With the close of the transfer window things have changed for some clubs and because of that the ‘race’ for the 5th and 6th spots has changed as well.
Here’s a look at all the candidates (Tottenham, West Ham, Bolton, Portsmouth, Newcastle United and Everton):
The new pretenders, the team who should be in the Champions League or a weak side which folds every time a tough, fighting squad comes up against them (Bolton and Everton)?
A lot of the criticism against Tottenham is unfair. They have a technically gifted squad and in Robinson, King, Zokora, Jenas, Lennon, Keane and Berbatov they have the nucleus of a squad that will take them a long, long way.
Their litmus test will be the away game against Manchester United on the 9th. If Tottenham can put up with the the attacking talents of Giggs, Saha, Ronaldo and Carrick and also compete with United physically, they stand a chance of snatching a point.
Win, draw or lose, if Tottenham are haplessly outplayed (like United were against Chelsea on 29th April), they can forget about the champions league, and they will be relying on other
It’s not just the players you have but the fighting spirit they show. I’m sure that with King back and Zokora getting an extended run Tottenham will be a strong contender for the 5th spot but the team cannot keep relying on Keane and Lennon to provide them with inspiration. Berbatov is a finisher, he can’t do it. The drive must come from the midfield, and Zokora and Jenas will be crucial to Tottenham’s aspirations for 4th/5th place finish.
This is so easy, I don’t even know where to start.
When I said last month that I’d be surprised if Newcastle United managed to sign 2 strikers and a defender, I had figured that if the club would actually manage to do so, they would be a genuine force in the Premiership. But they lost their first new striker on debut to injury, the second striker is a remarkable young talent but very inexperienced, and the third is a left-back who left the club 18 months ago only to come back and sign on a freebie.
Oh, and there’s Siberski as well, but how he will help Newcastle I don’t know.
But let’s be fair – Newcastle have been very unlucky with injuries. If Owen had been fit, it would have allowed the management to focus on getting a top-quality defender. Like Ed said, the Newcastle squad is short on quality and in numbers.
Roeder will do his best to rally the troops but it’s an uphill struggle for Newcastle.
Soccerlens Prediction: Newcastle will struggle to stay in the top-10.
Not in the top 10.
West Ham United
West Ham’s odds for winning the UEFA Cup were cut from 60 to 1 to 18 to 1 after the double capture of Tevez and Mascherano. The farcical proceedings at Upton Park aside, a lot of people seem to think that the new signings will suddenly propel the club to a top 6 spot in the Premiership.
And ya know what? I find it hard to disagree. West Ham have a good squad but more importantly, they have a fighting squad. I don’t think that they will necessarily do better than Tottenham this season but two quality players like Tevez and Mascherano can really lift up a team and you have to argue that if these two were there against Liverpool, the scoreline could have been very different.
If West Ham can keep the two players free from injury, this season will be very interesting for West Ham fans and the neutrals alike.
Soccerlens Prediction: With Tevez and Mascherano, West Ham have a good shot at a top-6 spot, although they would be content with another top-10 finish.
Sam Allardyce might be a wierd fella but you can’t hold that against Kevin Nolan and co. They’ve added Nicolas Anelka to their excellent signing of Meite and are definitely the front-runners along with Tottenham for a top-6 spot.
Where Bolton will suffer is their inability to kill off teams. They play a tough game but they also lack the killer edge, and I doubt that it will be Anelka alone who can help them out here. Nolan will have to play a much greater role and Bolton will also have to become more attacking as a team. You can’t kick your way to the UEFA Cup, but if they can kick people AND score a few goals then they are definitely in with a chance.
Will Bolton remain unfashionable and get drowned by the glitz of Tottenham and West Ham (and even Portsmouth, who are probably the oldest side in the Premiership)?
Soccerlens prediction: With Bolton, no one really knows. They are as likely to play rubbish as they are to be good. Bottom line, if they get into scoring form a top-6 place is theirs for the taking, otherwise another mid-table scrap is in the offing.
surprise 6th place and in Europe
Like Charlton, Portsmouth have signed 10 players but the difference is that Redknapp has his team playing really, really well. Andy Cole, Sol Campbell, Kanu and David James will provide much needed experience and quality to the side but they also bring in the sort of professionalism necessary for a top-10 finish. Manuel Fernandes will give them strength in the midfield and on paper, Portsmouth have a talented squad ready for a big splash in the Premiership.
I expect Portsmouth to spend again in January.
Despite 7 points from 3 games, Portsmouth aren’t playing particularly well. Middlesbrough collapsed against them and such things will rarely happen in the Premiership. The team also lack pace in the defence and the top teams will ruthlessly exploit that.
Soccerlens prediction: Portsmouth should be content with a top-10 finish.
8th spot and a good cup run
Everton are everyone’s favourites for a good finish this year, and a lot of that has to do with Neville’s form – and of course, Andrew Johnson’s signing 🙂 Mind you, they had a horrible time last season and this year they haven’t done much in the transfer window except get Howard and Johnson, so I really don’t understand why everyone is tipping them for a good run in the Premiership.
Everton’s 10-man heroics against Tottenham apart, this is an average team with a good striker thrown in. Moyes is a good manager but he doesn’t have a top-notch squad on his hands. To his credit though, he has turned Everton into a fighting team and they will need that fighting spirit when they take on the likes of Bolton and West Ham and Newcastle for their mid-table scraps.
Soccerlens prediction: Andy Johnson can’t help them win a UEFA Cup spot, but considering that this team was 4th just two years ago (albeit because Liverpool sucked that season) you wouldn’t bet against Everton getting in the top-10. Top-6? that’s pushing it.
9th or 10, but that’s as far as they can go.