Everyone’s a know-it-all when it comes to this kind of thing, but I want to be held accountable when the final Premier League table is out next May. I’m far from an expert; this prediction comes from simple common sense.
Arsenal – Somewhat mystifying how people can be saying Arsenal will do worse than they did last season. They have a young squad that has been gaining valuable experience and, in my opinion, will only get better. Fabregas will probably leave, but they’ve never been a one man team; what about Van Persie, Arshavin, Walcott, Vermaelen, etc.? They’ll surprise people. Predicted finishing position: 2nd.
Aston Villa – McLeish’s top flight record doesn’t fill you with confidence, but at Villa he has more attacking options than he ever had at Birmingham. Given and N’Zogbia are good signings, and Darren Bent will deliver in the goal scoring department. If McLeish gets team balance right (something Villa have lacked), they’re in for a good season. Predicted finishing position: 8th.
Blackburn Rovers – To put it simply: this season’s disaster waiting to happen. After sacking Sam Allardyce last year, apparently the owners think they can get into the top 4 in 3-4 years, and seem more interested in creating links with India than improving the squad. I seriously doubt they even know what business they’re in. Predicted finishing position: 19th.
Bolton Wanderers – Don’t expect anything spectacular. May have lost main striker Elmander, but as long as Owen Coyle stays in charge, he should steer them to mid-table obscurity once again. If Coyle leaves: fear for them. Predicted finishing position: 11th.
Chelsea – Where to start? With their aging squad? Essien’s injury problems? Inexperienced manager? The fact that Villas-Boas has already been branded ‘Mourinho mark II’ tells you how much pressure he’s under. At times last season Chelsea were a mess, and a decieving 2nd placed finish papered over the cracks – as does the appointment of a new manager. They’ve made no additions to the squad and, unlike Arsenal, I can only see this team getting worse. Predicted finishing position: 5th.
Everton – A solid team with a good manager, but no major signings means Everton will struggle to maintain their position of last season. Their fans may moan about not pushing on, but Charlton fans were doing that a few seasons ago, and look where they are now. Predicted finishing position: 9th.
Fulham – Have recovered well after losing Mark Hughes by appointing Martin Jol. Their early start in Europe will have a definite effect on them as the season goes on, but the fans will surely accept a lower league position for an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. Predicted finishing position: 14th.
Liverpool – Have made genuinely promising signings, and not being in Europe gives them the opportunity to focus on the league. They’ll certainly be a big improvement on the last two seasons, but I’m still apprehensive about overhyping them. Could lift the FA Cup again. Predicted finishing position: 3rd.
Manchester City – Money can certainly bring the talent to you but it can’t keep them happy, as Tevez and Balotelli have shown. I get the feeling that with the other top teams, new players are welcomed into a family home, whereas when a new player arrives at City he’ll struggle to find anyone who’s been there longer than 3 years. I think with City, it may be a case of when the going gets tough, the tough will…leave. Predicted finishing position: 6th.
Manchester United – Improvements have been made to a team that was top last season. In short, try as I might, I can’t see them being overthrown this year. Rooney and Hernandez can only improve – I wouldn’t be surprised if they both top goal scoring charts come May. Predicted finishing position: Champions.
Newcastle – One of the hardest teams to predict. Where is Andy Carrol’s replacement in attack? Will Joey Barton stay and cause more problems or walk away and leave them lacking in midfield? Will Mike Ashley ever realise he’s just not that famous? An up and down season for a topsy turvy team. Predicted finishing position: 13th.
Norwich City – They’ve made a lot of lower league signings from the Championship and League 1. These are the mistakes Sunderland and Derby made on their way to record low points totals. Yeah, they’ll fight, but that won’t change their final destination; the basement. Predicted finishing position: 20th.
Q.P.R. – Will struggle. I’m not convinced by Neil Warnock’s credentials after what happened to Sheffield United a couple of years ago, although he probably won’t last all season anyway, bearing in mind the clubs temperamental owners. However, Taarabt is still there, and DJ Campbell is a good signing from Blackpool. They may stay up – just. Predicted finishing position: 17th.
Stoke City – The euphoria of their first season in Europe could take focus away from the league. You may not initially think Stoke would be under threat from relegation, but remember that in terms of Premier League experience, they’re still young, and as we’ve seen in the past, having the quality doesn’t necessarily guarantee survival. First and foremost, Stoke’s priority should always be to stay in the league, and this year I think they may take their eyes off that. Predicted finishing position: 18th.
Sunderland – Had a lot of injuries last season, giving them a disjointed league position. They have some quality players coming back from injury, have made decent signings, and another big one looks set to come in Craig Bellamy. Could be this season’s dark horses. Predicted finishing position: 7th.
Swansea City – I don’t see a lot of difference between them and Blackpool last season. Oh wait, I do: Swansea can actually DEFEND as well as possess a potent attacking threat. I think they’ll stay up quite comfortably, although they may tail off once they know it’s guaranteed. Predicted finishing position: 12th.
Tottenham Hotspur – With the gloss of the Champions League gone, Spurs will be able to put all of their energy into the league as they try to get back into the top 4. Redknapp certainly won’t let the Europa League distract them from that. Unlike Chelsea and Man City, the pressure is off. So you know what? I think Spurs will do it once again this season. Predicted finishing position: 4th.
West Bromwich Albion – Hodgson will have them working hard. Usually, promoted teams are hit with ‘second season syndrome’ after first time survival. I don’t think that will happen here, because in a sense they’ve already had it. They changed their manager at the right time last season, a time when they were heading downhill. Hodgson has changed that. West Brom could sneak into the top half. Predicted finishing position: 10th.
Wigan Athletic – Perennial relegation battlers Wigan are usually one of my 3 basement teams. This year will be as tough as any other for them, but manager Roberto Martinez has chosen to stay despite having the chance to move to a bigger club, which is the best signing they could have made. They are slowly learning from their mistakes each year, and that experience should stand them in good stead for what lies ahead. Predicted finishing position: 15th.
Wolves – Like Wigan, I expect Wolves to struggle again. They were lucky to stay up last time out, although they have made a couple of eye catching signings in Jamie O’Hara and Roger Johnson. It won’t be easy, but they’ll survive. Predicted finishing position: 16th.