Who might surprise in the EPL?

Discussion in 'Premier League: News and Analysis' started by Liverpool_SC, Jul 26, 2002.

  1. Liverpool_SC

    Liverpool_SC Member

    Jun 28, 2002
    Upstate, SC
    Have any of you got thoughts on who might be a surprise team breaking into the top six in the upcoming season?

    With all of the turmoil at Leeds and Chelsea (not to mention their reliance on aging players such as Petit, Zola and Desailly), I would think that there are some UEFA Cup spots that are very much up for grabs.

    Even Newcastle could be a little vulnerable if they start off poorly and/or hit a bad patch, due to their lackluster defense. This could especially be an issue if they run into fixture congestion (i.e. Cup run, Champion’s League, etc) and/or injury troubles (odds on Dyer playing 25 league games - anyone)?

    Contenders to Move Up: (in no particular order)

    Middlesborough - Played very well at the close of the past season and showed that they can beat/play with top teams. Steve McLaren has proven that he is a decent manager. His defensive tactics were already proven and the players seemed to respond pretty well.

    Why they might be better? They have added some great offensive players in the close season: Junhino seems like a certainty now and he should fit in quickly. Maccerone is a fabulously gifted striker whose style should be a good fit for the EPL. Gerami showed plenty of skill for Cameroon and should be a good addition to the midfield.

    They may struggle less with injuries to key players that hindered (esp their offense) last season. Boksic should really benefit playing with the new additions, rather than players who are not at his level. He also has a bit to prove after a disappointing World Cup - maybe one last great season.

    The defensive backline is as strong as any in the league and Southgate and Ehuigo have formed a solid partnership. They won’t have to go through the breaking-in period that they did at the (rough) beginning of last season.

    What they should look out for? Engine Room - the loss of their inspirational skipper Ince and Muscoe (? I think this is right) leaves them thin in the defensive midfield. Is Greening going to step up as an all around midfield player, or will he struggle to get in the side now that Junhino is here? What about Marinelli?

    Offense - will the additions jell quickly and result in goals? They have to score to win. Draws won’t cut it - especially against mid-table/lower-table sides.

    West Ham - Another team that played very well at times in the past season, after a rough go early on. They played very well at home (until Man U anyway). After taking a lot of stick, Glenn Roeder has proven he can motivate a team and manage some pretty difficult players (i.e. he won the battle with Di Canio). He also has great touch in bringing along his fabulous youngsters.

    Why they might be better? Maturing Young Talent - They have so many young players who are ready to break-through. Playing in and training for the World Cup may have given Joe Cole the push he needs to start asserting himself on a consistant basis. Michael Carrick might also be ready for top billing. Scott Garcia is coming along. Roeder has gained the upper hand over Di Canio and will play Defoe frequently enough to spur his development.

    Defensive Consistancy - Roeder may not have had the confidence of the team at the beginning of the season, but they seem to work hard for him now. Without true star names, the defense really improved over the course of the season, to the point that they were a very efficient unit (esp. at home) after some early debacles (Blackburn and Chelsea).

    Offensive Consistancy - After an injury-plagued season and a bit of a snub by Liverpool, Kanoute will want to reestablish his value. Di Canio might play harder out of pride, or he might completely disappear. If he has half the class of Gianfranco Zola, he could be a great asset as an impact sub late in games. Hopefully he will give up his PK duties to Joe Cole or someone else, as they cost WH. Jermaine Defoe is waiting to break out in a big way. Trevor Sinclair may ride his World Cup success to a great season - now he has confidence as well as form.

    What they should look out for? Depth - West Ham doesn’t have much. Injury troubles could cripple their team - especially on the back line.

    Inconsistancy - always a factor when you rely on young players as much as West Ham does. At least the core of the defense Schemmel, Dailly and Repka (crazy challenges notwithstanding) are reliable.

    Tottenham - Ahh the perennial underachievers. Which team is going to show up?

    Why they might be better? Tons of Talent up Front - They have no excuse for not playing better. While they are aging up front, Sheringham and Ferdinand should have at least one more season in the tank. Steffen Iverson is a classy player. Jamie Redknapp is going to want to prove his quality and Gus Poyet (another old guy) always comes through. Only Poyet and Anderton are likely to have drop off from last year’s excellent campaigns. Having Christian Ziege for an entire season would be a huge help. If they pick up Robbie Keane, watch out. He would be a great pairing with either the clever Sheringham or the powerful Ferdinand.

