Wishing and hoping

THE Barclays Premier League is back – and fans believe it could be the best season yet. And if last weekend s action is anything to go by they could be right. There were goalkeeping heroics and mishaps, controversial penalties, 28 goals, full time bust-u

THE Barclays Premier League is back - and fans believe it could be the best season yet. And if last weekend's action is anything to go by they could be right.

There were goalkeeping heroics and mishaps, controversial penalties, 28 goals, full time bust-ups, and a much-needed win for Sven Goran Eriksson.

Chelsea set a new 64 unbeaten home record, new boys Sunderland beat the much-fancied Tottenham, Wayne Rooney broke his foot and Steven Gerrard once again rescued Liverpool.

The Crow certainly enjoyed the first weekend back, but what did our readers think?

With his money already on Man Utd, Darren Fellingham of Garden Lane Royston said it was an unbelievable start to the season. He added: "It looks like it's going to be a fascinating season and by the looks of it, things are wide open. Clubs like Tottenham, Man City and West Ham have all spent money and I really think one of those clubs can break into the big four.

"And with players like Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, Cesc Fabregas and Dimitar Berbatov the Premiership will again show exactly why it's the greatest league in the world."

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Reed cricket captain James Heslam certainly agrees. The Sheffield Wednesday fan said: "I think it will definitely be an exciting season, with Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool leading the way. There's been a lot of money spent again this year what with a new television deal being struck, and that has given a lot of clubs more money in the coffers. For me Tottenham have made some excellent signings and they should do well."

Before the big kick off, more than £300million had been spent, with that figure expected to rise even further over the next two weeks. Additions to squads range from one or two to complete overhauls. And with several clubs now under new ownership, money has been spent and teams shaken up in the hope of not only silverware but Premiership survival.

Premier League fourth official Keith Hill of Royston believes the battle for top flight safety will be as exciting as the race for the title.

He said: "I think the season has the potential to be a great one with even more clubs looking to secure Champions League football.

"But looking at those clubs likely to be fighting relegation come May, this too will be a 'battle' that will involve more clubs than ever - which creates its own excitement!"

Tottenham season ticket holder, Richard Carrington of Guilden Morden feels that Derby, Birmingham and Bolton are all doomed for the drop. He said: "They're just not good enough! As for Spurs, I think they have the potential to finish in the top six - as long as they pull their finger out!"

Tottenham's North London rivals, Arsenal are being tipped by Whaddon's Don James, who insists that despite the disappointment of Thierry Henry's departure, Arsene Wenger's young players have the potential to go all the way.

The lifelong Arsenal fan said: "Man Utd will probably win, but I think the Gunners will also be in with a chance especially with players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie."

Last year's champions Man Utd appear to be the club that most fans in the area believe will win the title, and seven-year-old Sam Hurd of Kelshall certainly thinks so. He said: "They will definitely win because they have the best players. I can't wait too see them winning!"

And Royston Rugby Club chairman David Gee, who supports Leeds agreed: "As a Leeds fan football is far from my thoughts at the moment - I'm in complete despair! But I do think it will be Man Utd's year, although I'd love for a club like Newcastle to break the monopoly!"

However, Peter Caley, 73, of Mill Road Royston believes it will be the club he has followed all his life that will get their hands on the Premiership trophy.

He said: "I have Chelsea's blue in my blood. I still think that they're the team to beat with John Terry, Didier Drogba, Joe Cole, and Ricardo Carvalho four of the league's best players. They look well equipped this year!"

Royston Town manager Phil Snowden, who supports Millwall, will also be watching the action intently. He said: "I'd certainly like a player like Rooney in my team, what manager wouldn't? However, when I watch the Premier League I can't help but think where is the next Rooney going to come from?

"In my opinion there are too many foreign players in the league and that stops the development of young English players. What has happened to Theo Walcott?"

Phil added that he would, however, be keeping a close eye on two of his former protégés. He said: "I've worked with both Richard Wright of West Ham and Derby's Matt Oakley when they were younger. They were terrific little players and it's interesting to see how they have developed."

But for Reverend Les Harman of Royston Parish Church there's only one player to watch - Steven Gerrard.

And the Liverpool fan, who grew up watching the great Bill Shankly's team on the Kop, believes that it could be his club that challenges Man Utd and Chelsea at the top.

He said: "I think second place is probably a realistic target, but you never know. Gerrard is the key and if he's on the top of his game then anything is possible!

"I saw my first game at Anfield in 1957 and followed the club through some very exciting times. Hopefully we can do well this season and get the bragging rights back from Man Utd.

"Obviously I'm quite busy, but I try to watch as much football as I can. And judging by what I saw from the weekend, it has all the makings of a wonderful season!