Here’s the 2nd instalment of my Premiership predictions for the following season concentrating in the mid tablers. No doubt, after the comings and goings of the next fortnight, some of these players will be at pastures new affecting my final predicted placings. A good example is Clint Dempsey’s on off saga with Fulham. There’s a lot in the press but have Liverpool actually made a serious offer and does Brendan actually want him???. This is just one of many conundrums taking place in the Premiership at the moment. All will be revealed very soon but now you have to put up with this. Feel free to add what you think might happen over the next few months and don’t forget to check out the podcast at the end of the week, just look for “my left foot” in itunes or check the link on the Dexys den facebook page!
Right, let’s get right down to the real nitty gritty.
Pulis has got a bit of a job on his hands I reckon this year, I had high hopes for The Potters last August but they fell well short of my expectations. Last seasons Euro exploits didn’t help proceedings of course and maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Pulis but with so many teams improving this season and the quality of the three promoted teams compared to the 3 that went down, I can’t see Stoke improving on last terms 14th (their lowest for 4 years). Of the few players to come in, Micheal Kightly looks the pick of the bunch and with Matty Etherington & Jermaine Pennant should provide plenty of width and attacks from the flanks. Still a massive threat at set pieces with Crouch, Walters, Huth and Shawcross, you would expect Stoke to get a few headers on target with that supply line. Another new recruit is Jamie Ness with another promised striker on the way, I’d also be looking at another defender.
Dexys Diamond: Peter Crouch
Pulis is relying heavily on the lanky stringer with his purchase of Kightly. On his day, Crouch is unplayable and can be brilliant in patches, last springs wonder-goal reminded us all how fantastic he can be (not as fantastic as his missus mind). If Pulis does bring in another goal-getter, surely Jermaine Defoe must be at the top of list, him and Crouch have history and the injection of pace up front could help with Stoke fulfilling last seasons promise.
Sparky has been a busy little bee this summer having a major overhaul of the QPR squad and spending some his boss’s Easyjet kitty. It will be for the better though & I’d wager a slight improvement on last years effort. QPR were pretty unlucky last season, Cisse spent most of his time suspended & that baton has been passed to Barton for a few weeks now but they will improve in time. After the aquisition of the speedy Junior Hoillett on the wing from Blackburn and the ever improving Taarabt being moved in-field with ex-Manc Ji Sung Park, the hoops could start going places, maybe not anytime soon but when the new players all start to gel, I can see them starting slow and progressing after the new year. They have a huge squad and Hughes may have to get shot of some of the dead wood hanging around West London to make way for all the new faces. At the time of writing there squad was around 36 strong with 7 nubes in already, that needs to be slimmed down a bit.
Dexys Diamond: Adel Taarabt:
The former Spurs maverick didn’t really get going untill the last couple of months of last season. The kid was unlucky, hitting the post what seemed like every other week, he is a talent though. If he starts as he left of last season, his link up play with the forwards could be dynamite.
When Martin took over from Bruce, The Mackems went on a run that had me thinking that European footy could be on the North East horizon, that thought only lasted a few weeks. The Black Cats finally came back to earth on all fours and I can’t see any real big changes with the O’Neill game plan. Sunderland well be well briefed and hardworking with the rearguard playing on the break to the strengths of their speedy attackers. With Bendtner running hot and cold last season and Gyan just doing a runners, the majority of games were presided over by the brilliant play of Sessegnon. He was outstanding at times and I’m very surprised he is still there to be honest. Carlos Cuellar has been brought in to help out in defence and there are rumours of Owen and Defoe joining Saha in some last minute wheeler dealing, possibly even bids for Adam Johnson plus Tottenham pair Huddlestone and Jenas, that is some shopping list. If they get Defoe who I still believe is a 20 goal a season man if he plays every game, you can take of a couple of place here and chuck O’Neill and co in the top 10, with Adam Johnson, I can guarantee it, he is brilliant and if he has any sense should be looking for 1st team football, he is so talented, unfortunately for O’Neill, i can see bigger clubs coming in as well.
