Friday, 13 August 2010

Premiership Predictions

The Premiership is finally back tomorrow and it promises to be yet another thrilling season. This weekend, it is back with a bang with huge games like Spurs v Man City, Liverpool v Arsenal and Man. Utd. v Newcastle. Here are my opening day predictions.

Tottenham v Man City Prediction: 2 - 1

In a repeat of the game that decided the final English team to participate in the Champions League last season, Tottenham and Man City do battle again as the Premiership season starts with a bang. Tottenham won that game and I think that the outcome could be the same this time around.

A lot has changed since then at the City of Manchester Stadium. As expected, lots of money has been spent and many big name players have arrived at Eastlands. Man City could have the strongest squad on paper in the Premiership next season but nothing is won on paper and the players need to gel as a team. Roberto Mancini won't know what his best team is yet and many of their players will be unsure if their future.

In contrast, Harry Redknapp has been frustrated by his side's lack of activity in the transfer market but this could help them get off to a good start as they don't have the same problems that City have. With Tottenham playing at home as well, I think Spurs might edge it and get their season off to a very good start.

Aston Villa v West Ham Prediction: 1 - 0

Aston Villa have been shocked by the sudden departure of Martin O'Neill and it is difficult to know how this will have affected their team. They are a group of professionals and with Kevin MacDonald they will look to put that behind them and start the season positively.

West Ham will be harder to beat under Avram Grant this season but this is a tricky opening day fixture for them and I can't see them winning it.

Blackburn v Everton Prediction: 0 - 1

Blackburn improved a lot under Sam Allardyce last season and their home form in particular, was very impressive. They will once again be a difficult team to beat but could struggle to score goals this season and they have struggled to strengthen in the transfer market.

Everton have had a positive pre-season and will be pleased with the signing of Jermaine Beckford and Mikel Arteta recently signing a new contract. Everton had a fantastic end to last season and will be going into the season full of confidence. It's going to be close but I think Moyes's men may win it.

Bolton v Fulham Prediction: 1 - 1

Bolton are steadily improving under Owen Coyle who has made some good signings this summer and should comfortably avoid relegation. Fulham have lost Roy Hodgson to Liverpool and have replaced him with Mark Hughes. He has inherited the same squad from last season but it is still unlikely that they will be able to repeat last season's successes.

These two teams shouldn't have too many problems with relegation and are both contenders to be mid table by the end of the season. Therefore, it should be an even encounter and looks quite likely to end in a draw.

Sunderland v Birmingham Prediction: 2 - 1

Birmingham were a surprise last season as they surpassed all expectations by finishing 9th. Sunderland started well but then faded and ended the season in a slightly disappointing 13th. This should be a close one with Sunderland improving under Steve Bruce and Birmingham unlikely to repeat last season's achievements but Sunderland's home advantage tips the result in their favour.

Wigan v Blackpool Prediction: 2 - 0

I think that both of these teams could be in a relegation fight this season. Blackpool have added 5 new players to their squad this week but still they are short of quality and Wigan's porven quality and Premiership quality should be enough to see off Blackpool.

Wolves v Stoke Prediction: 0 - 1

Wolves have been busy improving their squad with Mick McCarthy attracting the likes of Stephen Hunt to Molineux. Mick McCarthy willl be hopeful that his team can improve after a good first season in the Premiership.

Stoke have been less busy but their recent capture of Kenwyne Jones could be a fantastic buy. He has struggled to fulfil his potential at Sunderland but, given Stoke's style of play and of course Rory Delap's long throw, Stoke may be the place for Jones to fulfil his potential.

Stoke are a well-organised team and proved hard to beat on the road last season. This is a difficult one to call but Stoke have a few matchwinners in Fuller, Etherington and Jones and I think they could snatch it.

Chelsea v West Brom Prediction: 2 - 0

Chelsea begin the defence of their Premiership title at home to newly promoted West Brom. Chelsea will be keen to get off to a good start in the league after a disappointing result in the Community Shield against Man Utd.

West Brom will hope to be more resilient and harder to beat than the last time they were in the Premiership with Tony Mowbray and Chelsea are generally slow starters. Nevetheless, I fully expect Chelsea to take all three points but don't think it ill be as convincing as some may think.

Liverpool v Arsenal Prediction: 2 - 1

This should be an enthralling contest as Roy Hodgson celebrates his first game in charge at Anfield. There will also be some new faces on the field for Liverpool with Joe Cole likely to make his debut.

Arsenal have also made some additions to their squad. Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielney have arrived as Arsenal attempt to win their first trophy since 2005 and their first Premiership title since 2004.

This is almost an impossible one to call but I'm going to put my neck on the line and say that Liverpool will win in Hodgson's first game in charge and with the home crowd on their side.

