It’s finally D-Day! Our season starts here!
Last season, I won a tenner, predicting we’d finish above Chelsea. Once again, I’m predicting the same. We might be even further off the title, but I think we’ll be a better cup team and finish third again.
Here are my predictions, plus brief explanations as to how I came up with them:
1. Man City – I predicted them to finish top last season, but didn’t think they’d leave it until the last day. It’s going to be another two-horse race, I reckon. Jack Rodwell is a good addition, but they’ve got a great squad already so didn’t need to tinker with it much. Given the talent at his disposal, Roberto Mancini underachieved. I think he’ll have learnt a lot from the last campaign and put it to good use.
2. Man Utd – I’m not sure Robin van Persie will be a catalyst for success the way Eric Cantona was, but I can see why Fergie is comparing the two. Nick Powell looks like a good prospect for the future and Shinji Kagawa could be a good acquisition once he settles. Having midfielders like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes harks back to former glories rather than present ones so, unless these two are adequately replaced, I can’t see United winning anything this season. Having said that, Fergie’s teams are never weak, are they?
3. Arsenal – I’m expecting a stronger start than last season, but a weaker finish. Upfront, the goals will be more evenly spread across the team. All three new signings: Olivier Giroud, Lucas Podolski and Santi Cazorla will chip in with goals and I’m expecting a cup plus Champions League qualification. Alex Song will be no great loss if he goes, and Robin van Persie has already peaked, so it was time to sell.
4. Chelsea – I think fourth will be hotly contested, but Chelsea might just edge it. They’re a team in transition and will miss Didier Drogba. Eden Hazard and Oscar may take time to settle.
5. Spurs – I’m not sure how long Andre Villas-Boas will last as boss, but I’m sure he won’t do as well as Harry Redknapp. Luka Modric will be missed when he leaves, but Gylfi Siggurdson may dispel some of the gloom post-Luka.
6. Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers could squeeze his new team into fourth, but a lot depends on how well the senior professionals get on with him at Anfield.
7. West Ham – Sam Allardyce’s team are going to be a nightmare to play against this season. They may push for fourth too, so I think the locals at the Boleyn Ground will keep back a successful team even if the football is prosaic at times.
8. QPR – Mark Hughes’ new charges have a lot of flair and when you add that to Adel Taarabt, it’s a heady mixture going forward. Plus, Robert Green in goal is hardly the type to throw the ball in his own net. It’s onwards and upwards for Rangers and I’m not ruling out fourth.
9. Sunderland – If Martin O’Neill can get the best out of Carlos Cuellar and Louis Saha, it’s going to be a good season for the Black Cats. If he can add Steven Fletcher as well, Sunderland could have a strike force to be reckoned with.
10. Newcastle – Alan Pardew worked miracles last season, so it’s hard to see him doing the same again. The new signings are relatively unknown, but scout Graham Carr has a good record of uneathing rough diamonds, so perhaps he’s done it again.
11. Stoke – Rumours of the Potters’ future demise are always over-exaggerated. It’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future with Tony Pulis in charge. Michael Kightly is an astute signing.
12. Everton – Recruiting the two Steves, Pienaar and Naismith, is probably good business, but not enough to save the Toffees from mid-table medicrity. They’ll be difficult to beat, but won’t qualify for Europe.
13. Wigan – Ryo Miyaichi may get some more Premier League minutes this season, but they need to be careful that they’re not sucked into a relegation dogfight. I’m predicting a good season for them becaause Dave Whelan is a great chairman, giving the club stability and backing his manager to the hilt.
14. WBA – Steve Clarke might be a good number two, but how will he fare as a number one? I’m not sure. Ben Foster’s a good keeper, though, so they won’t concede many.
15. Norwich – Chris Hughton’s will need to use all his managerial experience to keep this hard-working squad on track, especially if some players follow Paul Lambert to the exit.
16. Aston Villa – Paul Lambert will have his work cut out to transform the fortunes of this ‘sleeping giant’. His new signings don’t appear to be that inspiring so far, but if he can raid his former club, Norwich, he may be able to move Villa up the table.
17. Fulham – Martin Jol has already lost Andrew Johnson and Danny Murphy, and he may lose Clint Dempsey as well. I’m banking on Jol’s experience to keep the Cottagers up, but it’s going to be tight unless there are more additions to the striker force.
18. Southampton – Nigel Adkins has done a great job bringing top-flight football back to the south coast, but he needs more players with Premier League experience to keep the Saints there.
19. Swansea – I’m not sure Brian Laudrup will find working in the Premier League as easy as many are predicting. Joe Allen’s gone and new signings from La Liga may take time to adjust. Plus, the Swans won’t be the surprise package they were last season. Kyle Bartley may be looking forward to playing the ball from defence, but I’m not sure Swansea will be able to play attractive football again without Brendan Rodgers’ management.
20. Reading – Despite signing Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie, I think it’s going to be tough for the Royals.
Just for the record, last season I got the top 3 correct. I usually get 2 out of 3, when it comes to the bottom three. Let’s see how I do this season!