It’s a bit late in the season of football (A-League and Premier League) but I’m starting my blog from here. The blog will closely follow Newcastle United and the Newcastle Jets, as well as most of the ins and outs in the news of football. Weekly round-ups regarding the A-League and Premier League will also be posted. Yew!
So two games into the Premier League and Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd already take up the top three spots. Meanwhile Man City have impressed despite a squad made up of new, extravagant signings, with little time to gel. Though with two games in, one cannot start making predictions about how the season will end but I’ll do my best. Today I’ll just pick out a few of the interesting games so far, as well as a brief look of where I see the season finishing.
Chelsea have been rampant with two emphatic 6-0 victories, though granted they came against teams who will most likely be facing a relegation battle (West Brom and Wigan). Meanwhile Man Utd stumbled to a 2-2 draw against Fulham, after ripping returning new boys Newcastle United apart with a 3-0 score line in the first game of the season. Arsenal have started well with a draw away to Liverpool and then a 6-0 thrashing of Blackpool. Blackpool had created the biggest surprise on the first day of season by seeing off Wigan 4-0. The Latics look like they’re in for a tough season. Everton have looked poor, once again having a weak start to their season. Although they have limited resources, this year was supposed to see the Toffees challenging for a top-six place once again, as key players such as Yakubu and Arteta returned from long-term injuries. Liverpool just got done 3-0 by Man City, and they don’t look like a team who can make a top-four finish, especially if they lose the services of Mascherano without the time to find a replacement.
That was a very quick round-up, but the posts will get better. Basically my predictions for the season are as follows.
1) Chelsea – Have not recruited anyone of note apart from Brazilian up-and-comer Ramires and Benayoun (who is class, though low profile), as well as losing Carvalho, Deco and Joe Cole. They still look so strong though, especially with Drogba, Essien, Lampard and Terry forming an impressive spine of the team. Expect Cech to make fewer mistakes this year, as he should have gotten over his horrific head injury from 4 years ago by now.
2) Arsenal – If Wenger can get in a few more signings, especially a keeper in either Given or Schwarzer then the Gunners could push Chelsea all the way and maybe even pip them to the title. French International Squillaci is set to sign, meaning their defensive problems should now be eased, while expect Walcott to have a blistering season after overcoming injuries and getting a full pre-season under his belt. If Fabregas and van Persie can stay fit and in form they’ll be a good bet for Champions.
3) Man Utd – Look like they may suffer for not adding too many new signings. Hernandez, the Mexican international, looks a class act but he is still too young to pin title hopes on. Rooney is out of form but this will surely not last long. The real question is whether Berbatov can finally reproduce his Tottenham form. He has amazing talents but often lacks the motivation. Meanwhile I doubt Ferguson can rely on Giggs and Scholes to push the team through another season. As evergreen and inspirational as they are (especially in the opening two games), the two veterans can surely not last the distance. Though they’ve proven everyone wrong for the past three seasons, maybe this is one season too many? Probably not, I’ll most likely eat my words as Giggs and Scholes play every game and Man Utd once again win the treble. The real worry is where Ferguson is going to look to when those two leave the side.
4) Man City – You can’t look past this side. Recruiting to absolute ridiculous proportions they have an abundance of talent. So much so that players such as Bellamy, Santa Cruz and even Adebayor are not guaranteed playing time. Combine this with Shay Given not even getting a run, despite a decent claim at being the Premier League’s best keeper since Peter Schmeichel. If the team can click, they could even challenge for the title but I think they’ll settle for a top-four finish. Balotelli could emerge this season as one of the world’s best if he can keep his attitude in check.
18) West Brom/sunderland/Bolton/Stoke – This is tough, it pretty much comes down to which team finds a striker who can score 15 + goals. I’d like to see West Brom stay up with their attacking brand of football but they need to find a prolific goalscorer, Odemwingie anyone? Bolton meanwhile, I just hate them, though if Johan Elmander can find his goal scoring touch the team could make a mid-table finish. Sunderland have lost Kenwyne Jones to Stoke and that could be pivotal in the relegation battle. Stoke have a solid team, with Jones the perfect striker to compliment their style of play. sunderland meanwhile will be relying on another stellar season from Darren Bent, which I hope doesn’t happen. So based on personal needs and wants – Sunderland.
19) Blackpool – The team who were tipped for a relegation-battle in the Championship will surely find themselves out of their depth in the Premier League. A bunch of no-names and a lack of investment should see them return to the Championship, but their supporters will relish the experience.
20) Wigan – With a small squad, little investment in the transfer window and judging from their last season Wigan will go down. Goals are the problem, with the team unlikely to find enough attacking thrust to get them through.
So that’s the top four and the bottom three of the Premier League. Other notable teams missing are of course Liverpool and Tottenham. I can’t see Liverpool getting there, even if Gerrard and Torres stay fit for the whole season. I think defenders have learnt how to deal with Torres, and his play sometimes looks too one-dimensional and injury concerns are still lingering. Meanwhile the loss of Benayoun to Chelsea is terrible news, Joe Cole is half the player Benayoun is. Spurs meanwhile could push Man City for a Champions League spot, yet they lack depth. Combined with constant injuries to key players such as King and Woodgate and their defence looks suspect at times. I was hoping to see Everton push for Europe, yet their early-season form isn’t promising. Though if they keep their players fit, expect a late push, they always start the season shit. Elsewhere, Villa look to have to settle for mid-table as Martin O’Neil left only a week before the start of the season, due to a lack of funds becoming available from the transfer of Milner to Man City. Their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Newcastle looks like a very bad omen for a team who should have pushed on by now and started challenging for Champions League football. Though the signing of Ireland could prove decisive, as he creates and scores goals in abundance. One last team to look at, Fulham. I’m tipping them for a possible top-six finish. Bobby Zamora looks like he’s in the mood again, while I believe the loss of Hodgson is really not that bad considering they have Mark Hughes in charge now. This man should be managing a top-four team and will most likely replace Ferguson at Man Utd in my opinion. If they can get a few away wins and continue their amazing home form they could surprise a few people (they only won once away from home last season).
Now for The Toon. Signings such as Perch and Gosling (who won’t kick a ball until January at least) raised eyebrows. Yet the signing of Sol Campbell will surely help a defence, which while it was dominant in the Championship, has always been known for its weakness in the Premier League. If Big Sol can strike up a good partnership with Coloccini, combined with the return of Steven Taylor from injury, Newcastle could manage more then just survival this year. As well as this Andy Carroll, the local lad who has taken up the famous number 9 shirt needs to prove his credentials at the highest level. 17 goals last year in the Championship needs to be emulated, and I think he will do it. Look out for him in two years time leading the England attack, no joke, this lad can play. He is a menace in the air, showed nice finishing with his hat trick against Villa and is very determined. Another key player is Joey Barton. He has been plagued with injury during his time at Newcastle, but with a full pre-season he can hopefully reproduce the form that earned him an England call-up during his Man City days.
All right that’s it for now, will round up the A-League tomorrow or so.