Saturday, 14 August 2010

Premier League Preview - Middle Ground

Unlike the bottom of the Premier League, the middle can be rather uninspiring. Certain teams seem to win more than enough games to avoid the relegation dogfight, but are still a million miles away from threatening any of the league’s big guns. Fulham and Sunderland look to me to be this season’s ordinary boys. Expect to see an equal amount of wins, draws and losses from these two as they successfully tread water through to May 2011. Roy Hodgson’s departure from the Cottagers is a real blow, and Mark Hughes faces a pretty difficult task if he aims to improve on last season. Bolton struggled last year, finishing with only 39 points. However, Owen Coyle has been in charge for 7 months now, and he starts this season with a competent Bolton side who are playing prettier football than under Megson. Bolton are in a much more healthy position than half the teams in the league this time around. Blackburn Rovers are also led by a talented English manager who has shaped them into a solid team capable of staying in the middle ground.

Following Monday’s news of Martin O’Neill’s departure from Aston Villa, it is now much more likely that they will struggle to maintain their lofty finishes of recent seasons. With James Milner also looking set to leave, Aston Villa may find that they cannot consistently compete with the teams at the top. Villa seem strapped for cash, and their squad has never been renowned for its depth as it is. This season could see Villa graciously fall away.

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