Date: 14th August 2009 at 9:44am
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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our first ever Vital editors epic Premier League Preview.. we’ve sweated blood over this.. and a few eds have since been shot for not agreeing with the others.. so here for your entertainment and undoubted education (cough cough) are our opinions on the ups, the downs and the round abouts we are all set to enjoy and endure this season! And if you fancy a quick bet on it all, click on our bet fair adverts and get £25 of bets free!

All the teams (coloured) are links to the individual sites by the way, so feel free to let eds know what you think!

1) So where do you think you will finish this season?

Arsenal: 4th – We’re stuck in limbo.

Aston Villa : If we don’t get anymore players in, I fear we’ll run out of steam again and with other clubs also pushing for the top six spot, I fear 7th

Birmingham: To be honest, anywhere in midtable would be a good season, but above 18th place would do nicely.

Blackburn: I’m hoping that our boys can scrape into the top 10. I think Sam will take a few weeks to implement his style of football onto the squad. Hopefully it clicks into gear early and the boys can trouble a few of the bigger teams.

Bolton 14th

Burnley : I will take anything other than the bottom three. Most pundits (Except Jeff Stelling-Plug!!) and rival fans have written us off already but I think we could surprise a few. I think 15th looks about right

Chelsea: Top! Our time has come again. We`ve a settled and focused squad and we`ve a manager who has a proven club pedigree.

Everton: It’s become a cliche with us Evertonians, and it is expected to get tougher every season, but this season it surely is, especially with the teams around us strengthening their sides. I expect to see stiffer competition from Villa, Spurs and City this season, so somewhere between 5th and 8th is where I can see us finishing.

Fulham: I`d be surprised if we can emulate our all time high of last season as we were lucky with injuries. We`ve also got the added complication of a Europa League campaign. Nevertheless I`d be disappointed if we were t slip out of the top ten!

Hull City : I think, with the experience we have gained, we will make a slight improvement and finish in 15th position.

Liverpool: In the top 3, hopefully 1st but that will require the likes of Lucas and Babel to step up, also will be down to fitness of Torres and Gerrard.

Man City: Top six or bust!

Man Utd : I think we are just that little bit short on the quality required to win the title again so we’ll be runners-up… behind Chelsea, I expect.

Portsmouth: 14th – We are going to struggle but we have the advantage of knowing that from the off

Spurs: The places between 5th and 8th will be tight, between Spurs, Villa, Everton and Man City, But with City`s limitless recourses, they should top the group. No European football will be a great help to both City and ourselves, so I will go for an ambitious, 6th.

Stoke: 14th

Sunderland: We certainly have the potential to finish in the top half. I was sceptical about Steve Bruce coming in at first, but so far he can`t be faulted.

West Ham: Top ten again. Depending on the striker situation possibly a little higher.

Wigan: 12th

Wolves: Bottom half but above the relegation places.

2) Has the transfer window been kind or horrible for you so far?

Arsenal: Kindly horrible. We got a much needed defender, rid of a quite vulgar striker, but we could do with a couple more faces.

Aston Villa : Average but it isn’t over yet. Stewart Downing and Fabian Delph are good signings, Downing will slot in nicely when fit and Delph is a real prospect, Habib Beye I’m told is a smashing player so looking forward to seeing what he can do… however, we’ve lost Gareth Barry, Martin Laursen (a giant of a defender) has had to retire so our numbers aren’t really improving much yet. GOT to be more arrivals to give us a chance of competing this season. The rumours are to big signings, hope they come true.

Birmingham: Alex McLeish has made lots of signings and I think that he has spent the money wisely, I’m quite happy.

Blackburn: I think its been a so-so window. We lost Roque who has always wanted to leave, but the loss of Derbyshire might come back to haunt us. Kalinic looks to be a good signing and a few of the younger signings should help throughout the squad. We do lack a strong creative midfielder, hopefully Dunn can regain his fitness and soldier on.

Bolton: It’s been dull. Three workman like players, a clogger that West Brom fans are delighted to be rid of and Kwai Chang Caine.

Burnley : Typical Burnley, being cautious and careful. No big names have gone yet though and all that seems to have quieted down. Eagles, Elliott and McCann look like they are staying. We have bought for the future it seems and we haven’t gone for Prem players on extortionate wages.

