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12/13 Season Predictions including FA Cup: Chelsea, League Cup: Sunderland & Champions League: Real Madrid

Premier League 2012/2013 predictions

Champions- Manchester City

From their magical end to the season winning the league against their main rivals due to a last minute goal, Manchester City will be aiming to maintain 1st place and the reality is all the players now have the experience of winning the title, and should be able to get their the trophy back.

The reality is with Wayne Bridge out on loan for the season to Brighton, and Adebayor wanted by several clubs; they seem to getting rid of the high-earners who were not enhancing the squad, expect the likes of Michael Johnson, Vladimir Weiss and Stefan Savic to leave the club as well, either on loan deals or permanent ones.

In terms of additions although Robin Van Persie is the main target, the reality is manager Roberto Mancini is aiming to stabilise his squad and with Vincent Kompany signing a six year deal. Still expect the club to sign a big name or two that really adds to the already star-studded squad.

The rest of the top four-

2nd Chelsea

A 1st half of the season to forget for the London club followed by a cup double, success in the FA Cup final followed by winning Champions League in Germany against Bayern Munich led to interim manager Roberto Di Matteo signing a deal with the club the question is can he build from a marvellous first six months in charge?

If you won the league by buying young attacking-midfielders, then Chelsea would be runaway leaders, Hazard, Oscar and Marin all add a real element of creativity the real question is can Roberto Di Mateo keep all the players happy, while Chelsea are full of midfielder talent they only have three recognised strikers, in Torres, Lukaku and Sturridge, after the departure of influential striker Didier Drogba the question is will they be able to fill the gap?

Chelsea should not be looking at buying or selling any defenders as the main strength of the side is their reliable defence, with Petr Cech in goal and Cole, Cahill, Terry and Luiz in defence so. But if rumours are true, expect Chelsea to add a striker or two to the squad, while surely some midfielders will leave the club on loan or on permanent deals, with the likes of Malouda, Kakuta and Benayoun possible exits.

3rd Manchester United

Heartbreak due to the cruellest way to lose the League on goal difference, a disastrous Champions League run as well as poor showings in the FA and League Cup, last season was one to forget while this season will be a big test for Sir Alex Ferguson and a chance for him to rebuild his squad.

If rumoured targets Robin Van Persie, Lucas and Leighton Baines were all signed then Manchester United would not only gain further depth in the required positions but also send out a serious message of intent to all rivals, finally the big return is of course Captain Nemanja Vidic who missed half the season due to a serious knee injury.

If young players such as Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck all continue to develop then Manchester United should be able to get into the top four, but will struggle to match the spending of Manchester rivals Manchester City or Chelsea.

4th Arsenal

A season which started badly but was saved largely due to the one man scoring machine Robin Van Persie, the fact is Van Persie should not be at the club by September 1st hence Arsene Wenger will be hoping Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud will be able to fill that void, if they can expect another top four finish for the North London club.

For Arsenal the hope will be that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain maintains his impressive rate of progression, alongside a fully fit Jack Wilshere then Arsenal can build from these two young English midfielders. While the start of last season focused on the teams hopes of finding a number one keeper with Wojciech Szczesny in goal, Arsenal have at least one less thing to worry about.

If the young players can continue their rate of progression alongside keeping key players fit then Arsenal should have enough depth to remain competitive and in the hunt for a place in the top four.

5th Tottenham

Andre Villas Boas will be hoping to gain more time than he did at Chelsea but the reality is he won’t, but while at Chelsea he took over an ageing squad, at Tottenham he takes over a youthful team who clearly feel hard done by to not be playing in the Champions League again this season.

With Gareth Bale agreeing a new contract and Tottenham finally signing from Ajax it has been a great start for the new manager and if Luka Modric is sold for anything between £30-£40 million, then AVB can truly rebuild this squad and make it his own. The loss of Ledley King is a blow but AVB has a ready-made replacement in Steven Caulker who returns after an impressive loan-spell at Swansea City last season.