    What they should look out for? Too Fancy - Hoddle is stubborn and his tactics tend towards the unconventional. While this sometimes keeps his opponents on their toes, sometimes I think it puts too much pressure on his players to play in roles they don't understand or are not especially suited for. It also leads to lopsided outings (think Chelsea) that can devestate the confidence of young players - such as the critical Ledley King.

    High Risk Defense - Wing-backs Taricco, Ziege and Ledley King can induce lots scary moments with their decision-making and aggressive play. Dean Richards is a steady influence and hopefully King can build on the strong first half he had last year and forget about the shaky second half.

    What do you all think? What about Blackburn or Aston Villa? I believe they will disappoint. Possible longshots for a better than mid-table finish? Sunderland and Man City
  2. kerpow

    kerpow New Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    A good post and very interesting aswell. I agree that this season there will be a bigger gap between the top 3 and the next three. I think we are seeing that only 3 or so teams can afford to be regular championship contenders. Chelsea and Leeds will be back pedalling this season and the the competition for UEFA places will be very exciting.

    I don't think West Ham will equal or better their impressive finish of 7th last season. They haven't invested in the close season and their younger players are still classed as "potential" rather than quality.

    Blackburn might be a surprise aswell with the Yorke and Cole combination bound to bring in goals. They have also scared the big clubs off with such a huge transfer price on Duff and with Dunn staying aswell they should finish the season in the top half.

    Spurs, though I hate to admit it, do look very good and with another good striker will do very well.

    Say what you will about Kevin Keegan but he always gets results. If it means scoring 4 goals to win a game so be it. Anelka could be a hit.

    Fulham aswell should do well as they have now settled into the Premiership.

    And of course my bias to Everton forces me to make a comment about them. A couple of wily transfers and the teen sensation - Wayne Rooney. Who knows, if players stay fit we could do well.
  3. kopiteinkc

    kopiteinkc Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 1, 2000
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    You both seem to dismiss Newcastle, which surprises me a bit.

    Obviously I think that Liverpool, Man U and Arsenal will be up there. But Newcastle could be the one to break that threesome.

    Like all teams they will have to avoid many injuries. Bellamy is the real deal and Jenas, Robert and Dyer are all outstanding.

    Their defenders are their weakness but with their excellent home form and their London jinx broken they could break into the top three.
  4. Liverpool_SC

    Liverpool_SC Member

    Jun 28, 2002
    Upstate, SC
    No doubt when Newcastle is firing on all their cylinders, they are a strong side. That is why I only mentioned them after Chelsea and Leeds - after all if Chelsea and Leeds were teams that represented the sum of their player's abilities - I think that they would be at least as strong as Newcastle. But the whole just doesn't equal the sum of the parts.

    Also, Newcastle has added Bramble, who promises to be a great player for England in a year or two - if you believe the press he might be fighting with Woodgate or King for a spot beside Rio when/if Sol starts to decline.

    But Jenas is still pretty young to play in the EPL every game (might be too demanding physically as he is still pretty light, right?) and let's face it: Dyer, Bellamy and Bramble are frequently injured. Plus, Shearer is no spring chicken and is not nearly as effective without excellent players around him. I believe if you look at the games when Bellamy was playing beside him and the games when he was not, there is a substantial difference in his goals per game.

    I was mainly just trying to stir some interest as to who is most likely to be the new "Liverpool of '00-'01" or the new "Newcastle of '01-'02" in the upcoming season.

    Finally, the balance of the league seems to be favoring teams that place a priority on defense. This was certainly true among the places 1 - 3 (Liverpool and Arsenal were better defensively than Man U), particularly at home). It will be interesting to see if eams like Leeds (due to loss of key defensive personnel), Man City (by virtue of KK), Tottenham, Blackburn and Newcastle can be more successful by making it their priority to outscore their opponents rather than grind out matches by preventing them from scoring.
  5. kopiteinkc

    kopiteinkc Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 1, 2000
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Some excellent points.

    I think Jenas is the real deal, I really do. He has outstanding skill.

    You are right about Bellamy and Shearer together, when one is missing they lack something. That's why I had my caveat about injuries withstanding.

    As for Man City, they will be lucky to stay up :D
  6. wjschaefer

    wjschaefer New Member

    Jul 5, 2002
    Middlesborough & Blackburn will be in the mix with solid coaching and improved squads. I have to believe that Leeds will struggle...
  7. usain2010

    usain2010 New Member

    Jul 25, 2002
    boro will surprise next year
  8. pedro111

    pedro111 New Member

    Mar 13, 2002
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
    Although very young, you are also forgetting Viana.

