2008/09 predictions

Skysports.com give thoughts on who is going to light up the season

Last updated: 13th August 2008  

2008/09 predictions

The Skysports.com team have been putting their collective heads on the block ahead of the 2008/09 season to predict who they think is going to light up the Premier League campaign and who is going to have a dim old time of things.

Last season's crystal ball gazing provided a mixture of Mystic Meg accuracy and the misguided forecasting of a £1-a-pop psychic on Blackpool front.

Peter O'Rourke deserves credit for picking out that Roque Santa Cruz would be the buy of the season, but Alex Dunn is still smarting from tipping Fernando Torres to be the biggest flop - you'd think for £20-odd million, you'd get more than 33 goals!

So, without further ado, here are skysports.com's predictions for you to deride at your leisure. Feel free to add your comments at the foot of the article.

Mark Buckingham

Title winner:
Manchester United may not have strengthened the squad over the summer, but the younger members of the team have an extra year's experience on their backs and they remain the team to beat.

Going down:
It would be easy to say the three promoted clubs will go straight back down, but having tipped Wigan to be relegated last season, I'm not going to desert them now! Stoke City and West Brom to join the Latics in the Championship.

Coming up:
Where's my pin? Birmingham City look to have good strength in depth, while Coventry City and Queens Park Rangers can end their exile from the big time.

Best buy:
There don't seem to have been too many bargains floating around the Premier League this summer, but I think Giovani Dos Santos has the potential to sparkle at Spurs

Biggest flop:
A rash of £15million-plus signings means there are a few contenders for this category, but the biggest gamble is Manchester City's recruitment of Jo. He may just turn out to be the next Fernando Torres, though!

Player of Year:
Carlos Tevez. The Argentinian impressed during his first season at Manchester United and looks certain to have further improvement in him.

Youngster to watch:
Fraizer Campbell impressed on loan at Hull last season and if he is given a chance in the United side he has the ability to score goals.

Top scorer:
With Peter Crouch alongside him, Jermain Defoe should get plenty of opportunities and it is not hard to see him rattling in at least 20 goals this season.

Fantasy League must have:
With three points for an assist, Cesc Fabregas must be worth having in your team. He rarely has a bad game and if he starts to score goals then he should rack up the points.

Dark Horses:
Crouch is a very astute signing for Portsmouth and, providing European exertions do not impact too heavily on Harry Redknapp's squad, they have the ability to challenge at the top end of the table.

Graeme Bailey

Title winner:
Manchester United for me although Chelsea will push them close while I expect Liverpool and Arsenal to close the gap. The Red Devils need another striker but I expect Sir Alex to oblige which is why I see them doing it again.

Going down:
Could easily be all three newly promoted sides, and indeed I think Hull and Stoke have just too much to do - but I can see West Brom just getting the better of Bolton to send Gary Megson's men down.

Coming up:
I expect Birmingham will be there with Wolves, Reading, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. Three from those five.

Best buy:
Despite the big price-tag I think Robbie Keane's arrival at Anfield could take Rafa's men very close to Premier League success, but also watch out for bargains Jonas Gutierrez and Didier Digard in the North East.

Biggest flop:
As easy as it was for Rolando Bianchi to be picked out last year, I just don't see how Johan Elmander will be able to justify a £10million price-tag at Bolton.

Player of Year:
Frank Lampard. As long as Inter Milan and Jose don't manage to grab him before the end of August - expect Frank to sign off his Chelsea career with a brilliant final year at Stamford Bridge.

Youngster to watch:
David Wheater. From Darlington to England in less than 12 months. If the Middlesbrough defender can keep improving then he has the world at his feet.

Top scorer:
Emmanuel Adebayor. Again as long as he stays put, the lack of strike-partners will see him bagging on a regular basis.

Fantasy League must have:
With Ronaldo missing the start of the season it has to be Steven Gerrard, captain supreme who will score double figures and assist even more.

Dark Horses:
If Aston Villa keep Gareth Barry - which appears unlikely - then they could push top-five, so if not them I think Sunderland could break into the top-ten and finish comfortably above North East rivals Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

James Pearson

Title winner:
For 18 years long-suffering Liverpool fans have gone without landing the title and I think, following the acquisition of Robbie Keane, Rafa Benitez's men might just do it this season! Sticking my neck out I know, but I think they are due and I think it would be good for the league to have someone different crowned as champions.

Going down:
It's hard to look beyond the newly promoted clubs for the drop so I won't. Stoke, Hull City and West Brom to last just one season in England's top flight. However, Bolton, Fulham and Wigan will need to watch their backs very carefully if they are to avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight.

Coming up:
Reading are my favourites to top the Championship and unsurprisingly they will be followed by Alex McLeish's Birmingham. I fancy QPR to secure promotion against Wolves in a thrilling play-off final.

Best buy:
For an initial fee of £4.7million Spurs' close-season capture of Giovani dos Santos is my best buy of the summer. Although the fee could rise to £8.6million depending on appearances I think the Mexico international will light up the Premier League. His Spurs colleague David Bentley should prove an excellent signing as well.

