**Premiership Season 2009/10 Preview** Pt1
Dan Jones (young_jonah) returns to preview the Premiership 2009/10 Season and even predict how the league will look come May. You may remember he correctly predicted Hull City would beat the drop last season, and he also got close when he said Arsenal would finish outside the top4, which looked quite possible for most of the season.
Here is his preview and predictions for the new season.
Arsene Wenger is under a lot of pressure from the fans, and although he has some great players at his disposal and plenty of quality coming through the ranks he has once again sold key players, something of a tradition as the fans have seen Henry, Hleb and Flamini leave in recent years. Adebayor is possibly a big loss but with Van Persie, Bendtner and Arshavin, Arsenal still possess plenty of fire power.
Key Player – Cesc Fabregas is the key man for Arsenal, he is the club captain and arguably the best player at the club. If he left, Arsenal’s chances this season would dramatically decreased.
One to watch – Carlos Vela, he looked superb in last year’s Carling Cup, and if he breaks into the first team this season he will undoubtedly be amongst the goals.
Transfer Business – Toure has left but has been replaced by the highly rated Thomas Vermaelen, however with Adebayor leaving too, many fans want a striker in by the end of the window.
Prediction – Unless Arsenal buy one or two by the deadline they won’t offer much in terms of challenging for the title, and a top four finish would probably be their aim, despite Everton and Aston Villa running them close last season and Man City strengthening with some top quality buys, I simply cannot see Arsenal falling from the top4 this season. My prediction – 4th
Nobody could argue that Villa didn’t have their moments last season, getting plenty of points from the games against the top4, however this summer has seen captain Martin Laursen retire and Gareth Barry depart for rivals Man City. It’s a big year for O’Neill, with a growing number of fans turning on him. A challenge for the top4 places is probably the aim, however actually finishing there is quite unlikely.
Key Player – Carlos Cuellar, I am perhaps the only person who wouldn’t say Ashley Young, this is basically because I believe Cuellar will take over the responsibility of organising the defence this season following the retirement of Laursen. It’s a big pair of boots to fill, but Cuellar has a good reputation, and given an extended run in his natural position he could very well prove to be a quality player.
One to watch – Marc Albrighton, he has been receiving much praise during pre-season for his brilliant performances and this could be his year, if O’Neill gives him the opportunity expect this lad to grab it with both hands.
Transfer Business – 3 in, 3 out. Barry and Knight have left, Laursen has retired, Delph, Downing and Beye have all joined the club but O’Neill identified a requirement of 5 players at the start of the summer. So expect more activity before the deadline.
Prediction – It’s a tough one, because Villa could finish anywhere between 4th (at best) and 10th (at worst), Manchester City and Spurs will both be aiming high and with Everton and Arsenal expected to be as strong as ever, I think Villa will struggle to retain 6th place. My prediction – 7th
Many thought they would bounce straight back up and they did. It’s an exciting return too with matches against Wolves and Aston Villa offering plenty for them to look forward too. Opinions on McLeish are divided, but he is a vastly experienced manager and is more than capable of keeping them up.
Key Player – Sebastian Larsson, an exciting midfielder who can score goals, which is just what they will need this season if they are to stay up.
One to watch – Scott Dann, at 22 he is an exciting prospect for the Blues and will probably have a part to play this season, signed from Coventry this central defender has 2 England Under 21 caps, which proves there is plenty of potential.
Transfer Business – Like most promoted teams, there has been plenty of transfer activity, most notably the signings of Joe Hart and Barry Ferguson provide the club with the quality required to beat relegation.
Prediction – It’s so hard to predict who could be relegated this season, but I envisage Birmingham will be the best equipped of the promoted sides when it comes to beating the drop. My prediction – 15th
After the disastrous appointment of Paul Ince last summer, Blackburn now have a manager capable of meeting their expectation in Sam Allardyce. Not only do they have a decent manager they also possess plenty of quality throughout the squad.
