Saturday, August 16, 2008

Premiership weekend preview

After an annihilating wait to the season to start we're just less than 24hours away from the kick off for the 2008-09 season.

Although there has been a lot of football after the seasons got over in Spain and Germany with Champions League finale and the Euros which were a treat to watch (except France and Italy of course!) too. But nothing beats the Premiership and the thrill to watch high quality football week in,week out.

The new season looks more exciting than ever.As Scolari said,there are probably eight teams in contention for the title.(which I personally think its too far fetched and its again going to be a two-three horse race!)

Many clubs are again vying to snatch the European spot with clubs like Spurs,who have made some very critical signings this transfer window although they might lose their "hitman" Berbatov after losing Keane to Liverpool.

Another club which is making big strides forward is Aston Villa,after how they have been active in the transfer window.Probably for the wrong reasons too after they nearly lost their inspirational captain Barry,who I think deserves bigger opportunities than what he's getting at Villa Park.

Everton who had performed quite exceptionally last season don't seem to be having the same edge if their activity in the transfer market is to go by.Also the relationship of the club and David Moyes seems to be on the rocks after reports of his exit with just days before the Premiership start.

Blackburn Rovers have got a new manager in the form of Paul Ince who has already turned out of favor with the squad with no inspirational activity going on in the dressing room and also losing out quality players like Friedel and Bentley to Villa and Spurs,respectively.

Newly promoted clubs include Hull City,Stoke City and West Brom. I always am left wondering if any newly promoted clubs would ever finish in the top half of the premiership and Reading managed that two seasons back only to go down crashing last season.Frankly speaking,I love underdogs and would love the newly promoted teams to beat the "Top 4" and as it turns out its majority of the times Arsenal which faces the debacle of these "what have we got to lose" clubs.

Oh I hope its a good season for Sunderland,because am majorly a fan of Roy Keane and especially his on field tactics and his aggression as a player which I still cannot forget.(Arsenal vs Manchester United was a treat!).Amongst the low budget teams I think Sunderland would do a good job and have been probably the most active in the transfer window.Bolton however feel the transfer window doesn't help the lower league teams which I think isn't the case with all clubs.But then again,that's his view.

Getting to the first weekend matches and my predictions for it.

Arsenal vs WBA
Arsenal open their account with a calm and cool display of their young squad at the Emirates. The newly promoted WBA would be decent but not the class of Arsenal. 2-0 to Arsenal.

Bolton Wanderers vs Stoke City
A good game for Stoke City to start off their campaign with.It would be an even game with chances for both teams but I see a draw happening. 1-1 to share the scrap.

Everton vs Blackburn Rovers
Everton are just too difficult to be beaten at home.Blackburn Rovers would not have the same edge they had with Bentley and Hughes.Santa Cruz would still be the man to watch out for.Everton would be without many players but a notable absentee from the squad for me is Johnson who asked for a transfer to Craven Cottage(Fulham). Everton to be hard to break down but a 2-1 victory none the less for the Merseysiders.

Hull City vs Fulham

Another match up for the "equals".Fulham who were on the brink of going down last season.Hull City are the new entrants to the Premiership so they have much to prove and firstly save their skin so games like these actually can get them the much needed points.Frankly,I've never seen Hull play so can't really comment on what their style of play is and who are the players to watch out for. I expect an evenly contested game but Fulham to just have a little edge over Hull.

Middlesbrough vs Tottenham
Middlesbrough have been a middle of the table team for quite some time.Spurs under Juande Ramos have done wonders and their highly changed squad which has shown its metal in the pre season friendlies can only show its might against Middlesbrough.Man to watch out for would be Bent and not Berbatov for me.Bent has scored more goals in pre season games than what he did all throughout the previous season. Spurs to win 3-1.

West Ham United vs Wigan Athletic
West Ham have been highly unlucky as a team and there has been array of words being exchanged at the helm over Ljunberg's exit with reportedly the manager and the management putting the blame on each other for their money going "waste".Their also has been speculation of him facing a sack over a possible bad start to the season so the pressure is on him to get the Hammers going.Wigan however have been relegation battlers for the past few seasons.Emile Heskey would be the man to watch out for after there are reports of Anton Ferdinand not being available for West Ham and them also lacking the servies of Bellamy and Dyer. I predict a 1-1 draw none the less.

Sunderland vs Liverpool
Sunderland have made some very impressive signings this transfer window with El Hadji Diouf who was a Liverpool player earlier and is a very hard working player.Steed Malbraunqe from Spurs would be a creative addition to the midfield.Liverpool had a horrendous midweek with a draw at Standard Liege in the Champions League qualifier.Liverpool would be without Babel and Mascherano who are both out on Olympic duty with Netherlands and Argentina respectively.Keane would be looking forward to the minnows side and get his accounting running as a Liverpool player.Torres would still be the man to watch out for. I see Liverpool winning 3-1.

That's it for Saturday's games.Come back tomorrow for Sunday's games' predictions and results from Saturdays games.Let the games begin!

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