Chairman Barry Kilby said this to Sunday Times recently: ‘You`ve got to be sensible about these things. We`ve concentrated on younger players, brought lads down from Scotland who see it as a step up and can`t wait to have a crack at the Premier League. The thinking has been that, if we went down, we would still have a team that was within our budget, have no debt, be a force in the Championship and have a chance of getting promotion again. You want the best, for sure, but you`ve still got to plan for the worst.’ You listening Leeds, Forest, Southampton, Norwich and Charlton?

Chelsea: I`ll go for kind! We`ve watched from afar whilst other clubs have been forced to sell whilst we`ve merely ensured our top players have committed themselves with new contracts whilst also adding a little more depth to the squad with the signings of Yuri Zhirkov, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull.

Everton: It hasn’t been anything really, and that’s the disappointing thing. We have managed (so far!) to retain the services of the squad who got us to the cup final last season, yet their is deja vu regarding squad strengthening. We are hearing the same old stories, that attempts are being made, but that it is hard to improve on the players we already have when working on a tight budget. Other clubs around us manage and it’s just disappointing we can’t do the same.

Fulham: Kind! Despite overtures suggesting Brede Hangeland is Arsenal bound, a deal has not (yet) happened. On the incoming side of things movement has been slow with only Kelly and Riise arriving, but it`s still early days!

Hull City : It has been horrible up until the past week. If you read the newspapers, we’ve been turned down several players (Michael Owen, Marc Antoine Fortune and Fraizer Campbell) whilst Hbib Beye went to Aston Villa only last week. However, we’ve signed Jozy Altidore (loan) and Seyi Olofinjana, and should sign Stephen Hunt and Kamil Ghilas this week – plus we’ve been linked with a £13 million bid for a Real Madrid striker today. Exciting times indeed now!

Liverpool: Alonso is a big loss obviously however it could be a blessing in disguise if we can get more goals from midfield from Aquliani. Johnston is a good signing and will be an improvement on Arbeloa, who I always felt was steady but not excellent.

Man City: More than satisfactory. Am I still dreaming?

Man Utd : It certainly hasn’t been kind but horrible is a strong word. Ronaldo’s departure, no matter how we pretend otherwise, is a massive blow, nobody can replace his brilliance, his ability to pull something out of nothing when the team’s struggling. Valencia looks like a great acquisition while I’m ready to give Owen the chance even though it’s no secret I never wanted him. And don’t mention the T word.

Portsmouth: Horrible .. we`ve lost 15 and gained 5 since the end of May.

Spurs: At the moment I think we have done quite well, but with the emphasis on balancing the books. As things stand, I would be happy to start the season as we are.

Stoke: No, Pulis is still waiting for someone to ‘shake the tree’ so he can pick up some discarded apples.

Sunderland: Very kind so far. Bruce has added real quality that will certainly improve our starting XI and therefore the squad as a whole. Darren Bent will hopefully for a good partnership with Kenwyne Jones up front, something that Djibril Cisse was unable to do. We have not only been able to spend money well on Bent, Lee Cattermole, Lorik Cana, Fraizer Campbell and Paulo Da Silva, a lot of money has come in too. Somehow Cardiff paid £4m for Michael Chopra and Wolves paid £2m for Greg Halford and we have also sold captain Dean Whitehead to Stoke.

West Ham: Pretty kind so far, we’ve cleared some rubbish out, but we haven’t got enough in so far.

Wigan: We have brought 9 new players in and only lost Henri Camara, Antoine Sibierski and Lee Cattermole so yes vey kind

Wolves: Can’t say I`m convinced we have brought in enough experience, or improved the defence so fairly undecided.

3) Which team do you most fear playing this season?

Arsenal: Chelsea. They’re the team to beat this season.

Aston Villa : Manchester United at Old Trafford. Our record is simply pathetic. No wins for 22 odd seasons. My one mate (hi NA!) has been to them all, he’ll not stop going until he sees us win there as it is the only ground he’s not seen a Villa win.

Birmingham: I’ll be glad when the Manchester United away game is over with, but we have got them first up so they may be feeling cold and we could pull off a shock. I also believe in the tooth fairy.

Blackburn: I think Chelsea will be out to prove a point this season. Their squad has not been weakened through big name losses, and they have signed a couple of quality players who should provide depth. If Joe Cole can return to his old form, and Drogba fires, I don’t see Chelsea being stopped.

Bolton: Any of the top six

Burnley : It would be boring to mention one of the Big Four. You kind of write them off anyway and just hope for anything you can get! So I will say Aston Villa just to keep Jonathan happy, hoping of course we wont lose so he wont have chance to keep rubbing it in!

Chelsea: No one really! Bring them on!

