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A look at the new English Premier League season

A look at the new English Premier League season

Mike Wood
It seems likes only minutes have past since the end of the 2006-2007 season of the English Premium League and yet the new season is upon us, with the first round of matches that started the 11th of August.
Shock and horror from some people, but a great relief to thousands of Thai fans and expats who dote upon football, and in particular the Premier League which is established worldwide amongst true football supporters as the best league in the world.
True fans of the game have been keeping a very keen eye on the events happening during the close season. The British tabloids and various Internet sites have been full of talks of take-overs, sacked and new managers, transfers in and transfers out of players as all clubs jockey to get themselves into the best possible position to launch a challenge for the title at the end of the year, not forgetting the ongoing saga of Sheffield United’s legal wrangle with the Premier league’s decision not to dock points from West Ham United for their illegal playing of Carlos Tevez.
Let’s take it club by club and look at their record in the transfer market and their potential for success this season. A number of clubs departed with their managers from last season for various reasons. Out went Sam Allardyce (Bolton), Paul Jewell (Wigan), Stuart Pearce (Manchester City), whilst in went Sammy Lee (Bolton), Chris Hutchings (Wigan), Sam Allardyce (Newcastle United) and finally, Sven Goran Ericksson (Manchester City). All of these will be striving hard to bring success to their respective clubs, obviously though, success for different clubs means different things.
The three promoted clubs, Birmingham, Derby and Sunderland would be happy to survive and keep their place in the premiership for the following season, whilst the big four clubs of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are chasing the premiership crown. There is tremendous pressure on both Arsene Venger (Arsenal) and Rafael Benitez (Liverpool) to win the premiership crown. Meanwhile, can clubs like Blackburn, Newcastle and Tottenham breach the top 4 and gain entry into the prestigious and money spinning Champion’s League?
Arsenal
Arsenal Biggest transfer out was that of Thierry Henry, Antoni Reyes and Jeremie Alladiere whilst they have signed Eduardo Da Silva and Lucas Fabianski. They finished 4th last season, should be in the same position this year, however if rumors continue of Venger’s departure this may well affect their final league position and entry into the Champion’s league. Venger may well be gone by this time next year, but he will not be sacked.
Aston Villa
Aston Villa has brought Reo-Coker and Harewood both from West Ham. They have released a number of players in particular Lee Hendrie and Juan Pablo Angel. Martin O’Neill will be under greater pressure to succeed this year and they might be candidates for a European place, however whatever happens he should still be in his job at the end of the season.
Birmingham City
Birmingham City has been taken over by a Hong Kong businessman, Carson Yeung. There is already talk about some inferior players arriving from the Far East. So far they have signed Kapo from Juventus, Parnaby (Middlesborough) and Muamba (Arsenal). The notable departures include N’Gotty and Clemence. They will struggle to make the grade and will be relegated. This season may well see the end of Steve Bruce’s reign at Saint Andrews.
Blackburn
There appears to be little happening at Blackburn with Nielsen and Rigters and Santa Cruz arriving and Andy Todd leaving. They will continue to be hard to beat, but have they got the quality to break into the top four, I doubt it. However, Mark Hughes will be safe and there for another season unless a bigger club poaches him.
Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers have continued the policy of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market. No major signings, but a number of deals with McCann and Samuel arriving from Villa and Mikel Alonso on loan from Real Sociedad with Ben Haim (Chelsea), Fortune and Pederson all leaving. They will miss Big Sam’s motivation and struggle this year to finish in the top half of the table. Will Little Sam survive, probably just for another year.
Chelsea
Chelsea has been relatively silent on the transfer scene in comparison with previous years. Alex from PSV, Sidwell from Reading and Ben Haim have been added whilst the main departures are Boulahrouz and Geremi (Newcastle). They will push all the way and may well regain their crown. Will this year see an end to the bitter struggle between manager and owner; I think so, especially if they capture the Champions League.
Derby
At Derby they have also been involved in some wheeling and dealing. Major buys are Robert Earnshaw from Norwich and Andy Todd with several minor players released. They will struggle to make the grade and will be relegated. Their manager Billy Davies may be the first casualty of the season.
Everton
So far only one major signing at Everton, Jagielka (Sheffield Utd), whilst Naysmith, Wright, Pistone and Phelan are all released. No more than a mid table position and manager David Moyes may well lose his job at the end of the season, if not before.
