TEAMtalk's Premier predictions - Part Two
Tuesday 10th August 2010 11:03
With the Premier League kicking off again on Saturday, Si Wilkes and Matty Briggs are the latest to give us their predictions for 2010/11.
Having delivered our Football League forecasts last week, TEAMtalk's resident octet of bloggers are now turning their attentions to the top-flight and the cup competitions in the coming campaign.
We'll be bringing you our judgements from Monday to Thursday this week - make sure you have your say and give us your own predictions too by adding a comment below.
Si Wilkes' predictions:
Premier League top six: Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham.
It's so hard to look past either Chelsea or United for title glory when push comes to shove, but I do think both Liverpool and the Gunners will ensure it's a four-horse race this season - with the Blues winning it by a nose.
They've had a poor pre-season but who cares, Carlo Ancelotti knows his first-choice XI and although they're missing Ballack and Cole, Essien is back to full fitness and will be a key player in driving them to silverware this season.
United haven't splashed the cash but still have an incredibly strong and experienced squad, with Owen looking fit and sharp and Hernandez looking like he might be a handful for Prem defences.
I fancy Roy Hodgson to galvanise the Reds following last season's dismal showing, and his attacking style of play will allow Messrs Torres, Gerrard and Cole to flourish at Anfield, which will once again be a fortress.
Wenger's young Gunners now have more experience to call upon when the title race hits top gear, but their lack of a top-class goalkeeper could once again prove costly when the honours are handed out.
I've a feeling Spurs may struggle to cope with the demands of fans' greater expectations, allowing big-spending Manchester City to pip them to fifth. Mancini's men have looked like strangers in pre-season, and with so much talent at their disposal it's hard to see them ever fielding a settled line-up.
Premier League bottom three: Newcastle, Wigan, Blackpool.
I was absolutely delighted to see Blackpool win promotion in the play-off final, as it's simply huge for the seaside resort in terms of revenue for all local businesses and BnBs. But their squad is arguably weaker now than last season as they've lost their loan stars - and it's going to be a long season for them, with them probably propping up the table from near on start to finish.
I'm a West Brom fan and we've got a tough start to the campaign, but I'm backing us to recover and finish 17th as Robert Di Matteo will field a solid 4-2-3-1 formation which will give us more protection from the Prem's predators.
That means finding two more for the drop, so I'm predicting Newcastle for an immediate return to the second tier, where they'll be joined by Roberto Mancini's Latics, whose inconsistency will be their undoing.
Leading PL scorer: Fernando Torres.
Having committed his future to Liverpool and declared his undying love for the Reds, I think the Spaniard will score goals for fun under Hodgson, as they'll be given far more attacking licence, with Gerrard, Maxi and Cole providing the ammunition for Torres to fire.
First PL manager to be sacked: Roberto Mancini.
I got this bang on last season after tipping Paul Hart to be axed by Pompey, and this time I think Mancini will get the bullet if City get off to an indifferent start. With so many superstars and egos trying to settle in at Eastlands, they'll probably drop plenty of points on the road and City's short-sighted and trophy-hungry owners won't have any patience with the Italian.
PL bad boy - Player with most red cards: Lee Cattermole.
Sunderland's midfield hardman loves to put the boot in and with referees taking a harder line than ever, I think he'll see red on quite a few occasions.
SPL top three: Rangers, Celtic, Dundee United.
I think Celtic have taken a massive gamble handing Neil Lennon the reins on a permanent basis, and with the Bhoys in transition and full of new faces, I'm backing the wily Walter Smith to ensure the Gers recover from the loss of Kris Boyd to rule in Scotland once again.
SPL bottom side: Kilmarnock.
Killie concede far too many goals for my liking (27 at home, 24 away last season) and only scored six goals on the road last term, so I think they'll drop out of Scotland's top tier as Inverness should make the step up.
FA Cup winners: Arsenal
Carling Cup winners: Aston Villa
Champions League winners: Real Madrid (mainly due to the Special One)
Europa League winners: Liverpool (Hodgson to go one step further).
Matty Briggs' predictions:
Premier League top six: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham.
Javier Hernadez's arrival at Manchester United could well prove to be the best piece of transfer business this season. The Mexican's movement looks top class and I think he'll be a huge asset to United and I think he might just tip the scales in United's favour. Chelsea looked ordinary in the Community Shield at Wembley and although they will have Michael Essien back this term I think they might just struggle to keep up with United. I'm expecting better things from Arsenal this season after some shrewd business from Arsene Wenger this summer. They will have Robin van Persie back this term and it's a big season for Jack Wilshere, who I expect to come to the fore. Andrey Arshavin disappointed last year, but I expect him to be flying this term and it could also be Cesc Fabregas' sign off season so I think the Gunners will come a close third. Roy Hodgson should bring some respectability back to Liverpool, and Man City and Spurs should make up the top six once more.
Premier League bottom three: West Brom, Wigan, Blackpool.
The Baggies are a yo-yo team and I can't find any reason why that trend will stop this term. Wigan, under Roberto Martinez, were dreadful at times last season and I think they might just trot out more bad performances than good ones this time around. And as for Blackpool it's impossible to make a case for them and I think they could accumulate less points than Derby did!
Leading PL scorer: Wayne Rooney.
I think Rooney might just have a point to prove after the World Cup debacle. He came close last season and I expect him to repeat his efforts of last year and that should be enough to see off Fernando Torres, who looks primed for a big season at Anfield.
First PL manager to be sacked: Alex McLeish.
With Aston Villa chief Martin O'Neill gone I also expect Second City rivals Birmingham to axe McLeish. I tipped him for the boot last term and he proved me wrong, but I can't get excited by his close-season signings and think Carson Yeung might just lose patience if Blues start badly.
PL bad boy - Player with most red cards: Gary Caldwell.
Not blessed with great pace and picked up two reds last season and he could get exposed even more this season with Wigan expected to struggle
SPL top three: Rangers, Celtic, Dundee United.
Rangers to continue their dominance under Walter Smith, with Celtic bringing up the rear and Dundee United third.
SPL bottom side: Inverness.
A season of struggle after promotion.
FA Cup winners: Arsenal.
I'm expecting a big season from the Gunners so I'm going for them to win the FA Cup.
Carling Cup winners: Liverpool.
Roy Hodgson will be keen to win some silverware this season and the League Cup might just be within their capabilities.
Champions League winners: Barcelona.
In my opinion they were the best team around last season, but they will prove they are the best this season.
Europa League winners: Valencia.
It will probably be a team coming out of the Champions League. Atletico Madrid did the business last season so I'm going to go for another Spanish side in Valencia this term. La Liga is strong and if Valencia don't make the Champions League group stages they could go all the way in the Europa League.