Writer: Dan Jones
Date:Thursday August 14 2008
Premiership Preview - 2008/09 Season
It promises to be a great season, as so many of the sides have the potential to make Europe this year. But I think a major talking point could be if the "untouchable" top four is broken into. Man City, Aston Villa, Everton and Portsmouth are among the favourites to get in there, but Spurs and Newcastle could put a bad season behind them and surprise a few. New boys Stoke and Hull will be out to shock a few, and will Man Utd be able to beat off Chelsea for another season?
The new season is here, and so is my preview!!!
Unlike most previews in papers etc, I have moved away from the top signing category and instead have opted to put the signing I think could be a potential flop, in the cases of Man Utd and Everton (who are yet to make a signing) I have chosen a current squad member. Please enjoy and be sure to leave me your feedback.
So the league table according to my reasoning will look like this:
1 Manchester United
4 Aston Villa
9 Manchester City
11 West Ham
18 West Brom
The full run down:
Key Player - Cesc Fabregas, one of the league`s finest players, fresh from winning Euro 2008, he will want to help Wenger`s young side win some silverware. Why Gallas has the armband and not this lad is beyond me!!
Potential Flop - Samir Nasri, I do not know much of this young man but although Wenger has a knack of signing wonder kids, this lad may be the exception (okay, I am clutching at straws!!)
Season Ahead - Arsenal have lost Lehmann, Hleb, Gilberto and Flamini, they have been replaced by younger players. I do wonder if Arsenal can cope without that experience, Gallas being the only over 30 I can think of at the club. I think they will drop from the Top 4. 6th
Key Player - Martin Laursen, possibly the club captain this season, he has already been compared by some Villa fans as the new Paul McGrath, he is a threat at set pieces and as strong as any defender currently plying their trade in the league.
Potential Flop - Carlos Cueller, seen as many as a superb buy, well he may well be, but he is no doubt going to be compared to Boumsong who was a real flop at Newcastle. I hope he is great signing, but I will wait till I see him before passing judgement.
Season Ahead - Martin O`Neill has been a busy beaver in the transfer market, much to the delight of the Villa faithful. I think that the team will build on 6th and will finish either in the top 4 or just outside. Will Barry stay? I think he will and I think he will help the team push on. 4th
Key Player - Matt Derbyshire, this youngster is a real goalscorer, He scored a late winner against Newcastle last season and will become a major part of the team under Paul Ince.
Potential Flop - Julio Santa Cruz, signed because of his brother, Roque. It will be interesting to see if he is even half the player his brother is.
Season Ahead - Paul Ince is my bet for the first managerial casualty of the season, I think he is in for a baptism of fire, and after losing his two star players and a third likely to follow, it is going to be a long hard season for Rovers. 17th
Key Player - Kevin Nolan, how this lad has not got an England cap, i don`t know!! He has been the best player at Bolton for about 5 seasons, and not only is a great midfielder he is also a real goal threat.
Potential Flop - Johan Elmander, £10million is a lot to spend on a player with no Premiership experience, an this Swedish international may have the goals in him, but only time will tell if he is the man to fill Anelka`s boots.
Season Ahead - I don`t think Bolton will do too badly, I just think other teams have made better signings. Gary Megson will no doubt enjoy some good results, I see abit of Martin O`Neill in him, I think losing Diouf can only be a good thing. 15th
Key Player - John Terry, despite all the foreign players on the books, this English lad is still the first name on the team sheet, not only that he is also the captain, he will be desperate to put THAT penalty miss behind him.
Potential Flop - Deco, people are talking him up, I doubt anyone else thinks he will be major flop, potentially he could be the reason the neutrals watch MOTD, but potentially he may be back in Spain by January.