Key Player – Christopher Samba is one of the finest defenders outside of the top4, and with his partner Ryan Nelson alongside him Blackburn have a pretty solid defence.
One to watch – Franco Di Santo, on loan from Chelsea the Argentinean youngster has a growing reputation and is sure to want to impress during his stay at Ewood Park.
Transfer Business – Roque Santa Cruz has gone, which is big loss for the club however they have been busy in the market, Gael Givet has joined the club after impressing on loan last season and they have replaced outgoing right back Andre Ooijer with Everton’s Lars Jacobsen. £6million has also been paid out for Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic.
Prediction – With Allardyce at the helm anything is possible, Blackburn could surprise a few and finish as high as 6th place, Santa Cruz’s departure could hurt their chances though, so a mid-table place is more likely. My prediction – 12th
Gary Megson possesses a very small squad and has worked hard this summer to address that by bringing in 4 very capable players. Some fans are on his back due to a negative style of play but he is experienced enough to handle the pressure and should deliver a decent mid table finish.
Key Player – Gary Cahill is a rock in the heart of Bolton’s defence and he also offers an aerial threat at set plays. This is a World Cup year and Cahill has an outside chance of being on that plane if he applies himself and has another quality season.
One to watch – Fabrice Muamba, he is already established in the first team and a regular in the England Under 21’s. Muamba could play a big part in Bolton’s season.
Transfer Business – Megson obviously felt it was his defence that needed strengthening this summer following the arrival of Sam Ricketts, Paul Robinson and Zat Knight. Sean Davis has also arrived to fill the gap left by Kevin Nolan.
Prediction – I think Bolton fans will be hoping for a top half finish, but I believe they will be fighting relegation for most of the season; however they should manage to beat the drop. My prediction – 14th
Owen Coyle turned down the chance to manage Celtic to continue the brilliant job he has done at Turf Moor. His side won promotion in style with some amazing goals in the play offs last season. Will Burnley be the new Stoke City and fight their way to a comfortable finish in the league?
Key Player – Steven Fletcher, if Burnley are to beat the drop they will need goals, the signing of Fletcher from Hibs could be the answer. He is more than capable and the Scottish International is undoubtedly the key player for Burnley.
One to watch – Richard Eckersley joined from Manchester United this summer and the 20 year old full back could play a big part for the Clarets this season
Transfer Business – Burnley probably don’t have much money to spend on new players however they have signed 6 players. Fletcher is the one that stands out, however Tyrone Mears has joined from
Derby and has plenty of experience despite being only 26 years old.
Prediction – Coyle is highly rated and could very well keep Burnley in the Premier League, unfortunately lack of signings leads me to believe that Burnley won’t be able to stay up. My prediction – 20th
Yet another new manager, this time they have one who is proven in both Europe and a high standard league. Carlo Ancelotti arrives with a big reputation and will be delighted that club captain John Terry will be a Chelsea player this season. Unlike their rivals, Chelsea have not lost any key players this summer and that could be a deciding factor in who walks away with the title in May.
Key Player – John Terry could very well of demanded a transfer to money bags Manchester City but he didn’t. The England captain is considered by many as the best defender in the league and Chelsea will be ecstatic that he will once again be leading them into another challenge for the Premier League title.
One to watch – Daniel Sturridge decided to join Chelsea despite interest from clubs such as Aston Villa where he would be more likely to play regularly. Chelsea can offer him Champions League experience and he could prove to be a quality signing if he reaches his full potential.
Transfer Business – Keeping hold of John Terry is brilliant but the club have also strengthened their options by signing Russian wing back, Yuri Zhirkov. Keeper Ross Turnbull has also joined the club following Middlesbrough’s relegation.
