Last season Manchester City managed to grab the title in the closing minutes of the final game by the smallest of margins on goal difference. Will it be as close as it was last season? Will the title return to the red or blue side of Manchester or possibly back down to London with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all challenging. Equally interesting is the bottom of the table with few stand out candidates to go down. Here are my predictions for the coming season.
Top of the table
I just can’t see either of the Manchester clubs being usurped at the top of the table any time soon. I am going to plump for United to be champions this year and City in a close second. This is mainly due to the strength of their signings with the impressive Kagawa and the brilliance of Robin Van Persie joining the likes of Ashley Young, Valencia, Nani, Wayne Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez. I just can’t help but think they have the best attacking options in the League. The one concern for Ferguson is in defence, as there have been numerous injuries for all of his defenders over the last couple of seasons and could have cost him the championship last year. If the majority of his defenders stay fit for much of the season they should win.
Man City should finish in a close second having spent much of their pre-season getting rid of players who are not going to compete for a place in the side, in addition they have kept hold of all of their main players. There also seems to be little drama, unlike last season where the Tevez drama and Balotelli’s constant antics were an unwelcome distraction. They will be a tough side for anybody to beat and have the best back four in the League. They will challenge for all of the cups and the league all season and as defending champions they really are the team to beat.
Chelsea look good this season, better than they have for a number of years. They have made three excellent signings with Hazard, Oscar dos Santos and Marin who are going to prove a handful for any defence. In addition to this, Torres looks as though he has finally got his “mojo” back. However, I think a few things will hold them back from getting the title. Firstly, if Torres is injured there is very little cover for him with only Daniel Sturridge with any real Premier League experience. For me Chelsea’s defence is a worry; Terry is now 32 so he won’t be able to maintain the excellent standard he has in previous seasons. I also worry about David Luiz who looks fantastic one minute and makes foolish errors the next. Overall, I think Chelsea should finish third comfortably and set themselves up for a genuine challenge for the title next year.
The North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hospur both finished in the top four last season, however I think both sides are going to struggle after losing their best players. Modric and Van Persie are huge losses for both clubs and despite good signings for both sides I don’t think either will be challenging for the title. In fact I think it will be a struggle for both sides to finish in the top four with the likes of Newcastle and Everton snapping at their heels. I am going to back Tottenham to finish fourth, as I just can’t see where the 30 goals Van Persie scored last season are going to come from. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal slip down to sixth in the League this year.
Bottom of the table
The bottom of the table is harder to predict than the top. Although all of the promoted clubs will struggle, I am tipping West Ham to survive the drop due to a decent squad and Sam Allardyce’s experience. It might not be so easy for Reading and Southampton who both look to have weak sides at this level.
In contrast to many I think Wigan will survive the drop again, although they will need to find a replacement for Victor Moses who has played a crucial role for them in the past couple of seasons. I also think the Swans will manage to survive and avoid the second season dip in spite of losing their manager to Liverpool. Norwich on the other hand look weak and will probably finish bottom of the division if it wasn’t for the inclusion of Ruddy and Bassong (an excellent buy) they’d have nobody of any real quality plus they don’t have much depth with such a small squad. An injury to a couple of key players could see them go down.
Aston Villa and QPR are in similar positions, both have a decent squad of players and an excellent manager. Both teams are basically strangers, so it will be up to the managers to craft a team from nothing. If either of the two teams don’t click they are in serious risk of being dragged into a relegation battle, however I think the teams that will go down are Reading, Southampton and Norwich.