Biggest flop:
Fulham have spent big on Andy Johnson's capture from Everton, a deal that could rise to a whopping £13million. With the Cottagers' dour brand of football and lack of creativity in midfield Johnson may struggle to find the back of the net consistently enough to impress.

Player of Year:
Should Liverpool go on and be crowned champions of England then England international Steve Gerrard will be at the forefront of The Reds' play. The league title is one Gerrard craves so much and I think it will be his and the Merseysiders' year.

Youngster to watch:
Although Manchester City like splashing the cash on new signings I believe Welsh youngster Ched Evans could impress many off the bench for the club this season and chip in with his fair share of goals.

Top scorer:
Fernando Torres is a natural goalscorer and I fully expect him to be up there pushing the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Didier Drogba for top scorer. This race will be extremely tight, but I think Torres will emerge victorious.

Fantasy League must have:
David Bentley supplied the most successful crosses last term and with Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent to aim for I think the winger will again set up goals week-in, week-out. He also knows where the back of the net making him a must-have regardless of price.

Dark Horses:
Given that not many people fancy Liverpool for the title they go down as my dark horses for the season to surprise all and claim Premier League glory. Hopefully these words won't be too fondly remembered should it be another season of league disappointment for The Reds.

Chris Harvey

Title winner:
Chelsea - With Manchester United failing to recruit and with talisman Cristiano Ronaldo out for several months, expect the Blues to land the title this time. Having retained Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba and added quality with Deco and Jose Bosingwa, I expect Chelsea to go one better than last term..

Going down:
West Brom, Hull City and Stoke City - While not exactly sticking my neck on the block with these three, it is hard to see beyond the promoted clubs making an early return to the Championship. Unless significant reenforcements arrive, I expect the Tigers and the Potters to be adrfit by Christmas. The Baggies will make more of a fist of it but unless the likes of Wigan, Bolton and Fulham have an injury nightmare I can't see them surviving either.

Coming up:
Birmingham, Sheffield United and Reading - The Championship looks as open as ever but Blues have retained much of their Premier League squad so expect them to make a swift return. Kevin Blackwell has stablised the Blades so they will go well while Reading could also get back into the top flight at the first attempt.

Best buy:
Heurelho Gomes - Juande Ramos has overhauled the Spurs squad this summer and was quick to identify goalkeeper as a problem position. Gomes has turned in some excellent performances for PSV Eindhoven and should give Tottenham a firm foundation to challenge for a top-six place.

Biggest flop:
Andy Johnson - Fulham were desperately short of firepower last term and have managed to land England striker Johnson to try and address the problem but he ran out of steam at Everton and could struggle to find the net again.

Player of Year:
Michael Ballack - if, as predicted, Chelsea do land the Premier League crown then expect the German to play a major part. After a tough first 18 months at Stamford Bridge, Ballack produced some inspired play in the title run-in last season and I expect more of the same this time.

Youngster to watch:
Ryan Shawcross. Plucked from Manchester United's reserves 12 months ago, the Stoke central defender was one of the Championship's most impressive performers last season and he possesses all the qualities to make the step up.

Top scorer:
Michael Owen - OK he may not be favourite exactly but with SkyBet offering odds of 33-1 he looks good value. If fit he will play in all Newcastle's games and should bring a hefty return of goals.

Fantasy League must have:
Frank Lampard -The England midfielder missed large chunks of last season but expect him to be his usual consistent self this time. He won't be too far away as season's top goal scorer either if he stays fit.

Dark Horses:
Sunderland - Having retained their Premier League status last season, this term the Black Cats will kick on. The likes of Steed Malbranque and El-Hadji Diouf should add creativity and I expect a top ten finish with a good cup run to boot.

Rob Parrish

Title winner:
Sir Alex Ferguson may not have added to his squad over the summer, but in retaining the services of Cristiano Ronaldo the Manchester United boss can still boast his most potent attacking threat. Injury will keep the Portugal international out until October, but I still think the Red Devils can hold off Chelsea and achieve another Premier League hat-trick.

Going down:
Championship play-off winners rarely fare well in the Premier League and Hull are highly unlikely to buck that trend. Stoke's direct approach will not be enough having made the step up, while Bolton are my tip to fill the third spot after narrowly surviving last term.

Coming up:
Around half the Championship harbour realistic aspirations of challenging for promotion, so selecting just three is no easy task. Birmingham have a strong squad, QPR have the financial muscle, and Sheffield United are my outside punt.

Best buy:
For £19million, Robbie Keane may be one of the most costly summer signings, but he is also one of the most astute. A proven Premier League performer and a proven Premier League goalscorer, his partnership with Fernando Torres should help Liverpool mount a more realistic title challenge.

Biggest flop:
Fulham managed to re-negotiate with Everton to reduce Andy Johnson's transfer fee to £10.5million, but that still seems an awful lot of money for someone who bagged a grand total of six Premier League goals last season.

Player of Year:
Rio Ferdinand superbly marshalled Manchester United's defence last season as they claimed the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. The errors which were prevalent in his game as a youngster have gone to be replaced by a new-found maturity and the England captain-in-waiting will shine again.

