This is going to be real brief as I’ve given myself no time to rant and rave in between writing my MA dissertation and being an excited little girl about the release of The Expendables. It was awesome, by the way, and you should all go if you want see a proper ‘throwback’ action movie. Anyway…
1. Manchester United – so my thought process is a bit different this year as Everton are being genuinely tipped to seriously push for a Top 4 finish, and if we can keep injuries to a minimum, I’m hopeful we can. But as I never like to bet or predict anything involving us, I’ve taken us out of the running for the purposes of this. When it’s a tight title race, and all indications are this will be the tightest, I’m probably always going to opt for Utd. I think this season’s decision is based on thinking Berbatov is still world class and has to come good at some point, and hopefully it’ll be this year. World Cup aside, we know what we’ll get from Rooney; Valencia proved to be a big, albeit different, success replacing Ronaldo; Scholesy has looked imperious in pre-season; and then there’s young ‘Chicharito’, who is their, not so, surprise package. Obviously, the worry is the defence and whether Smalling is good enough to replace Rio when he has to. Stupid as it sounds, but I think having O’Shea will be an added bonus for Fergie. So, on that bombshell, I say Utd will win the league because of the returning John O’Shea.
2. Chelsea – honestly, for me the next three places could be a toss up but I’m going for Chelsea because, essentially, I’m well boring. It’ll be difficult to predict how Man City will do as they’ve clearly got the individuals, but unlike Chelsea in years past (well Mourinho and Ancelotti), they haven’t got the manager to make it all work. Chelsea’s pre-season hasn’t been great, and I didn’t think they looked particularly good winning it last year. Terry’s kind of been found out (in more ways than one) and they seem to rely way too much on Lamps and The Drog. That being said, Malouda stepped up last season and having Essien back is massive, as I assume he’ll be the one driving their Champions League/title challenge. I also hope Ancelotti sticks to his word and gives Daniel Sturridge more minutes as that boy looks like he could be special.
3. Manchester City – my favourite thing about Man City’s buying power is not that they’re a new team in the title mix-up or that they’re bringing in all these new players into English football but that they’ve already replaced Joleon Lescott. The prick. Sorry, that’s a holdover from last season’s opening day. As I said before, I’m dubious whether Mancini is a good enough manager and tactician to get all ducks in order to mount a sustained push for the Premier League title. They’ll no doubt Mancini will add about four more before the end of August, so it might get so ridiculous it’ll be impossible for them not to win it. I’m looking forward to watching Balotelli because I haven’t seen much of him but the amount of coverage his pursuit and purchase has go I feel like I should know who the fuck he really is.
4. Arsenal – got to go with the Arse because since they stopped winning I’ve wanted to see them get back to winning. They still need a good goalkeeper and holding midfielder (one of Real’s Diarra’s should do that job) but they’ll be as good as ever going forward. Nasri showed last year that he’s got it while Arshavin and Van Persie are guaranteed goals and entertainment. Chamakh looks like an awkward bastard but there are high hopes; we’d all like to see Wilshere playing games at the Emirates than the Reebok; and there’s always Nicklas Bendtner.
18. Newcastle Utd; 19. West Bromwich Albion; 20. Blackpool – right, I’ve been boring again and gone for the three who go promoted to back down. I think Newcastle have the best chance of surviving just because they’ll probably have the best home form of the three. Neither of these three has really strengthened, although Holloway got in some token signings this past week, and none of them possess one real game-changing player. Like everyone, I’d love Holloway to keep Blackpool up, but I’m almost intrigued to see how much they’ll lose by every week because I’m pretty confident they’ll have the lowest points total by the season’s end. I haven’t really got an opinion of West Brom, I like Di Matteo and Dorrans is supposed to have it, but they’re just a bit meh. However, I do think Di Matteo is astute enough to not make the mistakes Mowbray did and he’ll set up to survive rather than look good and come second. I also see Wigan and Blackburn struggling but would be surprised if any of the Premier League’s newest teams had enough to stay up.
So last season I went quite conservative with the top 3 and predicted someone else would break into the top 4. Admittedly it wasn’t Everton but having got the make up of the bottom 3 correct I’m arguing 6 out of 7 isn't bad.
The reason for pointing that out is that this season I think I’ve gone mental. I’m predicting like a few others a much more competitive at the top, I think the gap has been closed on United and Chelsea. The bottom 3 are not so easy to predict this year with the exception of Blackpool who look pretty nailed on.
