With the English Premier League about a week away it’s a good time to catch up on what’s happened during the summer and predict who will be battling for what spots in the 2012-13 English Premier League season.
There’s still three weeks remaining in the summer transfer window, so there’s still some moving around which can take place. But I’ll try to summarize the major moves and a quick synopsis of how each team is looking.
Here is a quick team-by-team English Premier League preview and odds:
The Title Contenders
Odds to win it all (5/1)
Who’s in: Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar
Who’s out: Jose Bosingwa, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou
Roberto Di Matteo takes the hot seat at Chelsea, and I think he’s going to continue the momentum from last year’s Champions League title. While the Blues are losing some key veterans like Didier Drogba, they’ve got some young guns coming in. Hazard and Oscar especially are poised to be stars in the EPL, and combined with an already deep roster I think this side could bring the EPL crown back to London.
Odds to win it all (6/5)
Who’s in: None
Who’s out: Wayne Bridge, Owen Hargreaves
When you win the title in one of the most dramatic ways possible I guess there isn’t much reason to shake things up. All of the big names are back and this squad remains one of the deepest and most talented in all of Europe. Roberto Mancini did a fantastic job keeping all of the big egos in check last year, but the question remains if he can keep his talented but problematic strikers Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez happy throughout the year. Complacency, the schedule, and people gunning for them should be some of the obstacles Man City will have to deal with throughout the campaign. Regardless, the midfield and defense should be rock solid and these guys will no doubt battle for the EPL, FA Cup and Champions League titles.
Odds to win it all (5/2)
Who’s in: Shinji Kagawa
Who’s out: Fabio da Silva, Park Ji-Sung
These guys battled through all kind of injuries last year and still “should” have won the EPL title. Kagawa should prove to be a very smart signing, and the nucleus remains the same, so Man U. should be very tough once again. The question remains: are these guys getting too old or are they just experienced? I lean towards the latter and Sir Alex should have these guys battling for silverware yet again.
Top 4 and Europa League Contenders
Odds to win it all (12/1)
Odds to finish in Top 4 (-160)
Who’s in: Santi Carzola, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski
Who’s out: Manuel Almunia
Arsenne Wenger did a better job during this offseason loading up on some new signings. Podolski and Giroud were signed as a safety net when and if Robin van Persie decides to leave. He has said that he’s looking to leave the club, continuing the disturbing trend of stars that have left the club in recent years. Whatever happens with RvP, this is still a very talented side all three signings should have a strong impact with the Gunners. Fourth place seems just about right for a team with loads of talent but lacking the necessary key players to get them challenging for silverware.
Odds to win it all (25/1)
Odds to finish in Top 4 (2/1)
Who’s in: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jan Vertonghen
Who’s out: Niko Kranjcar, Ryan Nelsen, Steven Pienaar, Louis Saha
There will be a few things to keep an eye on Spurs with early in the season. First, how the players are adapting to new coach Andre Villas Boas? Secondly, what happens with Luka Modric? The midfield playmaker is rumored to be moving to Real Madrid, which would definitely hurt Tottenham on the field even though it would fill up their bank account for other potential transfer targets. I actually think AVB’s system is a better fit for Spurs than it was for Chelsea last year. His high-defensive line, quick passing game should suit this group well. Look for some high scoring games at White Hart Lane this year!
Odds to win it all (25/1)
Odds to finish in Top 4 (5/2)
Who’s in: Fabio Borini
Who’s out: Alberto Aquilani, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez
Same as weith Tottenham, Liverpool’s looking to turn things around with a new coach. Brendan Rodgers comes over from Swansea and will look to get Liverpool back to at least Champions League level. While there’s still plenty of talk concerning the possible departure of Andy Carroll and the potential arrival of Clint Dempsey, Liverpool is going to be strong up front with the combo of Suarez and Borini. They’ll definitely need better years out of Charlie Adam and Stuart Downing if there’s any hope of Champions League qualification.