While it will be a big challenge for AVB to makes the fans forget about his Chelsea reign and remember his Porto reign, if he uses the youth at his disposal correctly then 5th place is a realistic finish.

6th Liverpool

A season which was almost saved due to cup runs, in the end was seen as such a failure by the board that manager Kenny Dalglish who was idolised by the Kop end, had to go, the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has had a mixed reaction and this season may be seen as a transition season.

The addition of Fabio Borini, is a clever move, while Rodgers will hope big name players who failed to live up to expectation (Downing, Henderson, Cole) can improve and add something to the squad, Rodgers has already stated Aquilani and Andy Carroll have no future at the club. Rodgers should have signed Joe Allen for £15 million from his former squad Swansea and former Swansea keeper Doris de Vries from Wolves as well.

While some Liverpool fans will expect a top four finish, this season is about Rodgers finding the balance while gaining results as well, and after the statement by the owner John henry Rodgers knows just how important a good finish in the league is.

7th Everton

Typical Everton, a poor first half of the season followed by a great second half, but with new signings on board it should be a case of a decent start and then a good second half of the finish as well.

The return of Steven Pienaar on a permanent basis from Tottenham will add creativity and help the likes of Nickia Jelavic and Steven Naismith and with youth players such as Sheamus Coleman and Ross Barkley coming through there is plenty of hope for Everton. Although many fans are disappointed at Tim Cahill’s exit the club will save £70,000 a week, and in the process surely improve the squad further, alongside the £12 million they have received from the Jack Rodwell deal to Manchester City, some funds should be made available to David Moyes.

Whoever Everton sign during the remaining weeks, the most important deal will be Everton keeping David Moyes at the club and with him still in charge and more firepower added Everton should easily finish in the top half of the table.

8th Aston Villa

Last year Alex Mcleish was seen as an unpopular choice who never really got going with the team, this season the appointment of Paul Lambert has been met with approval from large parts of the fans and if Lambert can build on some of his new signings while keeping his main players fit, his team could get into the top half of the table.

Lambert is already doing things his own way and is trying to sort out a defence which last season caused problems both on and off the pitch, by selling James Collins back to West Ham, and with Alan Hutton possibly facing the exit door as well, the signing of powerful defender Ron Vlaar is a major boost. In terms of youth if Lambert uses the likes of Chris Herd, Nathan Baker and Nathan Delfouneso then Lambert has a squad with plenty of potential.

While many Aston Villa fans would take a top half finish if Paul Lambert can get the Villa fans going then Villa Park can become a bit of a fortress which should help Aston Villa get into the top ten once again.

9th Sunderland

Expectations at the start of last season were high, quickly it all unravelled but eventually with Steve Bruce sacked and Martin O’Neil in Sunderland fans once again have a reason to feel optimistic about the upcoming season.

While so far during the transfer window, it has been a case of O’Neil getting rid of a lot of players he felt did not fit into his plans, but expect a lot of movement before the start of the season, with Martin O’Neil stating he would like all his transfer business done before the opening game of the season and although Wolves have rejected Sunderland’s £10 million bid for striker Steven Fletcher expect them to return soon with another bid.

If Martin O’Neil can gain a top-half finish along with a decent cup run then this season will be a success and if O’Neil can gain all of his targets then this is a realistic target.

10th Fulham

Another side who seem to be on the verge of losing their best player, after an incredible season by Clint Dempsey he is bound to move on, though Martin Jol will be hoping he gets all the money from the deal.

Yet another side with a strong skeleton in Schwarzer, Hangeland, Diarra and Dembele, with Martin Jol adding Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric to the attacking line-up, Martin Jol will be more than happy with his current squad and will be aiming for a top-half finish without spending too much during the summer transfer window.

It will be a case of Martin Jol having to rely heavily on few strikers and although he will be happy with his attacking options, it could be a case of players risking burn out, I believe Fulham have enough in defence and midfield to realistically aim for a top-half finish.

11th Newcastle United

A magnificent effort which nearly produced a top four finish and Champions League football, instead Alan Pardew’s side will have to participate in the Europa league, and it could very easily become a disappointing season.

