We made it back, after seven years away we are once again Premier League. Ahead of Kick-off on Sunday some of our members have kindly looked ahead to the coming season and have offered their opinion on what we can expect.
Many thanks to site owner/administrator Steve Grant, forum moderator Saint_Clark and forum users Thedelldays, Bridgey, Saint Garrett, The9, The Kraken, Saint Scott and ladysaint for taking their time to contribute.
So, for starters; Who will win the league?
Steve Grant (SG):
Man City, by some distance.
Saint_Clark (SC): Manchester City
Man City. I think they will find it difficult at times and it will be interesting to see how they cope with both the league and a proper go at the Champions League. I don't think Man U have strengthened anywhere near enough. Chelsea and Arsenal will always be in the hunt for large parts of the season but it's Man City for me.
Bridgey (B): If you look at their squad, position for position, it is difficult to see past Manchester City again. Although they have only added Rodwell to the squad that won the League last season, they haven’t really lost any of their big names (that I can remember seeing). The positive spin to the ‘not strengthened’ comment is that there are no extra ‘big time Charlie’s in the squad to compete with the ones they already have, and less risk of upsetting the squad morale – or the china like ego of Ballotelli.
Saint Garrett (SGa):
Can't really look much past Man City. Have already won it once and despite the teams around them improving, I still think they'll have too much (though I think Utd will push them all the way again). Think Chelsea will be closer this season but they still need a RB and a ST for them to be competing for the title IMO.
The9 (9): I think it'll be between the two Manchester sides – United have all the motivation and you wonder if City will care as much now they've won it. If Arsenal lose Van Persie they're not going to win it, and Chelsea have the same problem as last year, still needing to replace the old guard and one of Terry and Luiz looking like a liability. Spurs and Liverpool I just can't take seriously for some reason and not sure why I've even mentioned them here.
I'll go for Manchester United to win it, but I'd rather City did again.
The Kraken (TK):
It’s got to be Manchester City. I can see them pushing well on from last season and getting much stronger as a group, and while Manchester United have improved I don’t think they’ll get as close to their neighbours as last season.
Saint Scott (SS): Both Manchester clubs have to be favourites for the title again this season. City’s excellent home record alone will see them in the mix and Sir Alex has made a great signing Kagawa. If either club picks up Van Persie I will go with them. Chelsea will be up there but I still think their inconsistency will shine through. As things stand United for the title this season!
The title will again go to Manchester, but I think United will clinch the title this season with Man City finishing in 2nd
Colinjb (CJB): I wouldn't bet against Chelsea being a wildcard, but other then that it's between the Manchester clubs. I'll say City.
Who else will qualify for Europe?
Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal (CL); Spurs, Newcastle, Liverpool (EL)
SC: United, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool
In this order; Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs (Cup)
B: Same old Same old…. Man Utd, Chelsea, and Spurs for the CL spots and one of Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal for the Europa League spot. I think the Europa League is more open for discussion this season, than in previous years. Liverpool fans will expect them to be challenging – because they’re Liverpool. Same as for Arsenal. I’d quite like to see Newcastle hang around at the top of the league again this season – have always had a soft spot for them since the Keegan days and the ‘we’ll score one more than you’ mentality.
Top 6 for me.... Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle
9: Man City and Arsenal second and third, Chelsea 4th. Spurs to win the League Cup, and some randoms to qualify for the Europa League via Fair Play (say Fulham). Manchester United haven't won the FA Cup for a while but I won't predict them to win the double, so Man City to win the FA Cup.
Manchester United 2nd
, Arsenal 3rd
and Chelsea 4th
for the Champions League places. Chelsea have spent a lot of money but need Torres to hit form as aside from him they don’t have too many top class genuine striking options (despite an embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield department). I think Brendan Rodgers will have a positive effect at Liverpool and they’ll finish in 5th
ahead of Spurs in 6th
. Newcastle for 7th
and a Europa spot if it goes down that low.
SS: The usual suspects will be floating around the top 6 for me. I expect Manchester United and City to fill the automatic qualification places with Arsenal and Chelsea close behind. Both have picked up some good players so far and I expect that to be the top four. As for the Europa League I think Spurs are a dead cert with one of Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton battling for 6th.
I have a feeling that Newcastle will be a surprise qualification for Europe this season.
CJB: I'll say Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal joining City in the Champions League. Spurs and Liverpool for the UEFA Cup. Someone like Fulham or Newcastle to sneak in via the cups.
A repeat of Man City's title triumph is widely expected.
Who will face the drop?
