08/09 has been and gone. A season of high drama which ended with Man United (predictably) picking up their third consecutive title, the Villa making a valiant attempt to crack the Top 4 cartel and Arsenal’s team seemingly getting younger by the week! (Seriously Mr Wenger, buy some established players!) At the other end, we saw misery in the North East as Newcastle and Boro perished (Hull City somehow survived despite dropping like a hot potato after Christmas) and West Brom finished rock bottom despite playing football the ‘right way’. Amidst the winners and losers, we saw the usual managerial merry-go-round, Rafa ‘cracking up’, Anelka cracking ‘em in and Shearer turning from pundit to failed Messiah. . . .
So what does 2009/10 have in store? As the players arrive back for pre-season training sporting Dubai-enhanced powertans and ill-advised summer hair-do’s, I’m going to take a look at the season ahead and deliver some pearls of knowledge on who to keep your eyes on in the coming year…. .
Team to watch
It seems Tottenham Hotspur are the perennial darkhorses in the hunt for the Premier League title, but I think this tag is more than justified for the 09/10 season. With Redknapp at the helm we can expect magic in the transfer market, points at Old Trafford and some exciting football home or away. Spurs are always a decent bet for the domestic cups and this season they’ve got a decent outside chance of cracking the top 4; especially if they can keep Ledley King fit and give Jermaine Defoe the service he craves. Redknapp has really turned this side around in the last 8 months and I see no reason why that momentum cannot continue in the upcoming season.
Lets be honest here, if Fernando Torres stays fit he’s a shoe-in for the Premier League golden boot. Staying fit is a big ‘if’ though, that’s why I’m tipping Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie. Whilst fitness may also be an issue with RVP, I feel he’s due an injury-free spell and after recently signing a new contract he’ll be ready to unleash hell on Premier League defences next season. This boy really does have it all, great first touch, a vicious left foot and he’s also Arsenal’s premier penalty and free kick taker. I expect the Dutchman to rack ‘em up at the Emirates in 09/10.
Player to watch
Everton finished 08/09 in fine form, culminating in a heart-breaking defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Amidst the high-profile injuries Everton suffered on the road to Wembley, a new star emerged. Stand up Jack Rodwell. The young 18 year old played a huge role in their bid for silverware, not least playing a blinder against Man Utd in the semi-final. The 18 year old Toffee will be looking to follow his fine form into the coming season be it in Midfield or (if Lescott leaves?) in the heart of Everton’s defence. With composure beyond his years and an eye for a pass, I wouldn’t bet against him being on the plane to South Africa next summer for the World Cup!
Tip for the drop
Defoe – gone
Johnson – gone
Crouch – going?
It wasn’t hard to see where Portsmouth were getting it right last season, the little and large combo of Crouch and Defoe worked a treat. Goals, goals and more goals. Big Peter looked a little lost when Jermaine went running back to Uncle ‘Arry in January and now that Glen Johnson has packed up and ran off to Anfield I expect Crouch to be leaving very shortly…. things are definitely not looking so sunny for this south coast club! With boardroom turmoil making the back pages and their defence not getting any younger, I fully expect Portsmouth to sink back towards the Championship by the end of next season….
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