We’re just days away from what will be the most watched and most valuable season of football EVER. Millions will be watching each and every kick, and catching up with the highlights online, as the tentacles of the Barclays Premier League spread their way around the globe. But who will win? Here are MY predictions…
It’s been a while since a team came from nowhere and won the league (in fact, it hasn’t ever happened in the Premier League era), so whilst its a nice idea that Newcastle, Fulham or Norwich could somehow take the title by storm, the grim reality is that it will come down to a small number of teams, many of whom can be written off, to leave just 3 genuine title challengers.
I know Spurs have done well with their transfers this year, and I know they stand a good chance of making it into the Champions League spots if they manage to keep on to Bale (though having said that, they should have snapped Real’s hand off if they ever actually received an £86m bid, considering he could be injured in the first game anyway!), but they have no chance of winning the league.
Arsenal have arguably gone backwards, to such an extent that even though Cesc loves the club and isn’t getting a game at Barcelona, he wasn’t even linked in the newspapers with a return to the Emirates. He is a world class player, but the conceived wisdom is that Wenger doesn’t buy world class players, and even if he wanted to, Arsenal can’t afford them.
They have done well to get rid of the dead wood – the likes of Chamakh and Gervinho – but have failed to strengthen. It could be another busy transfer deadline day for Arsene, though god help them if they make it to September without being thoroughly walloped (as was the case in the 8-2 loss last time around) as it’s questionable whether they would buy anyone if they haven’t.
Suarez is staying, Gerrard has signed up, Toure looks like a reasonable signing and Mignolet is a class act between the sticks. They have the makings of a decent team, especially when you throw in Lucas and Coutinho, but could do with another centre-back and central midfielder. If they manage to get someone who can craft the attacks from the centre then they could actually be in with a chance of making the Champions League spots. I think they will have a good start, and then receive the fillip that comes with Suarez’s return, and start working from there. Without the distraction of Europe they could be handy, but lets be realistic, they aren’t going to win the league.
In Navas, Jovetic, Negredo & Fernandinho they have made all the right signings, and are a bit like having eleven Vincent Kompany’s on creatine – they just keep getting bigger, better and stronger! They may have paid over the odds, but at least they’ve had a chance to bed the players in properly, and can concentrate on playing their football rather than making last-minute deadline-day signings! Whilst the talent pool is unrivalled, there is an element of doubt in my mind that they have the necessary guile and experience to win the league. The players will take time to gel, and with Pellegrini taking charge of his first matches in English football, there are bound to be a few mis-steps. They will challenge, but will have to be happy with third. They will be a major force in 2014/15!
The doom and gloom merchants would have you believe that United were poor last season, and will be even worse this season. The fact of the matter is that they won the title with consumate ease, could have broken the points record if they had really tried, and missed out on winning the title before that because of a last minute goal from Aguero.
There might not be much stardust on the Reds this season, but in Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck they have enough goals to continue to grind out matches. I’m hoping to see more of Kagawa this time around, and hopefully they will sign a big-money midfielder (a la Fabregas) to plug the gaping hole in the middle. With the experience and attitude the players have, they will always be in with a chance, but I think they will fall short this time around simply because their squad isn’t as good or big as their rivals. They are doing well to finish in second!
Whichever team had ended up with Jose Mourinho as boss would have been the clear favourites going into the start of the season. Had he chosen United then we’d all be dreaming of what Eto’o could do playing in the famous red shirt, but instead blue is the colour. Jose’s man-management skills are second to none, whilst his ability to make tactical changes and substitutions to change the pattern of the game is legendary.
When you team that up with some of the players Chelsea have got – the Hazard, Mata & Oscar triangle, Luiz and Cahill at the back, Cech as sturdy as ever in nets, and you can see that the only place where they are lacking is upfront. Even then some questions may be answered by the young but brutally talented Lukaku, who scored double figures with West Brom last season, and will get many, many more this season.
If Mourinho can get Torres firing again then the title is a foregone conclusion for me. If they manage to bring in one of Rooney (unlikely), Drogba or Eto’o then they will have enough anyway.
So, my top six:
2. Manchetser United
3. Manchester City
What is yours? Tweet me – @ftbllr