**Premiership Season 2009/10 Preview** Pt2
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.
For the first part: Part One
Liverpool were close to winning the league last season but the competition is fiercer this year with the arrival of Man City and Chelsea finally appointing a proven manager. Rafa has been at the club a long time now and knows the ability of his players very well. Gerrard, Carragher and Torres staying injury free would obviously be vital to their success.
Key Player – Fernando Torres offers a real goal threat, and for years it was the difference between Liverpool and their three closest rivals. Torres has the ability to create his own goals much like Henry did at Arsenal. This will be his third year at the club and he will no doubt be aiming for 20 odd goals in the league and some silverware too.
One to watch – Nabil El Zhar is a Moroccan winger who featured many times last season, he will probably become even more involved in the upcoming campaign.
Transfer Business – Xabi Alonso left this summer and the club also said goodbye to fan favourite Sami Hyypia, Liverpool have made two major signings however in the shape of Glen Johnson and Italian international midfielder Alberto Aquilani.
Prediction – They are stronger than Arsenal but still not quite as strong as Man Utd or Chelsea. Aquilani is a quality buy for the club but the departure of Xabi Alonso is a devastating blow as they prepare to compete for the title. My prediction – 3rd
Mark Hughes has money to spend and he is being very clever with who he spends the money on, having signed players from Arsenal, Aston Villa and Man Utd. He has also targeted key players at Chelsea and Everton, by strengthening his side with players from the clubs above him he is also weakening those teams who pose a threat to a top4 finish in the process.
Key Player – Carlos Tevez made the decision to move across the city and take up a new challenge. He has won the Premier League with Manchester United and now he wants to do the same with their local rivals.
One to watch – Nedum Onuoha impressed for the England Under 21’s this summer and will be hoping to be part of Man City’s team as they aim for a top4 finish.
Transfer Business – Man City have been spending big this summer, Kolo Toure and Adebayor from Arsenal, Barry from Villa, Santa Cruz from Blackburn and of course Carlos Tevez from Manchester United. They have got rid of some of the reserves too with Michael Ball and Vassell both departing. Joe Hart has been loaned out to Premiership new boys Birmingham. Mark Hughes is now targeting Lescott.
Prediction – Man City have mainly strengthened their forward line and midfield, and the lack of signings at the back could prove disastrous in the long run. Also many wonder whether Mark Hughes can really compete with experienced managers like Ferguson, Wenger, Benitez and Ancelotti. If they get a defender in and if they can gel then the sky’s the limit. My prediction – 6th
Man City may have been buying everyone, but its Manchester United that have been making the headlines with Ronaldo leaving for £80million and Sir Alex signing a player that many think has lost it, Michael Owen. The signing of Owen could be a masterstroke or it could prove to be a disaster for the champions. Fergie believes Chelsea to be the only threat to the title, time will tell.
Key Player – Wayne Rooney is the biggest name at the club following Ronaldo’s departure and should have a major part to play this season. Rooney is the main man at Old Trafford now and he will be hoping to score enough goals to ensure a 4th consecutive title.
One to watch – Danny Welbeck, only 18 but this promising striker will hope to become more involved this season having only played in cup games so far.
Transfer Business – Tevez and Ronaldo have gone but the club has brought in 3 new players, Owen Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia. With the World Cup next summer, Owen is going to want to be in Fabio Capello’s squad.
Prediction – Will Man Utd become the first team to win the top division four years running? Will Owen do the business? Will Ronaldo’s departure hurt the team? It’s going to be an interesting season for Man Utd. My prediction – 2nd
Portsmouth fans must be frustrated at the moment, their takeover seems to have been going on for ages, Peter Crouch has followed Defoe and Diarra out the door and Distin has been linked to a host of clubs. Meanwhile there has been uncertainty surrounding who will be manager this season, Paul Hart has been appointed but can he continue the job Harry Redknapp started? Stark contrasts when you look back 12 months, Portsmouth were going into the season as the FA Cup holders.
