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Who will win the Premier League 2010-11?
Despite the strange move of letting Joe Cole leave for free, only to be replaced by Yossi Benayoun for £6 million, Carlo Ancelotti has shown what it takes to guide Chelsea to a second consecutive Premier League title. Yes, their pre-season form has been pretty poor, but never take that to be an indication of actual performance – it’s a time for fitness and experimentation. With Essien in particular returning to the fold after a bad injury last season, it is hard to see the title going anywhere but Stamford Bridge.
Of course, Chelsea did go and lose 3-1 in the Community Shield over the weekend against Manchester United. I never have treated that fixture as anything more than a preseason friendly, and am not going to change my prediction as a result. United did look very bright though, and will definitely put up a strong fight. Rooney was sharp, and Hernandez seemed like a very shrewd purchase. If Fergie manages to capture Ozil before the transfer window slams shut, however, the game could change completely.
I am also a strong supporter of Roy Hodgson, and although they certainly won’t win the league, Liverpool will put up a much better fight than last year – aided by Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard committing to the Kop for the time being. Arsenal have no hope, and Man City will be reminded that winning the league takes more than money (although, admittedly, not much more…)
The Sack Race
As in every season, several manages will inevitably lose their jobs as a result of overzealous owners, pathetic players, or both. I doubt any team will beat the record held by Iain Dowie, who was sacked by Charlton Athletic in the 06-07 season after just 15 games in charge, but my money is on Newcastle’s Chris Hughton to not be far behind. They performed very well in the Championship last season, but now they are back under the bright lights of the Premier League, Newcastle’s famed instability and love of drama may well reawaken.
Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? I know it is right to support them as our new local Premier League side, but Blackpool, who have barely improved their squad from last year, have to be favourites to come straight back down to what might previously have been called the “Fizzy Pop” league. (What do we call it now? The “Fossil Fuel” league?)
It is when you start to consider who will be joining them that the task becomes harder, but I believe that Bolton‘s luck will finally run out this season. West Brom may well also join them, but expect Newcastle to be down at the wrong end of the table for some time.
As much as I’d like to say DJ Campbell will feel at home in the Premier League, you can’t look past Didier Drogba to be instrumental in firing Chelsea to the title. Wayne Rooney will start the season haunted by, and possibly unfit from, England’s World Cup debacle, but he will make up for that after Christmas. If, however, making money is your objective – you should have a good look at Jermain Defoe.
Disclaimer: This writer once tipped Charlton Athletic for Europe. Therefore, never put money on his predictions. You have been warned.