Wednesday, July 02, 2008

3 Questions Ahead of The Premier League 2008-09 Season, Vol. 1

Starting today, Pardew's Guardian will post an occasional feature posing 3 questions worth discussing ahead of the 2008-09 Premiership season (as it says right there on the tin). These are topics Alex, Ben and I spend summer evenings by the poolside or on the beach having a chinwag about; as loyal readers (all 14 of you now -- I've gained a few in India!) can surmise, I am not recycling viewpoints from other Web sites or blogs. Whatever you will say about this site, it will never lack for an opinion. These are original thoughts. Are they informed? That's up to you. The lads and I follow the Premiership and English footy in general like most of our fellow New Jerseyans follow the NFL. All that said, here's the first edition:
1) Will we see the real Freddie Ljungberg at West Ham this season? Now that he's retired from international football with Sweden, maybe everyone's favorite Calvin Klein underwear model -- and West Ham's No. 7 -- will spend his second year at Upton Park injury-free and resembling the force he was with Arsenal. Time has slowed his once-blistering speed, but if he can stay out on the pitch, his guile and game smarts should more than make up for a lack of dash. There are still few players with the skills and touch Ljungberg can show around the 18-yard line when it comes to passing, so for all us Hammers out there here's hoping Freddie can come good this time around.
2) Will Mark Hughes regret his move to Manchester City? When "Sparky" left the comfortable post as manager of perennial top-10 side Blackburn to take up the challenge of using Thaksin Shinawatra's millions to help Man City crack the top 4, there's one thing he didn't bring with him -- Yank goalkeeper Brad Friedel, his security blanket. Many people are placing City stopper Joe Hart in the rarefied air of being a future England No. 1, but he still has a lot to prove. Hughes also had a winger of the caliber of David Bentley on hand at Blackburn to unlock defenses. Elano was a revelation for City last year, but will he suffer from second-season syndrome? Hughes will have to work some magic.
3) Does Phillippe Senderos have a future at Arsenal? The huge Swiss center-half is coming off a shaky Euro 2008, and he spent more time on the sideline than on the pitch with the Gunners last season. When Senderos was first blooded into the Arsenal starting 11 by manager Arsene Wenger a few years ago, he suffered some definite growing pains. Then, without warning, he seemed to raise his game and become a rock at the back as the team conquered all placed in front of them. But once William Gallas swapped Stamford Bridge for the Emirates as part of the Ashley Cole transfer, Senderos seemed to regress. Injury problems haven't helped, but one gets the feeling this is a cay campaign for him.