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Liverpool to finish third behind Manchester United as Tottenham and City make case for fifth place



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This is part two of the 09/10 season preview – find part one of the 09/10 premier league season here.


After pushing Manchester United all the way, Liverpool ultimately finished second best in the race for the title last season. This season, as we seem to say every season, “could be Liverpool’s year”, and Rafa Benitez’s side will be desperate to take the honours after coming so close last time around.

Despite selling both Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa to Real Madrid, Benitez has quickly added both Glen Johnson and Roma’s Alberto Aquilani to his talented squad as direct replacements for the departed Spaniards. If the new arrivals can settle quickly and Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard can display the world-class form they are capable of, then The Reds could come very close to winning their first league title since 1990.

Prediction: 3rd

Manchester City

No team in the Premier League has undergone a more dramatic transformation in recent months than Manchester City. Basking in the wealth of the Abu Dhabi United Group, Mark Hughes has used the almost limitless resources at his fingertips to build a squad of the highest caliber over the summer. The arrivals of Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz should see City vastly improve on their league performances of recent years.

With so many new faces in their squad, it is unlikely that City’s new-look team will gel sufficiently well to see the side mount a sustained push for the title, but it is possible that the blue half of Manchester could get very close to breaking up the monopoly of the hallowed “top four”. What is for certain is that all eyes will be on City this season to see if money really can buy instant success. Watch this space.

Prediction: 5th

Manchester United

With Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez having departed Old Trafford this summer, this season’s Manchester United side will have a very different feel to it. Having lost two of the team’s most influential players it was vital that Sir Alex replaced them with players of a similar quality. Opinion as to whether or not he has done that is very much split down the middle.

Wigan’s Luis Antonio Valencia has been signed for £15.25m as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo but, despite being a very good player, it is unlikely that he will be able to completely fill the sizeable shoes of the Portuguese. Similarly, a semi-fit Michael Owen may struggle to find his best form, leaving The Red Devils lacking strength in depth up front. Conversely, such is Fergie’s eye for a transfer it would surprise few if the new arrivals stepped up and made themselves key members of the defending league champions’ team.

Despite the potential problems that the losses of Tevez and Ronaldo may cause, such is the depth of United’s squad that Ferguson’s team is more than capable of adapting and being one of the forerunners for the title yet again. This may be a transitional season at Old Trafford, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a successful one.

Prediction: 2nd


After beginning last season struggling under the leadership of Tony Adams in the wake of Harry Redknapp’s departure, Pompey’s season was turned around by Paul Hart who oversaw an upturn in the club’s fortunes and steered the south coast outfit away from the relegation scrap towards the end of the campaign, eventually finishing fourteenth.

The Fratton Park faithful will be hoping that their team continues to show improvement under Hart but, with the departures of key players such as Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson, Pompey might just find the going a little tougher in 2009/10. With a proposed takeover still incomplete, Hart has little in the way of the funds required to bring fresh faces into his squad and is desperately short of strikers capable of scoring with regularity in the top flight. The arrival of Steve Finnan from Espanyol represents a shrewd bit of business, but if Hart is unable to bring in reliable goal scorers then Pompey could find themselves struggling for consistency as the season progresses. They’re unlikely to go down, but this might just be a difficult season down by the seaside.

Prediction: 16th

Stoke City

Tony Pulis should be congratulated for keeping his Stoke side in the Premiership last season with an impressive twelfth place finish, but the 2009/10 campaign is crucial if The Potters want to go on to establish themselves as a regular feature in the top division.

The signing of Dean Whitehead should add extra bite to the midfield, and the mammoth throw-ins of Rory Delap combined with the goals of Ricardo Fuller will likely again prove to be crucial elements of Stoke’s game. As was the case last season, it will be vital that Stoke win the majority of their home games in the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Britannia Stadium. If they can do that then they have an excellent chance of extending their stay in the Premier League for yet another season, but it might be touch and go.

