With the Premier League & Football League season approaching, I have decided to do my predictions on the top 4 English divisions.
In my view, the old Top 4 has been replaced by a new ‘Top 6’. In my view, Chelsea will be hard to beat this season under Villas Boas & providing some new signings, I think that they will win the title. Manchester United have made some impressive signings but expect this to be a season of transition from the older generation of players to the younger players. Big spending Manchester City have now got to be considered title material & the signing of Sergio Aguero should secure them a Champions League place. The dark horses this year should be Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool side. Even if they have paid over the odds for Downing, Henderson & Carrolll, Dalglish is building a squad that will challenge for major tournaments in the near future. Arsene Wenger’s stubbornness in not allowing Fabregas or Nasri to leave Arsenal or spend any serious money could see them fall out of the Champions League places. In my view, both Tottenham Hotspur & Everton are lacking a quality striker that will see them finish higher up in the league, but they should both get a Europa League spot. Aston Villa, Fulham, West Brom, Sunderland & Bolton Wanderers should all finish comfortably in mid table, with a view to competing for a place in Europe. Newcastle have made some impressive signings in Cabaye, Ba & Marveaux, but Mike Ashley is taking the club into turmoil with some stupid decisions. QPR & Stoke City should have enough to survive providing that the former spends some money on quality players & that the latter doesn’t suffer on the back of their achievements last season. Wolves should also be safe providing that their best players stay at the club. Swansea City could be this seasons Blackpool with an impressive style of football & a brilliant tactician in Brendan Rodgers, but the club needs to sign a few Premier League proven players to add to their squad. On the back of last season’s great escape, this might be the year that Wigan Athletic finally goes down if they fail to replace Charles N’Zogbia & possible Hugo Rodallega. Promoted Norwich City’s naivety over thinking that the squad that has served them so well over the past 2 seasons with a few new signings, who might not be of a Premier League standard, will keep them up, but in reality, they will struggle from a lack of Premier League experience. Finally, Blackburn Rovers dodgy owners could prove to be the clubs downfall, given that no new quality players are likely to sign for the club & their manager Steve Kean is not of a Premier League quality. It could be a long season ahead for the Lancashire side.
Champions League: Manchester United, Manchester City & Liverpool
Europa League: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur & Everton
Relegation: Wigan Athletic, Norwich City & Blackburn Rovers
The Manchester City of the Championship in Leicester City, should go up with the squad at their disposal, with Matt Mills, Kasper Schmichael, David Nugent & many other quality players joining the club. Sam Allardyce’s West Ham should also go up with the likes of Robert Green & Mark Noble staying at the club, while being joined by Premier League quality players in Kevin Nolan & Matty Taylor. Birmingham City should also be up there providing that their owner’s problems are sorted out. Every Premier League fans second side Blackpool need to sign a few quality Championship players to mount another promotion challenge. Steve McClaren’s Nottingham Forest have had a lack of signings but the play offs is the minimum aim for the former England boss. Promoted Southampton have held on to the likes of Chamberlain & Lallana, but need an experienced Championship striker to help the likes of Lambert & Barnard get used to the league. New Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay has got to try & build a squad capable of promotion, despite their best players in Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd & Seyi Olofinjana. Middlesbrough, Bristol City, Ipswich Town, losing play off finalists Reading, Burnley, Leeds United, Hull City & Brighton & Hove Albion should all be in the race for a playoff place but with the exception of the latter, their form has to remain consistent throughout the season, which probably cost all of those teams a place in the play offs or automatic promotion last season. Portsmouth, Derby County, Watford & Barnsley should be good enough avoid a relegation battle, but their new players & for the latter two, a new boss, have to settle in at the club before they can mount a promotion challenge. At the bottom, it is likely to be a battle between Crystal Palace, Millwall, Coventry City, Peterborough United & Doncaster Rovers to stay in the division.
Automatic Promotion: Leicester City & West Ham United
Play Offs: Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton & Middlesbrough
Relegated: Milwall, Peterborough United & Doncaster Rovers
Last season’s losing play off finalists Huddersfield Town will be the favourites for promotion having kept the majority of their squad, bar Norwich City signing Anthony Pilkington. Charlton Athletic manager Chris Powell has made plenty of quality signings which should see the London outfit get promoted. Relegated trio Sheffield United, Preston North End & Scunthorpe United should all be challenging for promotion & have got the squads to allow this to happen. Sheffield Wednesday need a few more players to give them a chance of automatic promotion. This seasons dark horses Brentford (My blog on Brentford-http://footballblog.co.uk/brentford-team-rise.html). Last season’s playoff semi finalists MK Dons & Bournemouth should continue to impress under their young managers. Last year’s overachievers Exeter City, Rochdale & Leyton Orient should be challenging for a playoff spot, but a top half finish is more likely alongside Martin Allen’s rejuvenated Notts County side. Carlisle United, Colchester United, Wycombe Wanderers, Bury & Chesterfield should all have enough to survive in the league, while Walsall, Tranmere Rovers, Hartlepool United, Yeovil Town, Oldham Athletic & Stevenage will be constantly looking behind them at the trapdoor to the bottom tier of league football.
Automatic Promotion: Huddersfield Town & Charlton Athletic
Play Offs: Sheffield United, Preston North End, MK Dons & Brentford
Relegated: Yeovil Town, Oldham Athletic, Hartlepool United & Stevenage FC
Big spending Crawley Town should start the season as favourites, but relegated sides Swindon Town & Bristol Rovers should be good enough for automatic promotion with new managers & almost completely new teams. Rotherham United, Northampton Town & Oxford United have all made good signings which should see them get a play off place. Lawrie Sanchez’s Barnet will be the shock playoff contenders with a great pre season under their belt & a small but quality squad that could see them shock many people. Port Vale, Shrewsbury Town, Bradford City, Gillingham & Crewe should also expect to be up amongst the favourites for promotion and playoff places. Plymouth Argyle (providing they get some more players), Dagenham & Redbridge, Accrington Stanley, Southend United, AFC Wimbledon & Aldershot Town will probably be placed in mid table due to their squads not being good enough yet for promotion. Burton Albion, last year’s playoff finalists Torquay United & Macclesfield Town should all stay up but could all be in with a chance of relegation. The favourites for relegation will be Hereford United, Morecambe & Cheltenham Town and getting relegated to the Blue Square will prove difficult for any club. From the Blue Square division, Luton Town, Newport County, Fleetwood Town & Stockport County will be the favourites for promotion.
Automatic Promotion: Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town & Crawley Town
Play Offs: Northampton Town, Oxford United, Rotherham United & Barnet
Relegated: Morecambe & Cheltenham Town
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