Man Utd v Newcastle Prediction: 2 - 0

The opening weekend to the new Premiership season will be rounded off in style as Newcastle visit Old Trafford. Newcastle will be rejuvenated and confident after a successful season in the Championship but it could still be a tough season for them.

One thing that is for sure is that this will be a very tough game. United will be looking for revenge after missing out on the title to Chelsea and will be keen to make an early statement to their rivals.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Community Shield: Man Utd 3 - 1 Chelsea

The Community Shield is not the most glamourous or important competition to win this season but Manchester United's 3 - 1 Wembley win over Chelsea on Sunday will mean that they start the new season with a slight psychological advantage over their main rivals.

Ferguson's men came in second place behind champions Chelsea in the Premiership last season as Carlo Ancelotti marked his first season as Chelsea manager with an impressive domestic double whereas United could only win the Carling Cup , but this result shows that United are hungry for revenge.

Ferguson will have been just as pleased with his team's performamce as he was with the result and, in particular, the individual contributions of Wayne Rooney, who responded well have after a miserable World Cup, and Paul Scholes, whose masterful performance showed that he will be an important player for United this season. Man Utd's substitutes also made impacts with Berbatov and new signing Javier Hernandez both getting on the scoresheet.

Man Utd scored their first goal when Valencia finished from inside the penalty area after a cross from Wayne Rooney. United doubled their lead in the 76th minute when Javier Hernandez finished from close range in bizarre fashion after a cross from the excellent Valencia.

United then had Van der Sar to thank as he saved well with his foot from Daniel Sturridge's low shot. The Dutchman denied Sturridge for a second time after that but could only parry the ball out to Kalou who was left with a simple finish. Kalou's goal got Chelsea should have sparked a tense end to the game as Chelsea pushed for an equaliser but United had other ideas as they lured Chelsea into false sene of security as they began to play keep ball between themselves; luring Chelsea into a false sense of security before Hernandez's through ball released Berbatov who showed his class with a perfect lob over the despairing Hilario. Dimitar Berbatov also made a late impact after being introduced as a substitute and showed his fantastic skill and touch with a perfect lob over the despairing Hilario.

Berbatov's goal rounded off an impressive Man Utd performance in an entertaining game by the standards of the Community Shield. There are plenty of more important fixtures to come between now and the end of the season but atleast United can have a good start ahead of their game with Newcastle on Monday.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Premiership Preview 2010/11: The Relegation Candidates

With the title race looking likely to be one of the most wide open and close in Premiership history, you can be quite sure that the fight for survival will provide plenty of drama as well.

The three newly promoted teams could all be in a relegation fight this year. Many have already written off Blackpool who exceeded all expectations last year when they reached the Premiership via the play offs. But Ian Holloway will face possibly the biggest challenge of his career when he attempts to steer Blackpool to Premiership safety. Ian Holloway has remained loyal to the players that helped get his side promotion but it is unlikely that their current squad will have enough quality to survive. Blackpool have nothing to lose and will be determined to prove people wrong but with limited Premiership quality, it could be a long season for the Seasiders.

West Brom will also go into the new season as one of the favourites for relegation. Last year, they enjoyed yet more Championship success when they got automatic promotion. But they were along way of champions Newcastle and have suffered much Premiership misfortunate in recent years. Under Roberto Di Matteo, West Brom's attractive playing style has continued but will he be able to find the Premiership winning formula?

Newcastle won the Championship last season and in stark contrast to their relegation season, they will be returning full of confidence and optimism and looking like a more stable club on and off the field. Much of the credit for that turnaround must go to Chris Hughton who has made some potentially shrewd moves in the transfer window. Dan Gosling and Sol Campbell have joined on free tranfers to bolster a squad which already boasts plenty of Premiership quality so they should be safe.

Wolves survived their first season back in the top flight but with that success comes the inevitable suggestion that they may be affected by the "second season syndrome". Wolves survived despite scoring less goals than any other Premiership team last season and this is a problem that they will have to solve or it could be another long season for Mick McCarthy's men.

Wigan and Blackburn could also have long seasons ahead and appear to be quite strong candidates for a real scrap this season. Wigan have lost Titus Bramble to Sunderland which could prove to be vital and Blackburn appear to have limited attacking options after a frustrating transfer window and could also be dragged into a battle to avoid the drop.

Bolton struggled under Gary Megson last season but the arrival of Owen Coyle seems to have lifted everyone at the Reebok as will the addition of Martin Petrov in particular. With the fans back on side and Coyle at the helm, they should be safe.

Stoke City were the second lowest goalscorers in the Premiership last season and after having seemingly failed in their ambitious attempts to attract top attacking targets Loic Remy and Carlton Cole to the Britannia Stadium, it could be a difficult season for them. But Tony Pulis is a good manager and Stoke have gone from strength to strength in recent years and with a vociferous support helping them all the way, they should be safe.