Everton: I don’t fear playing anyone, and I am genuinely excited by playing every time. I know that on our day we can mix it with the best and the worst of the league. We just need to find consistency on the way.

Fulham: At home nobody! Our home form last season was remarkable and we pulled off some great results but on the road it`s a different story. How often have we been turned over at Old Trafford? Not a place I relish Fulham going to!

Hull City : Manchester City – just because of what happened at Eastlands last season and now they’re even stronger

Liverpool: Arsenal. If on form they are the hardest to live with out of all the top sides. The 1-1 draw a couple of seasons back was probably the most impressed I have ever been with a side visiting Anfield.

Man City: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Man Utd : I do not fear anybody. If possible, I’d like to avoid meeting Barcelona again, they are too good.

Portsmouth: We fear no team. We might get hammered once or twice but we fear nobody

Spurs: In the main we did very well against the top sides last season and appeared to raise our game. Perhaps we should look to worry more about the bottom clubs. As a club and fans we should look forward to the games against the top four, derbies and league rivals as the reason we play and watch the game.

Stoke: No one in particular as long as we pick up some good points from those clubs around us.

Sunderland: I`ll say Chelsea, but we very rarely get points out of the ‘big four’ and now that Manchester City looks like they have joined that group, you could pick any one of them out of a hat and come up with the answer to that question. Of last season`s top four, Chelsea are the only ones that haven`t lost one or two of their top players, we just have to hope that our fans don`t witness a drubbing again after the expensive trip to Stamford Bridge.

West Ham: Chelsea will be bang up for the Premier this season.

Wigan: Manchester United, they always beat us

Wolves: Tottenham, the options they have in attack are going to be a problem!

4) Who do you most want to beat this season?

Arsenal: Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

Aston Villa : Manchester United for the above and other obvious reasons. Manchester City home and away as I don’t respect the money being thrown around up there (that isn’t a dig at their loyal fans, just the way football is going) and obviously the local derby games v Wolves and Blues.

Birmingham: I would be letting my fellow Blues fans down if I didn’t say Villa.

Blackburn: The local derby v Burnley will be a fiery encounter. Looking forward to both encounters against them. Also, I hate Tottenham, so lets hope we keep up our good record against them.

Bolton: Blackburn at home. We haven’t done it in eight previous attempts.

Burnley : I will give you a clue they rhyme with Bar stewards

Chelsea: Manchester United in the Premier League. The 3-0 humiliation suffered at Old Trafford last season was a real low point. It`d be nice to see a frowning Sir Alex at the Theatre of Dreams!

Everton: I think the obvious choice would be our rivals Liverpool, but there will be some tasty matches against Villa, Spurs and City too. I think a few clubs will be looking to go out to beat City this season, they are a scalp.

Fulham: Manchester City, home and away, just to show that a team assemble don a relatively low budget can beat the big spending new kids on the block!

Hull City : Stoke City – Especially at the Brittania Stadium

Liverpool: Mancs/Everton/Chelsea in that order. The idea of ‘them’ getting to 19 is more than i can countenance. A title win with Mr Ferguson slipping further into Rafa inflicted dementia is the ultimate prize.

Man City: The rags

Man Utd : Liverpool, as always. Last season’s home-and-away defeats hurt even though not nearly as much as they were gloating about it.

Portsmouth: Spurs, but of course we won`t beat them because they are destined for great things this season..yawn..zzz

Spurs: Has to be Arsenal, but I would take a better league place over beating them or anyone else. It`s the whole 38 games that are the real issue, not two.

Stoke: Hull and Wolves

Sunderland: This question is tough now that Newcastle are currently a Championship club. A win against Manchester United is always special.

West Ham: Spurs, as always.

Wigan: Sunderland, just to stick two fingers up at Steve Bruce, hopefully Martinez will show him how football should be played

Wolves: Aston Villa, Vital Football bragging rights and local rivalry!

5) Who will occupy the top six places this season?

Arsenal: Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Everton, Villa.

Aston Villa : Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, then a toss up between Spurs, Villa or Everton.

Birmingham: Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Citeh, Arsenal, Everton.

Blackburn: Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City.

Bolton: Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Man City

Burnley : Just hope someone else can get a nose in between Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City

Chelsea: I can`t see much change to those who featured last season. The top four will be Chelsea, United, Liverpool and Arsenal with Everton and Villa breathing down their necks.

Everton: It will be interesting to see how the top four looks in May, I have a feeling we may have a new team in their with Chelsea, Liverpool and United. It could be City, it could be Arsenal, it could be us if we have a very good season and manage to strengthen and stay injury free! The top three picks itself at the moment, then perhaps it will be between Everton, City, and Arsenal for 4th, 5th, and 6th place.