Norwich, Swansea, Reading - Chris Hughton and Michael Laudrup have got mammoth tasks on their hands to emulate last season's exploits, and surely Reading can't get away with giving the opposition 10 clear chances per game in the top flight.
SC: Wigan, Norwich, QPR
Reading, Norwich, Wigan.
I just don't think Reading's style will lend them well in the Premier League. They conceded 20+ chances per game against anyone half decent in the NPC and relied on hitting teams on the break....that will spell disaster. Norwich, I just don't think have much quality and as for Wigan, I do rate Martinez but the fact they are still in the Prem is a miracle and I think this will be one season too many.
B: Heart or Head, Heart or Head…??? If you look at the squads once you’ve taken off the rose tinted glasses, you’ve got to say that the 3 promoted teams; West Ham, Reading and Saints are in for a shout of an instant return – but it may just, JUST be the case that there are 3 worse teams in the league this season than Saints. I can see there being an almighty scrap for relegation – with as many as 10 teams battling it out: Wigan , West Ham, West Brom, Southampton, Swansea, Reading, QPR, Norwich, Fulham, and Villa. My 3 for relegation are as it stands currently in the A-Z table; West Brom, West Ham, Wigan.
Going to throw this one out there as it will be a shock to a lot of people.....Stoke. Don't think they have improved that much this summer, and they've got an ageing squad which may not be good enough to get the points needed. Stoke along with Wigan (its about time and they've lost a few key players especially if Moses goes) and Swansea (lost their manager, Siggardsunn, and also may be losing Sinclair.)
9: Luckily for Saints I think there are a LOT of teams who could have problems this season. Swansea and Norwich are in their second seasons with new managers, I don't think Laudrup will be able to maintain Swansea's methods and Allen leaving is a huge loss for them. Hughton is a decent boss but Norwich will slip down from last year. QPR have signed Prem players and will be safe.
West Brom have lost Hodgson and replaced him with the perennial assistant Steve Clarke, Wigan are always going to struggle with their budget and the likes of Fulham, Stoke and Villa - if the wrong players get injured - could also slip in there. Saints and Reading are lacking top flight experience, which Allardyce can bring to West Ham, but all three will be bottom half teams.
I'll go for Swansea, Wigan and West Brom to go down.
I see Stoke as candidates for relegation, they were poor last season and the supply of transfer funds from their owner has seemingly dried up. I’m going to have an outside bet at West Brom for the drop, I don’t see it working out for them with Roy Hodgson gone and Steve Clarke at the helm. And while Wigan have consistently defied the relegation odds I think this season is their time for a return to the Championship. I’m tipping Saints for survival on the expectation of signing two or three extra players before the transfer window slams shut; if that doesn’t happen I think we’re in real trouble.
SS: There is a lot of clubs that could be thrown into this category this season. As is the norm Saints, Reading and West Ham will all see it as a huge success to avoid the drop. Wigan have lost some key figures too in Diame and what looks like Moses too. I can see Sunderland and Norwich there or there about too. For me realistically I think the bottom 3 will consist of Wigan, Reading and Norwich however I think Saints and Sunderland will get out by the skin of their teeth.
Wigan will struggle again this year especially after losing Moses, their time in the Premier League will be up. Fulham and West Brom will join them in the bottom 3. Saints, Reading, and West Ham will all survive albeit in the lower half of the table for most of the season.
CJB: An established side always has a bad season. I think that Stoke could be stagnating and may be in there, Norwich will really suffer for losing Paul lambert. Wigan have also held on for dear life for so long, they will be there or there abouts again. Taking into account the newly promoted sides (we will struggle.... but so will Reading and West Ham) I will go for Wigan, Reading and Norwich.
What will be the biggest surprise?
Harry Redknapp won't get another Premier League job
SC: Lambert top English goalscorer.
QPR. So many are assuming they will go down etc, but their end of season form was very good and Hughes is a decent manager. Throw in the quality they have signed...can see them having a very good season.
B: QPR. I think that they have, on paper, a fairly strong looking squad – especially in the top 3rd – Johnson, Cisse, Zamora, Hoilett are all – on their day – exciting players. The midfield looks ‘ok’ with Park, Taarabt, Faurlin. It’s just the back 5 for me that there is a bit of a question mark over, but in Green they have a quality ‘keeper IMO.
Us winning at one of the 'top 6' listed above.
9: Joey Barton not getting sent off in his return match, which is scheduled to be against Saints. That and people who pretend to be fans still being surprised that we're playing in all red in March.
The survival of the three promoted sides, which would be for the second season running. It’s natural that the sides coming up predominantly get tipped for a return straight back down; but just like last season I think all three will just have enough to stay the course.
