season, while Andy Reid and Kieran Richardson will go down the flanks, using their speed and quality of crossing to produce chances for the strikers. Riveros is likely to play a conservative role where he will start attacks from deep. He will be a big player for Sunderland if he can adjust to the pace of the English game. It is Lee Cattermole, though, who holds it all together for Sunderland. The former Middlesbrough midfielder is a hard-tackling, determined young man and controls the midfield whilst bridging the gap between defence and attack. Cattermole will be key to Sunderland’s success this season.
One to watch next season for Sunderland is Jordan Henderson. The young midfielder made nine appearances for Coventry City, where he spent last season on loan, before picking up an injury. Henderson will be looking to gain more first team action at Sunderland this season. Henderson is predominately used on the right wing but can come inside to play in the centre of midfield. The former Sunderland youth player has a good passing range and his versatility and consistency will be of big importance to Sunderland this term.
A major part in Sunderland’s success last season was Darren Bent and his twenty-five goals. The striker will be looking to improve on last season to help the side rise up the table. Kenwyne Jones also promises goals as the big striker can use his aerial presence and sublime finishing accuracy to put away the chances for Bruce’s side in 2010/11. Northern Ireland legend David Healy is also a born finisher and should be given his chance this season, while Fraizer Campbell looks to be growing into a fine player after his move from Manchester United. The future looks bright for Sunderland.
Where will they finish?: 10th
Official top ten finish odds: 5/4 (Bet365)
Star man: Lee Cattermole
One to watch: Jordan Henderson
Main weakness: The right-back position is a weak spot and they could struggle at the back without the commanding force of Craig Gordon in goal