Thursday, August 13, 2009

Premier League predictions

THE BIG FOUR (teams that can legitimately claim a shot at the title):

1) CHELSEA - The Blues continue their strong performance from the end of last year and wrest the title. They'd better, because if things go south, the ghost of Guus will haunt their new boss.

2) MANCHESTER UNITED - A struggle for offense without Cristiano will keep the Red Devils just shy of a repeat. And don't underestimate the need to play Foster in goal at the start of the season.

3) ARSENAL - Could be a title contender if everything went right, but that's too much to bank on.

4) LIVERPOOL - See Arsenal. The loss of Xavi Alonso will hurt the Reds deeply.

THE BIG FOUR CONTENDERS (teams that will push for UCL but will instead fight it out for UEL contention):

5) EVERTON - Still knocking on the door, but still not quite enough quality to run with the big dogs.

6) MANCHESTER CITY - Spending a lot of money on questionable value strikers (see Tevez, Carlos) doesn't buy you a Champions League spot. Or a defense.

7) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR - 'Arry's boys will have more than two points in October, but won't have the firepower to move into Europe.

8) FULHAM - Thin squad worries and European demands will cost an otherwise solid Fulham points during the season.

9) ASTON VILLA - The loss of Gareth Barry and a lack of quality signings mean Villa's end-of-season performance last year should continue.

MID-TABLE SAFETY (no chance of Europe, no chance of relegation):

10) SUNDERLAND - Upgrade in manager, upgrade in strikers, but the Black Cats a year away from challenging for Europe.

11) WEST HAM UNITED - Zola's men have enough to hold serve, but not enough offensive punch to challenge for anything.

12) BOLTON WANDERERS - Another solid, if unspectactular, side that should be safely in the top flight for another year.

13) BLACKBURN ROVERS - Big Sam's anti-football keeps Blackburn comfortably mid-table.

14) STOKE CITY - The Potters figured out how to play tough and hard-nosed while still playing football towards the end of last season.

RELEGATION THREATENED (teams that will flirt with The Drop):

15) HULL CITY - The start of a new season and a flurry of late signings will be enough for J. Jonah Jamison's men to stay out of the drop zone.

16) WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS - Manager's Premier League experience (bad as it may be) should be enough to guide Wolves to safety.

17) BIRMINGHAM CITY - Just enough defensive prowess to scrape draws and steal points needed for safety.

THE DOOMED (teams that will join the 2010/11 Fizzy Pop league):

18) WIGAN ATHLETIC - Rookie manager + shedding quality players = the end of the run for the Latics.

19) BURNLEY - The Premier League ain't a cup run. The marathon of the season will wear the Clarets out.

20) PORTSMOUTH - This year's Newcastle.

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