SS: For me it has to be QPR. Hughes has made some massive signings in the summer window thus far. Park Ji Sung, Hoilett and Fabio will all make a huge impact. I expect them to get close to the top half this season. My prediction for QPR is 11th.
Other than us (well I have to remain confident) Newcastle did well last season and I think they will again surprise a few teams this season.
CJB: Andre Villas-Boas proving that he is actually a good manager at Spurs.
What will be the biggest disappointment?
Liverpool not being a laughing stock anymore
SC: Van Persie's goal tally
IMO, something off the field, TICKET PRICES. the cost of (example) going to Man City is a joke...as are some of them. I will be making use of various websites where they show every premier league game. Sad but I cannot justify some of those prices to go every week. On the pitch, I think Newcastle will he a huge bump to earth. To carry on from last season, with Europe will be a massive ask.
B: Getting smashed 5-0 Vs. Man City on the first day of the season. On a serious note – it’s been a nice change seeing Saints win (or rather invariably not lose) week in, week out. It will be a big change for the management, players and fans alike – and we will have to get used to the feeling… and watch the reactions on SWF. Outside of Saints – I think that Arsenal will yet again fail to impress, and Arsene Wenger will be bleating on and on in the media about this and that. Theo has all the attributes to be a world beater in my mind, but for whatever reason he hasn’t clicked at Arsenal, and a move away would do him wonders – so combined, I would say that Arsenal will be the biggest disappointment this season.
Being bottom after the first 2 months, including having 0 points after the first 4 games. Plus, possibly J-Rod. I really rate him but if he's going to play out wide left, then I can't see him being very effective.
9:The reality of the Premier League for Saints fans after 3 years of mostly winning matches. Obnoxious opposing fans from the top sides and the knowledge it's unlikely we'll actually get anything over them.
If Adkins gets the boot and leaves us needing to rebuild, that'll be pretty disappointing too as I want his style of management to succeed.
Chelsea in the league. They’ve spent around £60M so far this summer on transfers to compete with the Manchester clubs (in addition to the £80M they spent last season). And while they will surely improve upon last season’s dismal showing of 6th
place, their investment in transfers and wages really should have them challenging for the title and not the minor placings.
Also, from a personal point of view it will be the sheer amount of money it will cost to watch Premier League football. £51 for a ticket at Manchester City and up to £48 for games at St. Mary’s are an eye-watering “welcome” back to the top table and a true reminder (if one were truly needed) of the cost of our return to the top flight.
SS: I don’t want to tempt fate but the biggest disappointment could well be seeing Saints beat week in week out and basically relegated by Christmas. I don’t think it will happen but this is a big step up for our boys.
Player wise I would go for Rooney, I am not his greatest admirer. Liverpool have been disappointing in the PL and I can see them finishing outside the top 6.
CJB: Us not doing a Norwich/Swansea. I think we will have to fight all the way if we are going to survive, this isn't going to be easy. Away from Saints, Brendon Rodgers at Liverpool.
Which manager will be sacked first?
Sam Allardyce - the West Ham fans put up with him while they were winning (or drawing, mostly) games, they won't do so when they're losing every other week.
SC: Martin O'Neill
Di Matteo. unless they are in the hunt he will go once Abramovic convinces Guardiola to be manager.
B: I would say Roberto Martinez – but he showed a lot of faith in Wigan and he seems to have something over David Wheelan. Martinez aside, I’d go for Steve Clarke at West Brom. They really don’t inspire me with confidence as a team, nor does he as a manager. Other than Lukaku, and maybe Odemwinge I dont rate their squad – and it could be a long hard season for them, and one Clarke wont see much of.
9: Steve Clarke, but I can't really see anyone getting the boot until November at the earliest, provided Cortese keeps his ego in check after our first 4 matches of course.
Steve Clarke. He’s consistently been a good number 2 for a long time now but hasn’t made the step up to the managerial hot seat until now. And that to me has an element of Brian Kidd to it all. Roy Hodgson did a great job for West Brom with a tenth place finish last season; the expectation levels at The Hawthorns are now very high and the pressure to keep the squad performing near that level may prove far too much.
SS: Big Fat Sam to go first. Gold and Sullivan will never be pleased and will get bored with the boring football style in the big boy league. A few bad results and I think he’ll be gone.
Roberto Martinez – Wigan will struggle and if Brendan Rodgers doesn’t do well at Liverpool by Christmas then I think he will also be a front runner in the sack race.