Youngster to watch:
David Wheater was on loan with Darlington in League Two in May 2007. A mere 12 months later the 21-year-old Middlesbrough centre-back was named in Fabio Capello's England squad. A fairly impressive rise by anyone's standards.

Top scorer:
Fernando Torres grabbed 24 goals in his debut Premier League season. With Robbie Keane now alongside him, that tally could increase, and if he can find his scoring boots away from Anfield, the sky is the limit.

Fantasy League must have:
As the proud owner of a Fantasy League wooden spoon, I'm not sure I should be dishing out advice. But Cesc Fabregas plays week-in, week-out for one of the leading Premier League teams and is capable of both scoring and creating on a regular basis. What more do you want?

Dark Horses:
While the top four monopoly is unlikely to be broken, Aston Villa can emerge from the pack to be 'best of the rest'. Martin O'Neill's astute management and Randy Lerner's financial backing is a sound combination, although the Gareth Barry saga has been an unwelcome distraction this summer.

Lewis Rutledge

Title winner:
Chelsea - The Blues finished just two points behind Manchester United last season and over the summer they have addressed their problem position at right-back by signing Jose Bosingwa and appointed the exceptional Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager. United, meanwhile, have not strengthened and will be without Cristiano Ronaldo for the start of the campaign.

Going down:
Stoke, Hull, Bolton - Stoke and Hull are so poor that they could have ten-point head starts and still go down. West Brom were the best side in the Championship last term and may just do enough to avoid relegation, so Bolton look the most vulnerable to me.

Coming up:
Birmingham, Crystal Palace, QPR - Birmingham have the quality to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt, Crystal Palace came close last season and have the right manager in Neil Warnock to lead them to success, while Queens Park Rangers have the ambition and financial power.

Best buy:
Heurelho Gomes - Paul Robinson was anything but reliable in goal for Tottenham last season and Juande Ramos has wisely brought in a replacement. Anybody who has seen Gomes play for PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League will be aware that he is something special. Expect him to be the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this term.

Biggest flop:
Deco - It was clear last season that Deco's star was on the wane but Chelsea still decided to splash out £8million on him. The Portuguese playmaker will no doubt start the campaign in midfield for the Blues but I predict that he will find it difficult to adjust to the demands of the Premier League and soon lose his place.

Player of Year:
Cristiano Ronaldo - Ronaldo has been in a different league to any other player in recent years and now that the speculation over his future has subsided, he is likely to make a major impact yet again.

Youngster to watch:
Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal fought off competition from most of the Premier League's top clubs to land Ramsey and the Welsh midfielder is sure to be given the opportunities to impress under Arsene Wenger.

Top scorer:
Fernando Torres - Torres enjoyed a stunning first season at Anfield and will only improve this term, particularly with Robbie Keane alongside him up front.

Fantasy League must have:
Frank Lampard - While Ronaldo might be the midfielder who earns most points, Lampard is much better value and is likely to be an ever-present in a Chelsea side that will be looking to turn on the style under Scolari.

Dark horses:
Tottenham - Spurs have been tipped to finish fifth this season but I believe they have a genuine chance of breaking into the top four (especially if they keep Dimitar Berbatov) after strengthening their squad with the ambitious signings of Gomes, David Bentley, Luka Modric and Giovani Dos Santos.

Andy Clarke

Title winner:
Chelsea - I expect them to make a much stronger start this season under Luiz Felipe Scolari and they have the experience and depth to see the job through. Manchester United will run them extremely close though.

Going down:
Stoke, Hull, Bolton - Watford showed that you can't prosper (or entertain) in the Premier League playing the Stoke way, while Hull and Bolton lack vital quality. Where are their goals going to come from?

Coming up:
Birmingham, Wolves, Sheffield United - Lee Carsley and Kevin Phillips showed their worth to the Birmingham cause on the opening day while Marcus Bent is another astute addition. Michael Kightly and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake can be the difference for Wolves, while the Blades have plenty of experience and a steady supply of goals from James Beattie.

Best buy:
Robbie Keane - Outstanding for Spurs last season, Keane should enjoy similar freedom as defences worry about stopping Fernando Torres. It promises to be some partnership, but still not enough to bring that elusive title.

Biggest flop:
Seyi Olofinjana - A Premier League midfield enforcer? I doubt it.

Player of Year:
Fernando Torres - A mountain of goals in his debut season for the club and there's no reason why he shouldn't do it all again. He scores pretty much every week at Anfield and he should start to add a few more away from home too.

Youngster to watch:
Danny Sturridge - Injuries to others could give the England youth striker a real chance to shine at Manchester City this season. He's quick, clever and confident and his awareness of his team-mates is developing.

Top scorer:
Fernando Torres - Comes with a guarantee of goals.

Fantasy League must have:
Cristiano Ronaldo - He may be out until October, but you're unlikely to win without him.

Dark Horses:
Nobody. I hope no one from the hyperbole department is reading, but, sorry to say, everyone will finish roughly where you expect them to.

Peter O'Rourke

h5>Title winner: Chelsea will be a like wounded animal this season after missing out on the title and Champions League to Manchester United last term and they will be determined to make amends this year. Luiz Felipe Scolari will get the best out of Chelsea's star-studded squad and they will pip United to the crown.

