The English Premier League kicks off its 2009-2010 season this weekend and it promises to be an enthralling season again in Europe’s top league.
With the transfer window still three weeks away the prospects for many teams will rise and fall on who is added or leaves between now and then. But with the current rosters, this is how I see the battle for the Premiership going in 2008-2009. In part one I will break down the relegation battle. In the next couple of days I will also look at the teams who will battle for Europe, the Champions League and those who are doomed to be mid-table candidates.
I expect that the three newly promoted clubs, Birmingham City, Burnley, and Wolves to be involved in the relegation battle all season and I expect at least two of them to get relegated at the end of the reason. Burnley surprised Premier League teams in the Carling Cup and FA Cup last season with an entertaining style of football. I am hoping that they can carry this for a whole season and avoid relegation.
Wolves and Birmingham are led by Mike McCarthy and Alex McLeish respectively and I am not big fans of either. Neither team have made any significant signings this offseason and I cannot see how either of them can stay up.
Joining the three newly promoted teams in the relegation battle will be Portsmouth, Wigan and Hull. The wheels are coming off at Portsmouth. It is hard to believe that this time last year that they were playing in the Charity Shield and looking forward to playing AC Milan in the UEFA Cup. Now they are in financial disarray and are a shadow of themselves. If any of the promoted teams avoid relegation, it will be because of how poor Portsmouth are.
Wigan under Steve Bruce have been a mid-table team. But Bruce is gone, as is Heskey (left in January) and Valencia. In comes Roberto Martimez as manager and he has never managed at this level before. I think it will be a really long and tough season for Wigan fans, but ultimately I think they avoid relegation/
Hull survived last year by the skin of their teeth and I think it will be another tough season at the KC Stadium. Phil Brown has been searching for a center-forward all summer and he is hoping that American Jozy Altidore can supply the goals to keep Hull safe this season.