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2008/9 English Premier League Preview

The 2008/9 English Premier League season kicks off next week and just like last season there is all the buzz and excitement associated with a new season.

For me I am excited because my team West Bromwich Albion is back in the top flight and they kick off against one the top four teams away from home at the Emirates.

I will start by looking at the title race. I think that once again it will be a two horse race between the defending champions Manchester United and Chelsea. Man United hasn't really added to its ranks so far but they had a very good team last season and I think it can help them deliver the goods this season.

I think the key for the Old Trafford team was to retain Cristiano Ronaldo for yet another season. But if I have any concern then it will be the loss of assistant coach Carlos Queiroz who is now the Portuguese national coach. His influence will be missed but it also depends on how influence he had.

Like every new season Chelsea continues to add to its ranks and this time maybe their high profile acquisition so far is Deco who was signed from Barcelona. I don't think Deco will make much of a difference because I think Chelsea already had a good midfield and it will be a problem of whom to pick if all the players are fit.

But a new dimension to Chelsea this time is the new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. This will be Scolari's first season in club football for a long time and if he re-adjusts quickly to club football management then that could be the turning point for his team.

I think Chelsea lost the title last season because of a slow start and if they can avoid that this time then they could give Man U a big fight. Also scoring many goals will be a key.

I think Liverpool will look a bit different this time and I think they are now a class apart from Arsenal. I think the Anfield outfit will easily finish in the top three positions and even better depending on how Chelsea and Man U play.

The Gunners have lost some experienced players in Gilberto Silva, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini and have replaced them with inexperienced players and I think that will spell trouble for them.

A threat for them will come in the form of Tottenham Hotspurs who I think can challenge the top four this season. I know I have said this several times before about Spurs and got disappointed but I think that this time they have a team capable of challenging the top four and a very good coach in Juande Ramos.

Before looking at relegation, I will quickly look at the teams that could challenge for the UEFA Cup places. I expect Roy Keane's Sunderland to be as near the top as possible by just going by the players that have been brought to the club so far.

So far the former Man Utd captain has brought in Pascal Chimbonda, David Meyler, Teemu Tainio, El Hadji Diouf and Steed Malbranque and there could be more to come before the window closes.

I think Keane has rejuvenated his team well team this time and if it gels together quickly I think they could be challenging for a UEFA Cup place and not flirting with relegation like last season.

I think they will find competition from Aston Villa, Manchester City and Portsmouth.

Man City have a new manager Mark Hughes and I think he has brought in some exciting talent and how he will work with it is unknown at this point. But looking at Hughes record at Blackburn I will not be surprised with City finishing in the top six.

I think for the rest of the teams it will be a relegation fight. I think for the rest of the teams it will be a relegation fight. The only team that intrigues me is Fulham because Roy Hodgson has brought in so many good players this time including John Pantsil, Bobby Zamora, Zoltan Gera, Mark Schwarzer, Fredrik Stoor and Andrew Johnson and I can't really tell how he is going to get them playing well together and win games. They could be the surprise package for this season.

I expect at least one of the promoted sides to go down. Until they start playing it's very hard to tell which one is going to be but I hope it will not be the Baggies.

I expect the likes of Blackburn and Middlesbrough to struggle whilst you never know with Newcastle and West Ham.

I am looking forward to the start of the season and once again I will be playing the football tipping competition on TipsChallenge and I hope that the Baggies will not cost me a lot of points. because I think I will always be backing them.

I think Liverpool are being overrated. They have just got Robbie Keane and they don't have any other top signing to talk about.

I see them relying again on Gerrard and this time also Torres as well to get results and you can't win the league with just two players. You essentially need more than that.

Arsenal look like all they want is an Olympic team but what I think will make sure that they maintain their top four position is the fact that the teams around them haven't done any better.

Thanks for the comment Jeff. I think Liverpool have been building the team over a number of years now and the addition of Keane can only make them a bit better which is a positive.

I also think that Gerrand and Torres are key for Liverpool but the same applies to Man U where Ronaldo and Rooney are key for them too and you can say that for a number of teams.


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