With the season fast approaching, it’s time to take a stab at what will unfold over the next 8 months:
Champions: Manchester City
I hate to say it but City seemed to have finally welded their collection of individuals into a team at the back end of last year. They will be dangerous and with probable signing Sergio Aguero coming to town, it’s quite possible.
The Top 6:
Never discount the gritty Man Utd as they look to win their 20th championship, but the lack of a create central midfielder could cost them. Also, losing Van der Sar and Scholes is a big loss, while De Gea is inexperienced at the top level. Chelsea will feel the force of Michael Essien’s injury, but if Torres comes good they will be contenders. Tottenham are definitely not contenders, with Luka Modric likely to depart, they will lack firepower. Arsenal and Liverpool will be left to fight it out for a Champions League berth. This battle should come down to what happens to Arsenal in the transfer market and whether Liverpool’s plethora of signings can come good. I believe Arsenal will pip them this year but Liverpool will eventually see a return to the glory days after the new team is settled at Anfield.
Blackburn are running around like headless chooks. They have no real attacking flair, Junior Hoilett being the exception. They will continue struggling to score, and with the departure of Phil Jones, their defence isn’t exactly strong either.
Wigan are destined to lose their main attacking threat, Charles N’Zogbia and will struggle even more to find the back of the net (Rodagella isn’t THAT good). They have scraped by for a long time but I think this is the end of their road.
As play-off winners, they will be tipped to go straight back down like Burnley and Blackpool. They don’t possess much Premier League experience and unless Scott Sinclair can replicate his Championship form the wooden spoon beckons.
Golden Boot: Robin Van Persie
Van Persie has a beastly left foot and scores more often than not, racking up 18 goals in the EPL last season in just over 20 starts. In fact, he nearly won in half a season. He hasn’t been majorly injured in 2011, and sooner or later he won’t get crocked for a while, and if he makes 30 appearances, he will win the golden boot. Nobody can deny how good he is when on the pitch.
Honourable mention to…….Wayne Rooney
Most Assists: Ashley Young
Manchester United’s new signing should see plenty of gametime this season. He was 5th in the league last year with 10 assists. The difference this year is that he has three great strikers in Rooney, Chicharito and Berbatov to turn his crosses, corners etc. into goals. At Aston Villa, Darren Bent was wasteful. Also, Young might be called upon to play centrally, to add creativity.
Honourable mention to…….David Silva
Breakthrough Player of the Season: Luis Suarez
Suarez showed the EPL a glimpse of what he can do last season and has sizzled in the Copa America as well. With Liverpool’s quality midfield and Suarez’s ability to also create chances he should go a long way to paving Liverpool’s way back into Europe.
Flop of the Season: Darren Bent
Bent was lucky to have Ashley Young and Stewart Downing flanking him to give him countless opportunities. He still managed to squander many chances, but nearly won the Golden Boot again. With the wingers moving on to greener pastures and Villa yet to replace them, expect Bent to struggle as there won’t be too many sitters this year. Bent isn’t exactly creative either, so he will struggle to hit double figures this season.
Watch Out For:
David De Gea