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2006-07 Premiership preview

It's time to get the crystal ball out and take a look at how the Premiership will look come May of next year and the Premiership season has all played out.

One thing that I did notice in putting this together is how wide open and much of a much the Premiership appears to be this season once you get past the top five sides. On the one hand it is encouraging to think we have a shot at a European place, but alternatively it means sides can easily get dragged into a relegation dogfight.

The majority of you out there so far seem to think mid table mediocrity is the ultimate destination for City this season, and I am in agreement and have not deviated from my preview in The Observer, putting us in ninth position.

How accurate will I be? Check out how I fared last year.


1. Chelsea
I think the primary focus for the defending Champions this season will be the Champions League so they may take their eye slightly of the ball, but I think the additions they have brought in should help keep them at the top and retain the title.

2. Liverpool
Rafael Benitez took a further step forward last season in the development of the side and has again added wisely over the summer, adding both depth and quality. I think they will push Chelsea close and be well ahead of the rest of the challengers.

3. Arsenal
Lost their Premiership focus last season during their European campaign and suffered at times from injuries. Leaving Highbury may affect them more than expected in terms of home form but still have enough quality to end up in the top four.

4. Manchester United
With van Nistelrooy gone where will the goals come from? Defensively they should remain tight though and the midfield can't be any worse than last season. Should still have enough for Champions League qualification but will be pushed close.

5. Tottenham
I think the loss of Carrick could be costly and newcomers Berbatov and Zakora are untested in the Premiership. Martin Jol is a shrewd coach though and they have quality in addition to some good youngsters. Will be ready if any of the 'big four' struggle.

6. Everton
In recent years they have yo-yo'd in the Premiership, going from good season to bad. This time round they are due a good season and I take a fit James Beattie and Andy Johnson to strike up a good partnership.

7. Newcastle
It was surprising to look back at last years table and see them ending in seventh position. They have been thwarted in their attempts to add striking depth but I like the pick up of Damien Duff. It could go wrong if Roeder loses some of his 'caretaker effect'.

8. West Ham
Had an impressive return to the top flight and capped it with an appearance in the FA Cup final. Have built on last season and added some depth to the sqaud over the summer. The loss of Dean Ashton could be big though.

9. Manchester City
I've detected an air of pessimism returning this week as the season draws near. A lot of question marks still and maybe too many new players to bed in but undoubtedly we are stronger than last season and Pearce will be keen to avoid another run like the end of last season.

10. Blackburn
How big a loss will Bellamy be? They have added Jason Roberts to replace him but Bellamy will be sorely missed. They will still be tough and resilient and pick up wins when not expected. I fancy them for a good cup run though.

11. Middlesbrough
New boss Gareth Southgate has struggled to bring in new faces since taking over (Distin's move still up in the air as I write this) and has seen a couple of decent players in Quedrue and Hasselbaink depart. I'm not convinced Southgate will be a success on the bench either.

12. Aston Villa
Optimism abounds with Martin O'Neill arriving and Randy Lerner buying the club. It will be a big test for O'Neill with a side lacking quality and not forgetting he has been away from the Premiership for some years now.

13. Portsmouth
Harry Redknapp has been trying to throw the cash around over the summer but has not really added any elite players - although David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson are clearly upgrades. Won't have a great season but it will be entertaining.

14. Bolton
Big Sam has been thwarted in his attempts to strengthen and build on the past few seasons. Was rumoured to have been desperate to land the England job and will his motivation still be as strong this season. May have reached their peak.

15. Wigan
Surprised pretty much everyone last season with a fantastic start which comfortably ensured Premiership safety. Plenty of faces both in and out over the summer and have added fairly well but Roberts' goals and Bullard's creativity will be badly missed this season.

16. Charlton
I'm not convinced of the additions that new manager Iain Dowie has brought in and they look lightweight to me . Some of Dowie's lustre went after Palace's relegation and I expect a struggle for them this season, although they should have enough to avoid serious trouble.

17. Fulham
Struggled for big periods last season and were woeful on their travels until they came across you know who. Added well in Bullard and Quedrue but I don't think they have enough up front to avoid being dragged into the dogfight.

18. Reading
Stormed their way through the Championship last season and have some youngsters who built up some good reputations. Have not added quality or experience though to help them through and I think they will go down - but only just.

19. Sheffield United
Neil Warnock finally got the Blades back in the top flight last season and appears to have spent the summer adding to his tally of forwards - not to mention David Sommeil. Will lack the overall quality to stay up but will showcase some of their top prospects.

20. Watford
Appear to have a no nonesense manager who impressed last season in taking them up. Another promoted side who have been unable to attract top players into the club and I feel they will go the way they have done in their previous foray into the Premiership.