Going down:
It is hard to look anywhere else than the three new boys with West Brom, Stoke and Hull all facing a real battle to avoid the drop. Out of the three West Brom have the best chance of survival which could see Bolton dragged into trouble and Paul Ince could face a tough first season in charge at Blackburn.

Coming up:
Birmingham and Reading have the two strongest squads in the division and should win promotion. Sheffield United will push them close if they can maintain the form which saw them end last season like a train.

Best buy:
Admittedly Tottenham have forked out a lot of money on Luka Modric, but the Croatian schemer is a joy to watch. Modric gave England the run around during Euro 2008 qualifying and I think he will lead many Premier League sides a merry dance this summer.

Biggest flop:
Johan Elmander: Elmander failed to impress during Euro 2008 with Sweden and he has a hefty price tag on his shoulders to live up to.

Player of Year:
Fernando Torres. Torres was a revelation last season and he could form a deadly partnership alongside Robbie Keane in the Liverpool attack next season.

Youngster to watch:
Carlos Vela. The Mexican forward has been given a place in the Arsenal squad after spending a season-and-half out on loan in Spain. Vela has caught the eye in pre-season and it appears Arsene Wenger has unearthed another young diamond

Top scorer:
Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togo striker has pledged his future to Arsenal and he is bound to have a plethora of chances to score in Arsenal's free-flowing attack.

Fantasy League must have:
Frank Lampard is always among the high scorers in any fantasy league and his consistency in scoring goals and providing assists make him a cert for my XI.

Dark Horses:
Martin O'Neill is a shrewd boss and he could help Villa challenge the established order of the top four. O'Neill has a number of exciting youngsters at Villa Park and the signings of Steve Sidwell, Luke Young, Nicky Shorey and Brad Friedel look like astute additions.

Tony Curtis

Title winner:
Liverpool. This looks to be the best chance for Rafael Benitez's side to end all the years of hurt - and their forward line of Torres and Keane looks second to none.

Going down:
It is getting harder for the promoted sides from the Championship to survive, so expect only brief cameos from Stoke City and Hull City. West Brom look the better bet to survive, which could spell trouble for Fulham.

Coming up:
Big things are expected of QPR and Coventry, while Birmingham will be desperate to make an immediate return to the top-flight..

Best buy:
Robbie Keane. Liverpool have spent big on the Irish striker, but his partnership with Torres could be the difference between the title and another mediocre season.

Biggest flop:
Bobby Zamora. I am sorry, but Fulham will need more up front to survive that Zamora. As good as he was for Brighton, I am far from convinced he is Premiership class.

Player of Year:
Fernando Torres. Would have won the award hands down last season if it hadn't been for Ronaldo.

Youngster to watch:
If given a chance, Fraizer Campbell could well take the Premiership by storm. Having scored goals for fun in the Championship at Hull, he just needs Sir Alex to let him have a crack at the big time.

Top scorer:
Goes hand-in-hand with the player of the year award, so I have to go for Torres. Proved his class in front of goal last season, so expect more to come this time around.

Fantasy League must have:
If you have the spare cash, it has got to be Gerrard or Ronaldo. Both weigh in with their share of goals to back up their numerous assists.

Dark Horses:
Portsmouth. Harry Redknapp has a habit of turning up gems, so expect his band of merry men to be upsetting the odds again this season - particularly with Crouch and Defoe up front.

David Milner

Title winner:
Chelsea - With the services of Scolari and Deco at their disposal, The Blues could move up a gear this season and take the title. Holding onto Frank Lampard is a bonus for 'Big Phil' who should get his side to gel better than predecessor Avram Grant.

Going down:
The showpiece of the last season's Premier League finale turned into the relegation fight. The newly promoted sides are all tipped to return to the Championship but it'll be a close run thing with Wigan, Bolton and Fulham all desperately clawing their way out of trouble.

Coming up:
Bristol City manager Gary Johnson has strengthened his strike force at Ashton Gate with the record signing of Nicky Maynard from Crewe. The young forward knows where the goal is and that is exactly what was missing from The Robins side last season. Whoever gains promotion will have earned it with the likes of QPR, Reading, Birmingham and Sheffield United all looking strong.

Best buy:
Samir Nasri - Arsene Wenger's big summer signing from Marseille must be the best buy of the summer. Although the fee is undisclosed, it's believed to be just over £10million, which is a bargain for the young attacking midfielder who is touted as the next Cristiano Ronaldo - hopefully without all the off-field baggage.

Biggest flop:
Kevin Keegan - he should probably have stayed at home with his pipe and slippers. The Newcastle United manager has no excuses this season and will struggle to live up to the ridiculously high expectation at St. James' Park.

Player of Year:
When he's fit again Cristiano Ronaldo is set to boss the Premier League in the same way he did last season. Despite all the summer turmoil, the Portuguese winger just seems to snap back into epic form as soon as he graces the pitch, whoever he's playing for.

Youngster to watch:
Again, Arsene Wenger knows where the talent is and between Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri there's a wealth of ability. Whether the two will see much action this season is another thing. Wenger has a tendency to 'nurture' young players in the Carling Cup.

