Football Season Preview: The Premier League

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 88 months ago
Football Season Preview: The Premier League

Scouting out a new Spurs front line

Fully one quarter of the Premier League calls London home. But will the capital's quintet of clubs be celebrating or sulking come May next year? Our thoughts:

Arsenal

Season previews for the Gunners have barely changed in half a decade. Predictions of their demise are hastily re-written when they top the League through November, but a winter crumble leaves them gasping and wheezing into fourth place. Seldom has this pattern changed since the scuttling of the 'Invincibles' side of 2004. After last season's rapid melt-down, this summer was supposed to see Arsene Wenger fixed the squad's main failings, namely the lack of a decent defence and the absence of dominant midfielders. Instead, he's bought a tricksy forward from Lille and a winger from Southampton. The fiscal potency of Manchester City and the resurgence of Liverpool mean that finishing in the top four will be a tough call for Arsenal, one made even harder by the impending departure of arguably their two finest players in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Wenger has three weeks left to use the money from those deals to address his side's deficiencies. The fans know what needs to be done, but does Arsene?

Prediction: Fifth

Chelsea

What to make of new boss Andre Villas-Boas? There's no way that he's Jose, although the comparisons do stack up: young, good looking, Portuguese and freshly arrived from a Porto side that he took to glorious heights. If he can enjoy a fraction of the domestic success his countryman did, Villas-Boas will win over the Chelsea fanbase. Winning over Roman Abramovich may be more difficult. There remains the sensation that the only trophy that matters for the Blues' owner is the European Cup, and all the English titles won't mask that trophy's absence from the Stamford Bridge cabinet. A key challenge this season will be massaging Fernando Torres' fragile form back into life, lest the Spaniard go down in club lore as a second Andriy Shevchenko. Get him onto his 2007-2010 form, blood in a couple of the youngsters to replace ageing stars, and get Didier Drogba settled, then beating Manchester United to the title might be a possibility.

Prediction: Second

Fulham

While the rest of the league's players were busy applying the Piz Buin to their bronzed bodies, Fulham's squad were out scavenging away through the unfancied corners of Europe in their quest for a Europa League spot. Keeping their eyes focused on the Premier League whilst negotiating those tricky foreign fixtures is the key challenge for Fulham this year. Like their south-west London neighbours, the side welcomed a new manager over the summer, in this case Martin Jol, a man familiar with the capital after his two years at Tottenham. Fulham will be boosted by the return to full fitness of Bobby Zamora, absent for most of last season after a horrible leg break in August, and further goalscoring potency could come from Andrew Johnson, for whom this year might be his last chance to demonstrate the fine goalscoring form he showed at Everton and Crystal Palace.

Prediction: 10th

QPR

They'll go down, naturally. Won't they? It's what everyone assumes. First time back in the top flight since 1996, with a squad that plays attractive, attacking football. Too naive, say the experts. They'll take some big scalps but ultimately fall back to the Championship. Blackpool last year are the blueprint. Except. They have a manager, in what may be his last gig in football, with a point to prove at this level. They have Adel Taarabt (if they can hold onto him), a midfielder with bags of talent who, at 22, is primed to spark on the big stage. And they've got some fairly wealthy owners. If they can turn Loftus Road into a tiny but impregnable fortress, the Hoops' season might not be over before it starts.

Prediction: Fourth from bottom

Tottenham

After the party, the hangover. Last season's Champions League debuts saw Spurs taking it to the giants of European football, and produced some thrilling displays of attacking football. The domestic front was perhaps a little less attractive (though fans will dine out on the win at Emirates for years to come), and a 5th-place finish meant that a second year amidst the continent's elite was denied. With the opening game of the season postponed due to the riots, Spurs have a little bit more time to contemplate one of the summer's more tedious transfer sagas: the fate of Luka Modric, who has reacted coquettishly to the come-hither eyes (and wads of cash) fluttered in his direction by Chelsea. The midfielder aside, Tottenham are also looking bereft in the attacking department, with Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe lacking bite and Roman Pavlyuchenko unfancied by Harry Redknapp. With the gaffer seemingly ready to take the England job after Euro 2012, there's a danger that this could be a season of treading water: after last year's delights, White Hart Lane ragulars are unlikely to be satisfied.

Prediction: Seventh

Photo by Andy Wilkes

Last Updated 12 August 2011