Fulham: I can`t see past United winning it with Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in the mix for the next three places. Everton will improve and take fifth whilst I have a hunch that Spurs will finish sixth!

Hull City : Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Everton – Not necessarily in that order though.

Liverpool: Liverpool, Chelsea, Them, Arsenal, City, Everton

Man City: Chelsea, Liverpool, The rags, Arsenal, City and Villa

Man Utd : 1. Chelsea, 2. United, 3. Liverpool, 4. Arsenal, 5. Everton, 6. City. Villa and Spurs have better squads than Everton but Everton are more solid and consistent.

Portsmouth: Liverpool, Chelsea , Man City, Arsenal, Aston Villa and erm Man Utd

Spurs: Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Spurs

Stoke: Big 4 plus Everton and Villa

Sunderland: Manchester United and City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool will occupy the top five. Everton and Aston Villa will battle for sixth.

West Ham: Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Man City

Wigan: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton, Arsenal

Wolves: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton

6) Who is going down?

Arsenal: Hull, Stoke and Burnley

Aston Villa : I think Hull might struggle this time around, Portsmouth seem in disarray, so of the teams already in the Prem, I’d fear for them. My Blue nose mate is fearful and says they’ll be straight back down and I think Wolves will struggle to say up unless they can do what Hull did last season and get off to a flyer. I can’t see that Burnley have enough strength either. So amongst them + there is usually a surprise package isn’t there? Just ask Middlesbrough and Newcastle!

Birmingham: Hull, Wolves and Burnley

Blackburn: Burnley, Portsmouth and Wolves

Bolton: Portsmouth, Wolves (tee hee!), Hull

Burnley : Portsmouth probably and one from Wolves and Birmingham. The other better be Blackburn!!

Chelsea: Hull City, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Everton: I think Pompey could struggle this season and they might not have enough about them to survive another scrap at the bottom. They could be joined by Hull and Wolves.

Fulham: Burnley! Birmingham and Hull City!

Hull City : Portsmouth, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Liverpool: Hull, Wolves, Portsmouth

Man City: Wolves, Burnley and Portsmouth

Man Utd : Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley, I think. But any team who finished below 10th place (and the newly promoted sides) could go down.

Portsmouth: Burnley, Hull & Birmingham

Spurs: My bottom five would be Hull, Pompey and the promoted three, with the last two weeks of the transfer window being absolutely crucial. At the moment, I will go for Pompey, Birmingham and Burnley.

Stoke: Don’t care as long as it’s not us so I’d like it to be – but Burnley, Wolves and one from Hull, Blackburn or Bolton will do for me.

Sunderland: Burnley, Wolves, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Stoke and Hull will be in the thick of things. The clubs coming up are usually in the thick of a relegation battle, Stoke and Hull haven`t strengthened enough so far and Portsmouth have gone backwards really with Crouch leaving to join Spurs, Johnson joining Liverpool and Distin looking like he will be leaving too. There`s still a couple of weeks before the end of the transfer window so things can change, but I`ll go for Burnley, Wolves and Portsmouth.

West Ham: Pompey, Brum, Stoke

Wigan: Portsmouth, Stoke City, Burnley

Wolves: Burnley, Birmingham and Stoke

7) Who is your player to watch for your team and an opponent team player to watch?

Arsenal: Eduardo. Given a full season I think he will be one of the top strikers.

Fernando Torres. Any proper football enthusiast should enjoy watching the best forward in the world play.

Aston Villa : Got some great youngsters like Nathan Delfouneso and Marc Albrighton, I think James Milner will shine this year, Fabian Delph will be interesting and if John Carew decides he is interested and stays fit, he could be our first striker to score 20 in the league since Peter Withe.

Opponent player to watch, Michael Owen. Think he’ll prove the doubters wrong if he can stay fit. Big if.

Birmingham: I can’t wait to see Christian Benitez in action, he should be good, as is Blackburns new signing Nikola Kalinic, he will score a few.

Blackburn: I hope Kalinic can be our main man up front and bang the goals in. David Dunn is our most dangerous man on the ball, so lets hope he can stay fit and lead us up the table.

Bolton: Mark Davies for Bolton. Nasri for Arsenal, once his leg gets better.

Burnley : The most important role will be Steven Caldwell’s as captain but look out for a young 19 year old former Real Madrid reserves player our Ecuador International winger, Fernando Guerrero.

