Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
As the England Cricket team takes a much needed break from regaining the Ashes, another major summer sporting event kicks off…… The Premier League.
Here at Vital Stoke we are going to take a look at all 20 top flight clubs and predict whether they will succeed or fail this season and give you what we think the table will look like at the end of the season.
In this first part of 3 we take a look at teams from Arsenal to Everton
It's going to be interesting to watch Arsenal this season, last year they almost relinquished they top 4 status and I think its going to be another struggle this year.
Teams around them such as Man City and Spurs have dramatically improved their squads where as Arsenal have taken a step backwards with the sale of Adebayor and Toure. What they need is to buy a commanding centre back and a bully of a central midfielder for that extra bite that they so badly miss.
What they do have though is the most attractive football in the country and going forward is never a problem, I still worry about them defensively but with a couple of new signings then I really believe they can push for the title.
Whether Wenger will splash the cash though remains to be seen.
Martin O`Neil and Villa have been busy in the transfer market so far but they are still a couple of players away. The big problem is replacing the retired Martin Laursen and the sold Zat Knight at centre half, a position they desperately need to strengthen.
The sale of Gareth Barry is going to hit them hard and with no replacement yet I don`t see Villa hitting the highs of last season. Similarly to Arsenal I don`t think scoring goals is going to be a problem but defensively they need to strengthen. I think this season is going to be a case of taking a step back to go forward.
This season is purely about staying up and putting they tag of yo-yo team to bed. City have spent a lot of money and have taken a huge gamble on striker Christian Benitez from Mexico, if he hits the ground running then that might make the difference between safety or relegation.
The Defence though is again a weakness for me, big money has been spent on both Roger Johnson and Scott Danns, neither player has played in the premier league and the step up from the championship is huge, I don`t know if they can cope with it. Only time will tell.
For promoted teams, players with premier league experience is key and the signing of Lee Bowyer is a good one. More of the same and they might be Ok but if not then I don`t see them here next year, trust me it makes a huge difference.
I think that Blackburn sacked Paul Ince prematurely last season, they could of waited for them to play Stoke, but they have a fine replacement in Sam Alladyce and I don`t think that Blackburn will be down at the bottom this season fighting for survival.
Big Sam has been busy recruiting experienced seasoned players from around Europe but what they do need is a striker. Benny McCarthy is a top quality forward but cant do it all on is own and the inconsistency of Jason Roberts doesn`t help. Franco Di Santo is maybe a bit too inexperienced to play 30+ games so a 15 goals+ player is essential, a mixture of that and a on form Morten Gamst Pedersen should see then comfortably safe.
I still don`t understand why Bolton fans haven`t taken to Gary Megson. He came in mid-season with the club in trouble and steered them to safety two years ago before guiding them to a respectable lower mid-table last season. Surely things will only get better.
In Kevin Davies, Bolton have one of the best target men in the country and although Johann Elmander didn`t set the world alight last season he should provide a decent partner for him. In Midfield is where Bolton are slightly short, after losing Kevin Nolan in January the club haven`t taken measures to replace him so that should be there main aim this summer along with replacing club legend Jussi Jaaskelainen. Nothing spectacular this season from Bolton but again they will just above the relegation battle.
I was amazed that Burnley managed to claw there way into the premier league and I would like them to do well, after this weekend, but I just don`t see it happening. The players they have so far managed to sign are either unproven in the premier league or are too young to make much of a difference.
Leaking goals is going to be the main problem so an experienced centre half along with a 15+ goals per season striker. Steven Fletcher has made the trip down from Hibernian for a club record £3mil and he must go well if his side are going to stand a chance. I don`t see them picking anything up during the first 5 games and that will set the tone of the season. Sorry!
At the beginning of each season Chelsea are my tip to win the league but for the last two seasons they have managed to find a way to internally explode. What Chelsea need is continuity and I believe they have that in Ancelotti.
A change of system but I don`t think a change in results for the Blues which should suit them in the champions league. John Terry`s decision to stay will be like a new signing and the purchase of Yuri Zhirkov will provide plenty of competition down the left flank but they do need another big player and it needs to be upfront.
The partnership of Drogba and Anelka playing together this season will provide plenty of goals but behind them are two rejects Andrei Shevchenko and Claudio Pizzaro and then there is 18 year old Daniel Sturridge, not enough quality. Alexandro Pato has been repeatedly linked in a big money move but if Ancelotti can`t tempt him then they must look elsewhere and sign someone fast.
Coming up in part 2....... Teams from Everton through to Portsmouth!
Date:Thursday August 13 2009
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