Top Ten Predictions For 2010-11 Premier League season
The 2010-11 Premier League season is soon upon us. I'm ready to put my neck out on the line and make ten bold predictions for the upcoming season.
This will be the most competitive season in years as many as five clubs have a realistic chance of getting their hands of the Premier League trophy.
Ready? Here we go...
1. Chelsea Won't Repeat As Champions.
1. Don't expect Chelsea to follow up their 2009-10 Premier League winning season with another title.
Carlo Ancelotti's hasn't recruited enough talent to give the Blues enough to repeat as champions. Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Deco will be missed greatly in the upcoming season.
Chelsea are to replace Ballack's role with the Brazilian dynamo Ramires but Ballack's presence will be missed. The German midfielder's leadership will be hard to fill and Ballack just seemed to have certain inspiring qualities that are hard to find.
Another inspirational man out the door is Joe Cole who was a popular figure at Stamford Bridge. Yossi Benyoun has been brought in as a replacement but the Israeli does not possess the talent or skill of Cole who was vital to many of Chelsea's great victories over the years. Deco is another creative type who will be missed and the Blues should try to add another winger.
I expect Didier Drogba to take a step back as he's getting older and his form last season was uncharacteristic. He has always a top striker but Drogba was simply magnificent during the 2009-10 season. Nicolas Anelka is also entering the same period of his career and Chelsea could use a talented youthful forward who can add some competition for places at striker.
Overall, Chelsea are still a very talented club but I feel they will find that their departures will be difficult to replace and especially the loss of Cole will hurt the club's chances.
2. Chicharito Will Take The Premiership By Storm!
2. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez will be the most exciting signing of the summer transfer window.
The 22-year old Mexican forward will adjust quickly to the demands of playing for Sir Alex Ferguson and be a sensational signing for the Red Devils. He seems to have all the abilities to make it in the English game and become a superstar.
He's lightning-quick, skillful, good in the air, and has an eye for the goal. Hernandez has the sort of flair that you'd expect from a Manchester United signing and quickly will become a favorite amongst the fans at Old Trafford.
I'd expect him to bag a fair number of goals in his debut season in the Premier League and win the "PFA Young Player of the Year."
3. Gerrard Will Rebound & Win PFA Player of the Year.
3. Steven Gerrard will return to his best form and be unanimously considered as the player of the season.
The Liverpool captain will put the frustrations of last year and the World Cup behind him and have a tremendous season. Under new manager Roy Hodgson, Gerrard will return to his familiar central midfield role and dictate more of Liverpool's play.
Gerrard will thrive as he will be given a clear role and will link up wonderfully with England teammate and new signing Joe Cole. Cole's arrival will help take some of the pressure of his back to carry the Reds. The pair will give superstar striker Fernando Torres plenty of ammunition to score loads of goals but Gerrard's return to form will be the most noticeable.
Hodgson will also give Liverpool's number 8 the belief and praise that wasn't shown by previous boss Rafael Benitez. Gerrard has admitted that he prefers that sort of manager who can pick him up when his head goes down. A change of approach is what he needs to have one of the best seasons of his illustrious career.
4. Man City Will Self-Destruct!
4. The Citizens will implode under the weight of expectations and their team chemistry will be horrendous.
The idiom "too many cooks spoil the broth" fits this team to a tee. Too many highly-paid egos and not enough places in the starting eleven to accommodate City's stars will ruin their progress.
Based upon talent alone, Manchester City have a squad capable of contending for the Premier League title. As always, things don't always turn out as they do on paper. Roberto Mancini will have a difficult time getting his players to gel as there is little continuity as new talent is always being recruited.
City's mega-rich owners are bent upon trying to lure every superstar possible to the club and don't know when to stop. In some positions, City are too deep and there will always be a player or two unhappy as they're constantly being left out. Other areas that need improvement are ignored in the squad as the Citizens lack a true creative, long-passing play-maker in central midfield.
There seems to be a large amount of stars who have difficult personalities to handle and the expected signing of Mario Balotelli will further add to the potential unrest. The talented Italian striker has had an infamous number of issues throughout his young career and his arrival could have a very negative effect on the City dressing room.