As for the rivals teams, there are so many how do you single one out? I am boringly going to go for Wayne Rooney again especially if he starts partnering Michael Owen

Chelsea: Yuri Zhirkov – christened the ‘Russian Ronaldinho` he`s come in as our only major signing and with something of a reputation, let`s hope he settles quickly! As for the opposition – as one famous manager once remarked – let them worry about us!

Everton: I was thinking about this yesterday, and for the first time in a while, I got very excited about a few players in our team, we have some excellent players who I’m looking forward to seeing in action. The obvious would be the likes of Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta. Indeed when we get Mikel back fit we’ll be all the better, but we can’t discount the likes of Steven Pienaar who is getting better every time I see him. We have some talented strikers in Yakubu, Saha and Jo, enough to keep defences on their toes. Marouane Fellaini will be a big player for us this season (no pun intended!) and people are excited to see what he’ll offer after an impression debut season. We even have some exciting youngsters coming through in Jack Rodwell, Dan Gosling and Jose Baxter. All we need now is to just bring some competent squad players in and strengthen in key areas such as the flanks and I think most fans will be quietly confident.

Fulham: Aaron Hughes – under-rated but essential in keeping our defence together, alongside the more noticeable Brede Hangeland. As for the opposition – Arshavin!

Hull City : According to our new American fanbase, Jozy Altidore could be a sensation in the Premier League. Personally, I’d be interested to see how Fraizer Campbell does at Sunderland, because after rejecting us, I don’t think he will feature much after Bruce signed Darren Bent.

Liverpool: Don’t laugh at the back but player to watch this year is Lucas, think he will really kick on with a run in the team due to Aquilani’s initial absence. Interesting to see how Tevez does at City, have a real feeling he will come back to bite Ferguson is some way.

Man City: Vladimir Weiss, quicksilver MCFC Academy winger / Fernando Torres

Man Utd : For us, Wayne Rooney. He’s always been a vital cog in the United machine but it’s time for him to step up and become the main man because he’s got the qualities to do so. Opponent team player? I’ll go for two Russians: Arshavin is bound to have a great season and Yuri Zhirkov is a very exciting player.

Portsmouth: Niko Kranjcar – He`s gonna have an awesome season this year. Darren Bent – He`s gonna show Spurs what they could have had.

Spurs: I can see Jermain Defoe getting 20 goals this season, he looks really up for it and Luka Modric should have a great season. As for opposition, it is so easy to look at the regular performers, such as Lampard, Gerrard Torres etc, but I can see the likes of Arteta and James Milner, making a real impact.

Stoke: James Beattie for us and Gerrard (Liverpool will be out to make sure they get more than two points off us this time around)

Sunderland: Kenwyne Jones is again the player to watch for us. He scored ten goals last season, despite missing the first couple of months of the season and having to partner Djibril Cisse up front, the greediest striker on the planet.

Picking an opponent player is very difficult, because there are so many quality players in the Premiership this season. However, it will be interesting to see Wayne Rooney step out of Cristiano Ronaldo`s shadow. Rooney is already one of the most complete players on the planet and hopefully he can carry a great season into the World Cup next summer.

West Ham: Jimenez will adapt quickly. Joey Cole when he’s fit again.

Wigan: Hugo Rodallega will hopefully prove me wrong this season and be sensational, I thought he was too lightweight when he arrived in January but he finished the season on a high and he is scoring at the moment after a good preseason for him, I hope that continues.

Opposing player to watch – Wolves striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, he had a great season in the Championship last year, will be interesting to see if he can make the step up to the premier league

Wolves: Milijas our new signing, could be a gem if he settles quickly, opponent player, I`m still fond of Keane so will keep an eye out for him.

With thanks to the many great editors on Vital Football for taking the time

Rocky7 at Vital Arsenal
JP Fear at Vital Villa
Foxxy at Vital Blues
Sasman at Vital Blackburn
Richard McCormick at Vital Bolton
Turfmanphil at Vital Burnley
Merlin at Vital Chelsea
ToffeeTower at Vital Everton
Putney at Vital Fulham
Matt Wilson at Vital Hull City
KB1 at Vital Liverpool
Johnny Baguette at Vital Man City
Zae at Vital Man Utd
Chix at Vital Portsmouth
OxfordSpur at Vital Spurs
Chris Baldwin at Vital Stoke
Jimmy Coverdale Sunderland
Saul Rice at Vital West Ham
Worbo at Vital Wigan
Akela at Vital Wolves

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