Prediction: 17th


With a new manager and plenty of new signings having been installed over the summer, Sunderland will be looking to begin a new era at The Stadium of Light this season. After much success with Wigan, Steve Bruce has made the move north and has already begun to strengthen his squad in the hope of improving on The Black Cat’s disappointing sixteenth place finish last season.

Albanian defensive midfielder Lorik Cana, who had been a target for both Liverpool and Arsenal, has been signed from Marseille (where he was captain) for £5m and should add a resilient, tenacious edge to Sunderland’s midfield. Darren Bent and Frazier Campbell have also been brought in to strengthen the forward line and, should they find their best form, should provide their new team with plenty of firepower.

Steve Bruce’s squad is taking a very positive shape and, if he can find a system to accommodate his new signings, Sunderland should be able to look forward to one of their more successful Premiership seasons of recent years. Things are on the up on Wearside.

Prediction: 10th

Tottenham Hotspur

Following a disastrous start to last season under Juande Ramos, Spurs were rescued by the appointment of Harry Redknapp who substantially improved the club’s fortunes and guided the North London club to a respectable eighth place finish. Now that Redknapp has the opportunity to oversee a full season, Lilywhites fans will be hoping for better things during the 2009/10 campaign.

Players such as Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Defoe and Luka Modric, the creative spine of the team, will again be crucial to Spurs’ fortunes this season, with Peter Crouch returning to White Hart Lane to reinforce Redknapp’s attacking options. Newcastle’s Sebastien Bassong has also joined the club and should provide consistency in the centre of defence during Ledley King’s inevitable absences through injury.

If Spurs’ form during the latter part of last season is anything to go by, this could be a much-improved season at White Hart Lane in terms of consistency, with a Europa League place being a key ambition for a club with lofty aspirations.

Prediction: 7th

West Ham United

The mediocrity of the players Gianfranco Zola has brought in during the transfer window thus far suggests that more worrying times might be ahead for the Upton Park side. Davide Di Michele and Radoslav Kovac, loan signings who made such a difference last season, have now returned to their clubs and have yet to be replaced. Indeed, such is the pitiful state of the West Ham accounts, it is fairly unlikely that any big-name players will be arriving in East London anytime soon.

Despite being unable to significantly add to the squad, Zola has an able group of players at his disposal and, even if improving on last year’s performance looks to be a step too far, should be able to attain a mid-table finish with relative ease.

Prediction: 13th

Wigan Athletic

With the club now under the stewardship of talented young manager Roberto Martinez, the coming season feels like it could be one of real progress for Wigan Athletic. Despite having lost Antonio Valencia, Wilson Palacios and Emile Heskey in recent times, Wigan’s progress has continued unchecked, the club finishing last season very respectably in eleventh place.

This summer has seen the arrivals of Jordi Gomez and Jason Scotland to the JJB Stadium, two of Martinez’s former charges who have the ability to make a positive impact on The Latics. If the club can also keep hold of and get the best from important players such as Lee Cattermole and Charles N’Zogbia, then Wigan fans might just be able to look forward to their side performing to an even higher level than last season.

Prediction: 8th

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves were promoted from the Championship last season playing a vibrant, vivacious form of football which Mick McCarthy will be hoping serves his side equally as well in the top flight. A lot of responsibility will rest upon the shoulders of young players such as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, David Jones and Michael Kightly during the coming campaign, with McCarthy looking to retain the spine of the team which marched to the Championship title.

McCarthy has also shown a tendency to look to the Championship for players with which to strengthen his young squad. Kevin Doyle, Marcus Hahnemann and Andrew Surman have all joined from Football League clubs, whilst Ronald Zubar has signed from Marseille for £2.7m in an effort to shore up the defence.

Wolves may play some pretty football, but it is a lack of Premiership experience within the squad as a whole which could prove to be the side’s undoing. As with West Brom last season, expect thrilling football but perhaps little in the way of consistency and top flight savvy from The Wanderers over the next nine months.

Prediction: 18th (Relegated)

This is part two of the 09/10 season preview – find part one of the 09/10 premier league season here.

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