Fulham
Fulham meanwhile have been busy in the transfer market, in comes Kamara from West Brom, Hughes and Davies from Villa, Konchesky from West Ham and Healy from Leeds are the major signings whilst out goes Bown, Jensen, Pembridge, Radzinki and Crossley. They will need a really good start or may well be challenging to avoid the dreaded drop and I cannot see Laurie Sanchez lasting the season.
Liverpool
Liverpool has been very busy in the market with major signings of Torres from Athletico Madrid, Babel from Ajax, Benayoun from West Ham and a number of other imports from abroad. Benitez has had a major clear out and gone are Zenden, Fowler, Garcia, Cisse, Dudek and Bellamy to name a few. They will need to push all the way, however may have to settle for the runners up position at the best and a good run in the Champions League, anything less will see the demise of Benitez.
Manchester City
Manchester City will be looking for a great improvement this year and certainly closing the gap on their rivals United. I feel they will get no more then a mid table finish, but this will appear to be a success for Sven. Major signings include Bianchi, Elano from Donesk, Garrido, Geovanni and Fernandes, whilst out have gone Distin, Sinclair, Weaver and of course bad boy Joey Barton. Keep tuned for more signing including one or two Thais?
Manchester United
Manchester United has acquired the services of Anderson and Nani for 30 million pounds combined and the long awaited Hargreaves from Bayern Munich. Then they have just acquired Tevez on a 2 year loan and then a possible permanent transfer, I will not even attempt to go into the ins and outs of this transfer. United have released Richardson, Rossi and Smith, whilst Heinze may also be on his way. Whilst the new recruits might be very exciting players, the question is will United rue the non-signing of a top quality striker. Champions last year, I feel may lose out this year, but nothing more than an absolute disaster would see the end of Sir Alex. Any bets for the Champions League?
Middlesborough
Middlesborough have been a hit and miss team and I for one cannot see any improvement this year. Their main purchase this year has been Aliadiere, Sanli from Fenerbahce with Vidulka, Xavier (joining Beckham in LA) and Parnaby released. They may well be in the relegation dogfight to the bitter end, and I would not be surprised to see Southgate axed.
Newcastle
Newcastle United have signed Smith, Barton, Vidulka, Rozehnal (PSG) and Geremi and off loaded Parker, Bramble, Sibierski and Bernard to name a few. They must look for at least a UEFA cup spot, which I feel they may well get, but they will not challenge the top four clubs. Whatever happens, big Sam will get another year.
Portsmouth
Portsmouth has also been wheeling and dealing as is the norm for manager Harry Redknapp. His biggest signings have been Muntari from Udinese, Nugent from Preston and Distin from City. I do not think they will make any real improvement and will finish outside of the European places, but Harry should be ok.
Reading
Reading will find it harder this year as all other teams are much more aware of them. They have lost the influential Sidwell to Chelsea and Halford to Sunderland whilst not making any major signings other than Cisse from Boavista. Steve Coppell will have his work cut out, but should maintain his team’s premiership place, will he decide to continue?
Sunderland
Sunderland has purchased Chopra from Cardiff, Richardson, Halford and Anderson from Aberdeen with just Cunningham and Miller released. They will be the best of the promoted teams, with Roy Keane’s leadership they should gain a mid table position and is Roy a candidate for manager of the year. It should be interesting when he takes Sunderland back to Old Trafford.
Tottenham
Tottenham are really pushing for a top four finish and they may well edge out their neighbors Arsenal, if so Martin Jol will be safe. They have brought in bent from Charlton, Bale from Southampton, Kaboul from Auxerre to name a few and have released Hallfedsson, Yeates and Ziegler. Failure to deliver and Big Jol will be looking for another job.
West Ham
West Ham United may again struggle this year. They have failed to attract the really top quality players; perhaps the dreaded board of confidence will hit Curbishley. So far they have brought in Parker, Bellamy, Faubert, whilst releasing Reo Coker, Harewood and Benayoun.
Wigan Athletic
Wigan Athletic I feel will find it difficult again to attract top quality players without Paul Jewell. This may be their swan song in the top flight and a certain end to dreams of their manager, Chris Hutchings. Their major transfer dealings have been Sibierski and Bramble from Newcastle, Brown from Fulham and Koumas from West Brom whilst releasing Unsworth, de Zeeuw and Jackson.