Thursday, July 10, 2008

3 Questions Ahead of The Premier League 2008-09 Season, Vol. 5

An occasional Pardew's Guardian feature leading up to the August 16th kickoff ...
1) Will West Ham's Kieron Dyer 
recover fully from his horrific leg break? As you can see from the top photo above, the Hammers midfielder suffered a nasty injury in a League Cup match early last season, just as he was starting to make an impact for the East London side. I was never much of a Dyer fan before he landed at the Boleyn. While he brings bags of pace to the table, a dearth of skill is Dyer's downfall. Like Jermaine Jenas, 
I don't think he's a player of international standard but in England over the last 10 years, that doesn't seem to keep mediocre talents from accumulating Three Lions caps like they're going out of style. That's not to say that West Ham couldn't use some significant contributions from Dyer this season. He does have a nose for the goal, and with ou
r soft early schedule getting out of the gate in good form could make all the difference when it comes to a nice run at Europe.
2) Will Michael Owen give Newcastle fans a full season of goals? "Little Mickey" (pictured above, middle) will never regain the jets that enabled him to blow past defenders during his early days at Liverpool. But an older, slower Owen is also smarter, and that cunning around the box can be just as much of a weapon. When he ended up with the Magpies after a stop-start tenure with the Galacticos of Real Madrid, you got the feeling that Owen was in a holding pattern to wait for a bigger club to come in for him. Reality may just have settled in for Owen, and with Kevin Keegan starting his first full season as Newcastle's manager (the second time around, of course), the stars could just be aligning for Owen. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he sticks 15 to 18 goals in the back of the net this season provided he can stay injury-free. And that's a big "if."
3) Can Emile Heskey and friends keep Wigan in the top flight yet again? The big ex-Liverpool striker (pictured above, bottom) is sort of in the same boat as his ex-teammate Owen -- once a big fish, he now toils for a side in the "other" Premiership: the one that exists outside the Top 4. While those clubs scour Europe, Africa and South America (and, occasionally, North America and Asia) for the best players in the world, the Wigans and their like take what they can get. When manager Steve Bruce left Birmingham for the bigger money of Latics chairman Dave Whelan, he seemed to cement his reputation as a mercenary. But something happened on the way to relegation -- Heskey and his mates won some key matches, and Wigan lived to fight another day. Can they beat the odds again? We'll see.