Birmingham may struggle to repeat last season's excellent 9th place finish but should be safe and Avram Grant should be able to steer West Ham to safety.

Anyone of a number of teams could be dragged into a relegation battle this season though and it is sure to be an intriguing and unpredictable race for safety. One thing that you can bet on though is that it will be a fascinating season.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Premiership Preview 2010/11: The Title Contenders

With the Premiership season fast approaching, it seems like a good time to take a look at the possible title contenders for the new season and it seems that this year could be one of the most wide open and unpredictable seasons in recent years.

It's likely that Man. Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal will challenge again and, despite Rafa Benitez's disastrous final season as Liverpool manager , it is difficult to write Liverpool off as well. Tottenham will look to build on their impressive season last year where they broke the dominance of the so-called "Big four" but can they improve enough to mount a serious title challenge and, after another summer of big spending, it is hard to ignore Man City as genuine title contenders.


After last season's success, Chelsea have been quiet in the transfer window. Michael Ballack and Joe Cole have been allowed to leave the club and there remains uncertainty over the future of Ashley Cole who has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid. However, Carlo Ancelotti will remain optimistic over his side's chances this season. The arrival of Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool could prove to be a shrewd signing and Michael Essien's return from injury will be like a new signing for them. The champions will also know that they can rely on many of last year's stars which probably makes them slight favourites to win the title again.


Despite having to settle for 2nd place last season, Sir Alex Ferguson has resisted the temptation to make big changes at Old Trafford. In contrast to there neighbours Man. City, there have only been two additions to Man. Utd.'s squad this summer and neither Javier Hernandez or Chris Smalling could be described as "marquee" signings. However these signing do add to a wealth of young talent that Ferguson has at his disposal but there is never a guarantee that they will be good enough to step up and make an impact in the first team. There are also lingering doubts over the fitness of the likes of Hargreaves, Ferdinand and Owen which could be important if United are to be successful this season as will Wayne Rooney's form after such a poor World Cup. However, Ferguson will know that he will be able to rely on the experience of Giggs, Scholes and Neville which could be vital and means that it is likely that United will challenge again this season.


Arsene Wenger has added two new faces to his squad this summer and has been linked with others as the pressure builds on his youngsters to win a trophy. The arrivals of Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh look to be positive moves for Wenger but are they enough for Arsenal to win their first trophy since 2005? One thing that will be key for Arsene Wenger is that he can keep hold of Cesc Fabregas. It seems that he has succeeded in his fight to keep his captain at the Emirates this summer but it is clearly ony a matter of time before Fabregas moves to the Nou Camp. Arsene Wenger's faith in his young squad is admirable but Arsenal fans may start to lose patience if they fail again.


Liverpool have appointed Roy Hodgson as their new manager after Rafa Benitez moved to Inter Milan. This could prove to be a good appointment for Liverpool as there are few managers who will have the experience of Hodgson which could be vital as he attempts to stabilise Liverpool. However, their off-the-field problems mean that Roy Hodgson has a restricted transfer budget. This makes Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic who have arrived on free transfers even better signings. Jovanovic adds more cover up front where Liverpool had relied on injury prone Torres a little too much and Joe Cole could provide the creativity that Liverpool have lacked since the sale of Xabi Alonso last summer. Hodgson has also added Danny Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey to his squad and has resigned Fabio Aurelio. If Hodgson can add a few new faces to his squad and persuade Gerrard and Torres to commit their future to Liverpool, they must surely be considered title contenders.


Although Spurs performed above expectations last season, it is hard to see them seriously challenging for the title. Last season, they beat Man. City to the final Champions League spot but, consequently, they will have a far more congested fixture list than last season. This makes Harry Redknapp's attempts to bolster his squad even more important but even if he succeeds it is unlikely that they will be serious title contenders. Spurs may find finishing in the top 4 this season difficult. Man City have spent big once again and the pressure will be on Mancini to atleast break into the top 4.

Man City

As expected, Roberto Mancini has splashed the cash this summer and has added the likes of Boateng, Silva, Yaya Toure and Kolarov to his squad this summer. There are no signs of Man City's spending stopping either with Mario Balotelli heavily linked with a move to Eastlands this summer. Man City need to offload players though because of new Premiership rules restricting clubs to only 25 players over 21 years of age. With many players expected to leave this summer and more players expected to arrive, Man City could have a very different squad of players by the end of August and there is no guarantee that they will gel as a team which will be necessary if they are to seriously challenge for the title.

Predicted Top 6

1. Chelsea

2. Man Utd

3. Man City

4. Arsenal

5. Liverpool

6. Tottenham
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