as great as we are, we tipsters gotta eat too

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Pre-Season EPL Post!

Okay, I'm feeling a little bored right now, so I'm just going to post my thoughts on how the EPL will shape out last season.

The Top 4
It's all about who has weakened less, not who has strengthened. Arsenal have lost Hleb and Flamini - both crucial in their lineup last season. They have also lost Gilberto Silva, a good backup in the midfield. Replacing them are Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri, you get the idea. United were close to losing Ronaldo, Chelsea were close to losing both Drogba and Lampard. How next season's top 4 shapes up will be mostly dependant on how Drogba/Lampard/Ronaldo, after not securing their intended move, perform for their team. Liverpool look to have strengthened the most by securing Robbie Keane, but they were lucky to draw against Standard Liege yesterday and I wonder if Benitez's other signings, Degen Ngog and Dossena, will be enough to overcome a 10+ point deficit last season. They still have not improved on their biggest weakness - the left midfield. I think that United will retain the title because I'm a fan, but don't count out Chelsea as they have signed Deco and Bosingwa. Arsenal to finish 4th as they have young and promising youngsters, but not the cutting edge quality that a Championship winning team needs.

The Top Half
Last season, Everton, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Portsmouth Manchester City, Westham made up the rest of the top 10.

Everton haven't been great in the transfer market and have lost Andy Johnson. With Anichebe at the Olympics, it's all up to Yakubu to do the scoring as Tim Cahill is out too. They've had a bad run in their friendlies and I think they won't do too well at the start, but they still have enough quality for 7th or 8th. A secret weapon could be Joleon Lescott, who terrorizes defences with his hideous looks and scored like 10 goals. But I wouldn't count on him to repeat that feat.

Aston Villa have gotten good replacements for Mellberg and Carson and the injured Bouma in Cuellar and Friedel + Brad Guzan + Shorey. Sidwell will provide some good midfield cover and with Barry confirmed staying, and seeing him play his heart out for them, I think they should be able to secure a 6th spot finish.

For Blackburn, I forsee them dropping into the bottom half with the loss of David Bentley, their creative outlet whose great partnership with Roque Santa Cruz led a mediocre side to 7th place. Pedersen cannot fill Bentley's shoes as he's been off form for the entire last season, and Paul Ince is an unknown when it comes to the Premiership.

Portsmouth have signed Crouch and I think the Crouch/Defoe partnership should blossom and reward them with goals. I'll expect them to maintain their position as they've lost Muntari and Mendes, and their midfield looks short on quality cover. A few unfortunate injuries and Redknapp's shrewdness won't be able to save them.

City have had striking woes, and with Jo at the Olympics, they won't solve them any time soon. Bojinov had shown some glimpses of talent but he is still far from match fitness. With the 10 week injury to Vassell, and the Thaksin saga unsettling the club, Mark Hughes has an uphill task and I think he'll be lucky to keep them in the top 10.

West Ham are another club who will remain in their mid table position. Their signing of Valon Behrami, an extremely explosive and versatile winger, will definitely add more squad depth to their permanently injury ravaged squad. If they can get their players out of the treatment room, then they might have some room for improvement.

The Bottom Half
It was Spurs, Newcastle, Boro, Wigan, Sunderland, Bolton, Fulham who survived last season.

Spurs have definitely strengthened with a lot of quality signings - Luka Modric, Giovanni Dos Santos, David Bentley, Heurelho Gomes and potentially Arshavin. They look very well equipped in the midfield department, but should Berbatov leave for Man Utd they will be short in the striking department. Bent isn't a shitkicker but to rely on him to score 30+ goals for them to truly compete with the top 4 isn't an easy task, but with Juande Ramos around don't bet against Spurs getting 5th.

Newcastle look to have some debt issues but have signed Coloccini, who will definitely help out in their leaky defence, as well as Jonas Gutierrez who is a decent pacy winger who can help them get goals. I don't see them improving much, they will linger as a mid table team.

On to Boro, Didier Digard? Marvin Emnes? WTF? No replacement for Schwarzer? Ross Turnbull in goal? Boro will probably win like half their games against the big teams, but lose the rest and escape relegation by the skin of their teeth.

Wigan will probably fall into 13th-16th place again as they have a brilliant Steve Bruce managing them, as well as exciting youngsters like Palacios and Valencia going forward. Kapo, De Ridder and Cattermole will give the midfield some depth and not make them rely on Koumas, who is slower than my grandmother, and Michael Brown, who plays "Kick The Leg" instead of football. Their back 4 still looks short on cover and I think that might be their weakness next season.

Roy Keane has been active in the transfer "from spurs" market, signing Chimbonda, Malbranque and Tainio. They have Premiership pedigree and will help strengthen a Sunderland side which, in their first season, signed Championship quality players and still stayed up. Diouf will add some flair to their attack and could prove to be an excellent second striker behind Kenwyne Jones (who is unfortunately injured ATM). It should not be too hard for Sunderland to survive comfortably, probably in the 13th-15th position.

