Bodog Nation - Predicting the Premier League
It could be back to the future in this season's Premiership title race
July 26, 2007
By Dave Tindall
Bodog Nation Contributing Writer
Time to deliver.
That's the message coming from Liverpool's impatient
fans ahead of August's big Premiership kick-off
as they crave the return of the title to English
football's most decorated club for the first
time since 1990.
Boss Rafa Benitez has almost used smoke and
mirrors to guide his side to two Champions League
finals in the last three years. But Liverpool's
shortcomings have been exposed over the course
of a 38-match Premiership season campaign and
in three seasons under Spaniard Benitez, the
Merseysiders have finished 37, nine and 21 points
respectively behind the eventual champions.
All that could change, though, after the Reds'
worldwide search for a suitable investor was
finally concluded earlier this year. New American
owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks raised plenty
of suspicious eyebrows when they came riding
into Anfield back in February. But the sports-mad
duo stood true to their word by finally giving
Benitez the financial clout to compete with top
dogs Manchester United and Chelsea, and the grateful
Liverpool boss looks to have spent wisely.
Hope has been replaced by expectation on the
streets of Liverpool. No more excuses.
The big problem for the Reds is that champions
United and 2005 and 2006 winners Chelsea aren't
going anywhere in a hurry.
While the men from Merseyside have spent 40
million Euro on Spaniard Fernando Torres, Dutchman
Ryan Babel, Israeli Yossi Benayoun and Brazilian
Lucas Leiva, United's summer spending spree could
top 70 million if they win their battle to capture
West Ham striker Carlos Tevez. England midfielder
Owen Hargreaves has been brought in to anchor
the midfield while Portuguese pair Nani and Anderson
should bring even more flair and goalpower to
a team already renowned as the most attacking
side in the Premiership.
Chelsea have been relatively quiet in the transfer
market but their empire is already built. For
all the west London side's problems last season
- injuries to goalkeeper Petr Cech and skipper
John Terry and a very public falling out between
boss Jose Mourinho and billionaire owner Roman
Abramovich - the Blues were a handful of matches
away from sweeping all four major trophies. New
signings Florent Malouda and Claudio Pizarro
add to the vast pool of talent while Tal Ben
Haim and Steve Sidwell bring guaranteed Premiership
experience following their respective moves from
Bolton and Reading.
But, without doubt, United and Chelsea have
one eye over their shoulders at a resurgent Liverpool.
Canny United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is doing
all he can to stop Argentine defender Gabriel
Heinze making the move from Old Trafford to Anfield
and boosting the cause of what he clearly sees
as a title rival. The last time these two bitter
rivals did business, incidentally, the Beatles
were number one with Twist and Shout.
Mourinho, meanwhile, is keen to point out that
Benitez's cries over Liverpool not having the
money to compete should fall on deaf ears now.
The pressure is on, says the Chelsea boss, although
his attempt at mind games suggests he has something
to fear himself.
The feelgood factor surrounding Liverpool received
another boost this week when plans for their
new 60,000 seater stadium were unveiled. Drawn
up by architects in Dallas, the radical design
has already proved a big hit with fans and players
alike and underpins the belief that this famous
club is on the march again.
But can they make the giant stride from also-rans
to title winners in one season? Bookmakers still
view Liverpool as third favourites and the feeling
remains that Benitez's famed tactical nous is
better suited to the demands of European football
than the fast and frenetic huff and puff of the
If Benitez loosens the reins and allows his
side to roam free this could turn into one of
the most memorable Premiership seasons in memory.
And, if his expensive new signings can click
straight away, the title could just be heading
back along the East Lancs Road from Manchester
While English fans used to pour scorn on the
Scottish Premier League for being a carve-up
between Celtic and Rangers every year, the bottom
line is that that the Premiership has become
a closed shop too.
In the last 12 seasons, only three teams - United,
Chelsea and Arsenal - have won the Premiership,
and since 1997, Liverpool (runners-up in 2001)
are the only side to have even managed a runners-up
The chances of any side splitting up the 'Big
Four' look remote again although Arsenal could
be picked off. Arsene Wenger's Gunners are in
transition and losing star striker Thierry Henry
to Barcelona could hit them hard.
Tottenham and Newcastle lead the chasing pack.
Spurs almost pipped North London rivals Arsenal
for fourth place and the final Champions League
qualifying spot two seasons ago and have plenty
of goals in them following the addition of Darren
Bent to a strikeforce already including Robbie
Keane and the sublime Dimitar Berbatov. But they
remain infuriatingly inconsistent and their dreadful
away form last year needs addressing quickly.
Newcastle are the jokers in the pack. They have
the talent and the fan base but until now lacked
a proper manager. Sam Allardyce could change
all that following his move from Bolton and he
has the charisma to turn this bunch of underachievers
into a real force. Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins
could score bucketfuls of goals while Allardyce,
an uncompromising centre half back in the day,
will surely sort out Newcastle's porous defence.
2007/8 English Premier League Odds
the cash but only one side has defended
title in last six years
||Everything still in place and harmony
behind the scenes restored
||Still have a big gap to bridge. Can
they do it over one season?
||Also-rans the last two seasons and
Henry's gone to Barcelona
||Spurs could break up the 'Big Four'
while Allardyce could bring the best
out of Newcastle. But title winners?
Our live sports odds partner are a College Football
lines, NFL sports betting, Football sportsbook
and multi-sport parlay entertainment company
with great Football betting odds, College Football
lines, fantastic customer service and fast payouts.
Click the link to go to Bodog.com and Football
Bet online in their NFL + College Football sportsbooks