Key Player – David James, it’s going to be a long season for Pompey but their veteran keeper could play a key role.
One to watch – David Nugent, with Peter Crouch gone its time for the former Preston striker to stand up and be counted.
Transfer Business – Sol Campbell, Glen Johnson, Sean Davis, Lauren and Crouch have all left, Distin has been linked with a move away, meanwhile the club have made only two signings of note, Mokoena has joined from Blackburn and former Liverpool full back Steve Finnan has been brought in to replace Johnson.
Prediction – Relegation is a really possibility for the south coast club. Paul Hart has a big job on his hands. Despite losing many first team players, they do still have a reasonably decent squad and that may just be enough to avoid the drop. My prediction – 17th
Tony Pulis has put together a very physical side that battles for every point. With James Beattie in the side he has a natural goal scorer, which is important no matter where you are aiming to be in the league. Pulis also has some very talented individuals in his squad including Thomas Sorensen, Abdoulaye Faye, Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington.
Key Player – Rory Delap, some players can take a fantastic free kick, some a penalty and others a corner, Delap possesses an incredible throw. Many goals came from his throw-ins last season and I think it is reasonable to assume that Stoke will continue to use his unique skill to create chances.
One to watch – Ryan Shawcross, he looked good last year and he will be hoping to continue that form for Stoke this season.
Transfer Business – Their only signing of note is Dean Whitehead, the former Sunderland Captain adds further bite to a very hard working side.
Prediction – Many will be predicting Stoke to be relegated, and that is quite possible however if Beattie can score the goals and Sorensen can keep some clean sheets then Stoke should manage to stay in the top flight. My prediction – 16th
Steve Bruce doesn’t always get the praise he deserves, but the former Wigan manager is the right man to take Sunderland to the next level. Having finished 16th under Ricky Sbragia, Bruce will be hoping to take Sunderland into Europe. Armed with money, a supportive chairman, an already decent squad, plus a superb stadium and loyal fans, Sunderland could very well be this season’s surprise package.
Key Player – Darren Bent, despite being 4th choice at Spurs last season he was still the club’s top goal scorer, and deemed surplus to requirement by Redknapp, Bruce snapped him up for £10million. If Bent can score the goals then Sunderland could challenge for a top8 finish and he could earn himself a place in England’s World Cup squad next summer.
One to watch – Fraizer Campbell has joined from Man Utd, after an unsuccessful spell at Spurs, however at 21 he is full of potential and he showed during his time at Hull City that he is capable of scoring goals. He is likely to be back up to Kenwyne Jones and Bent to start with but you can expect to see him involved at some point this season.
Transfer Business – Campbell and Bent as mentioned above, plus midfielder Lorik Cana from Marseille and Paraguay Captain Paulo da Silva. Last season’s captain Dean Whitehead has joined Stoke, Michael Chopra has left to rejoin Cardiff City and veteran Dwight Yorke has been released.
Prediction – Steve Bruce is the right man to take Sunderland into the next phase of their development under Niall Quinn, a top ten finish would be a good season for the Black Cats and they would then be in a position to establish themselves in the top8. My prediction – 10th
Had Harry Redknapp been in charge at the start of last season, Spurs may have qualified for Europe, however his squad selections in last year’s UEFA Cup would suggest he wouldn’t have taken it very seriously if he had. As usual Spurs are being mentioned as a team that could potentially break the top4, however they are more likely to be aiming for a top6 finish. They certainly have some quality players however since Martin Jol was forced out, the club have struggled to match their ambitions. Could this be the year?
Key Player – Ledley King, on his day he is one of the best defenders in the country, unfortunately he is injury prone, if he and partner Jonathan Woodgate were able to stay fit they would have a real chance of success. As it is they are both set to miss the start of the season.
One to watch – Kyle Naughton, Redknapp beat a host of clubs to land the highly rated full back and he will be hoping to get ahead of Hutton and Chimbonda in the pecking order as soon as possible. Naughton can also play at left back.
