Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Season Ahead

So the season kicks off in a few days time. As always it promises to bring breathtaking football from the worlds most entertaining league, no doubt. La Liga or the Serie A can't match the glamour, drama and the WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) lifestyle that comes with being a top premiership player these days.

In a previous blog, Season Review 07/08, I made some early predictions for the season ahead, and will elaborate further with regards to end of season places; trophies; the rather ambitious chasing pack; and my very own dream team.

As I've mentioned before, and will defend this to the very end, is the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson and his players can count themselves very lucky last season. Yes they won the double which is great and other teams can only sit back and admire them. But they had to sweat for it in a way they have never experienced before. Chelsea took them all the way. They won't be as lucky this time around, that's for sure. Ronaldo is out for the start of the season so let's see them prove me wrong. I felt sorry for Chelsea especially in the Champions league final but they handed it to United on a platter so it's up to them to win back both trophies. I predict an even closer finish this season with Arsenal and Liverpool more likely pushing them all the way.

Top Four

Man United - will Ronaldo still be the same player of last season? No he won't. I'm afraid it's back down to earth for most of the players. Fergie reckons that Ferdinand is the worlds best centre-half at the moment. Maybe only in his fantasy league team. With this comment he has surely placed unnecessary pressure on the man, a clear recipe for disaster. Final place prediction - 3rd, but could end up 2nd if Liverpool hand them any advantage, again.

Chelsea - a new coach, a new belief, some new players, and a bit of 'revenge' should see them pip United for the title. Why you ask? John Terry recently made mention of United's players peaking at the right time last season, and he rightfully suggests that it won't happen again as some of Fergie's players are due a slip-up which will prove costly. Final place prediction - 1st for Scolari's debut season.

Arsenal - they've lost too many experienced players to mount a serious title assault. But then again Wenger always proves his doubters wrong. Injuries plague a team that are known to play the beautiful game, and they might have to change their style somewhat to overcome lesser teams. We've seen some evidence of 'long-ball' tactics towards the end of last season which somehow paid off for the Gunners. Final place prediction - 4th seems fair, enough said.

Liverpool - its time for Rafa Benitez to deliver the league trophy which has eluded the Anfield trophy cabinet for far too long now. Will Robbie Keane be the messiah they've all been hoping for? Only time will tell. Stevie G needs to stay fit for the Merseyside giants in order for them to mount a serious challenge. But I think they will get closer this year and then finally take it the season after. They have some frighteningly good talent coming through the Liverpool youth ranks and this can only mean that they have a bright future ahead. Final place prediction - 3rd place if they don't grab 2nd from United.


League title - Chelsea will take it, but it will be very close.
Champions League - Chelsea. Their turn for the double.
FA Cup - Liverpool to add another to their trophy cabinet.
Carling Cup - one of the chasing pack to grab the chance as United and Arsenal sadly and admittedly don't take this competition too seriously. Aston Villa or Everton.

The Chasing Pack

Aston Villa, Everton, Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspurs are no doubt the chasing pack. I can't see any other teams breaking their grip on the UEFA cup places. Aston Villa have already made seven singings and it looks like Martin 'O Neill will get his way and hold onto Gareth Barry. Everton haven't made as many quality signings so alarm bells must be ringing at Goodison Park. Portsmouth have signed Peter Crouch and he might just form a formidable partnership with Jermaine Defoe. Spurs have made a few top signings, but have lost their attacking force in Robbie Keane, and if Berbatov leaves for Man United they will surely struggle.

My Dream Team

Bosingwa Terry Agger Evra
Bentley Gerrard Fabregas Babel
Torres Keane

That's some team and I doubt many can improve on my selections. Remember this is a personal choice so yours will differ quite considerably.

In conclusion I predict a tighter finish from the top four teams this time around. Man United had a fairytale season, and as they say "all good things must come to an end" or more worryingly for them "what goes up must come down". Just ask the famous record-breaking Liverpool teams of the 70's and 80's. Even Sir Alex Ferguson made a comment recently about the great Liverpool team's of yesteryear when making comparisons with Chelsea. Click here to read the full article. It's worth the read. So as my good friend Charlie religiously sends out Lawro's Predictions each week I endeavor to keep the blog updated with my thoughts as to how the season unfolds.