Dexys Diamond: James McClean
While Bruce dilly-dallied in the past with the youngster, Martin O’Neill took a chance on the Irishman and it paid instant dividends. He was outstanding last time around, a real handful, full of energy with an eye for goal. Breaking into Don Trappotoni’s Irelands Euro Squad but spending time on the bench behind McGeady, he will be itching to perform for his two big boss’s this year.
11 West Brom.
With 7 new managers coming into the Premiership fold, it’s nigh on impossible for pundits and fans to know exactly how they will fair, rookie Steve Clarke is harder still because of the fact that this is his first outing as the bossman. It’s widely accepted that he was a top number two in his time with Chelsea, West Ham and a stint at Liverpool too but this step up to the No 1 slot could make or break him. He has chosen wisely in the Baggies post though. Roy Hodgeson left it in pretty good shape before he headed off on England duty and it doesn’t require much more tinkering. WIth his strong Chelsea connections, the loan of Romelu Lulaku could really propel West Brom into the top half of the table, I’m not so sure if that will happen though. (See below). They also have Gera, Long & Odemwingie to ship in up front and the exceptional Mulumbu holding everything in place in the centre of the park with James Morrison attacking by his side and Brunt on the set piece duty, I really like the look of West Brom.
Dexys Diamond: Romulu Lukaku:
I’ve heard a few whisperings that Lukaku, the former Anderlecht striker hasn’t really settled in in England. There is no doubt that he, in time has all the attributes to be up there with Didier Drogba with whom he is ofter compared with. If that’s the case, West Brom will be heading into the top half with ease. Steve Clark will have to make full use of his man management skills to make sure the big man stays and his happy down at The Hawthorns.
I had Swansea down as the Premiership fall guys a year ago…I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Brendan Rodgers brought to Englands top table a brand of football that has only been seen in World Cup Finals, Euros Finals and the odd Champions League game. Emulating near enough the tika taka passing and pressing game of Barca, Swansea were a joy to watch and a nightmare to play against, no one could get the ball from them. With Brendan leaving for Liverpool taking Xavi-esque Joe Allen with him and without the goal threat of Sigardson & possibly Sinclair who is being touted by Man City, goals will be a priority. New manager Micheal Laudrup (yes Laudrup) is now at the helm & will seek to improves the Rodgers blue-print. New signings include the wonderfully named duo of Chico & Michu who are by all accounts absolutely mustard according to Guillem on Sky. In defence, The Swans were pretty miserly and I can’t see it crumbling any time soon contrary to a lot of pundits. They also have a easyish start avoiding a few of the big boys. I can see Laudraup looking to bring in at least one more hitman, possibly two if Sinclair definitely goes to warm the Man City bench. If Laudrup gets the team on his wavelength early, he can emulate last seasons style, Swansea could be knocking on the door of his old stomping ground, Europe, I really believe they could be in for good season.
Dexys Diamond: Vorm
One of the best keepers in the league by far last season, if he can keep getting clean sheets, it won’t be long before the the bigger fish start coming in for him.
Fulham. The big dog down by the Thames is quietly turning Fulham into a big danger up in the table, well upper mid table. Dutchman Martin Jol had a wonderful return to London last year and his Fulham side spearheaded by the US of Awesomeness that is Clint Dempsey were very comfortable in the middle. Things may be changing though with the yank wanting out for the starry bright lights and bigger bucks of the north east with Liverpool one of the favourites for his signature. The Fulham honchos obviously wants him to stay in London but if he goes, Jol has already brought players in to plug the gaps. Croat goal machine Petric is very highly rated and should be looking for some double figures, you may remember him knocking us out of Euro 2008 on a wet Wembley night a few years ago, I do..the git!. Hugo Rodallega would like to get some goalmouth action too after his recent switch from Wigan. The midfield looks strong as well, Sembele is different class alongside Sidwell and Bryan Ruiz should improve on last terms promise. The defence is sturdy and Hangeland is still one of the best defenders in the league. I fancy 10th if not better if Dempsey decides to stay.
Dexys Diamond: Moussa Dembele
Attracting admiring glances from Fergie, AVB and the Special One over in Spain, The all action midfielder is one of big Martin’s big dogs and is the fulcrum of Fulham. I think i’d rather lose Dempsey than the Belgium enforcer.
That’s wraps up the middle order. The big 8 is to come in the next few days and is packed full of surpasses, I promise eye.