The Senegalese duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse remaining at the club is a major bonus for Alan Pardew although on paper Newcastle have a strong squad in reality it will only take one or two injuries for the season to quickly unravel. The potential signing of Andy Carroll would certainly add depth to the attacking line-up but Newcastle really need some reinforcements in defence though by the time you read this they may have already gained a few more squad members.

This season could with Newcastle seemingly willing to keep the same squad they had last season they are at risk of not adding much depth to the team and in the end having to rely on youth, if this is the case they are taking a big risk and it could be a costly one by the end of the season.

12th QPR

While last season was all about survival, expectations must be enhanced this season after some big names have been brought in mid-table safety should be achieved with little struggle along the way.

Mark Hughes has already been busy in the transfer window and by adding Andy Johnson to the side he will be hoping he can rekindle he deadly partnership with Bobby Zamora, with Djibril Cisse playing alongside them in a three-man attack, the acquisition of Park Ji-Sung adds more experience to the midfield and he will probably be made captain for the upcoming season, the elephant in the room at QPR is Joey Barton while he QPR seem to be more than happy to get rid of the controversial midfielder, even if he did leave for Fleetwood Town on loan he would be back in January and it will be interesting to see what they do with him after that.

While some QPR fans may over ambitious and want a top-half finish, if QPR can be mid-table at the end of the season and build for next season yet again it will be a job well done by manager Mark Hughes.

13th West Brom

Their two previous managers have gone onto manage England and win the Champions League respectively and West Brom fans will be hoping new manager Steve Clarke enjoys success with the midlands club.

For Steve Clarke it is a case of somebody with all the experience needed finally getting a chance as a manager having worked as an assistant manager at Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham United and Liverpool. His first piece of business in signing Ben Foster on a permanent deal is a crucial one; due to his work ethic last season he became a fans favourite so signing him up was crucial.

For West Brom their main problem is consistency the likes of Shane Long, Peter Odemwingie and Graham Dorrans can all perform at the highest level but are also known to have poor performances as well, if these players become more consistent then West Brom should be aiming for a higher finish.

14th Swansea City

A change in manager, but not a change in the teams playing style will see Swansea yet again play the attractive football, but the question is this season will they be found out?

Michael Laudrup was seen as a surprise choice but he is known to like the attacking skilful play Swansea became famous for last season. In terms of signings Laudrup has brought in players he has already managed with Jonathan e Guzman being the standout signing, the question is will the likes of Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair remain at the club? The answer is probably no with Allen wanted by Liverpool, and Sinclair stalling on signing a new deal.

Although Swansea City have made some positive signings, the possibility of main stars from last season leaving before the end of August, should mean a difficult season is in store for the Welsh side.

15th Stoke City

Another season in the Premier League for Stoke and probably another chance for the team to enjoy more home success thanks to the loud support they always receive at the Britannia Stadium.

It could be a quiet transfer window for Stoke, so far the only signing is Rangers young midfielder Jamie Ness on a free and with Pulis seeming to be more than happy with the current squad expect minimal changes perhaps the signing of Michael Owen on a free from Manchester United could be seen as a decent shout, and perhaps one or two players leaving on loan deals, and one or two youth players getting a chance in the first team with Florent Cuvelier bound to gain some first team appearances.

While in the Premier League safety is a must, and something Tony Pulis will want to ensure that Stoke are in the Premier League for a sixth consecutive season come next year.

16th West Ham United

Promotion at the first attempt was a major achievement for Sam Allardyce who would have probably faced the sack had his side not enjoyed a memorable play-off win over, although the owners are ambitious the 1question is whether their championship stars can step up again in the Premier League.

Sam Allardyce has decided to sign players, who are willing to play his style of football, Mohamad Diame is probably the biggest signing out of the lot. While some West Ham fans will want to aim for a higher placed finish the reality is that Sam Allardyce has set himself a target and that is safety, pressure will really be on Allardyce and although he met the aims set by the fans last year, not many West Ham fans would be too disappointed if Allardyce left if the teams form dipped this season.

