Vital Stoke 09/10 season preview part 3
Here we go, the final part of our season preview which sees the final 7 teams including the mighty Potters.
Will they get taken over in time to spend money on players? That`s the big question this season for Portsmouth, after letting go key players such as Glenn Johnson, Sol Campbell and Peter Crouch the squad looks notably weak and if they don`t get some money pumped into the club then this season might see them flirting with the bottom three
Upfront goals don`t look like arriving in abundance with no Crouch or Jermaine Defoe so either John Utaka or David Nugent are going to have to show us why Portsmouth shelled out as much as they did. Midfield is there strongest area with the creative duo Niko Krancjar and Nadir Belhadj backed up by the tough tackling Papa Bouba Diop, they should add some stability to the side. In defence they have the classy Sylvain Distin and youngster Younis Kaboul but behind these star players the squad looks thin on numbers.
I think that Portsmouth are just going to be Ok with the money they can spend either now or in January but they have to keep hold of Paul Hart who did wonders last season.
The Potters had a magnificent debut season in the top flight without spending any major cash. The return to form in pre-season of Dave Kitson will feel like a new signing and with him backing up James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller, the attack shouldn`t be a problem. In Midfield new signing Dean Whitehead is likely to take the place of Rory Delap which should delight opposition fans but you can count on a quick 20 minute burst from the Delapidator at the end of most games.
Stoke`s big weakness is away from home where they struggled badly last season. If they can manage to sign a couple more quality players here and there then they may even push for mid-table but lets not get ahead of ourselves, anywhere above the bottom three will do very nicely and they should manage that.
I expect good things this year from Sunderland. The injection of cash into the club has seen them spend big to sign Darren Bent who should prove to be a bargain buy. In midfield they need a bit more quality but if they manage that then they should be competing for a top ten place.
In Steve Bruce they have one of the best English managers in the country and he should be able to weave his magic to sign one more top quality striker they need. In defence a lot of pressure will be on Anton Ferdinand to perform after a disappointing first season at the club, with him alongside Danny Collins the defence should be stable too see off the lesser attacking teams.
A promising season for the Blackcats should see them around and about the top ten and maybe even Europe.
This is a big season for Spurs and Harry Redknapp, after the last two seasons have been disappointing Spurs spent big in January and have also spent £9mil on Peter Crouch this summer so upfront they have plenty of options. In my eyes too many.
In midfield the Croatian Luka Modric will dictate the game and will be supported by Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Jenas. The defence also looks strong with the signing of centre half Sebastian Bassong and I think that this squad can push the top 4 along with Man City, they finally have the right manager and I expect good things to go Spurs way this summer.
Just don`t sign Ryan Shawcross!
Last season, for me, Gianfranco Zola was the manager of the season. After taking over a club with a very low budget and financial difficulties he steered them to a top half finish last season. I expect them to do the same again.
Zola has rejuvenated the career of Carlton Cole and if they can find the right man to go alongside him, hopefully we will be seeing more of Savio, then goals should never be a problem. Zola also likes to give the younger players a go and I expect to see a lot more of Stanislas and Tompkins. In Mark Noble they have one of the best young midfielders in England and if they can make one or two additions to the squad they will be a tough team for anyone to beat. Much of the same from West Ham.
All eyes are on Martinez this season and I hope he does fine but I don`t see Wigan doing as well as last year. After losing influential midfielders Lee Cattermole and Antonio Valencia they are a bit short in midfield but all that lovely money made from the sales should see them sign a suitable replacement.
What Steve Bruce accomplished while he was at the club was that he managed to transform Titus Bramble into a fine defender and he is going to be key if Wigan are going to enjoy successful season. I hope to see more of Hugo Rodallega upfront and I think he should make a promising partnership with new signing Jason Scotland.
Wigan should be Ok but will finish just above the bottom three.
Stoke`s biggest rivals this season are going to find it difficult but for me are the promoted side that are most likely to cause a stir just like Hull did for the first few months of last season. In Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle they have enough firepower upfront but they do need more experience in a very young squad.
I`m looking forward to seeing them play and I think they are going to beat West Ham tomorrow. I`m predicticting a positive first season for Wolves but they`re not going to beat Stoke as much as they want to!
Here is our final table prediction!
2. Mancherster United
5. Manchester City
8. Aston Villa
9. West Ham