On merit: Only Sunderland stands a chance remaining promoted

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Reading under Steve Coppell was the Premiership team last season and the reason it did so was because they were the most effective shooting team. They finished eighth with 52 goals scored. In the 2006 Championships they scored 100 goals as they ran away with the title, 24 more than second placed Sheffield Utd, 23 more than qualifying Watford.
In fact, all three clubs scored more or as many goals as first placed Sunderland in this year’s Championships.
Soccerblog’s statistics show that Reading scored goals with the least number of goal attempts, significantly better than the big four, even as their output fell to half as compared to the Championship. This remains an extraordinary achievement.
This was in large pat due to a lethal attack led by Kevin Doyle, Steve Sidwell, and Leroy Lita. But their attack was not just restricted to their forwards as Nicky Shorey discovered that he could take some long distance pile drivers.
So which of the newly promoted Premiership teams will go the distance, causing heartburns to the more established teams. Would it be Billy Davies Rams, Roy Keane’s Black Cats, or Steve Bruce’s Blues? Mind you, we are talking of survival, not a Reading like performance.
It does appear that to remain in the Premiership, the teams should look at scoring about 35+ goals and hope that the defense does not screw up big time. Man City was an exception as their defense tightened up, resulting in fewer losses.
Both Sunderland and Birmingham under Keane and Bruce have upgraded their defense. Keane has gone for homegrown talent with Nyron Nosworthy and Danny Collins recently bolstered by the additions of Greg Halford and Paul McShane. Steve Bruce has relied on international help, with Radhi Zaidi, the Tunisian international and Olivier Tebily, the Ivoirian born player, providing the pillars of his defense.
However, Keane has been more proactive in shoring up the midfield and the attack, with Michael Chopra joining from Cardiff City, having an exceptional season with 20+ goals and Kieran Richardson from Man Utd in midfield. The Black Cats have some experienced names in midfield and attack with Carlos Edwards, Dean Whitehead, Graham Kavanagh, and Dwight Yorke. On paper, it would appear that this attack should score 35-40 goals.
Bruce on the other hand is relying on a younger midfield with Fabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson, a couple of highly rated Arsenal talents, Daniel de Ridder, a former Ajax player and a member of the Dutch U-21 team, and former French international, Olivier Kapo, a recent Juventus arrival. The only notable name up front is Gary McSheffrey, who scores goals at a regular clip. Given the fact that the Blues only scored 67 goals in the Championship, it seems that 35+ goals in the Premiership will be hard to achieve. Birmingham will need help which they might get considering Wigan has gone from bad to worse with signings like Titus Bramble.
As for Derby, I think Rob Smyth has the goods on them. It will be a miracle if they survive the Premiership.

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