EPL: Mid-Table Obscurity and European Challengers

Greg SiddellCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2008

After my article on the teams who I believe to be in the lower reaches of the EPL, it's a natural progression to move onto the teams who I see as european challengers and the mid table battlers.

Aston Villa haven't really brought in any players who will set the world on fire, but the addition of a solid keeper in Brad Friedel and two solid fullbacks to replace the loss of Olof Mellberg and the injured Wilfred Bouma can only be a good thing.

Steve Sidwell in the midfield will add a little extra depth, however they are still looking desperately thin if injuries strike. My prediction in based on an injury free season for the villains. 


New Blackburn manager Paul Ince will have a lot to live up to with Mark Hughes now at Man City. However, I believe his previous jobs at Macclesfield and MK Dons will stand him in good stead.

The loss of Brad Friedel and David Bentley will be a massive loss for Rovers, but should they be able to hang on to Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz up front then Blackburn stand a chance of being a force this season.

Prediction: 12th

Everton have struggled to bring any new signings in this season. With the loss of forward Andrew Johnson hopefully funding transfers in this coming week for the toffees. There will also be no Manuel Fernandes and Lee Carsley in the midfield, which will be a loss for the Liverpool team.

I can see this lack of investment from Everton as a problem and see them slip behind Portsmouth and Villa.

Prediction: 7th

Manchester City will be looking to new manager Mark Hughes to bring his success from his previous jobs to the City of Manchester Stadium. The difference that Hughes has this time round is a much bigger budget than he is used to.

Jo has been brought in on a big money transfer from CSKA Moscow, and I am very excited as to what the Brazilian can bring to the squad. Tal Ben Haim will bring in some extra experience in the back to fit in alongside Richard Dunne and the huge potential of Micah Richards.

Man City have allowed a lot of players to leave, but none of them featured heavily last year, so that won't be much of a problem to the City squad.

Prediction: 9th

Newcastle have brought in a superhero to help them out this season. Jonas Gutierrez, known as spider-man, has been added to the magpies squad along with Danny Guthrie and Fabricio Coloccini.

Coloccini will add much needed stability at the back, with the hope that he isn't a flop like many of Newcastle's other recent defensive signings.

Again Newcastle haven't let any major players go so their squad depth should be fine.

With Kevin Keegan's aggressive style of football, I can't see the magpies having any of the early season problem's they suffered under Sam Allardyce.

Prediction: 10th

Portsmouth made one of the biggest signings of the summer, literally. Giant striker Peter Crouch was signed from Liverpool on a big money transfer and he will hopefully give Jermaine Defoe the strike partner he needs. It maybe will see both forcing their way into the England team more regularly.

A big loss, however, is Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari who has joined Jose Mourinho at Inter. His goals and strong running will be hard to replace, but Lassana Diarra will look to step into that role after a good start to his Portsmouth career last year.

Prediction: 6th

Tottenham have lost an integral part of their strike force with Robbie Keane moving to Liverpool this summer, but with Darren Bent bagging goals freely in pre-seaons, Juande Ramos will be hoping that the ex-Charlton man will fill the gap left by Keane.

Spurs have also lost Pascal Chimbonda, Teemu Tainio, and Steed Malbranque all to Sunderland. However, with David Bentley, Luka Modric, and Giovani Dos Santos replacing them, Spurs shouldn't have a problem in improving on last term. Their international experience can only help bolster the Tottenham squad this season.

Prediction: 8th

West Ham have hit some troubles with the reported £6 million paid to Freddie Ljundberg to cancel his contract in the past week is never a good way to start the season.

After releasing Nolberto Solano and selling John Pantsil and Bobby Zamora to Fulham, West Ham are relying on an injury free season from their midfielders and forwards, but with Bellamy, Dyer, and Ashton being plagued with injury over the last couple of seasons, this may be a gamble.

Goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka from was brought in from Shakhtar and he will provide good competition for Rob Green and Valon Behrami will add some flair on the wing. However, both are unknown quantities when it comes to the premiership.

Prediction: 11th