With the start of the Premier League season less than a week away, former England international Michael Owen has taken to Sportlobster – the sports social network – to give his predictions on how he thinks each team will fair over the season and how the return of “The Special One” makes Chelsea his hot favourite to be crowned champions.
Owen will be making his football predictions via Sportlobster, his preferred social medium, every Saturday morning. Sportlobster is an interactive community, where sport lovers can receive custom news, write articles, follow fans or athletes, and pick up live score feeds – all tailored to individual sporting preferences.
Michael Owen said:
“It’s always fun guessing who will do well at the start of the season and Sportlobster offers football fans an opportunity to get competitive – and there’s not much that gets sports fans talking as much as the premier league.”
To celebrate the opening weekend of the season, Sportlobster users are being given the chance to win a pair of Premier League tickets. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning, is to make your predictions at sportlobster.com/predictions and if you correctly identify more winners from the ten games than Michael, you will be entered into the draw.
Here’s what Michael Owen had to say about each of the clubs for the season ahead:
“Arsenal’s prospects depend largely on their transfer activity, but if they don’t manage to secure a world-class striker, a top four position should still be achievable. In their first season Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski scored a combined 22 league goals, bettering Van Persie’s initial tally in England of four – but the addition to the squad of a more prolific striker could make a huge difference.
“Now Christian Benteke has signed a new long-term deal Villa should be looking to break into the top half of the table. Paul Lambert has assembled a young team and staying up last season will fill them with confidence, as will new signings Antonio Luna and Nicklas Helenius, the latter averaged a goal every two games for Danish team AaB last term.”
“Malky Mackay has shown some serious intent by splashing £7.5million on 20-year-old Andreas Cornelius, breaking Cardiff’s transfer record by some margin. He and Craig Bellamy, now 34, are central to Cardiff’s prospects. Despite winning the Championship they need to bolster the squad with Premier League experience. Staying up would be a wonderful achievement but it’s going to be a struggle.”
“Chelsea are my favourites to win the league irrespective of transfer activity. The return of Jose Mourinho has transformed the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho has never lost at home in the Premier League and the ‘Special One’ thoroughly deserves his self-appointed title.”
“It’s great to see Ian Holloway back in the Premier League and if Palace are to have a chance of staying up, Holloway’s experience will be crucial. Having been relegated with Blackpool he’ll be relying heavily on Glenn Murray, scorer of 31 goals last term. A trying season followed by relegation looks likely.”
“An already small squad is in danger of becoming further depleted if key men Fellaini and Baines leave the club. Roberto Martinez was the popular choice to replace Moyes but injury problems might end up costing his new squad dearly and make his job all the harder. Underrated Kevin Mirallas and new man Arouna Kone will be heavily relied upon in the final third but Baines and Fellaini may prove irreplaceable.”
“This time around I can’t foresee the Cottagers get out of the bottom half of the table. The end of the 2012/2013 season saw them struggle for form and an over-reliance on Dimitar Berbatov looks set to continue. New ownership provides the promise of investment in the squad and it looks necessary in a number of positions.”
“Hull City Tigers’ as they are newly dubbed suffer from a potentially fatal lack of experience. They limped to the finish line in the Championship, losing their last four games and that run looks likely to continue this time around. A core of talented young players like Joe Dudgeon and James Chester offer an array of hope but their prospects don’t look good.”
“Much depends on star man Luis Suarez. If he goes it could be an uphill battle for Brendan Rogers who has urged the Liverpool fans to be patient over the summer months. Replacing him would be near-impossible and more than one forward replacement will have to be brought in to replicate his goals tally. If Suarez stays and a couple more signings join the ranks then the top four could even be within their sights.”
“Again this year’s big spenders with the addition of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo for a combined £90million. A lot will depend upon the new manager bedding in the new stars, while winning over the existing players. As Pellegrini has no experience managing in England, it will be interesting to watch how quickly he adapts. For me this won’t be Man City’s season unless they really hit the ground running.”
“While United have the most stable squad, the club as a whole is going through a period of transition both in terms of the manager and the backroom staff. Much will depend on the form of Robin Van Persie and, if he hits the heights of last season, United can definitely expect to be in the running.”
“Heading into proceedings the Newcastle fans are perturbed about the return of Joe Kinnear. Much depends on the start Newcastle have. If a few results go against them I can envisage Kinnear and his staff taking the blame. Papiss Cisse’s eight goals and Newcastle’s measly two away wins last season are worrying statistics for the Magpies.”
“Last season’s 11th place finish for Norwich must be respected, but finishing any higher this year is highly unlikely. The relegation scrap remains a possibility, but the club’s new record signing, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, from Sporting Lisbon should be able to propel the Canaries out of the danger zone and towards the top half of the table.”
“A reward for being the top English goal scorer in the Premier League last season has come in the form of an England call-up for Rickie Lambert and he’ll be a key figure once more for Southampton. However, an over-reliance on Lambert could be dangerous. The problem defence has been shored up with the arrival of Dejan Lovren (£8.5m) and manager Pochettino should now be more familiar with the ins and outs of the English game.”
“Another club in real transition. The Tony Pulis style of play is deeply entrenched at Stoke City and with it came great stability for a lengthy period. A good squad of players will have to adapt to Mark Hughes and it will be interesting to observe how much he alters the existing footballing style.”
“Sunderland are in trouble this season. Away from home they concede too many goals and they are overly dependent on Steven Fletcher’s goals. His previous season was cut short and Sunderland escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. Sunderland fans would be first to admit they would take anything other than relegation this season and I’m sure their charismatic manager would agree survival is the primary aim.”
“Swansea’s rise to prominence has been incredible. They have secured their top-flight status but their ascent must come to end at some point. It’s possible the likes of Michu over-performed last season so it’ll be interesting to see if they can replicate that form. I fear it could be unrealistic to expect the same from them this time around. A mid-table finish feels about right.”
“Spurs need to find the balance between adding to the squad and retaining the existing core. They are not shy of spending on new recruits but potentially more important is holding onto Gareth Bale among others and pushing on to the next level, which is securing a Champions League spot.”
West Bromwich Albion
“They will be reliant upon new man, Nicolas Anelka, tasked with replacing top-scorer Romelu Lukaku who has returned to Chelsea after his tally of 17 goals last season – more than any Chelsea player managed during 2012/13. West Brom over-performed last season so it’s going to be difficult for them to get into the top half of the table this time around.”
West Ham Utd:
“West Ham need not fear the relegation zone this season. The once £35million man, Andy Carroll, has signed a permanent contract which might just propel The Hammers into the top half of the table. They just might be one of the surprise packages of the 2012/13 season.”
See Michael Owen’s full predictions for this weekend’s fixtures by logging on here