With little more than 48 hours to go until the big kick off, here at footy-boots.com, we look at the teams who we think are favourites for relegation from the Premiership.
Birmingham City – Surviving in the Premiership will be the best that Steve Bruce’s men can hope for. A lack of goals sealed their fate in the 2005/6 season and although they have brought in Scotland international Gary O’Connor (Nike Mercurial Vapor III) from Lokomotiv Moscow, to replace the void left by the departing DJ Campbell, Nicklas Bendter (Nike Mercurial Vapor III) has returned to Arsenal, and last season’s leading scorer Gary McSheffrey (Puma V-Konstrukt) is unproven at this level. By May next year it may be a straight battle between Birmingham and Sunderland to avoid the final relegation spot.
FB Prediction: Relegated
Derby County – Billy Davies has brought ‘fox in the box’ Robert Earnshaw (Nike Mercurial Vapor III) in from Norwich and a lot will depend on his ability to find the back of the net. Steve Howard (Puma King), will lead the line hoping he can form the perfect big man-little man partnership with the Wales international. Giles Barnes will be relied on to provide creativity from midfield, thought he is currently recovering from a broken foot. How they fare in their home games will be of paramount importance – relegation in 2001/2 was inevitably caused by losing more home games than any other side in the top flight.
Fulham – A single point kept Fulham up last season and Lawrie Sanchez seems to have spent wisely in bringing in strikers Diomansy Kamara (Nike Mercurial Vapor III) and David Healy (Adidas +Predator Absolute). Sanchez has also acquired hard working midfielder and Healy’s Northern Ireland counterpart Steven Davis (Nike Air Legend) from Aston Villa and it will be up to him and tricky left winger Lee Cook (Adidas +Predator Absolute) to provide the ammunition for Fulham’s strikers to fire the Cottagers to safety.
Wigan – The Latics survived by the skin of their teeth last season; a last gasp victory at Bramall Lane was too much for the inspirational Paul Jewell, who stepped down. Successor Chris Hutchings is the bookies favourite to become the first Premier League boss to get the sack, with his only previous experience lasting no more than a few months at Bradford City in 2000. The lack of a potent strike force may see attacking midfielder Jason Koumas (Adidas +Predator Absolute) finish top scorer. Fellow signing Titus Bramble (Adidas +Predator Absolute) will have to cut out his mistakes, whilst the loss of Leighton Baines (Nike T90 Laser) to Everton could prove fatal for Wigan.
Sunderland – A lack of goals seems to be the undoing of many teams trying to pull themselves out of the drop zone. The signing of Michael Chopra (Umbro X Boot III) could prove inspired or a complete waste of money. Though he netted 22 times for Cardiff in the Championship last season, can he really score regularly in the Premiership? Kieran Richardson (Adidas Tunit 2) will have to assume a lot of responsibility in midfield and chip in with his fair share of goals if the team want to avoid the anger of boss Roy Keane. Certainly, with the ex Manchester United captain in charge, Sunderland will give 110% on the pitch and with the deep pockets, which saw them bring Craig Gordon (Puma King) in from Hearts for £9 million, they may just have enough to survive.
Prediction: Safe (by the skin of their teeth)
Do you agree with our predictions? Do you think any other clubs could be struggling to survive this season?