Season Ahead - Scolari is looking to have a Galatico type side, Deco, Kaka and Robinho, if he pulls it off then I think it could actually be their downfall, the fact is the big players will do more harm than good, Lampard and Terry have twice the heart of any of the other stars. 2nd
Key Player - Tim Cahill, when fit he is probably the best midfielder in the league outside of the top 4, if he can stay injury-free then he will be a big player for Everton this season.
Potential Flop - Dan Gosling, an 18 that was signed in January, yet to make his debut, but will he be good enough and with Arteta, Cahill and Piennar ahead in the pecking order, will he even get the chance?
Season Ahead - David Moyes will be the next Man Utd manager, he has established Everton as a top side. I am sure they will have a great season and possibly win a cup along the way too. The lack of transfer activity could be their downfall. 5th
Key Player - Andy Johnson, a club record fee, he has goals in him and he is likely to be the key to Hodgson`s plans, if he can get the goals then who knows where Fulham will be sat come May?
Potential Flop - Bobby Zamora, another striker, Bobby was touted as a real talent when he was at Brighton, he has struggled for some time and will no doubt want to prove once and for all that he can cut it in the Premiership
Season Ahead - This promises to be a good season for the Cottagers, not only have they spent big again, but they have also spent it on decent players this summer. Losing McBride is no doubt a huge blow but with Johnson coming in he could soon be forgotten. Bullard will be a key player too. 13th
Key Player - George Boateng, not many of the players at Hull have even played in the Premiership, Boateng will be a big signing for them, he has the experience and ability to help them survive.
Potential Flop - Geovanni, he was a flop at Man City, it will be interesting to see if he can make an impact for the Tigers.
Season Ahead - Phil Brown took Hull from relegation candidates to shock play-off winners in a matter of months. If he is given the time I think he will shock the 99% of neutrals who have wrongly written them off so soon. Their downfall may be their loyalty to long-serving players. 16th
Key Player - Fernando Torres, this guy is pure class, a real world beater. On his day he is by far the best forward in the league and if Liverpool are going to progress from 4th, then its his goals that will take them there,
Potential Flop - Andrea Dossena, players from Serie A do have a history of struggling in the Premiership (unless they play for Chelsea)
Season Ahead - I hate to say it but I think Liverpool will have a good season; Robbie Keane is a major signing for them. Potentially they may drop from the Top 4, but they are stronger than Arsenal. Rafa`s handling of the Barry saga has been a shocking but I think they will do well. 3rd
Key Player - Richard Dunne, one of the most consistent players in the league, a model professional and no doubt he will play a big part in Mark Hughes`s plans.
Potential Flop - Jo, little is known of this lad and for the money spent he could be the ultimate flop, lets see how he does……
Season Ahead - A team in crisis? Maybe so, but unless Mark Hughes walks they could still have a good season, with some good youngsters and many top internationals this could be a great year, they may have a chance of Top 6 too. 9th
Key Player - Gary Neville, he seems to have been injured for a decade, but he is set to return to action this season and the Man Utd Captain will no doubt want to show Fabio Capello why he has so many International Caps.
Potential Flop - Cristiano Ronaldo, he has had his head turned by Real Madrid and shown little loyalty to Sir Alex Ferguson, it will be interesting to see how he performs on his return from injury.
Season Ahead - Scolari may be the king of National management but SAF is the master at club level, and he is no doubt looking forward to the latest in a long line of Chelsea managers, whether Ronaldo plays a major part or not, Man Utd still have the quality to go all the way. 1st
Key Player - David Wheater, potentially this lad is a future England International, a real threat from set-pieces and just as solid at the back too.
Potential Flop - Didier Digard, this is another Berson in the making, full of potential, but the Premiership is a different kettle of fish to Ligue 1 of France.
Season Ahead - I am not sure what to make of Southgate`s decision to not sign a senior keeper, Schwarzer has gone and he seems quite happy to trust the two young lads, that could be his downfall this season, Boro could possibly have a relegation battle on their hands. 14th
Key Player - Michael Owen, if he can stay fit then his goals are sure to fire Newcastle into the top half of the table.
