Wed, Aug 15, 7:10pm by Kevin Pitstock
England’s Northwest area has produced more Top Flight Champions than any other geographic location has. Thirteen of the twenty Premier League Champions have been a North West Club. Whilst Northwest England has produced the most champions, the thirteen trophies are shared by two clubs – Manchester United (12 Premier League titles) and Manchester City (defending Top Flight Champions). The likes of Everton, Wigan, and (surprisingly) Liverpool are without a League trophy in the Premier League’s modern era. Just like the league itself, the battle for supremacy in the Northwest is a two-club race.
The Wigan Athletic Latics emerged to the top flight in 2005 and have managed to stay afloat since their arrival. Former Latic player Roberto Martinez returns to manage Wigan for his fourth season in charge. In last year’s Premier League campaign, Wigan finished 15th on the table, avoiding relegation by 7 points although they held big wins over Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle, and Manchester United. By beating these big clubs and winning their final three matches, Wigan escaped the grasp of relegation and remained in the top flight.
In: Fraser Fyvie (Aberdeen); Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca)
Out: Mohamed Diame (West Ham United); Hugo Rodallega (Fulham); Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wednesday)
Victor Moses appears to be on his way out, as Chelsea is rumoured to have extreme interest in the young forward.
Wigan will be lucky to escape relegation this season. IASBet.com lists Wigan at 2.75 odds of relegation. They were lucky that clubs “played down” to them whilst Wigan “played up”. Losing Moses will be a deathblow for the club. Martinez did a great job of paving the way for Swansea to the top flight during his tenure there. However, as Wigan manager, Martinez has lost 57 matches, while winning 34 and drawing 36. They are at 501.00 odds to be the best Northwest Club. These odds are not high enough in my opinion.
Everton come into the 2012-13 season looking like a club in rebuilding mode. They were rumoured to lose Leighton Baines to transfer. However, it now appears as if the England left back will remain with the Toffees. In David Moyes’ tenth season, he has won 198 matches as Everton’s manager, whilst losing 152 and securing 123 draws.
In the 2011-12 Premier League season, Everton finished seventh on the table. There was a significant gap in points between the Toffees and sixth place Chelsea, as eight points separated the two sides.
In: Steven Naismith (Rangers)
Out: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls); Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce); Adam Forshaw (Brentford); Marcus Hahnemann (released); James McFadden (released); Joao Silva (Levski Sofia); James Wallace (Tranmere Rovers); Jack Rodwell (Manchester City)
Everton starts the season a weaker side, having lost starter and attacking midfielder Tim Cahill. In addition, Jack Rodwell finds his way out of Everton and into a deep Manchester City side. Scottish striker Steven Naismith joins up with the toffees via a free transfer from the financially troubled Newco Rangers. Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are the future of the English defence and the duo will help them reduce their already low goals against count from last season of 40. However, they have done little to find more goals.
Everton will finish in the top ten, but they will be the fourth best Northwest club. Look for Everton to finish eighth on the table.
Liverpool calls on the man (Brendan Rodgers) to digest the changes made by Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers is not unfamiliar to such a role, as he did similar for Swansea in leading the Swans to promotion into the top flight. In doing so, he has shaken things up a bit in ridding his side of the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Fabio Aurelio, and Maxi Rodriguez whilst reuniting with fellow Swan Joe Allen.
Whilst Dalglish brought in the right tools in Charlie Adam, Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, and Jordan Henderson – the side lacked any sort of continuity. Last season, they looked uncomfortable and out of place at times.
In: Fabio Borini (Roma, £10m); Joe Allen (Swansea, £15m)
Out: Fabio Aurelio (Gremio); Stephen Darby (Bradford City); Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce); Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys); Toni Silva (Barnsley); Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina); Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City)
Whilst Rodgers will not return Liverpool to Europe by way of the Champions League, he will vastly improve on Liverpool’s eighth place finish last season. There will be a huge gap between Liverpool and the two dominant Manchester clubs, however Liverpool will be third best in this bunch as Rodgers is a “uniter” and he inspires the best out of everyone around him. Liverpool could reasonably finish the season in fifth or sixth place on the table. Whilst they will be a vastly improved side, it is unreasonable to expect “top four” out of this side. In addition, at 1.30 odds for a top six finish, there is little value in betting Liverpool for a top 6 finish. Look for increased productivity from Charlie Adam. Additionally, Joe Allen will immediately pay dividends for Liverpool, and Jordan Henderson will find his spot in the Liverpool midfield. Luis Suarez will flirt with a twenty-goal season.
On the verge of signing Arsenal hit man and 2011-12 Golden Boot winner Robin Van Persie, Manchester United enter this season with an empty trophy case. Last season, United’s troubles sat in the midfield, with Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher both missing the majority of the season due to injury and illness respectively. Captain Nemanja Vidic returns from a season ending knee injury and looks to reclaim his spot at the centre of defence alongside Rio Ferdinand.
In: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund); Nick Powell (Crewe Alexandra)
Out: Park Ji-Sung (Queens Park Rangers); Michael Owen (released); Fabio da Silva (Queens Park Rangers); Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton); Paul Pogba (Juventus); John Cofie (Sheffield United); Ritchie de Laet, Matty James (both Leicester City); Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield Town); Reece Brown (Coventry, loan); Ben Amos (Hull City, loan)
United added the services of playmaker Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund. The addition of Kagawa will deepen the pool of midfielders by adding creativity and the threat of attack that were at times absent and haunted United last season.
If United acquire the services of Robin Van Persie, United will be the clear favourites to dethrone rivals Manchester City. City have done very little in the way of summer transfer activity. However, with a side as deep as City, there is little to want.
Manchester is 2.37 to be the best team in the Northwest. They are also 3.40 to win the league. It is hard to imagine the league champion coming from anywhere but the Northwest. If you believe like we do that Manchester United will be the top team of the Northwest, then it makes sense to bet them outright to win the league.
Betting tip: Bet Manchester United at 3.40 to win the league outright. You can place this bet at www.IASBet.com.
City enter the season as the defending Premier League Champions and with a mostly unchanged side from their championship season. Manager Roberto Mancini has experimented with utilizing a 3-5-2 formation, which gives him the luxury of using a deeply talented midfield and feature two of his ever-threatening strikers up top.
In: Jack Rodwell (Everton)
Out: Wayne Bridge (Brighton); Owen Hargreaves (released); Greg Cunningham (Bristol City, undisclosed); Omar Elabdellaoui (Feyenoord, loan); Vladimir Weiss (Pescara)
City look the deepest squad from top to bottom in the Premier League. They stood mostly still in the summer transfer window. Such calmness may come back to haunt City, as they won the league by virtue of goal differential. United have improved by virtue of injuries healing and the signing of Kagawa. If United obtain the signature of Van Persie, Mancini may have made a fatal mistake by not being active in the transfer window. Look for City to finish a close second to United. They are a very safe “Top 4 bet”. However, at 1.02 odds, there is very little value in placing this season long bet.
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