With less than 30 days to go until the start of the new Premier League season, the tension is beginning to build. All over the country, fans are looking forward to another year of footballing excitement. Each with their own opinions, each hoping that their team can stay up, maybe challenge for Europe, maybe even win the league! Who knows?
To whet your appetite in anticipation of the new season, here’s my team-by-team guide to the upcoming instalment of unrelenting action.
After scraping into the final Champions’ League spot last season, Arsenal will have a tough battle this year to get any higher, and with Liverpool looking strong, The Gunners might well struggle to make the top four. As usual Wenger has been away from the media spotlight throughout this transfer window so far, with only one signing. As of yet, nothing has come of the major rumours linking Higuain with the London club and any further action now looks unlikely.
Tying up Christian Benteke on a new four year deal has put Villa in a good position leading up to the 2013/14 season. The big Belgian will be pivotal if Villa want to stay in the top flight for the 23rd consecutive season. It will be an uphill struggle but with their fans and owners behind them, they might just stay up. However it seems highly unlikely.
After a storming season in the Championship last year Cardiff will enter the top flight for the first time full of confidence. They become only the second ever Welsh team in the Premier League and will be looking forward to continuing their fierce rivalry with Swansea. Malky Mackay has been doing his best to bolster his squad and The Bluebirds will have to fight all season long. Even then it will be close.
New manager, new players and a new start this year at Stamford Bridge. Jose Mourinho has made some fantastic signings and The Blues are looking strong after three years without a title. With Schurrle and Van Ginkel adding creative flair Chelsea will be a major threat to the two Manchester teams and I think that they could bring the title back down to London.
After what many would perceive as a fortunate playoff win against Watford, Palace are back in the Premier League after being absent for eightyears. Ian Holloway will have a tough job on his hands keeping them up there and I think it’s just a step too far for them. A year of experience in the Premier League will do all of the squad a world of good and will mean that, if they get promoted again in the short term, then their chances of survival will be greatly improved.
The Toffees have made a couple of strong signings with a lot of top flight experience between them. In Arouna Kone they have got a goal scoring machine, and Antolin Alcaraz will bring defensive stability. This year could be their chance to get into the Champions League with question marks surrounding both Manchester United and Arsenal.
Fulham have been playing some attractive attacking football under Martin Jol, taking five points from the top six teams. Ending the season in 12th The Cottagers have established themselves as a Premier League club and will look to move into the top half. With Stekelenburg between the sticks and Berbatov on fire at the other end Fulham could be a surprise package this season.
Hull are back in the top flight of English football for only their third season after clinching promotion with a dramatic 2-2 draw with Cardiff on the final day of last season. Steve Bruce is an experienced Premiership manager and I think that he has the knowledge to guide The Tigers to safety. He has already signed two strong defenders and Danny Graham, a proven goal scorer at this level.
Brendon Rodgers and Liverpool will be hoping to end their recent slump. Champions League qualification is, without a doubt, the main aim of this season. Even with the hindrance of their horrid new away and third shirts from Warrior, I think The Reds can reach the top four but only if Coutinho continues on his scoring streak and Mignolet recreates his fantastic form in goal from last year.
Manchester City couldn’t retain their league title last season which unfortunately led to the departure of manager Roberto Mancini. Pellegrini takes over the reins with a clear objective from the board, win the league. With new signings Navas, Negredo and Jovetic The Citizens will run it close but they just don’t have the cutting edge to win it, in my opinion.
This will be the first Premier League season in history which won’t feature Ferguson in charge of United. It will be interesting to see how Moyes copes in such a big role after ten years at Everton. They have had a mixed start to pre-season but they should get more consistent when the league starts. I think that they will soon return to being all conquering, but it will take a few years.
Two years ago Newcastle were the only team that people were talking about, beating Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. Their fortunes took a turn for the worst last season however, with the club narrowly avoiding relegation. If Cisse can return to his goal scoring ways then Newcastle will be comfortably safe.
Norwich are becoming Premier League regulars with a couple of mid table finishes. Wolfswinkel will be a key signing and will hopefully fill the Grant Holt shaped hole in The Canaries’ front line. If it all comes together for them then they could do quite well this year.
Their free-flowing, attacking style of football has pleased many however the dismissal of manager Nigel Adkins came as a big surprise. If Ricky Lambert can continue where he left off, scoring for fun, then The Saints will finish in mid table.
Over the years Stoke have acquired some haters thanks to their robust and physical style. It has been working for them though, helping them to consistently reach mid table. This year will be no different, however I have predicted a slightly lower finish purely due to the quality of some of the other teams in the league.
The Black Cats had a shaky season last year, just managing to steer clear of relegation. I have a feeling that they will struggle again this year but I think they still have the quality to stay up.
Swansea will be playing in Europe next season after winning the Capitol One Cup. It will be a fantastic experience for all their fans however it might tire the squad and their league form may well suffer. Everyone has fallen in love with The Swans’ beautiful, passing football and I think they’ll do well again.
Spurs will again be looking to better their London rivals Arsenal and this year I think they can do it, providing they can hold onto Bale. Tottenham have a great combination of passing football and solid defending however their strikers sometimes fail to provide the goals.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom surprised everyone last year and showed that Newcastle’s high finish the season before could be repeated by others. I think a similar fate lies in store for The Baggies, slipping back down into mid table obscurity, however I don’t think that they’ll have the same relegation battle.
West Ham United
West Ham finished the highest of the three promoted clubs last season, in a shockingly high 10th. They won’t do quite as well this year but it will still be a successful season as long as they stay comfortably clear of relegation.
2 Manchester City
3 Manchester United
5 Tottenham Hotspur
8 Swansea City
10 Norwich City
11 West Bromwich Albion
13 West Ham United
14 Stoke City
15 Newcastle United
16 Hull City
18 Aston Villa
19 Cardiff City
20 Crystal Palace
I hope that’s given you a taster of what’s to come in the new season. There will, without a doubt, be plenty of upsets and a fair share of controversy and I will no doubt turn out to be completely wrong. But that just adds to the excitement!
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