Top scorer:
It has to be Fernando Torres, helped by Steven Gerrard and robbie Keane serving up a sack-full of assists. On the back of his European Championship triumph, the Spanish striker now has the experience of a Premier League season under his belt.

Fantasy League must have:
Robbie Keane - The Irishman should rack up some points playing alongside Gerrard and Torres. There'll be goals and assists a-plenty between the three of them.

Dark Horses:
Maybe it's my just north east coast roots but Hull City are going to do everything they can to stay up. They have a great set of supporters, decent stadium, good manager and bags of spirit. Everyone has written them off as relegated but I fancy them to do the same as Bradford City in the 1999/2000 season, when big Dean Windass was wearing the claret and amber.

Joe Drabble

Title winner:
Chelsea - The arrival of Mr Scolari will see the title return to Stamford Bridge. In what I firmly believe will be "the year of the Drog" I expect Drogba's goals and Deco's creativity to fire the Blues back to Championship glory.

Going down:
Bolton, Hull, Stoke - I am genuinely worried about Hull and Stoke this year and I can see Sunderland's lowly points tally of 19 being beaten comfortably by both. The Premier League newcomers lack any real fire-power, and could face some serious hammerings this term. Bolton will join them in the drop zone - a lot of money has been spent on very average players - Johan Elmander being one.

Coming up:
Birmingham Sheff Utd and Norwich - Birmingham are simply far too good not to come straight back up, and with messers Phillips, Jerome and McFadden in attack - St Andrews shouldn't be short of a goal or four this term. Kevin Blackwell is steadily building a solid side, and with Gary Speed's experience and a host of attacking options at his mercy, the Blades should come close. Norwich, perhaps a surprise inclusion (but not if you fathom whom I support...), however, I am tipping the Canaries for a successful season under Glen Roeder as they squeeze their way up via the play-off's.

Best buy:
Amr Zaki - Well he's the "best striker in the world" according to FIFA, so fans inside the JJB will be licking the lips at their loan arrival. The Egyptian has been impressive in pre-season and his goalscoring knack could see Wigan threaten a top-half finish...

Biggest flop:
Johan Elmander - £10million?! Have Bolton completely lost the plot? Sorry, but if the Swedish "striker" scores more than 10 goals all season I will be very surprised.

Player of Year:
Lassana Diarra - Yes, not Ronaldo, Torres or Fabregas. I think the Pompey midfielder will dazzle his way to the top of the performance charts this campaign. The 23-year-old shone towards the end of last season, and with players such as Niko Kranjcar, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch around him, I expect Diarra to assist and score plenty of important goals for Harry Redknapp's men this season.

Youngster to watch:
Giovani dos Santos - The 19-year-old Spurs capture will run Diarra close this season and has shown during a sparkling pre-season for the North-London club that he has the talent and class which could propel Spurs into the top four this season. He will contribute goals, tricks and plenty of assists this term in the free role given to him by Juande Ramos.

Top scorer:
Didier Drogba - With everyone talking about Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo, it will be Drogba who lights up the Premier League this season with an endless supply of goals. The Ivorian will play every game (if fit) and won't be short of world-class players to assist him.

Fantasy League must have:
Cesc Fabregas - Free-kicks, corners and assists galore, the super Spaniard is a must-have in your fantasy teams this year. Despite a below-par goal return last season, I expect Fabregas to be given more freedom to bomb forward this time out - 15 goals and 30 assists should do nicely.

Dark Horses:
Manchester City - In my opinion the blue half of Manchester are Shaun Wright-Phillips short of a top four finish. The capture of Jo and return of Valeri Bojinov provides City with the fire-power they lacked last season and with Mark Hughes at the helm, the moments of carelessness which come hand-in-hand with City should be eradicated. Michael Johnson and Micah Richards both provide youthful exuberance and a touch of quality and the 2008/2009 season could well see a trophy arrive at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Alex Dunn

Title winner:
My drinking buddies would never forgive me if I broke ranks and predicted a southern title so it's Manchester United to be crowned champions for a third successive season. Fergie has failed to add to his ranks so far but I'm confident a new centre forward will be introduced at Old Trafford before the close of the transfer window. Chelsea to finish a close second.

Going down:
They say what comes up must come down but despite the doom-mongers who lament a predictable league, stats show over the past ten years less than half of those sides promoted have gone straight back down. West Brom look the best of those that have come up, meaning it could be a long hard season for Hull, Stoke and maybe Bolton if Johan Elmander fails to deliver.

Coming up:
Birmingham's summer spending looks on the money, with Kevin Phillips and Lee Carsley a pair of inspired signings. Alex McLeish has the best attacking options at his disposal and in a tight division, regular goalscorers could prove crucial. Ipswich are a decent outside bet if they can land the big name striker they covet.

Best buy:
Giovani dos Santos and Luka Modric are exciting talents at Spurs, Peter Crouch and Andy Johnson will add goals at Portsmouth and Fulham respectively, but it is Sunderland who have made the most sterling market moves. Pascal Chimbonda, Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque will improve their quality no end, with the latter my pick to shine most brightly.

