Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Wed 15 August 2007

Guide to the Premier League 2007/08: Part 3

Moving on now to the next five teams in our alphabetical list, and today we start with...

Manchester City
Smart: "Sven's back and everyone in Manchester denies ever disliking him. He has bought a lot of new players to combine with the talents of Richards and Onuoha but most are players you haven't heard of. It could all go well…or it could all go the way of the pear. Me, I think they'll do OK.” Verdict: Mid-table.
Chris O: "Logic suggest that a new owner, new coach and new players could make for a team that doesn't knit together very well, but with Eriksson having an impeccable track record at club level, they might just have the important component they need. I'm personally unsure about the wealth of summer transfers, few of which have any great reputation to speak of, but they had a good defence last season and should consolidate their position this time." Verdict: Mid-table.

Manchester United
Smart: "Stronger all-round except in the goalkeeping department, where I think Van der Sar isn't quite United standard. Still, when your team are banging in goals left, right and centre you can afford to leak a few goals, right? Silverware heading to Old Trafford, but will it be in the shape of the Champions League trophy?” Verdict: Champions.
Chris O: "Man U surprised me a little last season, as I thought Chelsea were going to collect a second consecutive title, but what can I say - Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Nani, Hargreaves, Anderson… with players of that quality, I doubt that anyone can match them again - and that's without mentioning the likes of Giggs, Scholes, Van der Sar, Carrick et al. (Damn, just mentioned them…) No contest as far as I'm concerned." Verdict: Champions.

Middlesbrough
Smart: "Yakubu and Woodgate aside, I can't see much to look forward to when watching Middlesbrough. I don't think they will go down, but they wont be too far away, unless they can find some of the strength and resolve their manager used to show.” Verdict: Bottom half.
Chris O: "I really don't think Boro are going anywhere this season. Gareth Southgate has brought in Luke Young to bolster an already strong defence, but apart from that it's Tuncay from Fenerbahce - who admittedly has potential - and Jeremie Aliadiere who no-one seems to want. Their away form was poor last season, and I wouldn't mind betting their home form might suffer too this time." Verdict: Bottom half.

Newcastle United
Smart: "If Newcastle could have kept away from injuries they might have had some success in recent years I feel. Owen, Carr, Given, Duff to name a few. This year however, they have a big enough squad to cope with the long term injuries they have. Alan Smith is a good signing and Taylor is a good defender. With Martins and Owen due to form a partnership, perhaps the Toon will fulfil there potential this season.” Verdict: Mid-table.
Chris O: "Now here's something you don't often hear - Newcastle might do well this season. Sam Allardyce was a great choice to replace Glenn Roeder and already he's making all the right moves. Out went some of the dead wood and in comes a selection of fresh talent, none of which are exceptional in my book, but if anyone can get them working together well it's Big Sam. With Michael Owen chomping at the bit to get back, he might just have someone who can score goals, too…" Verdict: Top half.

Portsmouth
Smart: "I think Harry Redknapp has strengthened the squad really well. Distin, Hair Dryers Son, Utaka should make Pompey a strong side, and with no European competitions to hinder there progress, they should have their best season yet. Pompey fans - get your passports ready.” Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.
Chris O: "Who'd have thunk it? Portsmouth avoided relegation and finished 9th last year, and for what it's worth, my opinion is they'll do even better this year. Adding to established names like David James, Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus, Harry Redknapp can also now boast David Nugent, Sylvain Distin, Sulley Muntari and John Utaka. Consistency is the key for Redknapp, though, and that alone could guide Pompey into UEFA Cup territory - just wait and see…" Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.

The concluding part of our guide to the Premier League comes tomorrow with our look at the potential fortunes of Reading, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Ham and Wigan.

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