Arsenal looks pretty solid, but the real test will come once they get into the meat of their schedule...like say this weekend. We've seen how they do against the relegation zone, now let's see what happens against the CL zone.
I think Portsmouth have a shot at knocking someone out of the Champions League spots and I think the two candidates are Chelsea and Liverpool.
Their 6-0 ass-rape of Manchester City notwithstanding, Chelsea look to be a three or four points from twelve stretch away from some serious dressing room drama. And, that may very well be during the African Cup of Nations. They won't just be missing Essien and Droghba, but Mikel and Kalou as well. That's a lot of depth up front and in the midfield to cover, and the problem could be much worse depending on what injuries crop up. If things start to go off the rails, Chelsea could really implode and Grant will be sacked.
Liverpool. Rotation. Nothing really more needs to be said. Like Chelsea, I see this club as another potential powder-keg beneath the manager's seat situation. Expectations were high here and if they are struggling for a Champions League spot, Benitez could rotate himself out of a job.
As for Portsmouth, if they can stay relatively healthy, I think they have the most potential for a move up. They score a lot of goals and are solid at the back. The period during the African Cup of Nations will hurt them, but 'arry should be able to cobble something together.
Blackburn is the other sleeper in this regard. They play a physical game and don't really have any glaring weaknesses.
Speaking of glaring weaknesses, what do Tottenham and a party attended by Paris, Lindsey and Britney have in common?
Multiple scoring opportunities.
Paul Robinson has already cost Martin Jol his job...can Steve McClaren be far behind? To be fair, Tottenham's back four make last season's Newcastle cluster-fuck look well organized. Seriously. These guys make Titus Bramble look like Franz Beckenbauer. But what's his excuse when he puts on the England shirt? How can McClaren look in the mirror starting Paul Robinson over Robert Green?
I think Sunderland and Birmingham are staying up.
Derby may not break Sunderland's record for futility, but if there are any for negative goal differential, they certainly are in the running.
I think Bolton is going down. Megson has never won more than about 40% or his games anywhere he's managed, and I don't see this changing. I think Anelka will be gone in January and that certainly won't make the row any easier to hoe.
Wigan will struggle. There are already rumblings that Hutchings is not on solid ground and Dave Whelan seems like kind of a prick that doesn't like when things aren't going his way. If he throws his toys out of the pram, they may slip back to the Championship where they belong.
Middlesbrough and Fulham are the other possible relegation candidates. Lawrie Sanchez is like Benitez when it comes to stubbornness. His high back line may well cost him his job. I'll hate to see Fulham go down simply because of all the Americans on the team. And, I hope Brian McBride gets well soon.
Coppell seems to have gotten Reading straightened out. They're too good a team to be where they were.
Here's how I see it all finishing.
1. Manchester United
7. Manchester City
10. Aston Villa
11. West Ham
13. Birmingham City
14. Tottenham Hotspur
20. Derby County
"Purgatory's kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren't really shit, but you weren't all that great either. Like Tottenham."
I'll try being nicer...if you'll try being smarter.