Biggest flop:
Just like last year, I can't see Fernando Torres doing much at Liverpool. We all make mistakes, so expect Manchester City new boy Jo to top the Premier League scoring charts in May.

Player of Year:
Cesc Fabregas has been there or thereabouts for the past couple of seasons and this could well be the Spaniard's year after a glorious Euro 2008 campaign. I don't fancy Arsenal for the title, but in Europe they should again impress, with Fabregas all but certain to be their creative hub.

Youngster to watch:
Arsene Wenger remains the grand master at blooding young talent and for once it could be an Englishman that flourishes at Emirates Stadium. Jack Wilkshire is just 16 but has impressed in pre-season and drawn comparisons with the departed Alexander Hleb.

Top scorer:
Difficult to look beyond Fernando Torres now Cristiano Ronaldo will miss the start of the season with a swollen lip, sorry, ankle injury. The Anfield favourite is a class act who has made a mockery of those that predicted he would struggle to adapt to the English game.

Fantasy League must have:
My tip for player of the year is as good as any at clocking up Fantasy League points. Capable of getting on the scoresheet and the league's top assist man last term, Fabregras is a shoo-in for any side.

Dark Horses:
Portsmouth are going to be very hard to beat at Fratton Park and should improve on last year, while Aston Villa could build on an excellent past campaign if they manage to keep hold of/adequately replace Gareth Barry. A dark horse to struggle? I don't fancy the direction Blackburn are heading in.

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Comments (19)

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James Palmer says...

united for the title, best buy is yet to come id say berbatov if he joins united, or maybe deco! biggest flop will be robbie keanes move to liverpool he'es past his best and with an 18 to 20 million price tag liverpool have taken a huge risk, they could have got someone much better for much cheaper! player of the year ronaldo again id say you watch when he's back he''ll yet again set the premier league alight and andy gray despite buzzing off steven gerrard or any arsenal player will have to say take a bow son! young player of the year will be Anderson or nani 2 players for have great potenial and have learnt from thier mistakes, id also have to throw in lucas as he looks promising! going down i might say stoke west brom and everton! top scorer rooney, one to watch- deco! wouldent know whos coming up!

Posted 17:11 20th August 2008

Adiel Dove (Chelsea fan) says...

Title winner: Chelsea ;-) Going down: Stoke, Hull, Bolton/Fulham/West Brom Coming up: Queens Park Rangers Best buy: Bosingwa- Biggest flop: Johnson and Elmander Player of Year: Ballack or Cristiano Ronaldo Youngster to watch: Nasri / Jonas Top scorer: Drogba / Fernando Torres / Adebayor Fantasy League must have: Frank Lampard / Ronaldo / Fabregas / Modric Dark horses: Liverpool but draws along the way... are going to hurt them

Posted 11:52 18th August 2008

Kev Led (Newcastle United fan) says...

dave milner obviously has no idea about football.............keegan to be the flop???i admit we mite nt b side a big club anymore n we mitent have a gr8 season but a better 1 than last season anyway.keegans buys have been smart unlike previous managers who threw money at any kind of players.IN KEEGAN WE TRUST........sunderland to be the top team in the north east?laughable idea considering your top buy...diouf?wouldnt get into are side any day of the week and yet keane would take any of our starting 11 for his side.arsenal for d title,hull stoke and another certain red and white striped team for d drop..............toon finish in the top half

Posted 20:20 13th August 2008

Paul Budd (Fulham fan) says...

How the pundits can write so much rubbish about Fulham is beyond me. I am the first to be critical of my team because I believe impartiality is a rare commodity in today¿s game. If Fulham managed to survive last season with one 1.5 players providing the goods, there is no way in hell we will be in the relegation battle for the following reasons; firstly we have a superb keeper in Schwarzer who commands the back four well - something Niemi and Warner could only dream of doing. Secondly our defense plays as a unit and has pace in Konchseky and Paintsil. Thirdly our midfield is arguably top half quality in class with delivery from Davies and Gera and not to mention Bullards set plays. Maybe the pundits were sleeping when Bullard hit the bar three times, tested the keeper 3 times and scored twice from the 12 direct free-kicks last season, oh yeah and set up our season saving goal!!! Fourthly we have two of the most eager and pacy forwards in the Premiership who after all the negativity will prove their worth and investment by netting 25 goals between them, just see if they don¿t.... And lastly we have a manager who advocates attractive passing football, how on earth can we be branded as playing dour midfield football? Sir, you are deluded........!

Posted 13:54 13th August 2008

Ryan Kippen says...

I believe that Manchester United will make it three in a row this coming year, due to the fact that they cannot get rid of that winning bug! Although Chelsea and the other contenders have very very good squads, they don't have that winning taste in their mouths which Man Utd have enjoyed so much of. Condition to another world class striker arrving at the theatre of dreams, then the success of last year can be definately be improved on. As far as the "top 4" is concerned, i cannot honestly see any one apart from Tottenham breaking into this illustrious group of big contenders. The signings Juande has made have been impressive, and the possibility of Arshavin arriving then things can only improve greatly for Spurs. The clubs to go down is a hard one to predict but I would say Stoke are the ones for me to be struggling the most to keep up all season. Hull have made some decent signings and West Brom play a brand of football suited to the Premiership, but its hard to see past those 3 to yoyo back to the Championship. Best Player: Torres will shine again in the Premiership and with the addition on Robbie Keane, then the goals will flow at Anfield.