5. Life Won't Be Easy For Aston Villa Post O'Neill.
5. Aston Villa will have trouble coping without the guidance of Martin O'Neill.
During his time as Villa boss, O'Neill had the club playing some of the best football it had in many years. His quick transformation of the club was impressive especially considering that the club almost faced relegation in the dark final years of Doug Ellis' ownership.
O'Neill made steady progress and built into a respected club competing in Europe. He made a series of shrewd signings and made the most of the club's limited budget. His fiery nature and passion will be hard to find in another manager.
James Milner is destined to leave Villa Park with Man City still being his most likely destination and a large part of O'Neill's exit was due to the amount of funds would be given to him from the transfer. Milner's talent will be difficult to replace and the club can also use a reliable goal-scorer.
Aston Villa could be in for a rough few seasons ahead and I see them hovering around mid-table mediocrity.
6. Newcastle United Will Stay Up!
6. The Magpies will not fall into the relegation battle and retain their Premier League status for 2011-12.
For many Newcastle supporters, it felt like the world had come to an end when the proud club were relegated to the Coca-Cola Championship after the 2008-09 season. They quickly bounced back to the English top-flight and breezed to promotion.
Their squad is full of the experience needed to avoid the drop and the addition of veteran defender Sol Campbell will help ensure their survival. Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith, Steve Harper, and Shola Ameobi are part of the veteran core of players who have spent many a season in the Premier League.
Dan Gosling, Danny Guthrie, and Andy Carroll are an exciting trio of young talents and the Magpies seem to have the right mix of players needed to for a top-flight stay.
7. Joe Cole Will Ignite Liverpool.
7. Joe Cole will play a big part in Liverpool's turnaround and have his best years at Anfield.
The Reds have long been too reliant on their Spanish ace Fernando Torres and inspirational captain Steven Gerrard to provide goals and creativity. Joe Cole's arrival will take the pressure off the duo to perform every week.
Cole is expected to play centrally behind Torres and will be used as the "link-man" as Gerrard will feed him passes from a deeper position. His superb dribbling and technique should open up space for Torres to operate, creating channels for the striker to run through as defenders will push forward to mark him. Cole can also play on the wings and could use his fine crossing ability to feed Torres plenty of chances from wide positions.
Roy Hodgson will allow him to have more impact than he did at Chelsea if used in a central role as he will be able to have more chances to slide through passes and increased shooting opportunities. He will be given more freedom than ever to operate and at 28, may actually produce the best football of his career.
8. Avram Grant Will Do Wonders at West Ham.
8. New Hammers manager Avram Grant will push West Ham to near mid-table in his first season at Upton Park.
At Portsmouth, Grant did well to hold things together in a chaotic season where they were docked nine points as they fell into administration and eventually relegation. He somehow inspired the club all the way into the 2010 FA Cup final where they lost a close affair to the heavily-favored Chelsea.
Now at West Ham, Grant enters a much different situation. Under new owners, the club is ready to spend and give their new manager the pieces to climb well clear of the relegation battle they faced last season. The club is doing their best to hold onto the core trio of Scott Parker, Robert Green, and Matthew Upson.
Grant has been given a decent platform to build upon and should continue to enhance his well-regarded reputation that earned since being thrown into the fire in 2007 as Chelsea and Jose Mourinho parted ways. There he narrowly missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester United by two points and lost the Carling Cup final to Tottenham in extra time. Chelsea also were also defeated on penalties to the Red Devils in the Champions League final that season.
Arvam Grant has a strong record of success during his career and he could steer West Ham back to Premier League respectability.
9. Blackpool's Relegation Will Be Swift.
9. Blackpool's "Tangerine Dream" stay in the Premiership won't last long.
Quite a few managers who have led small clubs into the Premier League have kept them up despite the odds like Phil Brown's Hull or Paul Jewell's Wigan. The English media quickly labeled Blackpool's achieving Premier League status as "The Tangerine Dream" but their dream will be coming to a quick end as they face the reality of competing in the English top-flight.
Blackpool's squad is dangerously thin to the point that they may come close to equaling Derby County's record of just 11 points during their Premier League year of 2007-08. Fans always want to see such a club do the impossible and survive relegation but the Seasiders aren't anywhere near equipped to do so.
