Looking at the press, you wouldn’t consider that the football season has already been underway for nearly two weeks, however we are well aware of how little attention is given to the Championship and below. We’re sure more column headlines have been used on the latest Bale/Rooney/Suarez rumour, or perhaps on what is being made out to be the game of the utmost importance, whereas in reality is just a meaningless friendly, than reporting on the activities of the lower leagues. This coming weekend, the time we’ve all been waiting for (apparently), the start of the 2013-4 Premier League season. So with that, it’s time for us to use our mass of footballing knowledge and guess the winners and losers of this season’s competition. Easier said than done…
We think this is the toughest to call for many a year (did we say that last year too?!). Although we don’t consider Chelsea to have the best team, or the best overall squad, we think that the second coming of the Special One may play a part in driving Chelsea towards the title. We don’t like the thought of it, but we fear it may be inevitable. Many are starting to write off Manchester United, without a big summer signing and without “Sir”. But we think there is still far too much quality in the squad for them to slip out of the top two. Manchester City for us are a good bet for 2014-5, some decent signings, and after some time to gel could be late starters and might not have enough to win this time round. Spurs should have enough quality to pip their North London rivals to 4th place, this will be easier with Gareth Bale, but AVB seems to have upgraded the squad with enough quality to go one better than last year, unlike Arsenal who despite trying to sign Luis Suarez, are much the same, and without some fresh blood, we can’t see them troubling the race for the championship.
Any dark horses around? Swansea seem to be a club mentioned by a lot of experts, and they are certainly a good bet for the top 10, however we don’t think they’ve got the consistency yet to break into the top 6. Everton may take a while to adjust to life without David Moyes, although their Merseyside rivals have shown signs of becoming a force again, but unless the Suarez problem is sorted out, you get the feeling minds might be elsewhere. West Bromwich Albion had a good season last time round, but again might lack the consistency to get any higher this season.
The promoted clubs are always likely relegation fodder, but we think Cardiff’s dominance of the Championship last season, as well as some astute purchases over the summer, will be enough to keep them up for at least another season. Although Hull have added some Premier League experience to their squad, we’re not convinced there’s enough quality to keep them in the Premier League. They have however made some improvements to the squad, unlike Crystal Palace whose squad looks ill equipped for a Premier League campaign, and their preseason has been rather mixed. For the final relegation spot, we think it will be between two teams who underachieved last season, and we can’t see things changing despite changes in manager. Sunderland brought in Paulo Di Canio, and he did enough to keep them up last year, but the magic will wear off and we think they will be in a relegation fight, along with Stoke City, where Mark Hughes has been quietly getting on with things, and the existing squad has probably got just enough to keep their heads above water. The likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Norwich will have to make sure they keep a reasonable level of consistency to stop them being sucked into the battle at the bottom of the table.
There you go, that’s our prediction. Let us know yours in the comments below!