Prediction – Man Utd have lost Ronaldo, Liverpool have sold Xabi Alonso and Arsenal have cashed in on Adebayor and Toure. Chelsea have kept John Terry, this could prove to be the key to Chelsea’s title bid. Many claim that Chelsea’s side is ageing and that may be true, but they are experienced and they know how to win titles. I reckon winning the title probably means more to them than winning the Champions League right now. My prediction – 1st
David Moyes is regarded by many as the man to replace Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, but this season provides his toughest test yet. Having beaten Aston Villa to 5th for the second year running, Everton now face further competition in the form of a rejuvenated Spurs side and emergence of mega rich Man City.
Key Player – Jo, for many years Everton have lacked an out and out goal scorer, but the Brazilian who scored 5 in 12 for them last season could be the man to do the job. On loan for a second time from Man City, should he play he is likely to be amongst the goals, however Jo must compete with Yakubu and Louis Saha for a place in the starting eleven.
One to watch – Jack Rodwell has already played a handful of games for the club and will be hoping to feature more this season.
Transfer Business – A frustrating summer I would imagine for the fans, as the club have not made any additions of note except the loan signing of Jo. And with the ongoing speculation surrounding Lescott, they probably want the deadline to pass.
Prediction – It is dependant on whether or not Lescott remains at the club, they possess plenty of quality in Jagielka, Cahill, Arteta and Phil Neville but losing Lescott would be a major blow to their chances. If Lescott stays then a top4 finish could be possible but they are more likely to finish just outside. My prediction – 5th
Roy Hodgson has taken the club from relegation candidates to Europa Cup qualification. He has assembled a side with a strong spine in Schwarzer, Hangeland, Murphy and Andrew Johnson. Fans will be hoping the side can build on their impressive season last year.
Key Player – Brede Hangeland stands at an intimidating 6ft 5in and is uncompromising when he goes head to head with the league’s strikers. Should Fulham manage to keep hold of him then they have a real chance of finishing as high as 6th place.
One to watch – Chris Smalling, the 19 year old has only featured once for Fulham but could become more involved this season. Like Hangeland he is a huge centre back and could provide cover for the Norway International during the campaign.
Transfer Business – Bjorn Helge Riise has arrived from Norwegian side Lillestrom and Stephen Kelly will add options to the full back position. No major departures this summer, so these two signings should improve the squad that finished 7th last season.
Prediction – Like Everton it is dependant on whether they keep their key defender, if Hangeland stays then they could build on last season’s impressive finish however if he departs then they could drop into the bottom half. Andrew Johnson needs to find the back of the net more too. My prediction – 9th
Hull burst onto the scene last season and took the league by storm, occupying a top4 spot in October, however they struggled for points for the rest of season and slowly slipped down the league, Newcastle’s defeat on the final day meant they stayed up, the reason for their fall from grace is up for debate, but many think Phil Brown may be to blame.
Key Player – Jimmy Bullard may be injured at the moment but when he returns to full fitness he should walk straight into the team and the fans will be delighted to see him. The club do have many quality players including Geovanni, Mendy and Michael Turner, but Bullard is the sort of player who can turn a game on its head and that is exactly what this team lacked for the second half of last season.
One to watch – Nicky Featherstone has only made a few appearances for the first team but at 20 years old he will be hoping to be more involved this season.
Transfer Business – Hull have removed some of the dead wood in John Welsh, Wayne Brown and Ryan France, they have even allowed club legend Dean Windass to depart to take up a playing/coaching role at Darlington. Seyi Olofinjana joins from Stoke City and highly rated American Jozy Altidore joins on loan from Villarreal.
Prediction – Avoiding relegation again is perhaps the best the club can hope for despite Brown’s claims earlier in the summer that his side are aiming for a European place, with one or two of the key players being linked out of the club, it is essential that they hold on to them if they are to have a chance of survival. Will they suffer from the dreaded second season syndrome? My prediction – 19th
For teams 11-20: Part Two - Click Here See also the forum thread: Premiership Preview and Predictions - 2009/10 Season
Away fans, feel free to join in on the thread (banter/discussion not abuse please!) and let us know what you think of these predictions
Could this be the final league standings?
2 Man Utd
6 Man City
7 Aston Villa
11 West Ham