Friday, 13 August 2010

Premier League Preview - Fighting to stay up

Huge gaps in spending power break England’s top league effectively into 3 separate divisions. Teams in the middle cannot dream of competing with the mega-rich at the top, and teams at the bottom very rarely manage to avoid the dreaded pull of the relegation fight. The Premier League is a very predictable competition, especially when compared with the Football League. Newly promoted Blackpool for instance were tipped to go down last season, only to gain promotion via the playoffs after finishing 6th. The top 6 or 7 in the Premier League are almost permanent fixtures, and things are unlikely to change this year.

The bottom of the Premier League is a difficult and competitive place to be, and especially so this season. New boys Blackpool are hotly tipped to finish bottom of the league, and while I am not inclined to disagree, it should be fun watching the Tangerines this season. Manager Ian Holloway is quite the character and has suggested that his side will be playing some rather ambitious football this season. Holloway said "After watching the World Cup I've realised we need to get more like Spain" "You have to caress the ball, you've got to love it. We need more tiki-taka." Also expected to return straight back down to the Championship are West Bromwich Albion, although Roberto Di Matteo is a promising young manager, and hopefully can go some way to proving himself. West Brom have been up and down more than most over the past decade, but this experience could help them towards the end of the season. The Baggies have made a few solid purchases that are unlikely to stretch the finances beyond their limits, and I can see them just avoiding relegation this season. Teams such as Birmingham City and Stoke City, who did reasonably well last season, may find things a struggle this time around. Both these sides were difficult to beat at home, but Stoke in particular are likely to come up against teams who are fully prepared for the physical side of their play this season. Neither Wolves nor Wigan managed to reach the supposedly magical 40 points last season, yet stayed up because of very poor competition below them. This season’s relegation battle is likely to be far closer, and Wolves and Wigan are set to be involved in the fight. West Ham and Newcastle should be able to avoid the drop, but they both run the risk of being dragged into it all. Newcastle have made some good signings including Sol Campbell and Dan Gosling, while West Ham have brought in Frederic Piquionne and Thomas Hitzlsperger, and if they manage to keep hold of Scott Parker, they should be ok.

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