My original draft of this post was far too long, so, we're going to have a part 1 and part 2 situation.
Not really fitting along the lines of the nerd corner as such, but this is my bread and butter subject. This coming weekend marks the start of the 2008/2009 season, of the Barclays Premier League. The spirit of competition will be on show every week, as the (supposed) best 20 teams in England battle it out to see who will win the prize for this year. The following is a brief, completely biased run down of
Perennial member of 'the big 4', and should be there or there abouts once again this year. A young team, with many current stars, and stars of the future. Looked like they were going to race away with the title last year, until Eduardo got injured at Birmingham, ran out of steam after that incident. Could end up one step lower this term, with Liverpool improving, still an outside shot at the title.
Ladbrokes odds - 6/1
My Prediction - 4th
The additions of Luke Young, Nicky Shorey and American Bard Friedel should improve an average defensive unit. Last year, Villa scored the 3rd most goals in the league, this year, they have the same midfield and forward units, so, should look to score the same again. The Gareth Barry saga does continue, with the aspect of whether he's going to Liverpool or not hanging in the balance as the transfer window doesn't close until the end of the month. However, even if he does go, the signing of Steve Sidwell should go some way to cover for this.
Ladbrokes odds - 150/1
My Prediction - 6th
Their biggest loss of the off-season, is manager Mark Hughes who has gone to Manchester City. The new boss, is ex-lots of teams and England midfielder, Paul Ince, whose current managing experience is only in League 2, a full 3 leagues below the premiership. They've lost their best player in David Bentley, they've lost Brad Friedel and replaced him with Paul Robinson, a downgrade in my opinion. This team is set for a big fall this coming season.
Ladbrokes odds - 1000/1
My Prediction - 12th
Squeaked away from the drop zone at the very end of last season, heavily relying on their early season form in order to survive. This year, they don't have the benefit of Nicolas Anelka scoring their goals. The big drop in form happened when they sold Anelka to Chelsea last January. Simply put, they just don't have anyone to score goals. Their only saving grace might be the poor standard of the promoted teams. Could be a long season for the Trotters.
Ladbrokes Odds - 3000/1
My Prediction - 18th (Relegated)
My tip for the top every year. It's hard to argue against a team with such insane talent, and quite frankly any time they don't win the title, they're underachieving. This summer has seen many players who don't play depart, and the addition of Deco from Barcelona and Bosingwa from Porto. Question marks...probably how new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari handles the team, should be very different from the old, more defensive style. Could be a fun team to watch.
Ladbrokes odds - 13/8 (2ndF)
My Prediction - 1st (Champions)
For much of last year, it looked as though Everton could break into the top 4, shaking up the general status quo. However, over the summer, the team has been pretty much stagnant. Granted, they had, and have a decent team, but they've lost striker Andy Johnson, and now face a tough challenge. The teams around them have improved, and Evertonians could be in for a shock.
Ladbrokes odds - 150/1
My Prediction - 9th
Roy Hodgson performed the miracle or miracles at the end of last season, just when it looked like Fulham were destined for the Championship, they managed to save their season with some big results in the last few games. This summer has seen a large amount of players coming and going, as Hodgson looks to stamp his authority on the team, and save them from the predicaments of last season. Biggest signing has to be Andy Johnson from Everton, who should improve the strikeforce, as well as Bobby Zamora. Team looks better set for the league this year.
Ladbrokes odds - 2500/1
My Prediction - 16th
Newly promoted Hull came through the Championship play-offs. If anyone will show the poor standard of promoted teams, it'll be Hull. Since they went up, they've signed some pretty average Premiership plays such as George Boateng and Giovanni. How this team managed to get promoted, I don't know. Pretty much nailed on to go down, with their only saving grace being the fact that they should be competing with Stoke for bottom place and least points in history.
Ladbrokes odds - 7500/1
My Prediction - 19th (Relegated)
They've lost an awful lot of dead weight from the squad, and have added Robbie Keane to the front line. For a while, they were rumoured to be close to signing David Villa, which would have made the team instant title contenders, as it is, they're slightly improved over where they were a year ago. If they manage to sign Gareth Barry, they may get closer, but, they'll be battling it out for 3rd place with Arsenal all year.
Ladbrokes odds - 6/1
My Prediction - 3rd
Last year, City looked like they were going to fly away with 5th place, the team looked pretty much unbeatable, especially at home, before the new year. And then, the wheels fell off. However, what City achieved last year was still impressive, and they got to somewhere where they hadn't been in many years. So, what does crazy nutso owner, Thaksin Shinawatra do? Sacks Sven Goran Erikson, who had done a bloody good job. Stupid. Anyway, that's done, Mark Hughes, who himself is a good manager, is now at the helm. Rumours of them signing Ronaldinho didn't materialise, so they're pretty much where they were.
Ladbrokes odds - 200/1
My Prediction - 8th
And that concludes part 1 of this years Premiership preview, part 2 will be coming before Saturday.