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Premiership preview part 2.

After looking at the top six positions yesterday, we move onto the mad scramble for the teams who are aiming at scraping into European competition, with also one eye on an outside shot at cup glory.

Newcastle:
This season could have the potential to go really tits-up for Newcastle. After a season of disarray, things have only slightly improved over the summer and they head into the season uncertain and with holes in their squad. However, Souness is a fighter and Shearer's goals will help a much improved midfield providing they can remain injury free.

Everton:
A team, who in my opinion miraculously qualified for the Champions League last season, which more to do with the inept performance of some of their challengers. Came a bit unstuck against Villareal this week though. Have struggled in their pursuit of additions to the squad and are very one dimensional in their attack. Should still have enough to finish top ten though.

City:
Within a whisker (well a last minute penalty from Robbie Fowler) from the UEFA Cup last season thanks to a storming late run under the caretaker manager-ship of Stuart Pearce. The pressure is now on him as holds the position and has to come to terms with the loss of SWP. The additions of Vassel and Cole could be crucial and Pearce has said he hopes they can get 30 goals between them. A good season in store, but inconsistency may still hurt us as always.

Bolton:
I was once a fan of Big Sam and fancied him as a potential manager at City but having seen Bolton a couple of times last year I quickly changed my opinion. True, they are a very physical side who will pressure you for ninety minutes but I cannot stand watching them. Another team who have struggled to attract players over the summer and their UEFA Cup participation could distract them from the league campaign.

Birmingham:
Fell away badly last season and really underachieved after adding to their squad from the previous season. Have added Forsell and his goals from Chelsea and Pennant from Arsenal and should improve on last year. Still look a little light squad wise to mount any sort of serious challenge though.

Villa:
For Villa, also see the analysis for their cross town rivals. Bringing in the likes of Aaron Hughes, Kevin Phillips and Stuart Taylor will not improve a squad that has lost Darius Vassell (who I am warming to after pre-season) and Thomas Hitzlsperger. Perhaps a lot of potential is lying untapped at Villa but they will again finish on the outskirts of European qualification. Could this be the season Doug Ellis finally goes though?

Charlton:
Charlton are apparantly splashing the cash to make a real challenge for Europe this season, but didn't they do that last summer? Too often they have horrific spells of form at some stage of the season which sees them threatened with being sucked into a relegation battle but have enough to end up finishing mid table. No change for this season.