For West Ham they should aim to build from this season rather than aim too highly and Sam Allardyce’s style of play may not be stylish but it certainly is effective and should help the team stay in the Premier League.

17th Wigan

After a dreadful ¾ of the season Wigan looked destined to play in the Championship, but some magnificent displays against Arsenal and Manchester United led to Wigan not being involved in any last day drama, and a realistic aim would be for that to happen again.

With Hugo Rodallega now at Fulham and Victor Moses surely on his way out, for Roberto Martinez the hope will be that Conor Sammon or Franco Di Santo can take the burden if not then Martinez will have to try and sign a striker from the lower leagues. For Wigan they rely on the skeleton of Al-Habsi, Caldwell and McArthur and McCarthy, and as it worked last year Martinez will hope it works again.

While Wigan will not add much to the squad, this squad is built on a strong work ethic and players playing for a manager they like and if Wigan can maintain this formula, safety should happen but probably due to some drama late in the season.

Relegation places-

18th Norwich City

After the departure of Paul Lambert, the appointment of Chris Hughton is a shrewd choice but the club risk being yet another team who are apart of second season syndrome.

While keeping Grant Holt is clearly a big move for the club and the addition of Robert Snodgrass from Leeds United adds more depth to the midfield, Norwich will have to add to their defence to have the required depth and Curtis Davies is a player who Chris Hughton is known to want whether they can agree a fee with Birmingham City though is a different matter.

For Norwich a fear for some is that their unique style of football last year will be changed with the new manager or if not teams may have learnt how to counter Norwich’s style of play whatever happens this will be a difficult season for Norwich.

19th Reading

A magnificent end to the season led to not only promotion but also the Championship title, the main question is whether the squad has enough depth to cope with the demands of the Premier League.

With a new owner in charge, many would expect Reading to make big money signings instead Reading have spent modestly and don’t particularly have any big name stars to join the club any time soon although I expect Brian McDermott to add with a few more deals which will add something a little bit different alongside the signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak that was a coup on a free.

The start of the season is crucial and there are some tough games in store if Reading can survive them they have a good chance of staying up, but Reading may be found out.

20th Southampton

A great season which saw Southampton finally return to the Premier League after an eight year wait to get back into the top league, the big question for Southampton will be whether nearly all their major stars lacking any Premier League experience will prove to be a factor during the season.

The main problem is a large amount of the big names for Southampton last season are unproven and (Lambert, Cork and Lallana) although these names could prove people wrong, the reality is although Southampton have spent £6 million on one player Jay Rodriguez is again unproven. And manager Nigel Adkins will have to spend wisely to add depth to the squad before the start of the season.

For Southampton facing three of last season’s top four in the first few weeks will mean a tough start and with many of the players lacking Premier League experience I expect them to struggle to maintain their Premier League place for next season.

FA Cup- Chelsea

While this season the main aim will not be for the team to win this trophy, the experience Chelsea gained from the cup win and the amount of confidence the win gave the side may lead to Roberto Di Matteo aiming on winning this trophy two years in a row.

League Cup- Sunderland

Martin O’Neil will be aiming to deliver a trophy, and the league cup seems like the most likely one, if Sunderland are able to get lucky and have a few easier draws during the early stages players like Conor Wickham, Joe Colback more confidence and then in the later draws if O’Neil gets his tactics right, the trophy is within Sunderland’s reach.

Europa League- Tottenham

Their new manager Andre Villas Boas knows how to win this trophy and with a number of young players impressing in the competition last year, if AVB can get the mixture of youth and experience in the competition right then the squad should be able to progress to the quarter finals, then be able to rely on the bigger names to gain the trophy.

Champions League- Real Madrid

Madrid were unlucky to lose on penalties last year and will be aiming to win the trophy yet again, if the big names all deliver throughout the tournament, then Real Madrid should just abut have enough to beat the likes of Barcelona and Juventus and the challengers from the English Premier League.

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