Bolton are a team that I truly hate to the core, and they have undergone a complete overhaul. The key man is Johan Elmander, who I think might be able to save them from relegation. I hope not though, and I wish that they go down.

Last on the list is Fulham, and they actually play much better football than Bolton do. With Andy Johnson leading the attack, and Schwarzer to replace Kasey Keller who left, as well as the tactical mastery of Roy Hodgson (well, he DID manage Inter, Switzerland and Finland..), I think they can survive. It all depends on whether Johnson can keep fit, as they will sorely miss Brian Mcbride.

The Promotees
I'm banking on West Brom to stay up, solely based on the fact that in the history of the Premiership, only in 1 instance has the 3 promoted teams been relegated in the following season. So the stats speak for itself. West Brom are the best out of the 3, as they play decent attacking football. The loss of Kevin Phillips to Birmingham won't hit them hard as they have gotten Ishmael Miller, Roman Bednar and Luke Moore. They WILL miss Zoltan Gera who went off to Fulham, but with Carson in goal, I think they can survive and finish probably 16th.

Stoke are a very physical and direct team. They are like Sam Allardyce's Bolton. They will go down. Dave Kitson will not score the 20+ goals that they will need for them to stay up. Thomas Sorensen will not keep out the 90 goals that they will concede.

Hull City probably had 0.1% chance of staying up. With the lack of strikers at Man Utd and Fergie's reluctance to let Fraizer Campbell stay for another season, they have 0.01% chance of staying up, as it was Campbell's 15 goals in 30+ appearances that led them to that playoff spot. Dean Windass is turning 70 soon and the signings of Geovanni, Bernard Mendy and George Boateng do not look convincing enough. It's a fairytale come true, but one that will probably end come next May.


well, i'm WAAAYYY too lazy to post something of that length. what i'm gonna do is predict the winner, the relegated teams, and the over/underachievers.

Winner: Liverpool
Few teams actually manage winning the EPL 3 times in a row, and i do not think the current United team are good enough. ronaldo might be distracted, gary neville is back (great news for rival fans), they haven't signed anyone, and in case you were about to say berbatov, i feel berbatov is nowhere near the right signing for utd, and should they get him, i'm pretty sure they will find it hard to accomodate him should everyone be fit. vidic and ferdinand are one injury away from becoming vidic and brown or ferdinand and brown, and one further injury away from being o'shea and brown, which erm sux. manu have been very lucky with injuries the past two seasons, and i see that luck running out. CHELSEA, have been tipped to win it, but i feel they have too many midfielders for their own good, and i don't think scolari is the right man to manage them. he adds practicality to flair sides (eg brazil and portugal), but with a practical side, he might not know how to manage them. ARSENAL, much as i love them, look really inexperienced and understaffed, especially in centre-midfield. LIVERPOOL are being written off by everyone, and i think this will help them as teams might underestimate them. everyone seems to forget that they had agger out for the whole of last season, while they have a worldclass midfield of alonso, gerrard and mascherano. the likes of babel and torres will leave defenders quaking in their boots, while carragher, skrtel and agger will be solid as ever. should dossena and degen prove to be fullbacks in the class of sagna, the rest of the league should really watch out. and let's not forget robbie keane. his energy and creativity will help to lessen some of the load on stevie g. besides, they haven't won the league in so long, i think they're due it.

Relegated teams: Stoke, West Brom, Hull
Stoke play like Bolton, and look where Bolton got last season. bolton has superior quality and just escaped relegation, so a team playing similarly with shittier players will go down, surely.
West Brom like to play an open attacking game. End of story. Enough said. I'm sorry, boys, you're going down if you play good quality football with a bunch of shitkickers. besides, scott carson being there will not make that big a difference. teams like watford and charlton have gone down with keepers like carson and foster.
Hull have tried their best to strengthen, but i don't think they have done enough in the transfer market, and i think they will enjoy their ride.

Over-achievers: West Ham, Arsenal
West Ham have a good squad, plus Dean Ashton ended last season playing quite well. i expect him to explode this season, along with bellamy when he comes back from injury. the signing of valon behrami looks to be shrewd, considering how his pace and trickery should be adequate to dispose of most of the leftbacks in the league.
Arsenal have been tipped to be overtaken by spurs in the top 4 after a spending spree at white hart lane, but i think arsenal will overachieve, by actually finishing in the top 2 this season. arsenal have missed the likes of van persie, rosicky, and eduardo, and if all 3 are fit by october, i think arsenal have a realistic shot at the title.

Under-achievers: Blackburn, Chelsea
Blackburn will probably finish near the relegation zone this season. an over-reliance on david bentley was obvious last season, and now that he's gone, they are really gonna struggle. ryan nelsen isn't getting any younger, and roque santa cruz is an unhappy man. paul ince is a useless manager, looking at his signings so far. they'll really struggle this term.
Chelsea being tipped as champions, will probably end up behind Arsenal and Liverpool. I just have this feeling something will go wrong. they have a very good team on paper, though, so i might be completely wrong. however, i feel scolari will screw it up for them, get sacked midway through the season, and then be replaced by some complete useless bugger.


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