Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 14 August 2007

Guide to the Premier League 2007/08: Part 2

Continuing our look ahead to the potential fortunes of this season's Premier League teams, today we continue in alphabetical order with...

Chelsea
Chris O: "I see very little changing in Chelsea's status this season - that is to say they'll remain second best to Man United. The Blues' fantastic defensive line will no doubt continue to do well (especially if John Terry stays fit) and their midfield with Lampard and Essien will be strengthened further by the arrival of Florent Malouda. Add to the equation last year's top scorer Didier Drogba and they can hardly fail… until half the team fly off to the African Nation's Cup in January." Verdict: Runners-up.
Smart: "Chelsea have a stronger squad than last year with the additions of Malouda, Ben Haim, Alex and Pizarro. That should help avert another injury crisis at Stamford Bridge - although an injury crisis for Chelsea seems to be John Terry being injured. As for too many fixtures, well perhaps Jose should think about what he wants to concentrate on winning. Last year they missed out on the Premiership and Champions League yet won both domestic cups. Maybe this time it will be the other way round." Verdict: Runners-up.

Derby County
Chris O: "Great to see Derby back again but I fear it won't be for long - unless Billy Davies can prove his managerial strengths at the top level. Like Birmingham, they've had problems scoring goals but Davies has enlisted Rob Earnshaw to address that problem. Other well-known names arriving at Pride Park like Andy Todd and Andy Griffin should bolster the squad but they still look ill-equipped to face life in the Premiership." Verdict: Relegated.
Smart: "Probably the weakest of the promoted sides and I can see them struggling this year. They don’t seem to have a strong point and haven’t strengthened since gaining promotion. Let's hope they prove me wrong." Verdict: Relegated.

Everton
Chris O: "The Toffees impressed many last season (me included), and no wonder. David Moyes has created a settled and talented squad that proved a match for most teams and I see no reason why that shouldn't continue this season. Moyes quite rightly got rid of James Beattie who didn't seem up to the job of scoring on a frequent basis and if he can get Phil Jagielka to do so instead, everyone should be happy." Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.
Smart: "Everton have grown into a good side under David Moyes. They will do well this season but they don’t have a large squad. I fear that any success in UEFA will come at a cost in the Premier League come the end of the season." Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.

Fulham
Chris O: "The team that just won't get relegated won't get relegated again this season either, but again it will be a close run thing. Lawrie Sanchez could make a name for himself if he gets Fulham back up to mid-table again, but despite a number of interesting signings I can't see him achieving it. He'll have to fix his defence - the worst in the league last season - and get the best out of some of his other players… a tall order for a new manager." Verdict: Bottom half.
Smart: "What do we make of Fulham then? A new manager and plenty of new signings - yet still I can see them struggling. It seems to be quantity rather than quality when it comes to the Fulham players and I can't see them worrying too many teams this season." Verdict: Bottom half.

Liverpool
Chris O: "The gradual rise and rise of Liverpool under Rafa Benitez now means The Reds are arguably the third best team in the land, but becoming second-best will remain a step too far, despite their big-money summer signings. I do, however, think they'll improve - not easy when you've got one of the best defences and many high-calibre internationals like Gerrard, Alonso, Kuyt and Crouch. Second place will be a major achievement, but it won't happen this season." Verdict: Champions League spot.
Smart: "Unlike Fulham, Liverpool have both quantity AND quality. If they can get a good start this season, unlike previous seasons, they could have a successful year. I can see them winning the title, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they finished as runners-up." Verdict: Champions League spot.

Tomorrow: Part 3 (featuring Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Portsmouth).

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