    He is looking the business in the three friendlies we have played so far over in Holland.
    He will be eased in to the Prem so maybe he is not a definate starter at the start of the season.
  9. Doctor Stamen

    Doctor Stamen New Member

    Nov 14, 2001
    In a bag with a cat.
    The 'lesser' teams that will do well this season will probably be Newcastle, Boro (Macceroni was an inspired buy), Blackburn (dark horses for a top 6 spot) and West Ham (I think De Foe will really come on strong). Everton should also do better than usual (i.e. they will play 1/2 decent football and finish higher than 14th/15th).

    The teams I think will fail (comparatively speaking) are Chelsea, Leeds and definately Villa.

    As for Man City......ith KK and Anelka there, who knows ?? :).
  10. Clan

    Clan Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    In what way do you think we will fail?

    To win the title?

    Qualify for Cl?

    UEFA cup ?

    FA Cup?
  11. Mefisto

    Mefisto Member

    Feb 13, 2002
    Århus, Denmark
    watch out for Charlton if Claus Jensen is back in form. That boy got skills
  12. Doctor Stamen

    Doctor Stamen New Member

    Nov 14, 2001
    In a bag with a cat.
    I just have a feeling you'll end up 5-7th, and not be in the running for the title. You may do OK in Europe, and could win a domestic cup, but I think Chelsea fans may not be satisfied this season. Should finish above us, but that's not really a big achievement.

    Whatever happens, both our teams should be feeling better than Spurs (who'll be mid table, again).
  13. Clan

    Clan Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    Being a die hard fan is great.Although these days i am relegated to being an armchair fan.Being an optimist is natural i guess when it comes to your team.Being blind to the fact that you're not as good as some is part of the territory as well i suppose.

    I don't think a top two place is even remotely possible for Chelsea to be honest.If we can avoid last seasons slip ups against so called "weaker: teams i see no reason why we can't compete with Leeds and the Toon for the 4th spot.Finishing 3rd will be unlikely...doable...but unlikely.

    As for the cups...well we'll have to wait and see.As you well know it's the draw that determines how far you advance as well as the level of skill.
  14. kygunner

    kygunner New Member

    Aug 12, 2001
    Winchester KY USA
    Liverpool-sc, I believe that your comments on Boro are spot on. A team that has already proven that they can defend and an aggressive summer of buying should pay off for them. Im not a McClaren fan, Fergie clone, but he really did a bang up job with the team.

    As for Newcastle, I think that the point of the thread is to point out surprises. Newcastle are too good and too talented to surprise many and they have one of the best managers around.

    West Ham seem to be having some inner troubles that unless settled they very well may be fighting for mid-table. They have the core players, though and I think 7th place will be theirs again.

    Charlton very well may be relegated if they dont buy a player or two. They have not one move all summer and 14th place last year should not mean one becomes complacent.

    Finally Spurs. I admit that they have made some good purchases and are looking to the future but some one said the perennial underachievers will be mid-table and I have to agree.
  15. Slash/ED

    Slash/ED New Member

    Apr 19, 2002
    Spurs have Carr back, which is like a new 20m signing if he's back to his best.
  16. Own Goal Hat-Trick

    Jul 28, 1999
    Leeds wont struggle.

    yes, we lost rio to the scum. but think about this. when we made that great champions league run, we didnt have rio.

    i am not especially worried about things as they are, and keep in mind, we may still land ayala or gallas. we DO have some money to work with now.

    a right sided midfielder would be nice, as well as perhaps a left back to replace harte.

    offensivley, there are absolutly no worries. bridges is back as well. anyone remember him?

    and oh, bowyer may yet sign a leeds contract.

    so, not much weakening going on there.
  17. Slash/ED

    Slash/ED New Member

    Apr 19, 2002
    Leeds will struggle because, despite popular opinion, TV is a cak manager.
  18. BrianJ 22

    BrianJ 22 New Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    Inamoto hehe
  19. Martin Henry

    Martin Henry New Member

    Jul 23, 2002
    I believe that Leeds will be no more than a mid table team next season, who do they have other than Harry Kewell?...

    Bowyer has proved himself to just be a mercenary to go along with everything else we've already learnt about him...

    Not a very nice bloke, I think we can all come to that assessment...

    And by the way Own Goal Hat-Trick, if Man United are "scum" I hate to think what Leeds are...

    The title will be fought out between Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal...
  20. Boro_lad

    Boro_lad New Member

    Boro will be the (hopefully) the surprise package this season. Im hopeing europe but i definatly think top 10. I am hopeing some kind of cup ru will Finally bring the silverware home.....

    Boro for everything next year......

    P.S. i think leeds will be top 6 still
    blackburn will end up in about 12th place, and newcastle will finnish in top 3!!

    bit contrivertial but i think i will be right come may....

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