Predicting premier football

2011-08-13 00:00

AT last! Football, soccer, Diski — whatever you want to call it — is back on our small screens. Football season (my preference) is here, both locally and abroad, and once again we have fuel for endless rounds of barstool banter and Facebook insults. As great a fan as I am of the English game, it is the local league that will occupy most of my attention this season.

Last season’s PSL would have excited even the calmest of football fans, as no less than three teams entered the final day of fixtures with hopes of winning the title. It was a special day, and at various moments during the three fixtures (which were all played at the same time) fans of Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town will have all fancied their chances. As it turns out Maritzburg United did Pirates a favour by denying Ajax victory in Cape Town and effectively delivered the trophy to Soweto.

The result has left Mzansi’s football critics a little uncertain as to what will transpire this season. Pirates will start the campaign as slight favourites, but anyone who knows anything about South African ’ball will know that their Soweto rivals can never be counted out. Kaizer Chiefs have signed Bafana Bafana World Cup striker Bernard Parker, while Pirates have given a new lease of life to World Cup omission Benni McCarthy.

The Parker deal is safe and he will be expected to produce for his new team. However, Benni will have some firmly made-up minds to change. He assures us that he is up for the challenge and has spoken of his desire to be involved in 95% of Pirates’ games this season. That doesn’t seem likely, but if the Uefa Champions League winner rediscovers his touch in front of goal then he could have a part to play in what is always a long domestic season. He also has the opportunity to become the first player in the game’s history to win both a European and African Champions League if Pirates manage to go all the way continentally.

That’s just the two Soweto clubs. Ajax proved last season that they can compete for the title, even if they did implode — Proteas style — when it mattered most. They will have learnt from that. Mamelodi Sundowns will also believe that they have what it takes to challenge this season.

Pirates, Ajax and Sundowns all have new coaches, which may play into the hands of Vladimir Vermezovic’s Kaizer Chiefs. Your guess is as good as mine, though, and what separates the PSL from the English Premiership (besides unthinkable sums of money) is its unpredictability. Last season showed that no match in the PSL is a certain call.

To an extent the same can be said about the Premier League, but England’s big clubs are seldom upset. Manchester United appear to have enough about them to secure a 20th Premier League title this season. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will have to deal with the usual suspects in Chelsea and Arsenal, though both London clubs are expected by many to finish behind Manchester City. You never quite know with City. They are a side made up of massive and fickle egos and things can go badly for them very quickly. But if they live up to expectations, then the league could very well be decided in Manchester.

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Lloyd Burnard’s season predictions

Big league results could be decided in Soweto and Manchester, but watch out for suprises again

PSL

1. Orlando Pirates

2. Kaizer Chiefs

3. Ajax Cape Town

4. Mamelodi Sundowns

ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP

1. Manchester United

2. Chelsea

3. Arsenal

4. Manchester City

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