Transfer Business – As well as Naughton the club have also signed Kyle Walker who has returned to Sheffield United on loan, England international Peter Crouch and Newcastle’s big centre back, Sebastien Bassong. However they have sold last season’s top goal scorer Darren Bent and Didier Zakora has joined Sevilla.
Prediction – Fans will be hoping for more of the same after Redknapp pulled the side out of the relegation zone and into the top half last term. It’s going to be tough this season for a top6 place, Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester City all providing Spurs with some stiff competition. My prediction – 8th
Gianfranco Zola has done an incredible job with the hammers, getting the best out of certain players, particularly Carlton Cole who is now hoping to establish himself in Capello’s England side.
Key Player – Robert Green, some say no-one rates him as highly as he rates himself but it must be said that Green has become a real contender to become England’s Number One keeper. If Green can keep enough clean sheets and Cole can score some goals then there is no reason why West Ham won’t stay in the top half this season.
One to watch – James Tomkins, the young Centre Back has been introduced to first team responsibilities very slowly, but the England Under 21 international should become more involved this season.
Transfer Business – Lucas Neill’s contract expired at the end of last season and he has been linked with a return to the club throughout the summer, Zola has brought in several young players though including Chelsea’s Frank Nouble, his main signing so far however is the loan acquisition of Inter Milan playmaker Luis Jimenez.
Prediction – Many of West Ham’s rivals have spent money and it will be hard for them to remain in the top half. It will be a big challenge for Zola to improve on last season’s league finish. My prediction – 11th
Roberto Martinez is the new manager, and fans are more than familiar with him as he played for the club during the late 90’s. He did a brilliant job at Swansea by winning the League One title in 2008 and he will want to establish himself as top flight manager very quickly, especially when considered he is a favourite to be the first managerial casualty of the season.
Key Player – Chris Kirkland, one of the league’s finest keepers but he rarely gets the recognition he deserves. Over the last couple of seasons he has played a major part for this team and I suspect this season will see more of the same.
One to watch – Lee Cattermole, he has improved greatly at Wigan from the player we first saw at Middlesbrough and he will continue to grow into a brilliant midfielder.
Transfer Business – Jason Scotland of Swansea is their biggest signing this summer and the Trinidad and Tobago international will be hoping to replicate his goal scoring exploits that won his much praise in the Championship. Scott Sinclair is on loan from Chelsea, Jordi Gomez of Espanyol and Honduran International Hendry Thomas have also signed.
Prediction – Steve Bruce left a pretty strong squad so Wigan should be able to finish mid-table, relegation is unlikely but not impossible as Newcastle showed last season. Jason Scotland is a more than able replacement for Zaki. Wigan finished 11th last season and may struggle to beat that this year. My prediction – 13th
Mick McCarthy has been here before; he won promotion with Sunderland in 2005, only to be sacked toward the end of the following season. Wolves do have a strong side however, with a combination of youth such as Michael Kightly and Richard Stearman and plenty of experience in Jody Craddock and Marcus Hahnemann.
Key Player – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, it was his goals that helped the team in the bid for promotion last season and his goals could be key to Wolves’ chances of survival.
One to watch – Andrew Surman, signed this summer from Southampton this England Under 21’s midfielder is highly rated and thanks to McCarthy he has a chance to prove himself in front of Premiership audiences.
Transfer Business – Kevin Doyle has signed from Reading and will join a side with plenty of goal scoring capability. Greg Halford has joined for £2million from Sunderland, Andrew Surman from Southampton and veteran keeper Marcus Hahnemann has also been brought in. The club have sold Darren Potter to Sheffield Wednesday.
Prediction – With Doyle, Ebanks-Blake and Chris Iwelumo, Wolves are perhaps the best equipped of the promoted sides when it comes to scoring goals, but despite that this will be an extremely tough season. My prediction – 18th
I'll publish part two later, for a preview, see 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