CJB: There are no obvious candidates. Di Matteo is the only one who doesn't seem to be 100% wanted by his club, it contradicts my feeling that they will be outside bets for the title but if Chelsea are not up there, he will be gone.
Both Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Villas-Boas have much to prove this year.
Who will be the league's top scorer?
Wayne Rooney - having had the whole summer doing absolutely nothing for England, he should be refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.
SC: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero. Simply a class act. Rooney will be there too
B: Torres. (Shocked face smiley thing .) I think he looked like he was coming in to some kind of form at the back end of last season, and in the Euros. This is partly a Heart over Head selection – because there’s only so much cr@p you can watch one man go through without feeling sorry for the lad. He really is a great Striker when he has form and confidence – and Di Mateo can give him both.
Sergio Aguero after a first game of the season Hat Trick!
9: Rickie La... no, seriously, Sergio Aguero.
It’s very hard to look beyond Wayne Rooney; he’s consistently high in the scoring charts, he’ll start almost all the time (barring injury) and it looks like he's developing a decent relationship with new signing Shinji Kagawa which should provide even more ammunition for the England man.
SS: Potentially a 3 way battle in my opinion. Rooney will build on last season and with Kagawa in the side will have a lot more chances. Aguero is always a threat and I expect a hat full from him again. Finally Van Persie either at Arsenal, United or City. The boys talent is clear to everyone but with not knowing his future I’m gonna take the plunge and go for Rooney. If Lambert gets 10 he’s had a good season for me.
If Balotelli stays at Man City and can remain focussed and fit then I wouldn’t mind putting money on him being the league’s top scorer. RVP’s future is still uncertain but if him and Song remain at Arsenal he will again be a front runner for the league’s top scorer.
CJB: Fernando Torres will continue his summer form and be Chelsea's talisman. He will be the league's top scorer this year.
And Finally..... How will Saints get on?
17th - we're going to be playing catchup right from the start, so anything outside the bottom 3 should be seen as a relative achievement. I hope I'm wrong, but suspect there may be some off-the-pitch turmoil at some point, with Nigel Adkins likely to be under pressure right from the off.
SC: 13th, FA cup quarters, victim of a giant killing in the league cup.
16th finish for me. We have a tough start and no doubt will had a few sticky times but our run-in is (on paper) the best out of the lot. I think we will have enough to creep over the line...it will be tight.
B: I would love, LOVE mid-table mediocrity this season. Anything else, I don’t think my heart could take – be it challenging for a top 10 / European spot or fighting for our lives at the bottom.
This should be a consolidation season – much the same as Stoke did way back when – and look to strengthen in January and next close season for a push at the top 10 / Europe, the league title and ultimately world domination.
I will go for a finish in spots 10-14 this season.
15th. Crap start, pick it up until January. bad January then do enough in the run in to stay up. (fingers crossed!)
9: Solidly bottom half, just about safe in late April after being bottom in September.
We'll get to grips with it and start getting some results against the middling sides after a while, but the adjustment period could be pretty painful. Rodriguez to make great strides, big changes at the back during the season and the realisation that a bit of knowledge to enhance the raw talent might go a long way.
Patience as we find our feet is the key, for fans and the Chairman.
I genuinely think this question is entirely dependent upon who we sign before the window slams shut. After bringing in Steven Davis, Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne, Nigel Adkins stated that he also wanted to bring in a winger, one or two central defenders and one or two keepers. We also missed out on Alexander Buttner, so that’s up to six new positions that the manager has identified, and we’ve currently brought in only one of those (a reserve keeper). If we fail to address those issues adequately I think we’ll go down. If we sign at the very minimum a Premier League level centre back and a winger (Matt Phillips perhaps) then I think we have a decent chance of survival, but I can’t see anything above a 16th
place finish at the absolute best.
SS: This is the toughest question of all for me. If we don’t get in two premier league quality centre backs and a pacey winger I see us struggling. As it stands it looks like doom and gloom but I hope the club proves me wrong. With over two weeks left in the window we don’t know what is planned and with that in mind I’m going to say Saints to finish 17th.
I don’t think we will do as badly as most experts predict and can see us finishing a very credible 15th
position in our first season back in the Premier League. For a bit of fun I predict our best player in the premier league will be Morgan and Lambert will score 16 goals. The Final Table:
West Bromwich Albion
CJB: This will be a long hard slog. We will at times be heavily beaten and how we fight back from those games will be crucial. We will make the most of our run in and just pull ourselves out of the drop zone at the death, in classic Saints' style.
Naturally; only time will tell. The Premier League begins this Saturday at 3pm with Saints taking on the difficult task of Manchester City away at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.
Come on you Saints.