Posted 12:27 13th August 2008

Nick Colling (Sunderland fan) says...

Big season on the cards here expect Man Utd to go close again and Chelea and Arsenal to scrap it out for 2/3! Cups will be dominated by big 4 but Carling cup could see a shock - Sunderland a good bet! Keegan to be biggest flop and quit by December

Posted 12:05 13th August 2008

Jack Evans (Newcastle United fan) says...

i might be biased but best buy: danny guthrie for 2.5 million he will dazzle in centre midfield as bartons replacement! and come on newcastle might not challenge for europe but a top ten finish isnt realistic we have owens martins given n'zogbia some of the top flights best talent in some ways its a good thing. . .people are underestimating us! P.S. please post this as im sick of only seeing anti-newcastle comments!

Posted 11:47 13th August 2008

Shane Gregory (Sunderland fan) says...

Chelsea to win the title, Scolari is a proven winner and with quality additions (Deco, Bosingwa) think they will be just too strong for Utd. Any pundit who says this is Liverpool's year is living in dreamland! Hull, Stoke and Bolton down with Blackburn, West Brom struggling. Birmingham (definitely), Coventry, Ipswich, QPR and Sheff Utd candidates going up. Best buy probably Modric although Diouf at 3 mill is a bargain. Biggest flop Keith Andrews if Blackburn get him at 2 million for a 28 year old whos used to league 2 standard awful business! Tevez and Torres should have great seasons but I'll go for Drogba who should have at least 1 more big season in him. Carlos Vela the youngster to watch a superstar in the making. Drogba top scorer as his goals will win title for Chelsea. Dark horse Spurs as they have squad to challenge for top 4 but keep your on Sunderland top half and good cup run.

Posted 01:27 13th August 2008

Richard Williams (Bristol City fan) says...

Only 1 pundit (obviously a shrewd customer) suggested Bristol City for promotion. Now lets see, who came 4th last season only to be pipped at the post ? Another season in the Championship, more experience and dont worry, the hunger is still there. Oh, and we have Nicky Maynard.

Posted 23:08 12th August 2008

Mitchell Stream (Fulham fan) says...

I can also see the doubts over zamora and johnson up front for fulham, as i am harbouring those same doubts, but for James Pearson to say - With the Cottagers' dour brand of football and lack of creativity in midfield...is an outrage. We are a football playing team, with great passing and moving capabilities. To attack our midfield is ludicrous! To attack our defence our attack is better, because you can definetely make a case, but our midfield is very strong and creative, and i would like to suggest to Mr Pearson that he should publicly retract his words before he eats them.

Posted 20:16 12th August 2008

Craig Dobson (Fulham fan) says...

I can understand where a lot of the bad vibes are coming from with regards to signing Johnson and Zamora, but I highly doubt Fulham will be in the same position as they were last year. Schwarzer, Stoor and Gera are all good signings, and so long as we keep Bullard, I would expect us to achieve a decent mid-table finish. I wouldn't be surprised to see the new strikeforce spring a surprise or two, in particular Zamora, who looks impressive from the pre-season friendlies. The combination of the hardworking Bullard, the playmaker Gera and the consistently accurate Davies will produce anything but a 'dour' midfield as one of your critics suggests. Below us will be Hull, Stoke, Wigan, and Bolton; the latter two have done little to truly strengthen their already mediocre squads.

Posted 18:35 12th August 2008

David Wigan (Sunderland fan) says...

I think Southampton will surprise a few people and go up via the playoffs. They have an excellent young squad who have had a good pre season and didn't deserve to lose to Cardiff in their opening game. Sunderland will be dark horses in the prem and finish as top north east club above Boro and the high hopers in black and white who think that they are a big club because they finished 2nd a few years ago. Only big thing about Newcastle is Mark Viduka.

Posted 18:01 12th August 2008

Jack Campbell (Liverpool fan) says...

Title winner: I can see Chelsea winning the league this year as they have a world class manager and a refreshed team. However i think Man Utd and Liverpool will push them to May. Going down:I think that Stoke, Bolton, and Wigan will struggle with the demands of the premier league this year. Going Up:I think that Birmingham are shoe ins for promotion,and I think wolves are also major contenders,but i back Ipswich town to have a great chance at promotion, if they can better their away form this season. Best buy:For me it is Luka Modric,he has exceptional vision and a great pass to match,expect him to be the instigator of everything good at Spurs this season. Biggest flop:Without a doubt Andy Johnson,£10.5m for a player who can't hit a cows rear end with a banjo. They may as well have signed me. Player of Year: I think that it will go to Michael Ballack this season, his end of season form was scintillating ina word, and i expect him to follow it, although i think Torres and Fabregas will push him hard. Youngster to watch: Danny Sturridge is a future England international, he is one of them class acts that you see once in a blue moon.With Jo at the olympics, Vassell out injured, expect him to stake a strong claim for a first team role. Top scorer: I think that Fernando Torres, Ronaldo, and if fit, Valeri Bojinov, i rate him extremely highly. Fantasy League must have: I think it has to be Ronaldo,he is a superb talent capable of ripping defences apart, although i wouldn't want him to do well! I also think Martin Skrtel will be a great acquisition this year.Dark Horses: Sunderland,I think their new signings could pave the way for great things,i think they may just win the League cup. I also expect Hull to shock everyone, despite not having Fraizer Campbell.I believe they have a great spirit, and a never say die attitude, and I highly rate Peter Halmosi, it is just a matter of whether he can cut it in the premier league...

