Friday, August 10, 2007

Premiership 2007/08 preview

Ah well, since I don't seem to be making much progress on the academic front, why not talk a little footy for the moment?

I'm quite looking forward to this year's Premiership season actually; I think it has the potential to become the most exciting yet. I don't think there's much to separate the Big 4, and I see a couple of other teams making a renewed challenge to their hegemony. I would especially love it if say, with only four matches remaining, all of the Big 4 (or even 5, Spurs anyone?) were still in contention for the title.

Big 4
Manchester United: The squad looks as good as ever, even if I think we're a little light on the striker front. Hargreaves, if overpriced, will still be a valuable addition especially as we don't have any other midfielder like him. I haven't seen Nani or Anderson in action, but Nani in particular has been much praised - Deco apparently told Mourinho that he missed out big-time. Still, I'm sure it'd take some time for them to settle, but it means we're covered in midfield, especially since Giggs in particular probably won't be able to play as many games at optimum level. It's a shame about the Heinze saga, since I like him, but we do have some talented young defenders - Pique, Evans, and Bardsley. I expect one will have an O'Shea like breakthrough. It's a shame we had to lose Rossi and Smith too, although I understand why we had to let them go. Rossi was in search of first-team football, and while I like Smith's tenacity, he's not exactly a 20-goal striker is he? Tevez/Rooney together? We'll see.

Chelsea: They've spent sensibly. I've watched Malouda in the World Cup and think he's great, and certainly it seemed that way in the Community Shield. They've added some badly needed defensive cover in the form of Ben-Haim and Alex and the returning Glen Johnson. Pizarro is a big name but is a bit of a gamble, although one worth taking considering he was free. Sidwell is another good addition too. How well will they cope without Essien and Drogba when they're away at the African Nations Cup? That I think, will be the key as to whether they can reclaim the title or not.

Liverpool: Liverpool always look great on paper, but it's always been about team chemistry for them. They have plenty of big names - Torres, Babel, Voronin etc etc. What Benitez needs to do is stop rotating the squad a la Ranieri. He should establish a core like what Mourinho does with Terry and Lampard. If he accomplishes that, Liverpool is a scary team.

Arsenal: You write off Arsenal at your own peril. After all, Man U fans know all about "winning with kids" don't we? Sure Henry is gone, and he will be a big loss, but this remains a potent squad. I think Arsenal's only mistake was not to keep Sol Campbell years ago, as he provides a wise head and a physical presence in Arsenal's defense, which I think still remains a weakness. Still, Van Persie looks like he's ready to graduate from potential to star, and Wenger is a good buyer, so De Silva might turn out to be a great capture as well. The test for this team would be whether they can kill off the smaller teams. Oh, and if Wenger is still looking to improve his squad, he should look for an out-and-out winger. Neither Rosicky nor Hleb are true wingers, and someone to spread the opposing team would be a devastating weapon in their arsenal (pun intended).

Tottenham: It's Big 4, but I include Spurs because maybe, just maybe, this is the year where there'll actually be included in this category. They must defend better, and keeping King healthy will be imperative. They bought Kaboul, the French Under-21 captain who also comes with a big reputation, to provide cover in this area as well. Secondly, they must hope that their yong midfield quartet improves. Can Lennon become a better crosser? Jenas and Zokora be more imposing? Malbranque recapture his Fulham form? If they do, then I think they will pose a genuine challenge.

UEFA Cuppers
Blackburn: Most people have them finishing midtable again, but I don't see why they can't challenge for a UEFA Cup spot. Their strikeforce is the best outside the top 4 (except maybe Newcastle?), and I am a fan of both Garmst Pedersen and Bentley. They've always had a sold defense. If Dunn can shake off his injury woes this is a team to reckon with. The only thing is that they don't quite possess as much depth. Still, I like Mark Hughes - he's now my no.1 choice, ahead of O'Neill and Moyes, to suceed Fergie when he goes.

Aston Villa and Everton: Speaking of those two managers, their teams might be fighting for UEFA Cup slots as well. Well, Everton is essentially the same, so it might be tougher for them, but Moyes always gets them to overachieve. Villa got Reo-Coker, and their new strikers, Carew and Young, will now get a full season together.

Intriguing
Newcastle: Who knows with Newcastle? A good strikeforce on paper, and a whole plethora of reinforcements at the back. And of course, that X Factor, Big Sam. I think it'd only be upper midtable for them, but who knows?

West Ham: They've suddenly decided they're Chelsea. But they don't yet possess quite the same pulling power, since it's only Alan Curbishley. They could end up anywhere, from fighting for UEFA cup spot to fighting relegation.

Portsmouth: This is a good team. They have a mean defence, Matthew Taylor's left foot, and my favourite Ghanaian, Sulley Muntari. Interesting too to see how Nugent will do.

Sunderland: Roy Keane. 'Nuff said. (Anything higher than 16th would be an achievement I think).


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Blogger Tim said...

how about them man city?

watched the game on sat night and i must say i was quite impressed.

and ur beloved united didnt exactly cover themselves in glory ;)

3:26 pm  
Blogger BK said...

I have to confess to being skeptical of Sven - it seems like he was playing Championship/Football Manager, the way he was buying players he's never seen live! We'll see after a month.

United have not started well. :( The striker crisis I was fretting over turned out to be a real worry. Hopefully Tevez with Giggs/Scholes will be enough of a stopgap till we get people back.

5:55 pm  
Anonymous alwyn said...

Spurs fan here (smile) - unfortunately, i can count (on the fingers of one hand!) the number of pro-Spurs ppl I know in Malaysia, sigh.

4:38 pm  

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