Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Mon 13 August 2007

Guide to the Premier League 2007/08: Part 1

With the Premier League now underway and West Ham's solicitor barely back to his day job, Smart and I thought it'd be a good time to look at the potential fortunes of all twenty teams involved.

In order to make the list a little more digestible, we're breaking it down into four small parts - this one being the first. So let's get underway with Part 1 and don't forget, whether you agree or disagree with what we have to say, why not tell us what you think? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts with your fellow fans...

Arsenal
Smart: "Everybody is talking about the loss of Thierry Henry - so I won't. Wenger is no mug and still holds a talented squad and it's time for a few of the youngsters to make the step up. The squad doesn't have the talent-in-depth of other title contenders but injuries aside they should be fine." Verdict: Champions League spot.
Chris O: "I think Wenger was crazy even to consider letting Henry go, given how prolific he was. He's now left with a bunch of young players and new signings, some of which are undoubtedly good but I wonder if they'll perform consistently as a team. Should be worth backing in the Cups, I'd say. Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.

Aston Villa
Smart: "A mixed summer in the transfer market with the departure of Liam Ridgewell and the arrival of Marlon Harewood and Nigel Reo-Coker, but who am I to question Martin O'Neills decisions - the man knows what he is doing. If Laursen stays fit and Petrov finds his goal scoring form an interesting season beckons." Verdict: Mid-table.
Chris O: "For once I'm questioning O'Neill's judgement. He's sold some useful players like Ridgewell, Gavin McCann, Stephen Davis and Juan Pablo Angel, and replaced them with Nigel Reo-Coker and Marlon Harewood from West Ham. Unless there are more purchases to come, I think Villa are going to struggle. Verdict: Mid-table.

Birmingham City
Smart: "All of a sudden The Blues have players with Premiership experience and quality. Queudrue and Ridgewell will join Jaidi to strengthen at the back, plus they have an interesting signing in De Ridder. If (and it's a big if) Forsell stays fit, they may avoid relegation... but I can't see it." Verdict: Relegated.
Chris O: "If there's one thing that Birmingham are renowned for in recent years, it's scoring few goals. To my mind, they haven't addressed that with their many summer signings and though Steve Bruce will instil some spirit into them, I think they'll ultimately fail, sadly. Verdict: Relegated.

Blackburn Rovers
Smart: "How much of a toll will the UEFA Cup qualification process have on Blackburn? Hughes has strengthened well to add to the talents of Gamst Pedersen and Bentley but I fear that an early start to a long season will eventually undo a promising start to their Premier League campaign." Verdict: Top half.
Chris O: "Not much dabbling for Mark Hughes in the transfer market this summer, but Roque Santa Cruz and Maceo Rigters could make up for that. A side which already boasts the talents of Brad Friedel, Benni McCarthy, David Bentley, Morten Gamst Pedersen and my tip for the top, Matt Derbyshire, should do well again this season, if not slightly better. Verdict: Top half.

Bolton Wanderers
Smart: "Big Sam - or Sammy Lee as he is known - knows he has a lot to live up to, but he has a large enough squad to do it with. Boasting a midfield featuring Speed, Campo, Nolan, McCann and Stelios plus new boys Braaten and Wilhelmsson, it's not all gloom and doom at the Reebok Stadium. But is Sammy Lee up to the task?" Verdict: Bottom half.
Chris O: "I'm inclined to agree. Sammy Lee just doesn't seem to have the tactical insight and authority of his predecessor, so he'll be keeping his fingers crossed that his attackers - Anelka, Diouf and Davies - can score plenty this year. That and his defence leaking far fewer goals than last season. I think Lee might be a contender for 'first coach to be sacked' if things go as I suspect. Verdict: Bottom half.

Tomorrow: Part 2 (featuring Chelsea, Derby, Everton, Fulham and Liverpool).

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