Outside of their charismatic manager Ian Holloway and former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam, the Blackpool supporters have very little to hang their hopes upon. It is the sad truth that the Tangerines will be the whipping boys of the 2010-11 Premier League.
10. And the winner is... Liverpool!
10. Liverpool will win the 2010-11 Premier League title.
It is a quite a leap from seventh but in May 2009 Liverpool finished four points behind champions Manchester United. Outside of Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa, that team remains largely unchanged.
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have always been heavily relied upon but the additions of Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic should ease their burden. Javier Mascherano may be on his way out but it seems like no one around Anfield is begging him stay.
Liverpool suffered through a devastating number of injuries last season as Torres, Gerrard, Daniel Agger, and Glen Johnson missed significant periods of the season and the club got very little out of £20m signing Alberto Aquilani. It was really a season in which everything that could go wrong, went wrong.
It is my belief that Roy Hodgson will instill a new belief into the Liverpool squad. Rafael Benitez was a tremendously successful manager for the Reds but his methods had gone stale and the Hodgson will bring a breath of fresh air and renew Liverpool's confidence.
Cole will flourish in a more significant role than at Chelsea and prove to be a hit at Anfield. Torres should produce the best season yet of his Liverpool career as Cole will unlock defenses and Gerrard will be back to his usually commanding self in his preferred central midfield role.
Manchester United will finish a close second but Sir Alex Ferguson's patience in the underwhelming Dimitar Berbatov will be something he will regret. Chicharito Hernandez will fit in easily as I've mentioned and if Michael Owen is fit he can guarantee goals. Still, United need another top striker to take the pressure off of Rooney. The club is full of aging stars like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, and Rio Ferdinand. Darren Fletcher was tremendous last season and Darron Gibson could have a similar break-out this year but the Red Devils need more younger options to make up for their old squad.
Arsenal will be boosted greatly but Cesc Fabregas staying and the arrival of Marouane Chamakh but the squad looks thin. Arsene Wenger refuses to spend big money on transfers and the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott, and Carlos Vela are greatly overrated players. Manuel Almunia is not the sort of keeper that will win you the Premier League and Wenger needs to sign a top-notch no. 1.
Chelsea will greatly miss the influence of Michael Ballack and Deco. Their experience is hard to replace as is that of Joe Cole. Cole's departure will be the most significant loss for the Blues as his vision and skill is matched by few worldwide. Yossi Benayoun has been signed from Liverpool as a replacement but doesn't possess the quality near Cole.
Despite their ridiculous spending, Manchester City still lack a creative central midfielder and their defence is suspect. It will be tough for Roberto Mancini to keep everyone happy as the many egos at the club will clash. The Citizens tend to be deep some positions but are weak in others and the entire squad is unbalanced.
Tottenham will learn that a deep squad is needed to compete in both the Premier League and Champions League. Harry Redknapp will scramble over the final weeks of the transfer window to try to assemble that sort of team but Spurs simply aren't ready for the big time.
Aston Villa will suffer a rough season without Martin O'Neill at the helm and the likelihood that prized asset James Milner will be sold. West Ham will have an unexpectedly good season after just surviving relegation the previous year and Arvam Grant will guide them to a near mid-table finish.
I see Newcastle and West Brom having strong enough squads to stave off relegation. Blackpool is a certainty to go down and despite Mick McCarthy's fine managerial abilities, Wolves will join them. Wigan's squad looks bare and Roberto Martinez is a fine manager but will not be able to save them from the drop.
1. Liverpool (Champions)
2. Manchester United (UEFA CL)
3. Arsenal (UEFA CL)
4. Chelsea (UEFA CL)
5. Manchester City (Europa League)
6. Tottenham Hotspur (Europa League)
7. Everton (Europa League)
9. Aston Villa
10. Blackburn Rovers
11. West Ham United
13. Birmingham City
14. Stoke City
15. Newcastle United
16. Bolton Wanders
17. West Bromwich Albion
18. Wigan Athletic (Relegated)
19. Wolverhampton Wanderers (Relegated)
20. Blackpool (Relegated)
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