Odds to finish in top 4 (16/1)
Odds to finish in top 6 (3/1)
Who’s in: Romain Amalfitano, Curtis Good
Who’s out: Leon Best, Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands
Last year’s surprise package, the Magpies are going to have a lot of work to do in order to replicate last year’s results. People now realize how good some of these guys are and Cisse, Ba, and Ben Arfa aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year. Tack on the fact that they’re going to be competing in the grueling Europa League this year and it’s going to be a challenge for NUFC. On the other hand, they did a great job of proving everybody wrong last year, maybe they can do it again.
Odds to finish in top 6 (5/1)
Odds to finish in top 10 (-300)
Who’s in: Steven Naismith, Steven Pienaar
Who’s out: Tim Cahill, Joseph Yobo
Not sure how David Moyes keeps overachieving with this crew. The Toffees always seem to start slow only to finish as one of the league’s hottest. It’s a pretty good group, but without the ownership stepping up and spending some money this team will probably finish in their usual 8th or 9th.
Fiddle in The Middle
Odds to finish in top 10 (+150)
Who’s in: Hugo Rodallega
Who’s out: Andrew Johnson, Danny Murphy, Pavel Pogrebnyak
It should be an interesting year at Craven Cottage this year. In comes Wigan’s Hugo Rodallega and out goes Johnson, Murphy, Pogrebnyak and maybe Clint Dempsey. Every year, however, the Cottagers have doubters and they somehow finish mid-table, stay under the radar and get the job done. They’ll need to do some work with team depth however and hope they hold onto Dempsey, and get solid contributions from Rodallega and Dembele.
Odds to finish in top 10 (-120)
Who’s in: Carlos Cuellar
Who’s out: Asamoah Gyan, Michael Turner
Sunderland had a revival last year when they brought in Martin O’Neill to replace Steve Bruce and had worked their way up to the top half of the table only to falter late. They’re working on bringing in Steven Fletcher in from Wolves, which would definitely help out in the midfield. I like the Black Cats to be a solid home side this year, and maybe even sneak into the Top 8 if they keep their big guns healthy.
Odds to finish in top 10 (+150)
Odds to be relegated (7/1)
Who’s in: Brett Holman, Karim El Ahmadi, Ron Vlaar
Who’s out: James Collins, Carlos Cuellar, Emile Heskey
There is a renewed optimism around Villa Park this year, and most of it is due to the departure of not too popular manager Alex McLeish. Paul Lambert comes over from Norwich in an attempt to unify the clubhouse and do much better than last year’s 16th. The talent is there, as the Villains severely underperformed last year. I think they will be better as well, but 12th is probably a reasonable finish for this group.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Odds to finish in top 10 (3/1)
Odds to be relegated (4/1)
Who’s in: Andrew Johnson, Fabio da Silva, Robert Green, Junior Hoillett, Park Ji-Sung
Who’s out: Paddy Kenny
QPR is looking to capitalize on their momentum of narrowly escaping the drop on the last day of the year. Tony Fernandes’ big budget has invested heavily over the summer, as QPR has been one of the busiest teams during the transfer window. They’ve signed some quality with Park Ji Sung and Hoillett. Given enough time to mesh, this team could really battle some of the EPL’s best. I like a big improvement from QPR this year and a Top 10 finish isn’t out of the question.
Odds to finish in top 10 (2/1)
Odds to be relegated (6/1)
Who’s in: Jamie Ness
Who’s out: Ricardo Fuller
Not much changes for a Potters’ side that has been a mid-table fixture for the last couple of years. This could be the end of their run however, as team’s are starting to figure out their boring, long ball tactics. On the other side, manager Tony Pulis consistently get’s the best out of his players and this year they won’t have to worry about the demands of Europa League travel and can concentrate fully on domestic play. I’d say 14th-16th seems to fit Stoke City’s finish this year.