1. Man City
The argument is that it’s too soon for them to become only the fifth club to take the Premier League title. They might fire Mancini after a few bad results or they might use that horrifically bloated Championship Manager style squad to great affect. Fifth one season and the title the next? It’ll be a close run thing if they do.
2. Man United
Everyone’s excited by Hernandez probably just about as much as they are frustrated by Berbatov. I think United will be the most entertaining team to watch in the league this season but how long can Giggs and Scholes carry them over the line to triumph and will Smalling or Evans provide decent enough assistance to Vidic in the absence of Ferdinand.
Yeah I know. The team I hate. Despise, even. But its OK to like them again now cause they’ve got Woy and Joe. Hodgson should be able to motivate a more balanced looking attack (thanks to Benitez last signing?!). There is genuinely quality and competition in midfield (if Mascherano goes or not) and if he can something out of Babel, keeps Torres fit, a top three finish is just about possible.
Originally I included Arsenal here but with Essien back and Ramires on the way Chelsea’s midfield seems well stocked. Ancelloti has predicted a big season for Daniel Sturridge and if he gets in ahead Drogba, Anelka and Kalou it will have been. If Lampard continues to knock in the goals like last season they’ll certainly be up there.
The reason I’ve put them here is because I genuinely believe they are going to prioritise the Champions League this season and at times that’s going to cost them league points.
Maybe a heart ruling the head again but even before they bought Kenwyne in I thought Stoke might struggle. They’ll keep a mean defence but I still don’t see the goals coming in. To clarify I love Kenwyne but as the back up support striker, he’s not the man to get the goals. They might not be here but I think they’ll struggle.
OK so maybe I should just say who I want to go down. They’ve spunked £6.5m on Stephen Fletcher who was OK for Burnley last year. They still have George Elokobi. That’s enough for me.
Last year I predicted that Burnley would go down but that it was because they played football too much. Blackpool’s amazing run and play off victory will not be sustained at this level. I think they’ll really, really struggle.
1st – Man U
As much as it pains me to put these scum bags on top of the pile and as much as they’ve not revamped their squad as much as others that champagne socialist Scotch cunt of a manager (and the revenge mentality he’ll instil after last season’s just-second-best) is too good to ignore. Add to this the fact they now have the best four forward options in the league – Rooney + a sharp looking Berbatov + a best signing of the summer Hernandez + Owen – and I can’t but think they’ll do it. Bastards
2nd – Chelsea
Good. Very goodÖ But not quite good enough this time around. They’ve got the best squad in the league but, I think, the sheer it’s-our-turn-this-time-ness of Man U will win the day. And Drogba’s getting a little too old for his diving self to save the day.
3rd – Liverpool
I support them. I have to believe.
So shut up, right. Just shut up.
Cole will be the deciding factor in a player-of-the-season role, alongside a close-second Gerrard.
4th – Arsenal
A bit of a risk of a prediction, and one I’m not all that comfortable with, but I think their bad luck with injuries can’t keep on decimating them as much as it has. With a fit for even most of the season Fabregas/van Persie they’ll fly this high at the very least.
Man City? Tottenham?
Yep, but no, but maybe; but no.
I just can’t see Man City’s new army of overpaid-but-unschooled-in-the-Premiership stars getting it together. A mostly terrible pre-season hints at the fact that while they might occasionally work things out enough to beat their fellow top guns (they’ll do Man U at home, and maybe Arsenal), those cold Monday nights in Stoke / Wigan / [insert post-industrially-depressed-town-here] will be their downfall.
And Tottenham’s attempts to stake a claim in Europe will be too much for a squad that’s as shallow as a statement from Harry Redknapp on his intentions in the transfer market.
Bottom – Wolves
Terrible last season, and second season syndrome is going to hit them like a bad case of Syphilis.
Second bottom – Blackpool
Sad, but inevitable. They’ve signed enough players and have a daunting enough home ground to keep them off the bottom, but they're to premiership football what Blackpool women are to humanity: ugly, pointless and, thanks to that whole 'survival of the fittest' thing, ultimately doomed.
Third bottom – Newcastle
This could (very) easily be West Brom but Newcastle lack any kind of depth in their squad. I like Hughton as a manager but the whole infrastructure is as circus-like as it’s been for years. Andy Carroll as their number 9 enough said.
1. Man United
4. Man City
MH (via text)
4 weeks ago