Posted 17:35 12th August 2008

John Jackson (Chelsea fan) says...

I must agree with Peter O' Rourke, Chelsea are likely to come back as a wounded Lion, and already having that insatiable hunger for success, they are seemingly the Team to take the title. Last season, Chelsea was among the most unsettled team. A world class manager was sacked, and a local manager brought in, subsequently, while some main players was on duty in their national team for the African cup, others was injured while others was just returning from injury. Consequently there was this unstableness of players. Drogba acting nonchalantly, the sad death of Mrs Lampard. John Terry gettin in and out of Injury etal... upon all these set backs, I still can't believe how we still pushed Arsenal and most especially Man Utd who played unbelieveably and Lightened the League. Narrowly missing out in two major trophies. Now the team is settled, and there is an excellently 'togetherness which has never been seen before among some members of the squad' (J.Terry, chelsea TV). In addition having a Legendary manager oin the person of Scolari is like adding salt to the wound, and I think Chelsea will be very fierce and all attack, from defence to attack. I see Anelka, Drogba, Dos Santos and even Shevy,been in different mood this season And I will say it is a 'EXPECT NO MERCY' from the Blues.

Posted 16:30 12th August 2008

Neil C (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

Title winner: Manchester United Although Sir Alex hasn't invested in the first team, the double winning team have a number of young players who have another year's experience under their belts. Going down: Birmingham's front line of Phillips, Bent, Jerome, O'Connor and McFadden with supply from McSheffrey and Larsson will prove to be too strong for the Championship. I expect them to lead from start to finish with Reading taking the second spot and QPR from the play-offs ahead of Derby, Wolves and Bristol City. Best buy: Has got to me Luka Modric - one of the stars of Euro 2008 and Ramos has set the standard for bringing world class players to The Lane. Biggest flop: Elmander - £10m for a player with no proven track record ? - You must be joking. Player of Year: Ronaldo is a class of his own and expect him to carry on his superb form from last season once fit. Youngster to watch: Carlos Vela has been scintilating in pre season and looks a real gem of a player who can play wide on either flank or in attack. Could break into the first team following the sale of Hleb and Flamini. Top scorer: Fernando Torres will build on the success of his first season in the Premiership and lead the goalscoring charts. Fantasy League must have: Has to be Ronaldo for the number of goals, assists and match winning performances. Dark Horses: Spurs. They have quality in every position with strength in depth and have signed world class players in the form of Modric, Dos Santos and Gomes and Bentley will provide the ammunition for Berbatov and Bent. If they do bring in Arshavin and another striker, they have the quality to break into the top four and beyond.

Posted 16:08 12th August 2008

Zack Pearce (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

Some predictions a little bit biased i think, but i'm not surprised. As a Spurs fan i'm very excited about the new season and refuse to Spurs' fortunes this season. I will say that i expect good things from Pompey with Crouch and Defoe. I also think Hull will go down with Stoke and Middlesbrough, sorry to any Boro fans just taking a bold prediction because i wish all young english managers the best. Chelsea to nick the title.

Posted 15:24 12th August 2008

Gareth Cooke (Bolton Wanderers fan) says...

why do you all think bolton will go down!!! last season was a one off!! to much change in to sort a time!!! we have two great keepers,good defence and strong midfield. we may find scoring goals hard but we will be hard too beat!!! come on super whites!!!! top ten this season

Posted 15:05 12th August 2008

Mitchell Ingram (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

i agree with the prediction of hull being dark horses, i think they have bought wisely adding PL experience with players like Boateng and players with class such as Geovanni. They also have a lot of spirit to do well, after all the succsesive promotions (just look how that propelled Wigan) and players in the team who have already been there in Windass and Barmby, plus Phil Brown knows what it takes to survive after his time with bolton.

Posted 14:21 12th August 2008

Noel Strong (Sunderland fan) says...

Some good comments there chaps. However, I have to disagree with anyone who thinks Liverpool can win the league. They don't have anywhere near enough depth to challenge Chelsea or Man United. For example if a Man United winger gets injured they bring in Nani, Chelsea; Joe Cole, Malouda, SWP, Kalou and so on; Liverpool have Benayoun and Pennant and a very raw Babel. Arsenal will entertain as ever but won't get close to Man United or Chelsea, either of them to win the league. Promoted 3 to go down, probably by the time September comes.

Posted 13:56 12th August 2008

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