The Battle for Relegation
Odds to finish in top 10 (5/1)
Odds to be relegated (2/1)
Who’s in: Jose Manuel Flores, Michu
Who’s out: None
The Swans completely exceeded expectations last year and Brandon Rodgers parlayed that success into a managerial switch to Liverpool. The Dane Michael Laudrup comes in, which seems to be a good fit for Swansea’s passing game. They’ve made a couple of nice signings, but teams are still looking to poach some of their better guys. If Swansea can play the way they did at home at the Liberty Stadium last year they should be tough again. If the squad doesn’t adapt to the new coach, and they lose some key guys like Joe Allen, it could be a battle at the bottom for the Swans.
WEST HAM UNITED
Odds to be finish top 10 (6/1)
Odds to be relegated (5/2)
Who’s in: James Collins, Jussi Jaaskelainen
Who’s out: Robert Green, Pablo Barrera
It’s good to have West Ham back in the top flight along with their rabid supporters in East London. Sam Allardyce is the man in charge of keeping the Hammers up. And judging by his previous success at Bolton, big Sam is the right person to guide a newly promoted side. Their style might not be pretty, but it should be effective enough to keep them safe from relegation.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Odds to finish top 10 (5/1) r
Odds to be elegated (4/1)
Who’s in: Ben Foster, Markus Rosenberg
Who’s out: Nicky Shorey, Paul Scharner
Steve Clarke takes over for Roy Hodgson in charge of the Baggies and he’s got some big shoes to fill as Hodgson did a great job with West Brom. They’ve got enough talent to hold their own in the top flight and should be safe from the drop if they can stay healthy and continue to be tough at the Hawthorns. Wouldn’t be shocked though to see Clarke struggle in his first managerial role and WBA firmly entrenched in the relegation battle.
Odds to be relegated (even)
Who’s in: Danny Guthrie, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Nicky Shorey
Who’s out: Michail Antonio
Sometimes the battle at the bottom of the table is just as interesting as the fight at the top. Premier League newbies Reading should be fully entrenched in the battle to stay up. They’ve made some decent signings however and Brian McDermott’s side has some grit to them. I’m looking for Reading to pull off some upsets at home at the Madejski stadium and do just enough to stay in the big league.
Odds to be relegated (6/5)
Who’s in: Steven Davis, Nathaniel Clyne, Jay Rodriguez
Who’s out: Dan Harding
The Saints were very impressive last year, winning the Championship division and earning promotion to the EPL. In Rickie Lambert, Southampton has a true scorer, an asset a lot of other newly promoted sides don’t. They probably need to add some more talent to the roster, as this is a pretty inexperienced side with not a lot of English Premier League pedigree. Nigel Adkins’ side is going to have to battle from the start to stay up, and if they do, it will probably be just barely.
Odds to be relegated (6/5)
Who’s in: Robert Snodgrass, Michael Turner, Steven Whittaker
Who’s out: Zak Whitbread
Another side which exceeded expectations last year, the Canaries were fun to watch with their up tempo style and enthusiasm. We’ll see how much of it was due to Paul Lambert’s managerial style, as he’s off to Aston Villa and Chris Hughton comes in to take the reigns. Norwich kind of tailed off towards the end of last year. I have a feeling that’s what we might see out of them this year as newly promoted sides sometimes have a 2nd season syndrome where they come back to earth.
Odds to be relegated (8/5)
Who’s in: Fraser Fyvie
Who’s out: Hugo Rodallega, Mohamed Diame
Another Houdini act by Roberto Martinez and the Latics last year, as Wigan somehow rallied from the bottom of the table to finish in safety. Their luck has to run out one of these years, and it could definitely be this one as they’ve already lost Hugo Rodallega and Victor Moses is rumored to be on his way out as well. It doesn’t look like management is too interested in spending much to bolster team depth, which is a bad sign for a team already short on depth and talent.
Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of member’s picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc’s Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. This includes getting FREE picks from The Vegas Sports Informer this English Premier League season. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.