Potential Flop - Jonas Gutierrez, little is known of the man nicknamed Spider-Man, question is will we all be talking about him come May?
Season Ahead - A team full of quality but they still never seem to do anything, will Keegan last till May? I doubt it very much. I think a few bad results and he will walk, that said Newcastle could still push for a top 6 place, maybe even 4th, if they are lucky!! 10th
Key Player - David James, arguably the best keeper in the league, on his day he is a World Class shot stopper, he will no doubt play a huge part in any success that Pompey enjoy this season.
Potential Flop - Younes Kaboul, on his arrival at White Hart Lane most expected big things, but he cost Spurs a fair few points, will the fresh start bring the best out of him?
Season Ahead - Love him or hate him Redknapp had a superb year with Portsmouth and became the first manager in a long time to go toe to toe with the top 4 in the FA Cup and walk away victorious. He will be after a top 6 place I am sure, but so many others are too. 8th
Key Player - Dave Kitson, the former Reading Striker will no doubt be the key to their survival, if he can hit the goals they need then Stoke could surprise a few.
Potential Flop - Seyi Olofinjana, a favourite at Wolves. How will Seyi cope with the Premiership though?
Season Ahead - Will they be the new Derby? Pulis has a very physical side that will probably see their fair share of Red Cards this season, they have got a real fight on their hands, and really cant see them picking up too many points, good luck to them though. 20th
Key Player - Dean Whitehead, the midfielder has been superb for Sunderland and will hope to continue to build on what was a good year last season.
Potential Flop - El-Hadji Diouf, on his day he is a fine player, but his temper could disrupt the dressing room, I expect him to go head to head with Roy Keane before the end of the season!!
Season Ahead - Roy Keane has signed half the reserve team from Spurs and is hoping he can establish the Black Cats as a top premiership side, there is no doubting that he has a decent squad and if the can work hard and perhaps get a bit of luck too, then top ten is a real possibility. 12th
Key Player - Ledley King, it has been said many times before, but a fit Ledley King is one of the finest Centre Backs in the league. If he can stay fit, then who knows what they will achieve.
Potential Flop - Luka Modric, some say he may be too lightweight for the Premiership, its going to be interesting to see if he can live up to his price-tag.
Season Ahead - Juande Ramos may not have had the best of Premiership seasons last season but he did win the Carling Cup and has improved the side with some potentially world class players, Dos Santos in particular has the making of a quality player. 7th
Key Player - Jonathan Greening, club captain with a wealth of experience, has a sublime passing ability too.
Potential Flop - Scott Carson, following a poor season at Aston Villa, it will be interesting to see how he does at the Hawthorns
Season Ahead - The Baggies are back and will be hoping they can keep themselves up and even win a couple of derby games too, they have a decent manager and some fantastic youngsters, the signings of Moore and Carson will either be a master stroke or a waste of money. 18th
Key Player - Scott Parker, at Charlton he looked like he would become a top star, following unsuccessful spells at Chelsea and Newcastle, he has now become a key player at Upton Park
Potential Flop - Valon Behrami, he has proven to be a good player in Serie A and on the International scene, but will he cut in the Premiership?
Season Ahead - With a few of the older players now released they will be hoping that the younger lads can help the team push on, James Tomkins has a bright future ahead of him, as have many of the young hammers, Curbishley will have to start well if the team can reach their potential. 11th
Key Player - Paul Scharner, he has been a key member of the team since their promotion. His ability to play in Defence and Midfield has made him an invaluable member of Bruce`s squad.
Potential Flop - Olivier Kapo, relegated with Birmingham City, will he be able to put it behind him?
Season Ahead - Steve Bruce is a decent enough manager, but he has lost his battles against relegation more often than not, an although he has some decent players at his disposal, I think the ride is now over for Wigan and the Championship may be home come next August. 19th
Date:Thursday August 14 2008
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